Salton Sea Program Director

Audubon Society

San Francisco, CA, United States 🇺🇸


Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action.  By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of nearly 500 local chapters, 22 state offices, 41 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country.  Audubon is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

Position Summary:

The Salton Sea Program Director will grow Audubon California’s (ACA) contributions to conservation in Southern California with specific attention on the Salton Sea. S/He will exercise leadership and management responsibility in developing conservation programs, advancing conservation science and policy, engaging the network and attracting new funds.

The Program Director is charged with expansion and implementation of existing campaigns, with conservation partners, to secure significant and sustained commitments to Salton Sea habitat restoration and management.  S/he will also assist with the facilitations of the State of California’s Salton Sea Management Plan (SSMP) that supports Audubon’s goals to protect birds and their habitat at the Salton Sea while also controlling for dust to protect human health.   The Program Director will collaborate with and advise a coordinated multi-disciplinary group of policy, science, modeling and other technical experts working to address key water-related challenges at the Salton Sea.

The focus of the Salton Sea Program Director position includes:

  • Raising awareness and stressing urgency around the environmental degradation and threat to public health at the Salton Sea, helping lawmakers and other decision makers to understand that the State of California must make a significant and sustained investment in real solutions there.
  • Securing the best outcomes for birds and people around the Salton Sea by influencing the State’s SSMP planning and immediate implementation process and ensuring habitat protections in the draft plan, anticipated December 2016.

The Salton Sea is part of the Colorado River Basin; consequently, in addition to his/her work in Southern California, the Program Director will serve as an expert liaison between the Salton Sea and Audubon’s Colorado River program in the context of ensuring water for habitat throughout the lower Colorado River basin.

This position will report to the Vice President of the Pacific Flyway/Executive Director of Audubon California and with a dotted line to Audubon’s Program Director, Western Waters.


Essential Functions:

Policy / Campaign Coordination

  • In partnership with ACA’s Director of Public Policy, expand and implement public policy campaign to advance Audubon’s Salton Sea and Colorado River Basin goals with advocacy, lobbying, and/or involvement in state legislature, and in working with members of Congress as well as federal and state government leaders.  
  • Secure Salton Sea specific policies for a long-term solution and funding from state and/or federal agencies.
  • Work with NGO partners to expand and implement a coordinated campaign to secure funding and implementation commitments for Salton Sea habitat restoration and management.
  • Educate policy-makers in Southern California, Sacramento and DC Salton Sea issues and gain support for significant and sustained investment in real solutions at the sea.


  • Develop and implement engagement strategies that support Audubon’s campaign to secure public commitments to robust habitat restoration and management at the Salton Sea, including:
    • Initiating and developing strategic partnerships to bolster efforts already on the ground and give voice to the local community.
    • In conjunction with Audubon California’s Chapter Network and Communications teams, boost chapter efforts to engage with voters on Salton Sea related issues.
    • Play a critical role as an ambassador of Audubon, representing the organization with funders, conservation leaders, community members, policy makers and other important stakeholders to advance the project, inform stakeholder opinions and decisions, and harness the power of Audubon’s network.
  • Work with other concerned NGOs, together with whom we are sitting on relevant stakeholder committees, as well as the Audubon network to build upon and implement a campaign that engages key public agencies and water user organizations to secure funding commitments to Salton Sea habitat restoration and ensure robust habitat outcomes.


  • Seek to achieve long-term solutions for habitat and water that support Audubon’s goals to protect birds.
  • Coordinate and communicate with Audubon’s science team and communicate to outside audiences to ultimately advance habitat restoration goals at the Salton Sea.
  • Ensure connection and integration of Audubon’s Salton Sea and Colorado River basin programs.
  • Lead effort to model baseline habitat at the Salton Sea, so that a habitat “balance sheet” may be used to track projects and ensure that management activities at the sea add up to something meaningful for birds.


  • Seek and develop fundraising opportunities to support Audubon’s and its partner organizations’ efforts at the Salton Sea.  Work with government, foundation, and individual funding sources.
  • Manage program budgets and work with Director of Finance to ensure necessary budget reporting and to ensure the program adheres to budgetary requirements.

Qualifications and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in public policy, environmental policy or related field required; advanced degree strongly preferred.
  • 7-10 years’ progressive professional experience managing externally-facing conservation projects, to include possessing a deep knowledge of water policy. This position must maintain sophisticated current knowledge and expertise on the legal, diplomatic, policy, institutional, economic, cultural and technical issues relevant to water management in California.
  • Demonstrated success and comfort with fundraising, in particular with major donors, foundations, corporations, and government funders preferred.
  • Experience with public policy development and advocacy, campaigns, lobbying, and/or involvement in the California state legislature and in working with members of Congress preferred.
  • Familiarity with environmental justice and/or community organizations located in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys preferred.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills, judgment, and a demonstrated ability to collaborate and build coalitions with a wide range of individuals and organizations.
  • Demonstrated experience overseeing complex or multiple projects through to success, including meeting financial goals, project deadlines, and coordinating the work of key staff and partners.
  • Ability to exercise extreme diplomacy, balance and flexibility when dealing with various personalities and sensitive situations to develop cohesive solutions and negotiate successful outcomes.
  • Excellent and persuasive communication skills, both written and verbal, including substantial public speaking experience, and the ability to effectively represent Audubon to members, state and federal elected officials, donors, and chapter leaders, as well as in traditional and social media.
  • Willingness and ability to travel up 50% time for key meetings with decision makers, staff, funders and other important stakeholders to help advance the project.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office applications and web-based applications required.
  • Experience developing diversified approach to engage and influence the broader public to champion an issue or cause.
  • A willingness to adopt a passion for Audubon’s vision and solidly grounded in conservation issues in order to effectively handle challenges, identify important issues, and covey conservation priorities to a wide audience.