Vice President of Field Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife

Location: Headquarters, Washington, DC 

Department: Field Conservation Programs
Supervisor: Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs
Salary: $130,000 yr./max


This senior-level position is responsible for supervising and directing Defenders of Wildlife’s field conservation programs and its field staff located in regional and field offices nationwide.  Defenders’ field conservation program focuses on developing innovative management, science, and policy strategies to conserve and restore species of conservation concern, particularly imperiled species, and the habitats upon which they depend. A major component of Defenders’ field conservation program focuses on strategies that reduce human/wildlife conflict and promote human coexistence with wildlife. The Vice President will work closely with the Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs, conservation program management team, Field Program Directors and staff, and other senior managers and programs, including Marketing, Development and Finance, in developing and coordinating strategies, national cam­paigns, workplans, publications, coalitions, communica­tions, organiza­tional growth, and program and field office bud­gets. 


  • Lead and manage an extensive field conservation program with staff located in regional and field offices across the United States.  Responsible for directly supervising Field Program Directors.

  • Develop and implement strategies, programs, projects, workplans, program area budgets, publica­tions, educational materials and reports regarding field conservation issues.

  • Develop, implement and promote Defenders’ approach and practices for reducing human/wildlife conflict internally among Defenders’ programs and externally to the public, federal and state agencies and other stakeholders.

  • Serve as liaison between field and headquarters staff, ensuring that field conservation staff are informed of Defenders’ national conservation priorities and administrative policies, and that input from field program staff is incorporated appropriately in decision making and planning at the headquarters level.

  • Provide timely briefings to and advise the President & CEO, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs, senior program and operations managers, and program staff on issues and significant developments related to Defenders’ field conservation program.

  • Prepare Board Reports, presentations, and briefings.

  • Participate in Conservation Program Management Team, Editorial, policy, and facilities meetings.

  • Represent Defenders in coalitions, public meetings, hearings, press events, and in general communications with the media and the public.

  • Maintain effective working relationships with scientists, state and federal agency officials, federal and state legislators and staff, conservation organizations, funders and other stakeholders engaged in field conservation, including property owners, farmers, and ranchers.

  • Assist the Development department in preparing foundation grant proposals and promoting field conservation programs to the donor community.

  • Assist the Communications department in pursuing nation­al, regional, and local media coverage of Defenders field conservation programs, including identifying topics or activities of interest, writing and editing articles and blogs, and reviewing press releases to ensure accuracy.

  • Assist Marketing, Communications, Membership and Development departments by providing up-to-date information about current programs and projects, responding quickly to requests for substantive comments on direct mail and telemarketing materials, and assisting staff in responding to member questions about programs.

  • Assure the scientific accuracy of publications and communica­tions in field conservation program areas.

  • Provide input to the President & CEO, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs on organizational management issues and fulfill various other senior management administrative duties, including review and approval of contracts, letters of agreement, expense reports and check requests.

  • Hire, manage, evaluate, and promote the professional devel­op­ment of field conservation program staff.

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

  • Develop, recommend and track departmental budget.

  • Ensure optimum performance of group function. Recommend and implement techniques to improve productivity, increase efficiencies, cut costs and maintain state-of-the-art practices.

  • Recommend, review and approve 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 salary and performance reviews; review and approve performance and salary appraisals as necessary.

  • Perform all other related duties as assigned.


Education:  Advanced degree in Wildlife Management or Ecology, Conservation Biology, Natural Resources, Law, or related field and demonstrated scientific or policy expertise in conser­ving imperiled species.

Experience:  10+ years of strong, progressively responsible experience in conservation planning and directing national or regional advocacy campaigns, includ­ing 6+ years of management/supervisory experience.  Political experience and sensitivity, including a general understanding of lobbying, federal and state legislative processes, and federal and state agency wildlife conservation programs.  Experience with grass-roots organizing, coalition building, commu­nications, editing, and devel­opment.  Non-profit experience preferred.  Demonstrated experience and effectiveness in managing professional staff, with experience managing staff and programs in physically separated locations particularly valuable.


  • Understanding of federal and state wildlife agencies, laws, and policies regarding the conserva­tion of natural resources, management of federal lands, and protection of wildlife and habitat, particularly the Endangered Species Act.

  • Strong writing and verbal communications skills.