Science Director, California Water Program

The Nature Conservancy

Remote, California

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details Competitive

Who We Are

The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that we can create a world in which people and nature thrive. We’re rooted in our Mission and guided by our Values, which includes a Commitment to Diversity and Respect for People, Communities, and Cultures. Whether it’s career development, flexible schedules, or a rewarding mission, there’s lots of reasons to love life #insideTNC. Want a better insight to TNC? Check out our TNC Talent playlist on YouTube on Glassdoor.

Our goal is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that all our colleagues around the globe feel a sense of belonging, and that their unique contributions to our mission are valued. We’ll only achieve our Mission by hiring and engaging a diverse workforce that reflects the communities in which we work. In addition to the requirements in our postings, we recognize that people come with talent and experiences outside of a job. Diversity of experience and skills combined with passion is a key to innovation and a culture of inclusion! Please apply – we’d love to hear from you. To quote myriad TNC staff members, “you’ll join for our mission, and you’ll stay for our people.”

Your Position With TNC

The Science Director for the Conservancy’s Freshwater Program in California provides strategic, technical and scientific leadership and manages a multidisciplinary team to drive the science, scientific products and scientific collaborations needed to inform and inspire ambitious surface water and groundwater conservation initiatives both in and beyond California. The Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program focuses on achieving resilient and healthy rivers, thriving wetlands and sustainable groundwater-dependent ecosystems by transforming California into a hub of innovation and leadership in conservation. Our team of scientists, technologists and conservation practitioners utilize place-based demonstration, policy and science to drive California to a sustainable water future.


The Science Director for the California Water Program in TNC’s California Chapter provides science-based leadership to the Conservancy’s teams and initiatives to increase the pace and scale of conservation in and beyond California. They work with multidisciplinary teams to identify priorities and strategies for conservation engagement, and to ensure the delivery of the science needed to execute those strategies. They lead and manage a team of scientists to ensure that the Conservancy’s limited science capacity is focused on the most essential issues and at the most strategic level of engagement on those issues. They are a key partner with their counterpart in the Conservation Programs department, the Water Program Director, working to align and integrate the Conservancy’s science, policy, and place-based conservation work. They coordinate and collaborate with scientists internal and external to the organization to efficiently address priority questions and position the organization for influence and impact. They themselves advance research initiatives relevant to the Program’s primary strategies and a scientific body of work that models productivity, effective collaboration, thought leadership, and high impact science. They represent TNC and TNC Science externally in various fora, and routinely engage both technical and non-technical audiences including partners, stakeholders, industry, community groups, donors, and the media. They lead and assist in development of funding proposals to advance Conservancy strategies.


The California Water Science Director:

  • Provides executive-level scientific leadership.
  • Collaborates on cross-functional teams to develop and advance strategies to increase the pace and scale of biodiversity conservation, with an aim of demonstrating innovative, multi-benefit and collaborative approaches to conservation that are effective in California and that can be scaled and exported for application elsewhere.
  • Recruits, manages, and develops a talented, high-performing team of conservation scientist professionals.
  • Resolves complex problems using the scientific approach.
  • Collaborates with internal and external scientists and partners to enhance the conservation practices of others and establish TNC as a global leader in freshwater conservation science.
  • Develops and leverages a high impact scientific body of work aligned with primary Program strategies.
  • Cultivates and leverages strategic individual and institutional relationships in conservation science.
  • Plans and manages budgets of projects, grants, and contracts.
  • Participates in cultivating funding for Conservancy projects through outreach, proposal writing, and presentations.
  • Persuasively conveys the mission and priorities of TNC to diverse groups including major donors, industry, board members, and media.
  • Travels frequently within California and occasionally outside of California, including internationally.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain, and under physically demanding circumstances.


  • Ph.D. in science related field and 8 years related experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience supervising staff and teams, including mentoring, motivating, leading, setting objectives and managing performance.
  • Experience with building strategic relationships and science partnerships.
  • Experience conducting original research and publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • Experience fundraising and/or writing grants and research proposals.
  • Experience designing, organizing and directing complex multiple projects of strategic importance and leading a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Experience synthesizing and integrating research findings and lessons learned.
  • Experience with common software applications.
  • A valid driver’s license.


  • Passion for freshwater ecosystems in California and the role of science plays in advancing a framework for a sustainable water future.
  • Knowledge of California freshwater ecosystems and conservation issues and trends in the state.
  • Experience working as a scientist in a non-governmental organization.
  • Experience with systematic conservation planning.
  • Ability to make independent decisions based on incomplete information, and identify, assess, and manage associated risks.
  • Demonstrated effective leadership and management of staff and teams, including teams comprised of non-direct reports.
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to effectively communicate complex information, including through the media.
  • Political and strategic savvy, and ability to translate science to policy.
  • Excellent presentation and writing skills.
  • Ability to develop work plans and project budgets and manage performance to those plans.
  • Ability to network effectively in scientific communities and maintain strong strategic relationships.
  • Multi-lingual and or cross-cultural experience appreciated.

Auto Safety Policy

This position requires a valid driver's license and compliance with TNC’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." To learn more about the Auto Safety Program, visit under the FAQ section.

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.

What We Bring

Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on. Through grassroots action, TNC has grown to become one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. Thanks to more than 1 million members, over 400 scientists, and the dedicated efforts of our diverse staff, we impact conservation throughout the world!

The Nature Conservancy offers a competitive, comprehensive benefits package including health care benefits, flexible spending accounts, 401(k) plan to include employer match, parental leave, accrued paid time off, life insurance, disability coverage, employee assistance program, other life and work well-being benefits. Learn more about our benefits in the Culture Tab on

We’re proud to offer a work environment that is supportive of the health, well-being, and flexibility needs of the people we employ!


To apply for job ID 51607, submit your materials online by using the Apply Now button at by 11:59 PM EST on June 20th 2022. Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact

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 people 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.

Do you have military experience? Visit our U.S. Military Skills Translator to match your military experience with our current job openings!

TNC is committed to offering accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application process. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please send a note to with Request for Accommodation in the subject line.

Where legally permissible, TNC requires all new employees to be fully vaccinated and willing to keep up to date with vaccines that protect against COVID-19.   By accepting an offer of employment, you agree to comply with this requirement, unless you are entitled to a legally mandated exemption.

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