Director of Programs - Pacific Whale Foundation

Opportunity Type: Job

Ma'alea Harbor on the island of Maui, HI

With a mission to protect the ocean through science and advocacy, and to inspire environmental stewardship, Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) conducts ResearchEducation and Conservation programs for the communities in which it serves. Founded in 1980, PWF is dedicated to saving the world’s whales from extinction.  Our vision is to be the people’s environmental organization for the protection of the world’s whales, dolphins and other marine animals living wild in their natural habitat. We believe that it is essential to involve the public in our mission. Combined with memberships, donations, charitable grants and a remarkable group of dedicated volunteers, PWF now reaches more than 400,000 individuals each year through its Maui and Australia offices and research projects in Ecuador and Chile.

PWF is also a social enterprise that offers fee-based programs and services through PacWhale Eco-Adventures to help fund its nonprofit work.  Our PacWhale cruise operation is 100% owned by the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation, as are our retail Ocean Stores. All of the profits that we generate go to supporting Pacific Whale Foundation’s work to protect our oceans through science and advocacy.

This is a full-time, salaried exempt position located in Ma’alea Harbor on the island of Maui, HI. For more information on Pacific Whale Foundation please visit

The Opportunity

PWF seeks an entrepreneurial and dynamic leader to serve as its first Director of Programs. Working in collaboration with the Executive Director and other members of the core leadership team, the Director of Programs will play a critical role in developing, implementing, and articulating the vision and direction of PWF’s Research, Conservation, and Education programs.  The Director of Programs will ensure seamless program delivery and quality control, while providing strong leadership, strategic direction, and management for the three programs.  With a particular focus on research, conservation, and education grants, the Director of Programs will also be responsible for identifying new funding opportunities.

Reporting directly to the Executive Director, the Director of Programs will be responsible for overseeing a high performing team of four individuals, managing relationships with project partners, and securing the funds necessary to sustain and expand program work.  They will also serve as a key external face and brand ambassador for PWF in the community.

Located in Maui and with affiliate partnerships in Australia, Ecuador, and Chile, this position requires international travel for approximately 30% – 50% depending on the time of year.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone who is passionate about protecting the ocean and inspiring environmental stewardship for an innovative and growing organization.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Develop and implement strategies, initiatives and processes that will maximize the synergies among program areas in support of PWF’s strategic plan

  • Facilitate growth of international research, education and conservation programs

  • Lead and/or contribute to the solicitation of grants, including grant writing and reporting

  • Monitor, evaluate, and fine-tune grantmaking processes and procedures to ensure effectiveness

  • Represent PWF in the community through public speaking engagements and fundraising activities

  • Build effective collaborations and alliances with peers and other stakeholders to advance PWF’s program priorities and represent PWF to external audiences

  • Attract, develop and retain high performing team members, empowering them to elevate their level of responsibility, span of control and performance; ensure optimal staffing and workload allocation across all departments

  • Inspire and motivate team members through good example, personal involvement, and targeted feedback

  • Support department managers in developing strategies to ensure growth of programs and services that achieve each department’s strategic planning goals and align with PWF’s mission and values

  • Build and maintain productive relationships with all department leaders, external partners, PWF supporters and industry colleagues

  • Uphold PWF policies and standards, ensuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations

  • Effectively communicate strategy, results, financials, challenges, etc. to the Board of Directors as requested

  • Actively participate in the overall management of PWF as a key part of the Leadership Team

Candidate Profile

The Director of Programs will have a deep passion for protecting the ocean through science and advocacy.  The ideal candidate will also possess the following skills:

  • Strong commitment to PWF’s mission, vision, values and strategic plan and to working collaboratively with a management team of senior professionals

  • Significant knowledge and experience with environmental education and/or marine conservation and research

  • Proven track record of identifying, applying, receiving and managing grant-based funding

  • Working knowledge of grantmaking processes and procedures

  • High level of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills)

  • Strategic thinker; able to take a long-term, thoughtful approach to achieving department goals

  • Demonstrated leadership, coaching and relationship management experience

  • Successful track record in team leadership and inspiring a mission-driven team to achieve results; collegial and team-building approach

  • Strong interpersonal, presentation and communication skills; ability to represent PWF in a professional, engaging and dynamic manner

  • Able to thrive in a complex environment with competing priorities

  • Strong ability to maintain tact and confidentiality at all times along with impeccable integrity

  • Demonstrated track record in developing, cultivating, and maintaining effective partnerships and relationships within the marine conservation field

  • Advanced degree, with five years of management experience in a role with similar levels of responsibility and authority (or an equivalent combination of education and experience)

  • Ability to travel internationally up to 50% of the year and work a flexible schedule

  • Experience in an international organization (preferred)


Alicia Salerno of Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your cover letter and resume materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The Pacific Whale Foundation welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that partners exclusively with mission-driven clients, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our clients and ensuring they have the strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit