Director (Water Program - Ecosystems)

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Austin, TX, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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EDF’s Ecosystem Program envisions resilient land and water systems that allow nature and a growing human population to prosper in a changing climate. Our ecosystems work includes work portfolios in three areas: Working Lands, Coastal Resilience, and Water. The goal of EDF’s Water Program, is to rebalance our water systems and make them more resilient to climate change. We are focusing our work on three areas: modernizing groundwater management, improving and expanding healthy water-trading programs, and incentivizing the sustainable use of agricultural water. In these areas, we collaborate with farmers, city water officials and other water managers to better incorporate the needs of all water users, including rural and disadvantaged communities and the environment, two important, yet often overlooked, stakeholders.

Overall Function

Working under the direction of the Associate Vice President, Ecosystems-Water, the Director will oversee the expansion of EDF’s water resilience advocacy in Texas, focused on improving groundwater management in Texas for the benefit of people and nature. This will require overseeing a team of supporting staff and consultants, continuing to build a strong alliance of advisors and collaborators, and raising the public prominence of EDF’s general approach and specific strategies in Texas. The Director will have the primary responsibility for executing EDF’s water advocacy strategy in Texas, but with considerable license to refine the strategy over time to reflect new information and conditions.

Key Responsibilities

  • Direct the execution and refinement of EDF’s water resources strategy in Texas including strategy development, partner outreach, project management, and deliverable oversight.
  • Manage a cross functional team of EDF staff, consultants, and outside stakeholders to develop, refine, and implement our strategy to improve groundwater management in Texas.
  • Serve as the primary face of EDF’s water work in Texas, including leading the development of public positions taken by EDF on water issues in Texas.
  • Participate as part of the leadership team of the EDF Water Program in shaping and guiding programs to improve water resilience across the western U.S. and other geographies.
  • Establish and maintain a leadership role in building coherence and strength in broader water advocacy programs in Texas by engaging with other key leaders and stakeholders in the advocacy, academic, extension, governmental, and industry communities.
  • Create relationships and forge alliances among disparate interest groups in the state and region.
  • Develop and manage project budgets, including planning, fundraising, and professional fee expenditure oversight.
  • Working with EDF’s development team, including communicating with donors and foundations, to build relationships, shape funding concepts, and prepare proposals to secure funding for EDF’s water work in Texas and elsewhere.
  • Build EDF’s profile in Texas water resources through personal outreach to leaders in the field, participation in appropriate forums, and establishing and maintaining active media outreach programs.
  • Lead the refinement of near and long-term strategies for advancing water resources management in Texas.
  • Oversee research and analysis necessary to inform our advocacy strategy, tactics, and/or educational efforts.
  • Contribute to the professional development of staff across the EDF water team and associated programs.
  • Communicate program results to EDF staff, corporate partners, businesses, the media and other stakeholders through reports, presentations, and other methods.


  • Advanced degree in business, science, engineering, law, environmental policy or a related field, or equivalent work experience 
  • A minimum of 10 years of professional experience (significant experience in water resources and/or environmental policy strongly preferred)
  • A broad understanding of water issues including the basic statutory and regulatory structure in Texas
  • A working knowledge of the theory and practice of water and environmental management (particular experience in groundwater preferred)
  • Proven project and people management skills, including the ability to work with colleagues and partners of varied background and experience
  • Demonstrated ability to work constructively with nonprofit colleagues and partners, scientists, economists, industry, regulators and public policy decision makers
  • Strong research skills and experience performing rigorous analysis in support of highly visible work
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Creative and innovative thinker willing to challenge the status quo and propose new ideas and opportunities
  • Proven ability to work both independently and as a member of small teams in a fast-paced, dynamic and creative environment
  • Experience managing a diverse workload;
  • Exceptional personal organization and attention to detail
  • Willingness and ability to travel within Texas and occasionally to other locations across the U.S.
  • Proficiency in the use of standard business software, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint