Director of Science, Oceans Program - The Nature Conservancy

Post Date: 6/16/2022
Opportunity Type: Job
Organization/Grantor: The Nature Conservancy
Position/Title/Fund: Director of Science, Oceans Program
Deadline: Open until filled
Location: Negotiable within California
Contact Info:

The Science Director for the Conservancy’s Oceans Program in California provides strategic, technical and scientific leadership and manages a multidisciplinary team to drive the science, scientific products and scientific collaborations needed to inform and inspire ambitious ocean conservation initiatives both in and beyond California. The Nature Conservancy’s California Oceans Program focuses on achieving resilient and healthy ocean and island ecosystems by transforming California into a hub of innovation and leadership in conservation.  Our team of scientists, technologists and conservation practitioners are at the forefront of testing new, collaborative ways to protect ocean and island resources and dependent communities, recover threatened species, and restore ecosystems. We are demonstrating what effective ocean and island conservation can look like—not only in California, but around the world. Currently, our team is focused primarily on advancing fisheries reform, scaling ocean restoration (e.g., kelp, coral and native oysters), reducing ocean plastic pollution and protecting vulnerable island ecosystems.

Essential Functions: The Science Director for the California Ocean Conservation Program in TNC’s California Chapter provides science-based leadership to the Conservancy’s teams and initiatives to increase the pace and scale of conservation in and beyond California. They work with multidisciplinary teams to identify priorities and strategies for conservation engagement, and to ensure the delivery of the science needed to execute those strategies. They lead and manage a team of scientists to ensure that the Conservancy’s limited science capacity is focused on the most essential issues and at the most strategic level of engagement on those issues. They are a key partner with their counterpart in the Conservation Programs department, the Oceans Program Director, working to align and integrate the Conservancy’s science, policy, and place-based conservation work. They coordinate and collaborate with scientists internal and external to the organization to efficiently address priority questions and position the organization for influence and impact. They themselves advance research initiatives relevant to the Program’s primary strategies and a scientific body of work that models productivity, effective collaboration, thought leadership, and high impact science. They represent TNC and TNC Science externally in various fora, and routinely engage both technical and non-technical audiences including partners, stakeholders, industry, community groups, donors, and the media. They lead and assist in development of funding proposals to advance Conservancy strategies. 


  • Provides executive-level scientific leadership in a dynamic, fast-paced organization. 
  • Collaborates on cross-functional teams to develop and advance strategies to increase the pace and scale of biodiversity conservation, with an aim of demonstrating innovative, multi-benefit and collaborative approaches to conservation that are effective in California and that can be scaled and exported for application elsewhere.
  • Recruits, manages, and develops a talented, high-performing team of conservation scientist professionals. 
  • Resolves complex problems using the scientific approach.
  • Collaborates with internal and external scientists and partners to enhance the conservation practices of others and establish TNC as a global leader in ocean conservation science.
  • Develops and leverages a high impact scientific body of work aligned with primary Program strategies.
  • Cultivates and leverages strategic individual and institutional relationships in conservation science.
  • Plans and manages budgets of projects, grants, and contracts.
  • Participates in cultivating funding for Conservancy projects through outreach, proposal writing, and presentations.
  • Persuasively conveys the mission and priorities of TNC to diverse groups including major donors, industry, board members, and media.
  • Travels frequently within California and occasionally outside of California, including internationally. 
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain, and under physically demanding circumstances.


  • Ph.D. in science related field and 8 years related experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience supervising staff and teams, including mentoring, motivating, leading, setting objectives and managing performance.
  • Experience with building strategic relationships and science partnerships.
  • Experience conducting original research and publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • Experience fundraising and/or writing grants and research proposals.
  • Experience designing, organizing and directing complex multiple projects of strategic importance and leading a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Experience synthesizing and integrating research findings and lessons learned.
  • A valid driver’s license.
  • Passion for ocean conservation and the role of science in advancing it.
  • Knowledge of California ecosystems and conservation issues and trends in the state. 
  • Experience working as a scientist in a non-governmental organization. 
  • Experience with systematic conservation planning.
  • Experience making independent decisions based on incomplete information, and identify, assess, and manage associated risks.
  • Demonstrated effective leadership and management of staff and teams, including teams comprised of non-direct reports.    

•    Analytical skills and ability to effectively communicate complex information, including through the media.
•    Political and strategic savvy, and ability to translate science to policy.
•    Excellent presentation and writing skills.
•    Ability to develop work plans and project budgets and manage performance to those plans.
•    Ability to network effectively in scientific communities and maintain strong strategic relationships.  
•    Multi-lingual and or cross-cultural experience appreciated.

How to Apply:

To apply for job ID 51519, submit your materials online by using the Apply Now button at Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received and the position will remain open until filled. Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact

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