Director of Science

Bethesda, MD, US

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working to make a positive impact for people and nature around the world in 69 countries, all 50 United States, major US cities and in your neighborhood. Founded in 1951, the mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we are committed to a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Visit to learn more.

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 Director of Science provides leadership and strategic direction to ensure that the Maryland/DC Chapter’s conservation strategies have robust scientific foundations and are designed to achieve the greatest possible conservation outcomes. The Director is an experienced people manager who upholds the Conservancy’s scientific integrity and leads their team to facilitate, apply, and evaluate science in support of the Chapter’s conservation objectives. The Director will have knowledge of and experience with a broad range of conservation science topics central to achieving our priorities of clean water and climate resilience. S/he will be a scientific thought leader for the Chapter who identifies emerging topics opportunities and incorporates them into our conservation agenda. The Director will represent the Conservancy and clearly articulate scientific information to numerous and diverse audiences.


  • Lead team to develop and implement science and on-the-ground practices and management that are aligned with the Chapter’s conservation priorities.
  • Work closely with the Chapter’s executive team and Board of Trustees as primary science advisor, strategist, and partner in conservation.
  • Foster culture of curiosity, learning, and innovation across a broad range of topics in support of the chapter’s clean water and climate resilience priorities.
  • Plan and measure the success of conservation projects from a scientific perspective.
  • Identify emerging trends, opportunities, and mission-critical gaps in scientific knowledge and pursue innovative and collaborative approaches to address them.
  • Work across Maryland, the District of Columbia, and the Mid-Atlantic Division to collaborate and partner with scientists to address questions central to our ability to most effectively achieve clean water and climate resilience.
  • Communicate with scientists and non-scientist conservation practitioners, philanthropy, government relations, and marketing/communications staff, and serve as a spokesperson and advocate for Conservancy initiatives.
  • Pursue grant funding to support mission-critical science needs.
  • Develop recommendations and take action in the face of uncertainty and/or with incomplete information.


  • Supports program objectives by working in a complex matrix organization environment.
  • Supervises program staff to develop and manage work plans and large project budgets.
  • Writes and manages grants and contracts.
  • Interprets guidelines, evaluates information and modifies processes to adapt to changing circumstances for the program.
  • Oversees a variety of information to staff and others, contributing to conservation projects and ensuring workflow.
  • Provides training for internal and external colleagues on ecological and conservation scientific principles.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, in hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.
  • Willingness to travel to organization-wide meetings and to project site offices.
  • Frequently make independent strategic decisions based on analysis, ambiguous information, and judgment


  • Master’s Degree in science related field and 4 years of experience or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience managing complex projects including project management skills, financial management, and coordinating the work of peers and partners.
  • Experience creating partnerships with conservation colleagues, agencies, and/or academic institutions.
  • Supervisory experience.
  • Written, visual, and verbal communication skills and experience translating complex technical and scientific issues to a broad range of audiences and across platforms (e.g. in-person presentations to social media).
  • Experience working and communicating with a wide range of people.
  • Experience manipulating, analyzing and interpreting statistical or environmental data.
  • Record of peer reviewed publications in scientific journals, original science papers, and/or synthesis papers.
  • Experience fundraising and/or writing grants and research proposals.


  • Multi-language and multi-cultural experiences appreciated.
  • Ability to engage in a wide range of conservation issues, analyze complex problems, rapidly build personal/team expertise on new issues, and develop strategic responses or solutions.
  • Ph.D. in ecology, biology, natural resources, or social science.
  • Proven ability to leverage applied scientific concepts and technical innovations for broader impact.
  • Experience with social sciences, particularly as it relates to the interrelationship between natural resource conservation and community health (social, economic and/or political).
  • Demonstrated ability to work across teams and collaboratively with a wide range of individuals that do not have a direct reporting relationship, including staff, partner organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders.
  • General understanding of environmental policy, government processes, environmental laws and regulations as they relate to habitat and species protection, natural resource use, and/or energy and infrastructure is a plus.
  • Actively listens to others. Fosters open exchange of ideas.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Experience in fundraising including writing proposals and interacting with public and private donors.


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The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of men and women of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

The successful applicant must meet the requirements of *The Nature Conservancy’s background screening process.*

Job Title: Director of Science

Location: Maryland

Job ID: 44918

Regular/Temporary: Regular

Full/Part Time: Full-Time