Associate Vice President (Agriculture Sustainability)

Washington DC or San Francisco, , US

About the Organization

With world attention focused on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. This leading green group, with programs from Boston to Beijing, has tripled in size over the past decade by focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships, and market-based approaches. You can be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents, and contributions, where innovation and a focus on results are a way of life.

EDF is committed to including all segments of society in developing durable solutions to environmental challenges and to ensuring diversity among our staff, board, and supporters. Having a diverse team broadens our perspective and strengthens our work, and we are dedicated to developing and maintaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of the constituencies we serve.


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The Ecosystems Program & Agricultural Sustainability Initiative

Ecosystems is one of four major programs within EDF. The program has bold goals to reach by 2020 that are centered around reversing habitat loss on working lands, restoring and protecting coastal communities, revitalizing working rivers and their ability to provide a resilient water supply, and ending fertilizer pollution. This last goal is the focus of EDF’s Agricultural Sustainability initiative.

EDF’s Agricultural Sustainability initiative has emerged from over a decade of work and is designed to address the environmental degradation caused by agriculture, especially food production. EDF is working with major retailers, like Walmart, to increase the sustainability of their supply chains that depend on agriculture, and with actors in the emerging agricultural greenhouse gas markets to improve environmental outcomes. Farmers and ranchers respond to markets; getting the market signals right could result in fast and comprehensive advances towards sustainable intensification.

EDF has built relationships with an extensive and diverse network of collaborators to drive sustainable practices across the agricultural landscape. Through these collaborations, EDF has become a trusted resource and partner to many in the scientific community, grower associations, state and federal agencies, conservation partners, and a growing roster of corporate partners in the agricultural supply chain. We believe that our commitment to rigorous science, sound economics, and strong partnerships is key to effecting the lasting change we need to meet human needs and improve the health of our ecosystems. EDF and our partners have already secured private sector sustainability commitments across more than 20 million acres; formed breakthrough collaborations with agribusinesses across the supply chain; developed an independent, science-based program that measures the efficacy of fertilizer management tools; and helped California open its carbon market to farmers who implement climate-friendly practices.

Associate Vice President, Agricultural Sustainability

The AVP, Agricultural Sustainability will provide the overall vision, strategy, and leadership on agricultural sustainability initiatives, identifying opportunities, developing and implementing projects, and managing advocacy efforts relating to the initiative. The AVP will directly manage EDF’s teams working on several core programs including the Sustainable Sourcing Initiative (SSI) and Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Markets (Ag GHG). The AVP will work closely with EDF’s Corporate Partnership Program (CPP) on agriculture initiatives that pertain to the supply chain. S/he will both work independently and support the Senior Vice President of Ecosystems in a number of aspects of his leadership. As a member of the Ecosystems leadership team, the AVP will collaborate with peers in the Ecosystems Program and across the organization.


This role requires a keen strategist with expert leadership, communication, and management skills, and the ability to develop meaningful relationships with EDF’s staff, board, funders, and external partners. This is an outstanding opportunity for a politically-savvy, innovative leader with fundraising experience and a passion for improving agricultural sustainability. The AVP will report directly to the Senior Vice President of Ecosystems.


Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The AVP, Agricultural Sustainability will perform the following and other duties as assigned:


Strategic Vision and Leadership

  • Create a focused, collaborative, entrepreneurial, and sustainable strategy across EDF to implement the goals of the Agricultural Sustainability initiative.
  • Focus on the task of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and eliminating polluted runoff from agriculture in the U.S.
  • Develop the case for expanding the work of the agricultural sustainability program internationally.
  • Build non-partisan alliances and provide policy support to achieve initiative goals.
  • Apply program’s supply chain principles with other market based strategies.
  • Continually stay abreast and informed of other organizations’ work and emerging agricultural sustainability issues.
  • Ensure scientific and economic basis for the work of the program is robust and well supported.
  • Effectively communicate program achievements, progress, challenges, and opportunities to stakeholders, board members, EDF senior leadership, and other internal and external audiences.


External Relations and Partnerships

  • Collaborate with senior development staff to develop and execute a diversified fundraising action plan to secure a robust pipeline of funders for agricultural sustainability work; contribute to proposal development and reporting.
  • Cultivate relationships with board members and external stakeholders to identify areas for program growth and engage new funders.
  • Identify and implement partnerships with other members of the environmental community, influential academic institutions, and other stakeholders to achieve key programmatic goals.
  • Working with the SVP, program staff, marketing and communications teams, and other expert leaders, create momentum within industry, agriculture, governmental, and advocacy circles for the cause of ending fertilizer pollution and other agricultural sustainability goals.
  • Represent the organization externally, making public presentations and building relationships with the media, elected officials, and government agency representatives to keep them apprised of progress and establish EDF as a subject matter expert on agricultural sustainability issues.


Organizational Management

  • Actively engage with peers to create stronger collaboration between and across programs and identify cross-cutting funding opportunities.
  • Provide leadership, direction, and support for the staff.
  • Promote an organizational culture and structure that fosters cooperation, communication, collaboration, teamwork, trust, and embraces diversity.
  • Hire, train, supervise, mentor, and provide staff with professional development activities that upgrade skills, support learning, motivate performance, and promote retention.



The successful candidate will have the following minimum qualifications:

  • 10+ years of substantive, relevant work experience, including experience leading and implementing agricultural sustainability projects
  • Demonstrated experience developing and implementing a strategic vision
  • Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills with proven ability to attract funders and partners by communicating a compelling and inspired sense of purpose
  • Advanced degree in a relevant field (e.g., economics, environmental science/policy, business)
  • Thorough knowledge of current agriculture trends, as well as experience in and understanding of supply chains and/or agricultural carbon markets
  • A strong understanding of public policy with a proven track record of building alliances and working with policymakers—experience achieving results in public policy through outreach and advocacy preferred
  • Strong reputation and network among agricultural and conservation organizations and leaders in the nonprofit, philanthropic, government, and for-profit sectors highly desirable
  • Team-building skills and a collaborative leadership style with the ability to empower and inspire staff and encourage staff development
  • Experience managing geographically dispersed staff preferred
  • Excellent communication skills and experience with public speaking and working with the media
  • Demonstrated experience building and maintaining effective relationships with relevant outside stakeholders
  • Excellent problem solving and decision-making skills
  • Willingness and ability to engage in regular domestic travel
  • Commitment to and passion for EDF’s mission, vision, and values


Compensation and Location

EDF offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. This position will be located in Washington, DC, (preferred) or San Francisco, CA.


To Apply

To be considered for this position, interested candidates must follow the link below to submit a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements. CEA Recruiting is assisting EDF with this search. Please direct all applications and inquiries to CEA Recruiting. This position will remain open until filled.


Environmental Defense Fund is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


CEA Recruiting works with leading environmental nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to recruit top talent and design effective organizational staffing strategies. For more information, visit