Restoration Program Director

The Wetlands Initiative

Chicago, Illinois

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $105,000 - $110,000
Required Experience 7+ years

The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) designs, restores, and creates wetlands by innovating, collaborating, and employing sound science to improve biodiversity, plant and wildlife habitat, water quality, and our climate.

The organization is looking for a Restoration Program Director (Director) to play a leadership role in an expanding program. The Director is responsible for the planning and execution of all of TWI’s on-the-ground restoration work, generating sound scientific information related to the organization’s mission and work, and overseeing the maintenance of all sites owned or managed by the organization.

TWI is a growing regional leader showing through its restoration efforts how wetlands with associated habitats, often long drained and degraded, can be returned to diverse, high-quality, functioning ecosystems that perform critical ecological services like cleaning water, developing habitat, and sequestering carbon. A highly collaborative organization, TWI develops and conducts restoration and research projects in close partnership with a range of other organizations and agencies. Current major restoration projects where TWI leads, or co-leads implementation include:

  • The Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes
  • Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
  • multiple locations across the bi-state Calumet Region

TWI also plays an advisory role with partner organizations, developing conceptual designs for wetland restoration work and strategies for successful implementation. Our restoration work often centers on more-challenging situations: places where historic wetlands were destroyed or degraded to the point that it isn’t obvious that they are restorable or how they might be restored. 

The Director is a member of TWI’s leadership team, reporting to the Executive Director, and is actively involved in setting and implementing strategic direction and programmatic goals.

With TWI’s Water Resources Program Director, the Restoration Program Director co-leads TWI’s field projects, research, evaluation of potential new project sites, and programmatic planning. Together they serve as the public face of the organization’s mission work.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Help shape the strategic direction and vision for the organization in collaboration with the Executive Director, Water Resources Program Director, Board of Directors, and the other members of the leadership team.
  • Hire and manage restoration, scientific and site-management staff: set and communicate clear goals and objectives, actively partner with staff to identify, and address challenges, and ensure that TWI responsibilities are conducted in an effective and timely manner.
  • Co-manage a full-time GIS specialist.
  • Maintain strong professional relationships with non-governmental partners both current and future.
  • Maintain strong professional relationships with government agencies and agency personnel having a regulatory or other direct interest in TWI’s work, e.g., the USDA. Forest Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and others.
  • Develop conceptual plans, scopes of work, and budgets for all existing and proposed restoration projects, including capital expenditures.
  • Collaborate with the Grants Manager to develop budgets and provide technical/design information for project grant proposals, assist with needed monitoring and grant reporting on project progress, and participate in funder site visits and other interactions as needed. 
  • Regularly track and review project expenditures against grant budgets; work closely with the Grants Manager to address any issues that arise. 
  • Prepare or oversee the preparation of technical documents, reports, proposals, and applications submitted to agencies, grant makers, and others.
  • Develop monitoring protocols and conduct field studies to assess the progress and success of TWI restoration projects.
  • Lead or co-lead field studies and planning for potential restoration projects within TWI’s region of focus.
  • Prepare talks, lead informational tours, and present findings on TWI’s restoration work.
  • Assist in preparing TWI’s annual budget and workplan and participate in long-range strategic planning.
  • Develop board meeting agendas and presentations in collaboration with the Executive Director and other members of the leadership team, communicating regularly with the directors regarding restoration activities and needs.
  • Work closely with Development, Finance, and Communications staff to identify needs, cultivate program funding, and support and increase awareness of TWI among key audiences.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • At least 10 years’ successful experience conducting, leading, and managing ecological restoration, including deploying best practices and techniques.
  • A master’s degree in a relevant field. (A Ph.D. in a relevant field is desirable but not required.)
  • A thorough understanding of hydrology.
  • Experience in the restoration of a range of wetlands, such as lakes, marsh, meadow, prairie, groundwater, and/or riparian systems.
  • Experience working with upland and wetland plant communities and the identification of component species. An excellent working knowledge of Midwestern flora and fauna is preferred.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the conservation of natural resources.
  • Demonstrated experience hiring and supervising professional staff.
  • Strong planning, organizational and problem-solving skills.
  • Strong experience in budget development and management.
  • Demonstrated successful experience in the field of ecological restoration.
  • Successful experience collaborating with external partners to achieve project goals.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, a self-directed work ethic, and a proven ability to work effectively in a fast-paced team environment.
  • Ability to work on multiple projects at once while developing new initiatives.
  • Proficiency with computers, databases, and office software systems.
  • Flexibility to occasionally work weekends and evenings.
  • Current valid driver’s license and willingness to travel to remote sites. 
  • Ability to walk on multiple terrains and outside in all climates.

TWI offers excellent benefits including generous paid leave, medical, dental and vision insurance, as well as a 403(b)-retirement fund match starting at one year of employment. The starting salary range is $105,000-$110,000 annually. 

TWI has a relatively flexible work from home schedule generally requiring at least one day a week in the office. This position requires a large percentage of time in the field. Applicants for this position should expect to be in the office on some days when not in the field, to contribute to and help lead a welcoming team culture.


To apply:

Please send a cover letter with your resume as PDF files describing your interest in this position and your fit with the qualifications specified above, to the attention of jobs@wetlands-initiative.org, with the subject line “Program Director”.


The Wetlands Initiative is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) employer which does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identification, age, veteran status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or marital status. Diversity of all kinds is a core value that we are actively pursuing.

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Admin & Leadership, General / Stewardship, Hydrology, Restoration
Tags GIS, Wetland