Director (Northwest Straits Commission)

Mt. Vernon, WA, United States 🇺🇸

The Washington State Department of Ecology has an incredible opportunity for an experienced strategic thinker, community collaborator and leader to manage and direct the Northwest Straits Commission, an organization focused on restoring and protecting the health of the marine ecosystem in the Northwest Straits region of Puget Sound since 1998.

The Northwest Straits Commission is a congressionally authorized, regional coordinating body that supports the work of 7 county-based Marine Resources Committees (MRCs). It is nationally recognized as a collaborative model for marine conservation that brings together scientists and community volunteers. The unique and innovative approach combines sound science and ecosystem perspective together with citizen stewardship to protect and restore Puget Sound.

The Northwest Straits Commission Director position manages all aspects of the Northwest Straits Commission including policy, financial, and supervisory responsibilities and works closely with a 13 member board that provides guidance, regional perspective, and funding oversight to carry out projects and tasks of the strategic plan (Download PDF reader). The Director represents the commission in a variety of high level forums and is highly visible in Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, Whatcom, Skagit, Island, and Snohomish counties. The Director provides briefings and testimony to legislators and their staff, agency management, tribal leaders and local decision making groups.
This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced leader who wants to put their expertise and vision to work in service of a proven organization that values diversity, marine conservation, science and community driven work.
This position is located at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in western Skagit County, Washington.
To learn more about our agency, please visit our website at and check us out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or our blog.

Northwest Straits Commission Director
The Northwest Straits Commission—an innovative organization established by Congress to protect and restore the unique, historically rich marine ecosystem located in northwest Washington State—is seeking a full-time Director with the vision to lead the organization’s strategic mission.
The Northwest Straits Commission provides an ecosystem focus on the marine resources of the Northwest Straits, helps mobilize science to focus on key priorities, guides and provides resources to the seven county-based Marine Resource Committees (MRCs).
This position exercises a high degree of independence and accountability in working with policy and technical managers within local, state and tribal governments and private organizations and provides briefings and testimony to legislators and staff, agency managers and decision making groups.
The Director is responsible for the overall implementation of the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative and is the lead staff for the Commission in carrying out its agenda and, with the assistance of a small staff, managing day-to-day operations. The position is housed at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in western Skagit County, WA.
Some of the key work activities for the Northwest Straits Commission Director position include:
Organizational support:
  • Establishes and maintains regular professional communication with seven Marine Resource Committees and members of the Northwest Straits Commission.
  • Provides leadership and vision for regional projects, day to day operation of the Commission and Annual MRC Conference, and maintains strong review of grant proposals with highly supportive feedback processes.
  • Identifies priority topics for Northwest Straits Commission decisions and discussions, meets with the Executive Committee (monthly) and External Relations Committee (quarterly), identifies and recruits candidates for gubernatorial appointments and provides guidance for MRC leadership.
  • Pursues funding opportunities for MRCs and Commission projects, writes grants, and tracks existing funding and grant budgets.
  • Works with members of federal congressional delegation and state legislative representatives to identify opportunities for legislative support including congressional reauthorization.
  • Leads and oversees development and implementation of the annual workplan and budget for the Commission.
  • Coordinates projects and tasks with the Northwest Straits Foundation.
Regional coordination and communication:
  • Serves as the spokesperson for the Commission. Represents the NWSC to local elected officials in 7 NWS counties, communicates the importance of local work as part of the NWSC regional accomplishments, provides presentations to elected officials, and participates in Puget Sound Day on the Hill and other efforts to promote support for Puget Sound recovery.
  • Works cooperatively with the Northwest Straits Tribes to identify and make progress on issues of mutual interest.
  • Represents the Northwest Straits Commission at regional meetings such as the Ecosystem Coordination Board and ensures that NWSC work is integrated into regional plans such as the Action Agenda.
  • Participates with planning processes and events related to Puget Sound recovery.
  • Communicates the mission and objectives of the NWSC to regional partners.
  • Develops and carries out internal and external communication strategies including social media, and represents the NWSC to the media and in other high profile situations.
Regional Project Implementation:
  • Oversees staff work to develop agendas, and identifies speakers and target audience for ocean acidification forums for local leaders.
  • Facilitates workshops and local forums on priority topics of interest to MRC members.
  • Translates regional environmental issues of concern into potential projects and develops work plans to carry them out.
Strategic planning and vision:
  • Provides leadership in the development of processes to update and check in on the strategic plan progress.
  • Tracks emerging environmental issues of importance which relate to NWSC goals.
  • Oversees the organization and preparation to carry out annual retreats for Commission members.
Staff supervision and support:
  • Creates and reviews job descriptions; and hires, trains, supports and reviews staff performance.
  • Coordinates day to day tasks and work assignments of Commission staff, committees and contractors.
  • Supervises completion of annual reporting requirements.
  • Identifies priorities and assists with problem solving.
  • Provides support for training opportunities.
  • Maintains morale and demonstrates adaptability in changing landscape.
This recruitment will remain open until filled. The initial screening will be February 15, 2018.  In order to be considered for the initial screening, please submit an application on or before February 14, 2018. The agency reserves the right to make an appointment any time after the initial screening date.

