Senior Manager (Wetland Conservation)

Audubon Society

Chicago, IL, USA 🇺🇸


Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action.  By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of approximately 450 local chapters, 120 campus chapters, 17 state and regional offices, 34 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country. 

The National Audubon Society is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. We are committed to a policy of nondiscrimination, inclusion and equal opportunity and actively seek a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

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Position Summary

The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet, providing clean drinking water to 40 million people. They also serve as a global resource to millions of birds, providing critical habitat for breeding, for stopovers during migration across the Americas, and for wintering along the shorelines and on the lakes themselves. Globally significant populations of shorebirds, waterbirds, raptors, and migratory landbirds are all intricately connected to the sustainability of a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem. A regional office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Great Lakes has developed a comprehensive Great Lakes plan with thorough ties to members and the culture of the Great Lakes region.  We are working to empower our network in the region to protect and restore wetlands and riparian areas that improve habitat for breeding and migratory birds, develops our coastal communities’ resiliency to climate change, and improves water quality for birds and people. 

The Senior Manager, Wetland Conservation will be an integral member of the Audubon Great Lakes team with excellent integration to National Audubon Society conservation strategies that focus on Climate Change, Water, and Working Lands. This Senior Manager will be responsible for designing and implementing projects that restore wetlands, floodplains, and riparian corridors creating natural infrastructure solutions to water issues in Audubon’s priority regions across the Great Lakes. These projects will strengthen Audubon’s enthusiastic goals for the region to recover breeding marsh bird populations while improving water quality and developing climate resiliency. Working closely with public agencies, tribes, NGO partners, Audubon’s network of chapters and volunteers, the Senior Manager, Wetland Conservation will restore habitat for birds and people while supporting Audubon’s policy and engagement teams in building a diverse constituency that defends and creates meaningful public policy across the five-state Great Lakes region (WI, IL, IN, MI, OH).  

With established federal funding mechanisms and continued support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Farm Bill programs, as well as state initiatives such as H2Ohio, Audubon has an opportunity to demonstrate and significantly grow nature’s capacity to naturally filter water by promoting and advancing wetlands and natural infrastructure that reduces sediment and nutrient loading to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Watershed. The Senior Manager will work in priority geographies to design and implement these projects. 

This role will report to the Director of Conservation, Great Lakes, and Upper Mississippi Flyway.

Essential Functions

  • Lead implementation of wetland restoration and other natural infrastructure projects, collaborating with partners and executing habitat and hydrological fieldwork led by staff and/or contractors.
  • Survey wetland hydrological conditions and oversee the design/engineering of hydrological restoration, including the installation of water control structures.
  • Develop and manage grant and project budgets, quarterly billings, and financial reports in close coordination with finance and administrative staff.
  • Develop and manage contracts, grant (programmatic) reporting, and project implementation.
  • Communicate with funders to update progress on projects.
  • Supervise consultants and contractors.
  • Working closely with the Director of Conservation and in coordination with Upper Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway key team members staff, identify, conceptualize and prioritize strategic wetland, floodplain, and riparian restoration projects.
  • Build relationships and partnerships with public and private landowners to advance protection goals in priority geographies.
  • Implement strategies to engage people, especially Indigenous communities in wetland conservation.
  • Work with national and regional science staff and landowner partners to ensure effective communication around adaptive administration.
  • Work with national and regional science, communication, and policy staff, as well as Audubon Chapters, Centers, and other regional partners to communicate results of restoration and science projects.
  • Develop and facilitate workshops, meetings, and calls with agency, non-profit, and landowners to gather and disseminate information.
  • Identify and work with colleagues to secure additional funding resources to support Audubon’s Great Lakes Initiative.
  • Based on restoration projects and other related research, develop reports that analyze and interpret results, and present findings to managers, scientists, activists, and the public.

Qualifications and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in hydrology, ecology, natural resource management or related field.
  • 7 + years field experience in conservation planning and/or restoration techniques and significant experience in riparian, floodplain, wetland, or estuarine habitats. Experience in bird conservation ecology a plus.
  • Proven experience overseeing complex or multiple projects through to success, including meeting financial goals, metrics, project deadlines, and coordinating the work of key staff and partners.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills, judgment, and a demonstrated ability to collaborate and build coalitions with a wide range of individuals and organizations.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills and the ability to synthesize and communicate technical and complex information to both technical and non‐technical audiences.
  • Demonstrated experience with grant writing, writing scientific reports and writing for a general, non-science audience.
  • Experience analyzing and synthesizing spatial data such as soil surveys, topographic maps in ArcGIS.
  • Ability to work autonomously and as part of a team.
  • Comfort navigating contentious regulatory and political issues to seek common ground with diverse interests.
  • Excellent judgment and a deep concern for the safety of staff, volunteers, and the public.
  • A commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and a vision for equitable conservation.
  • Ability to perform tasks requiring physical exertion, outdoors, in all weather conditions, and on difficult terrain with or without accommodation.
  • Valid U.S. driver’s license and a willingness to travel throughout the Great Lakes Region is a must.
  • Must be willing to work a flexible schedule including evenings, early mornings, and weekends as the job demands.