Environmental Flows Senior Project Director

San Francisco or Sacramento, CA, US


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 www.nature.org/about-us 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 Senior Environmental Flows Project Director oversees TNC’s Navarro River Project and leads efforts to amplify the environmental flows strategies demonstrated on the Navarro across the North Coast. S/he also supports amplification of TNC’s other environmental flows demonstration projects statewide. S/he provides strategic leadership and support for the Conservancy’s environmental flows work and collaborates with the Associate Director to establish priorities for TNC’s Environmental Flows Initiative. S/he serves as a primary liaison between project staff and key environmental flows stakeholders, including government agencies, foundations, and other conservation organizations.


  • Serves as a lead contact to government agencies, other conservation organizations, foundations and the academic community to advance TNC’s Environmental Flows initiative.
  • Develops key partnerships with public & private organizations to amplify TNC’s Environmental Flows demonstration projects to achieve regional or statewide impact.
  • Defines conservation priorities in the area of Environmental Flows, with the Associate Director.
  • Negotiates complex and innovative solutions with government agencies and landowners to conserve and protect natural communities, and develops and implements conservation strategies.
  • Develops and executes on a long-range, strategic plan for improving Environmental Flows across California.
  • Assembles, leads and motivates multi-disciplinary teams to achieve measurable results.
  • Advances high level internal and external partnerships, including with leaders in agencies, corporations, agriculture, NGOs, and academic and research institutions.
  • Fosters changes in agricultural practices that provide for both continued economic benefit to local communities and protects/restores habitats that provide benefits to wildlife.
  • Works with finance to develop and manage budgets that support the strategic direction of the Environmental Flows program.
  • Manages a variety of external contractors to produce key planning reports and products.


TNC-California’s Water Program has recently completed a strategic planning process that identified Environmental Flows as one of the highest priorities for the program over the next decade. Through engagement in scientific research, place-based demonstrations, and policy reform, we aim to significantly improve flows to benefit the many freshwater species and ecosystems that rely on California’s rivers, streams and wetlands. Our on-the-ground demonstration projects, in places like the Navarro River, allow us to test solutions to environmental flows problems that we can then work to amplify regionally and, where possible, statewide.

The Senior Environmental Flows Project Director will report to the Associate Director, Water Program and will work closely with other Water Program, Science, and External Affairs staff. S/he will lead multi-disciplinary, fully matrixed teams to achieve conservation results in the Navarro River watershed and beyond. Areas of focus will include:

  1. Statewide Environmental Flows Initiative
  2. Co-leads (w/Associate Director) Strategic Outreach for Environmental Flows Plan
  3. Co-leads (w/Associate Director) development of statewide vision for environmental flows policy reform
  4. Supports resource agency uptake of TNC’s environmental flows science
  5. Navarro River Project Execution and Amplification
  6. Leads execution of Navarro River Project, and responsible for all Navarro project deliverables to funders
  7. Coordinates all Navarro project science efforts and project implementation
  8. Leads efforts to shape North Coast instream flows by sharing lessons from the Navarro with key stakeholders
  9. External Partnership
  10. Leads TNC Water Program strategic outreach for the Salmon and Steelhead Coalition strategies, focused water use permit streamlining, as well modifications to the North Coast Instream Flow Policy
  11. Leads TNC Water Program strategy to ensure that the environmentally harmful impacts of medical and recreational marijuana grows are addressed to improve instream flows
  12. Works in close partnership with TNC External Affairs staff to achieve policy objectives

S/he will assemble and lead teams of science, project, policy and contractors to develop plans that deliver conservation outcomes with a particular focus on environmental flows. S/he will serve as a spokesperson and ambassador for our work. Additional duties will include engaging stakeholders, funders and policymakers, executing on conservation strategies and monitoring and assessing progress.


  • BA/BS degree and 10 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience directing a major program or project of strategic importance, including management/supervision of multi-disciplinary teams and meeting deadlines.
  • Experience working with current trends and practices in environmental flows(s).
  • Experience developing partnerships, particularly with state and/or federal agencies.
  • Experience influencing, developing and implementing conservation policy and plans at the state or country level.
  • Experience with financial management of a large program.


  • Advanced degree in water-related science, law, or policy and 7-10 years of relevant experience.
  • Demonstrated experience influencing, developing and implementing regional or statewide conservation policy and plans, with a preference for experience with California or Western states’ water law and policy.
  • Proven skill in engaging partners in government, industry, science and the NGO community and in developing and cultivating high-level conservation contacts.
  • Experience developing and implementing strategic outreach and communications, particularly to state and federal natural resource agencies.
  • Demonstrated leadership and visionary qualities and able to work effectively with and through others in a decentralized and geographically dispersed organization.
  • Experience directing a major program or project of strategic importance, including management/supervision of multi-disciplinary teams and meeting deadlines.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience with current practices and policies in Environmental Flows, preferably in CA or the West.
  • Experience in successfully managing team members to set and achieve realistic, but ambitious results.
  • Experience in cultivating individual donors, private foundations, and successful track record of obtaining government grants for conservation projects.


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 www.nature.org/careers.

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.


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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.

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Job Title: Environmental Flows Senior Project Director

Location: California

Job ID: 44357

Regular/Temporary: Regular

Full/Part Time: Full-Time