Director (California Water Program)

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Sacramento, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 74 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy offers competitive compensation, 401k or savings-plan matching for eligible employees, excellent benefits, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We also provide professional development opportunities and promote from within. As a result, you will find a culture that supports and inspires conservation achievement and personal development, both within the workplace and beyond.




The Water Program in The Nature Conservancy of California advances a portfolio of strategic initiatives aimed at conserving and restoring freshwater ecosystems so they can sustain biodiversity and provide a suite of ecosystem services that benefit society. Its strategic approach is to collaboratively develop and demonstrate science-based solutions to major environmental challenges in California, and to “scale up” successful models through policy change, tool development, or funding incentives to effect conservation more broadly. Focal areas include 1) advancing the science and practice of sustainable water management, to ensure the resiliency of the water supply and that critical environmental needs are met; and, 2) dynamic water management, to ensure that water is delivered where and when nature needs it most. Given the extent to which demand for water exceeds supply, and the prospect of climate change making precipitation less predictable and drought and deluge cycles more extreme, the Conservancy focuses on multi-benefit solutions. This involves working with farmers, water agencies, ranchers, communities, corporations and others to adapt to a changing world and maximize the conservation return from scarce water resources. The Water Program Director leads and manages the team of conservation professionals driving this work (40+ members across multiple departments), and ensures that the Conservancy provides the leadership and results in freshwater biodiversity conservation needed at this globally significant moment. The Director reports to the Director of Conservation Programs in California and works in close partnership with the Director of Science for the Water Program and the Director of External Affairs for California.

The California Water Program Director:

  • Provides executive leadership in a dynamic, fast-paced organization.
  • Develops and advances strategies to increase the pace and scale of freshwater 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 professionals.
  • Cultivates and manages strategic relationships, and serves as the Program’s principal contact for industry, government agencies, conservation organizations, and foundations.  
  • In partnership with philanthropy staff, leads the Program in fundraising from public and private sources.
  • In partnership with marketing staff, utilizes strategic communications to advance conservation goals.
  • Holds overall responsibility for financial management of the Program, including setting financial goals, analyzing results, and taking corrective actions.
  • Negotiates complex agreements and oversees policy initiatives, often in political environments.
  • Manages financial, legal, and reputational risks to the organization and leads Program staff in risk identification, assessment, and management.  
  • Communicates effectively in oral, written and graphical forms; is called to speak publicly and to various audiences on a regular basis.
  • Travels frequently within California and occasionally outside of California, including internationally.
  • Provide freshwater conservation leadership to the organization as a whole through strategic connections with TNC-North America and TNC-Global teams and strategies.


  • Develops, communicates, and drives a compelling vision for the Water Program.
  • Leads and manages a multi-disciplinary, decentralized and matrixed staff.
  • Designs, implements, and directs a portfolio of complex and diverse projects, coordinating the work of other professionals, inside and outside the organization.
  • Incorporates cross-disciplinary knowledge to support program objectives, including science, policy, and conservation practice.
  • Makes independent strategic decisions frequently based on analysis, experience, and context, often with broad organizational impact.


  • BA/BS degree and 12 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience and prior success in fundraising from both public and private sources, and cultivating and stewarding individual donors.
  • Experience designing, implementing, and directing complex or multiple projects of strategic importance, including managing finances, supervising multidisciplinary professionals, and coordinating the work of partners while meeting deadlines.   
  • Supervisory experience, including motivating, leading, setting objectives,
  • and managing performance.
  • Experience in partnership development with non-profit partners, community groups, resource user, and/or government agencies.    
  • Experience networking with high-level conservation contacts.
  • Demonstrated negotiation success.


  • Master’s degree and 12-15 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Understanding of public policy landscape of conservation in California, especially pertaining to water issues.
  • Experience developing and executing strategies for a large NGO.
  • Experience developing practical applications of scientific concepts and technology innovations for conservation purposes.
  • Demonstrated success cultivating support for multi-faceted strategic program from a diverse donor base
  • Multi-lingual and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.




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