Vice President for Science & Chief Scientist, National Wildlife Federation

Posted by: CAKE Team
Post Date: 1/29/2024
Opportunity Type: Job
Organization/Grantor: National Wildlife Federation
Position/Title/Fund: Vice President for Science & Chief Scientist
Type/Term: Full-time, Permanent
Location: Reston, Virginia
Salary: $150,000 to $170,000 annually
Deadline: Open until filled

Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more than six million members and supporters. The mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in our rapidly changing world. The National Wildlife Federation believes that in order to save wildlife and ourselves, we need to ensure that everyone in America has clean air and water, safe communities, easy and equitable access to the daily benefits of nature, and protection from the ravages of climate change. These basic needs, equally necessary and urgent for all people, are foundational to bringing the conservation movement and ethos into the 21st century.

Our organization operates from offices across the country, including our headquarters in Reston, Virginia; a National Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C.; and seven Regional Centers. The Federation also works with 52 state and territory affiliates—autonomous, nonprofit organizations that take the lead in state and local conservation efforts and collaborate with the National Wildlife Federation to conduct grassroots activities on national issues.

The National Wildlife Federation is seeking a Vice President for Science & Chief Scientist to provide scientific leadership and coordination for the organization and offer scientific support to a wide array of Federation programs and teams. The Vice President for Science & Chief Scientist helps ensure that the organization stays abreast of current trends in conservation science and their implications for Federation strategies, programs, and policy positions. The position provides scientific leadership and support to conservation and education programs and works with key business units within the organization, including Communications, Philanthropy, and Marketing, to ensure the scientific integrity and accuracy of public-facing materials and messaging. The position  supervises a  Science Team and serves as convener for a science-focused community of practice consisting of staff from across the organization. The successful candidate is expected to have in-depth scientific knowledge, experience with Indigenous ecological knowledge and expertise in a field directly related to key institutional priorities—such as biodiversity conservation, fish and wildlife management, ecosystem restoration, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), or climate change adaptation—as well as broad knowledge of U.S. natural history and conservation issues. This position is a member of the Executive Leadership Team.

In this role you will:

  • Ensure that the best available science is applied to NWF programs, including the development and implementation of policy and legislative initiatives, advocacy campaigns, and on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts.
  • Lead the national Conservation Science Team, ensuring the necessary disciplinary and regional representation, and coordinate a Federation-wide science community of practice. 
  • Oversee the organization’s science content review process, which is designed to maintain the credibility of the Federation through ensuring the accuracy and scientific integrity of externally facing materials.
  • Ensure that all science programs and practices are aligned with the core mission of protecting wildlife while being rooted in a commitment to Indigenous partnerships, equity, justice, environmental justice, and inclusion, Work with executive staff to ensure this strategic integration.
  • Advance the Federation’s work on climate-smart conservation and climate adaptation, nature-based solutions, and more broadly the incorporation of climate considerations into conservation and natural resource management.
  • Raise funds from public and private sources to support priority science and conservation initiatives; collaborate with the Philanthropy team to cultivate donors and support broader organizational fundraising efforts.
  • Engage with and develop collaborative relationships with external scientific societies, conservation organizations, and Federal, state and Tribal governmental agencies to achieve priority organizational outcomes.  
  • Serve as an expert voice in member and donor outreach and communications, and with the media. 
  • Serve as a science advisor to National Wildlife magazine, including serving on the magazine editorial advisory board and providing pre-publication science review of articles.


  • Ph.D. in biological or environmental science with a focus on conservation biology, wildlife biology, zoology, ecology, botany, Indigenous land or water management, or climate change science. 
  • At least 10 years of experience working in the conservation or natural resource sector as part of non-profit, academic, or governmental institutions. 
  • Demonstrated ability to apply a multi-disciplinary approach to solving complex conservation problems.
  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of and priority for integrated approaches to conservation (e.g., one health)
  • Demonstrated prioritization of Free Prior and Informed Consent, equity, justice, Indigenous partnerships, and environmental justice and their integration with conservation science and practice
  • Ability to publish peer-reviewed articles and interpret scientific literature across disciplines for policy and advocacy.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and commitment to wildlife conservation and climate change issues; sound understanding of natural resource policy, Federal Indian Law and Policy, and legislation related to wildlife and environmental conservation.
  • Broad knowledge of U.S. species, ecosystems, and natural history. 
  • Demonstrated track record of successful fundraising from private and public sources.
  • Ability to effectively communicate scientific or technical material orally and in writing to a wide range of audiences. Original writing samples will be requested. 
  • Strong supervisory and time-management skills, ability to develop positive working relationships, and work collaboratively with peers (including remotely and in a virtual setting) in a matrix management setting. 

Travel Requirements: This role includes some travel (4-5 trips/year) to locations nationwide.

Location and Work Mode: The National Wildlife Federation is committed to a flexible and empowered work environment with an authentic community of care for all staff. In this position, the employee may work in the office, in a hybrid manner, or completely remotely, to be decided jointly with their supervisor in the final stages of the interview process.

How to Apply:

Apply online. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample.