Director of Freshwater Programs

Portland, OR, United States 🇺🇸

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working to make a positive impact around the world in 69 countries, all 50 United States, and your backyard. Founded in 1951, the mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. 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 Freshwater Programs oversees freshwater policy, science, protection, and community relations for the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Provides leadership for TNC’s freshwater conservation work and establishes overall freshwater conservation priorities.


The Director of Freshwater Programs is responsible for leading The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to conserve and restore freshwater biodiversity in the state of Oregon. S/he will determine conservation priorities, develop program strategies, determine budgetary requirements, and implement freshwater conservation projects. The successful candidate will help lead regulatory and legislative changes to ensure that conservation goals are achieved at a statewide or larger regional scale and makes a lasting impact. S/he will lead the implementation of on-the-ground conservation actions in high leverage basins across the state. S/he will serve as a key contact and maintain productive relationships with government agencies, conservation partners, academic and research scientists, and communities of difference as well as collaborate with the philanthropy department to steward and solicit charitable gifts from the private sector to advance the Conservancy’s mission.

Key components of the position include: implement freshwater conservation strategies statewide as well as within specific geographies; create enabling conditions for change and advance statewide water policy; lead efforts locally and nationally within the Conservancy to protect surface and groundwater-dependent ecosystems; implement restoration projects on priority wetlands and rivers; develop freshwater technical capacity and deliver support to Conservancy field staff across the state; link freshwater conservation efforts in Oregon to the Conservancy’s regional and global freshwater and cities programs; work across other programs to ensure freshwater conservation outcomes are achieved (e.g. within forest, desert and coast initiatives); build and maintain effective internal and external partnerships to conduct the body of work; and supervise and manage the Freshwater team.


  • Leads the freshwater team in implementing Oregon’s strategic plan for freshwater conservation throughout Oregon.

  • Provides expertise on a variety of freshwater issues including conservation of groundwater-dependent ecosystems, water management, water storage, water rights, climate change resilience, and river and wetland restoration.

  • Develops strategies and lead a program to incorporate and align human interests with conservation action in the key basins, including the Willamette, Klamath, and Harney.

  • Creates enabling conditions and conducts complex negotiations to leverage the Conservancy’s science and priorities into federal and state water policy improvements.

  • Develops effective partnerships with federal and state agencies, scientific and academic institutions, environmental groups, and other public and private organizations engaged in freshwater protection issues to develop and implement key projects.

  • Works closely with other conservation teams, science staff, and external affairs team to develop and advance freshwater strategies.

  • Serves as Oregon’s lead freshwater contact and representative to the Conservancy’s regional and global teams.

  • Develop a strategy or set of strategies in the Willamette River Basin that will benefit people and align with the Conservancy’s Global Cities Initiative.

  • Contributes to Oregon Chapter programs broadly through regular participation on the Conservation Strategy Team and the Leadership Council.

  • Drafts grants and raise public funding to implement freshwater goals and assist the Oregon’s philanthropy team with implementation of strategies to secure private funds.

  • Engages with varied audiences to increase awareness and passion about conservation, including communities of difference.

  • Oversees (or sponsor) and provides support for the work of outside technical staff, contractors, interns, and volunteers in achieving the goals of the program and carrying out specific conservation and restoration projects.

  • Frequent travel domestically with evening and weekend hours. May work in variable weather conditions and remote locations.

  • Establishes and maintains optimal performance standards within budget working closely with the Operations Team to ensure compliance with public awards and/or contracts.

  • Supervises the freshwater team with staff in remote locations.


  • BA/BS degree and 7 years of experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.

  • Experience managing complex or multiple projects, including managing finances and coordinating the work of other professionals and partners.

  • Supervisory experience, including motivating, leading, setting objectives and managing performance.

  • Experience developing partnerships (partners, community, government).

  • Negotiation skills.


  • Knowledge of freshwater species, natural communities, ecosystems and ecosystem processes and an understanding of their conservation needs. Current trends and practices in freshwater conservation as well as state and federal politics and programs related to freshwater resources.

  • Knowledge of water law or other western prior appropriation water codes, and water rights permitting.

  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Demonstrated experience influencing, developing and implementing conservation policy and plans.

  • Politically savvy and experienced in partnership development (partners, communities, government agencies, and communities of difference). Achieves results by persuading, convincing, or influencing others.

  • Proven ability to apply scientific concepts and technical innovations for on-the-ground conservation purposes.

  • Experience in leading and managing complex projects, including managing finances and coordinating the work of other professionals and partners.

  • Ability to work across teams and in situations where employees are not direct reports to achieve conservation goals.

  • Proficient at listening and speaking with and in front of varied audiences on conservation topics.

  • Experience in fundraising including writing proposals and interacting with public and private donors.

  • Frequently make independent strategic decisions based on analysis, ambiguous information, and judgment.

  • Effectively expresses messages verbally and in writing. Actively listens to others. Fosters open exchange of issues. Is timely with information.

  • MA/MS or higher degree in a water or natural resource related field preferred.


This position requires a valid driver’s license and compliance with the Conservancy’s Auto Safety Program. Employees may not drive Conservancy-owned/leased vehicles, rental cars, or personal vehicles on behalf of the Conservancy if considered “high risk drivers.” Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at

Employment in this position will be contingent upon completion of a Vehicle Use Agreement, which may include a review of the prospective employee’s motor vehicle record.


To apply to position number 44869, submit resume (required) and cover letter separately using the upload buttons. All applications must be submitted in the system prior to 8:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on March 13, 2017.

Click “submit” to apply for the position or “save for later” to create a draft application for future submission. Once submitted, applications cannot be revised or edited. Failure to complete required fields may result in your application being disqualified from consideration.

If you experience technical issues, please refer to our applicant user guide or contact [email protected]*LI-


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 Freshwater Programs

Location: Oregon

Job ID: 44869

Regular/Temporary: Regular

Full/Part Time: Full-Time