Required Qualifications:
A Master’s Degree AND five (5) years of relevant experience managing an environmental program.
A Bachelor’s Degree AND six (6) years of relevant experience managing an environmental program.

Additional knowledge, skills and abilities should include:

  • Strong oral and written communications skills.
  • Experience with federal, state, local and tribal government processes, and federal and state legislative processes.
  • The ability to work closely with elected and appointed officials and agency management.
  • An awareness and appreciation of the Northwest Straits Initiative history and purpose and commitment to the community-based, volunteer driven operating structure of the Initiative.
  • Strong group facilitation and strategic planning skills.                                         
  • The ability to maintain strong and continuous communication with all internal and external partners and manage a small staff in a team oriented, hands-on style.
  • An understanding of restoration and protection needs and challenges for marine resources in the Northwest Straits area.
  • Experience developing projects that have a lasting impact to protect the health of the marine waters.

Desired Qualifications: 
  • At least 5 years of experience in an environmental, planning or management field and in-depth knowledge of management principles and practices, policy formulation and working in a consensus format.
  • Strong understanding of marine waters environmental issues and needs particularly in the Puget Sound.
  • Strong leadership and management skills that promote a productive and supportive work environment among staff and Commission members.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
  • Respect and appreciation for volunteers.
  • Knowledge of local, state, federal and tribal government processes.
  • Knowledge of actions needed to protect and restore shorelines and coastal waters.
  • Strong collaboration and facilitation skills.
  • Creative problem solving skills.
  • Ability to project and carry out a bi-partisan approach to organizational programs, discussions and communications.
  • Ability to focus on priorities and measure and track success.
  • Ability to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and find new solutions.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects and issues.
  • Ability to work effectively with teams and work constructively with advisory groups.
  • Ability to take direction from a volunteer/appointed body; and knowledge of local, state, federal and tribal government processes.
  • Ability to appreciate and value individual needs and diversity.
  • Experience developing and administering grant programs.
Special Requirements/Conditions of Employment:
  • Possess a valid driver’s license.
Supplemental Information
Application Instructions:
Please include the following documents as an attachment to your application:
  • A cover letter describing how your experience, skills and abilities meet the required qualifications of this position.
  • A resume outlining your professional experience.
Please complete the applicant profile when applying for this position. Or, you may paste the text of your resume within the profile’s resume text field.

Please read the supplemental questions carefully and answer completely. Incomplete responses, including “please see resume” may disqualify you from further consideration.

Department of Ecology employees, please make sure to answer the agency-wide questions regarding permanent status as a classified employee within the Washington General Service or Washington Management Service. Do not forget to select Department of Ecology as a response to question 2, and type your personnel ID number for question 3. If you are not sure of your status or do not know your personnel ID number, please contact Human Resources at (360) 407-6186.

If you are reading this announcement in print format, please visit to access the online recruitment system. Click on “Look for Jobs” and select Dept. of Ecology under the “Department” search list. Click “Apply Search.”

Other Information:
If you need assistance applying for this job, please call Human Resources at (360) 407-6186 or e-mail [email protected]. Please do not call this number or send an email to this address to follow-up the status of your application. You can view the latest status of your application on your profile’s main page.

If you have specific questions about the position, please email Terry Stevens at: [email protected]. Please do not contact Terry to inquire about the status of your application.

The act of submitting application materials electronically is considered affirmation that the information is complete and truthful. The state may verify this information and any untruthful or misleading answers are cause for rejection of your application or dismissal if employed.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons of disability, persons over 40 years of age, veterans or people with military status, and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application/testing process or this job announcement in an alternative format may call (360) 407-6186. Applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing may call the Washington Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6388.