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  • Director, California Program

    • Employer: Defenders of Wildlife
      Location: Sacramento, CA
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 12/25/2019
      Open Until Filled: No



    JOB TITLE:   Director, California Program

    GRADE: 29

    STARTING SALARY: 78,000-98,000

    FLSA:  Exempt

    DIVISION/SITE:  Sacramento, CA

    DEPARTMENT:  Field Conservation

    REPORTS TO:  Vice President, Field Conservation Programs

    LAST REVISED:  December 2019

    Basic Summary:

    The Director of Defenders of Wildlife’s California Program leads Field Conservation staff and programs in California.  The Director ensures effective on the ground implementation of imperiled wildlife and habitat conservation described in Defenders’ California program plan.  The California program utilizes a wide range of policy, legal, advocacy, outreach and scientific strategies to conserve imperiled wildlife and habitat throughout the state. 

    The Director is responsible for supervising and providing strategic direction to California Field Conservation staff, ensuring the effective implementation of the programs for which they are responsible and efficiently and effectively managing the office.  Priorities include conserving gray wolves, desert tortoises, salmon, sea otters and numerous other imperiled species in the state; promoting coexistence tools to reduce human-wildlife conflicts; influencing state legislative and administrative initiatives impacting wildlife, water, coastal areas, and other natural resources; promoting conservation planning on public and private lands; securing sustained funding for wildlife conservation needs; ensuring sound water policy that meet fish and wildlife conservation needs; addressing public land management issues on national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal and state public lands that impact sensitive wildlife species and important landscapes; addressing global climate change impacts on California ecosystems and wildlife, including work to meet state mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals; and maintaining and enhancing the ecological integrity of priority wildlife habitat and the conservation of biodiversity in general. The Director provides leadership and support for outreach efforts in the state, with a priority on engagement with underrepresented communities. The Director works closely with the Vice President for Field Conservation Programs, other senior managers, field staff, and interdisciplinary teams on developing and coordinating strategies, campaigns, workplans, programs, projects, publications, coalitions, communications, organizational growth, educational materials, reports, and budgets.

    Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

    ·         Develop and implement California program strategies and workplans including, but not limited to, imperiled species and recovery and habitat conservation, water policy, public and private land management, climate change and biodiversity conservation planning.

    ·         Supervise California-based field office staff, interns, volunteers and contractors.

    ·         Influence federal, state and local wildlife policies through administrative, legislative, and judicial forums, using a range of strategies including but not limited to: grassroots and direct advocacy efforts with government officials, seeking policy and programmatic changes in relevant federal and state agencies, recommending litigation where appropriate, and providing technical support to legal teams.

    ·         Represent Defenders in coalitions, public meetings, hearings, press events, conferences, and in general communications with the media, the public, Defenders’ membership, and public officials.

    ·         Actively promote and expand Defenders’ California wildlife campaigns and projects through lobbying, testimony, comments on proposed policies, media development, and coalition-building with existing and new partners.

    ·         Establish and maintain effective working relationships with members of key federal and state agency staff, California elected and appointed officials, and other relevant NGOs.

    ·         Oversee Defenders’ public outreach in the state, and media functions (in cooperation with the Vice President for Communication) for the California program, seeking maximum exposure and credit for Defenders’ work.

    ·         Coordinate wildlife and land management advocacy efforts in the state with Defenders’ public lands, communications, marketing and science staff.

    ·         Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ programmatic and outreach work in California.

    ·         Provide timely briefings to the President’s Office, senior management, and program staff on significant developments and new opportunities.

    ·         Follow all internal administrative procedures, including timely approval and preparation of all administrative reports.

    ·         Assist all Defenders’ departments with tasks relating to education, development, membership, publications, litigation, grassroots, and media coverage.

    ·         Work with Membership and Development staff to identify new funders, and to continually raise funds to support California program staff and conservation work

    ·         Develop short- and long-range operating objectives, organizational structure, and staffing requirements.

    ·         Develop and recommend departmental budgets prior to the start of each fiscal year.

    ·         Recommend, review and implement employment actions, including interviewing, hiring, promotions and raises, in conjunction with Human Resources. Partner with Human Resources in the handling of disciplinary issues.

    ·         Ensure communication of duties and responsibilities to direct reports and monitor performance. Provide regular coaching and counseling. Identify training needs. Prepare and deliver performance reviews; review and approve performance and salary appraisals as necessary.

    ·         Perform all other related duties as assigned.



    Advanced degree in natural resources science, public policy, conservation biology, law, wildlife management or related discipline.


    10+ years of progressively responsible, substantive experience with resource policy and with a working knowledge of water and land use planning, state and federal environmental law and regulation, and conservation biology.

    ·         Strong management, planning, and administrative skills, including 2+ years of non-profit management/supervisory experience.

    ·         Experience developing, implementing, and managing state legislative advocacy and advocacy conservation campaigns.

    ·         Other relevant experience with public policy, grassroots organizing, communications, editing, and/or development and grant writing experience.

    ·         Substantial relationships and experience working with local government, diverse stakeholders (e.g., hunting and fishing organizations, water agencies, other conservation organizations), state and federal agencies including California Natural Resources Agency, California Fish and Game Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service.

    ·         An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above.


    ·         Strong writing and verbal communications skills, including familiarity working with the media.

    ·         Demonstrated leadership and strategic thinking skills.

    ·         Significant working knowledge of state and federal agencies, laws, and policies dealing with use and conservation of natural resources and wildlife including the California Endangered Species Act, California Environmental Quality Act, federal Endangered Species Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

    ·         Demonstrated awareness of and experience with the concerns and needs of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations.

    ·         Ability to operate effectively as an advocate of Defenders' programs, preferably with demonstrated experience working effectively with coalitions.

    ·         Ability to analyze research, information, and produce quality work products in a consistent, efficient, and timely manner.

    ·         Ability to multi-task and handle multiple projects.

    ·         Ability to supervise, coordinate, train, evaluate, and motivate program staff, interns and volunteers.


    Work Expectations:

    Work Environment:

    General office working conditions, the noise level in the work environment is usually quiet.

    This position requires regular travel within the state and periodic travel to Washington, D.C.

    Physical Demands:

    While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to use a computer and communicate with others while doing so.

    All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

    How to Apply:

    Interested applicants please apply with a cover letter through our jobs portal at


    About Defenders:

    Defenders of Wildlife is a national, non-profit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities. Our employees work in an environment that is inclusive and honors each of our unique perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the conservation of biological diversity is best advanced by the contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and cultures.  We strive toward a collective goal of including all people in the conservation of our Nation’s wildlife and wild places.

    Visit Our Values and Diversity page to learn more about who we are and how we operate.


    It is the policy of Defenders of Wildlife to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, or any other characteristic protected by law, in all personnel actions.



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