Science Director, California Water Program - The Nature Conservancy

Post Date: 6/16/2022
Opportunity Type: Job
Organization/Grantor: The Nature Conservancy
Position/Title/Fund: Science Director, California Water Program - Full-time
Deadline: June 20, 2022; Open until filled
Location: Sacramento, California, USA; Location negotiable in CA.
Contact Info:

The Science Director for the Conservancy’s Freshwater 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 surface water and groundwater conservation initiatives both in and beyond California. The Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program focuses on achieving resilient and healthy rivers, thriving wetlands and sustainable groundwater-dependent ecosystems by transforming California into a hub of innovation and leadership in conservation. Our team of scientists, technologists and conservation practitioners utilize place-based demonstration, policy and science to drive California to a sustainable water future.

Essential Functions: The Science Director for the California Water 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 Water 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.
  • 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 freshwater 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.

Required Qualifications:

  • 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.
  • Experience with common software applications.
  • A valid driver’s license.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Passion for freshwater ecosystems in California and the role of science plays in advancing a framework for a sustainable water future.
  • Knowledge of California freshwater ecosystems and conservation issues and trends in the state.
  • Experience working as a scientist in a non-governmental organization.
  • Experience with systematic conservation planning.
  • Ability to make 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.    
  • Strong 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 51607, submit your materials online by using the Apply Now button at by 11:59 PM EST on June 20th 2022. Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact