Associate Director: California Water Program

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Sacramento, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)


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Sacramento, California, USA strongly preferred, alternative locations may be considered within California's TNC offices. 


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 72 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.


California’s Water Program is working towards a sustainable water future that integrates nature’s water needs to create a more resilient and dynamic water supply for people. The Associate Director oversees all aspects of the Conservancy’s Dynamic Water Management strategy, one of two strategies of the California Water Program. The Dynamic Water Management team is developing more flexible and adaptive mechanisms for allocating water to help water managers and conservationists meet the needs of nature and people. Through the BirdReturns program and other initiatives, this team is leveraging technology and market solutions to enable more targeted and agile investments in water and habitat. 

In this role, the Associate Director provides strategic leadership and support for a portfolio of demonstration projects, scientific research and tool development, and policy engagements, while also playing a leadership role for the overall Water Program. We work internally with colleagues to co-create dynamic solutions across the Conservancy’s portfolio, and externally to drive broader adoption of dynamic solutions and to create or modify the funding mechanisms, laws, and policies that would enable adoption. 


The Associate Director will use their skills, experience, and relationships – individually and as part of multi-disciplinary teams – to deliver results for ecosystems and species in California. The Dynamic Water Management strategy is currently advancing dynamic solutions through a portfolio of demonstration projects and scientific and policy efforts. These solutions leverage a model established through the BirdReturns program to tackle additional water and habitat management challenges in the groundwater, instream flows, and other realms. The Dynamic Water Management strategy focuses primarily in California’s Central Valley, with the potential for projects, strategies, and collaborations to extend to other parts of California and throughout the Conservancy’s global organization.

The Associate Director will supervise project leads and work with scientists and the Conservancy’s other experts to successfully execute their projects.  The Associate Director will also work with their team to advance a larger vision in catalyzing adoption of Dynamic Water Management solutions throughout the conservation and water managements fields. The Associate Director will use creativity and innovation to deliver greater benefits for species and to advance a model for more effective conservation. Key components of these efforts include harnessing emerging technology and finance tools, and effectively engaging with diverse stakeholders to drive change externally. 


  • Responsible for developing the long-term strategies and strategic goals and objectives of the Dynamic Water Management strategy within the California Water Program. 
  • Provides leadership and guidance for staff and teams to execute demonstration projects and ensure that these efforts are integrated and contribute to advancing the overall vision for Dynamic Water Management.                
  • Manages the operations of the Dynamic Water Management team, including a budget comprised of public and private funding.               
  • Engages with a broad array of internal and external collaborators, including key NGO partners, farmers, water managers, and agency leaders. 
  • Recruits, retains and supervises high-quality and effective multi-disciplinary staff with responsibility for training, coaching, professional development, and performance management.  
  • Makes independent strategic decisions frequently based on analysis, ambiguous information, experience and judgment.


  • Demonstrated conduct in alignment with the Conservancy’s core values (described in detail here)
  • Experience directing a major program or project of strategic importance, including management/supervision of multi-disciplinary teams, meeting deadlines, and delivering results.
  • Demonstrated success leading and participating in multi-disciplinary teams within a non-hierarchical organization. 
  • Experience with financial management of a large program budget comprised of both private and public funding.
  • Fundraising experience, including identifying donor prospects and donor cultivation.
  • Experience in partnership development with non-profit partners, farmers and other community groups, and government agencies.                                        


  • Experience working with current trends and practices in species conservation in the context of the California water system, the role of technology and data in driving conservation results, and the potential for market-based solutions and impact investing to increase the amount and impact of conservation investments.
  • 10-12 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience. 
  • Developing practical applications of scientific concepts and technical innovations for conservation purposes.
  • Political savvy.


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