Project Director (California Water Program)

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Sacramento or Chico, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 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 spearheads innovative and collaborative initiatives to dynamically provide water where and when nature needs it in the context of a highly altered water system in which freshwater-dependent ecosystems continue to decline. Its strategies are designed to demonstrate solutions to major water challenges in California and to “scale up” successful models through policy change or other institutions to achieve conservation more broadly. Keys to success are developing the science, collaborative demonstration projects, and policies to influence water use and management across California. Our goal is to ensure that water is more proactively and effectively distributed to meeting the needs of nature and people. 
One pillar of our work is using the Conservancy’s BirdReturns market model to dynamically deploy “pop-up” wetlands for migratory waterbirds where and when habitat is needed most. The focus of this work going forward will be developing the tools, demonstrations, funding and policies needed to have the BirdReturns model institutionalized over the next decade in order to deliver sufficient habitat and halt rapid declines in bird populations while also delivering tangible benefits for people (e.g. alternative incomes, groundwater recharge). The Project Director will be responsible for helping lead a multi-disciplinary team to build off the current BirdReturns foundation and create a scalable, efficient, and financially-sustainable model for dynamically delivering habitat for migratory birds across the Central Valley over the next decade. The Project Director will work closely with Program leadership, Government Affairs, Philanthropy, Finance and Operations staffs. The Project Director will also work regularly and closely with public and private partners outside of the Conservancy in order to lead existing and build new partnerships. 


The Project Director:

  • Applies creative and strategic thinking to advance innovative ideas for making BirdReturns scalable and financially sustainable
  • Coordinates a diverse, multi-disciplinary team to hone and execute the Conservancy’s strategies
  • Works closely with Conservancy and external scientists to develop the data and tools necessary to make BirdReturns effective and efficient
  • Maintains and builds external partnerships with public and private partners
  • Negotiates complex solutions with landowners, water districts, and government agencies to create and protect wetland habitats on private and public lands
  • Regularly establishes and manages multiple, complex contracts simultaneously
  • Helps manage a complex budget
  • Writes public and private funding proposals in collaboration with Development, Operations, and Finance staff
  • Works closely with Program leadership and Government Affairs to understand and guide relevant policies
  • Serves as a spokesperson for the Conservancy, regularly speaking formally and informally in public
  • Performs tasks with minimal supervision and makes independent decisions based on analysis, experience, and judgment
  • Brings passion, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit to the work


  • BA/BS degree and 7 years-experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Knowledge of current trends and practices in conservation
  • Knowledge of water conservation issues in California
  • Experience managing complex or multiple projects, including managing finances and coordinating the work of other professionals and partners
  • Experience in partnership development (partners, community, government, etc.)
  • Experience facilitating or leading multi-disciplinary teams
  • Experience developing and implementing strategies to achieve a stated outcome
  • Experience using clear oral and written communication skills 
  • Experience with organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Experience managing and tracking multiple projects


  • Advanced degree and 7-10 years-experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Demonstrated experience influencing, developing and implementing conservation plans and policy
  • Proven interpersonal, communication, and negotiation skills for motivating team members, setting goals, and leading efforts
  • Managing time and diverse activities under deadlines while delivering quality results
  • Ability to assess complex situations and navigate divergent views
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with and through others in a decentralized and geographically dispersed organization
  • Skills in building and managing relationships with internal and external stakeholders (e.g. media, government officials, non-governmental organizations, farmers, and scientists)
  • Experience networking with public agency staff, members of the farming community, or other constituencies
  • Knowledge of and/or experience in fundraising and/or grant writing and grant administration
  • Experience in communications and outreach including developing and/or managing the development of materials e.g., websites, brochures, factsheets, infographics, social media posts




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