Vice President & Executive Director, Audubon California

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Oakland, CA, United States

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30+ days ago

The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state, regional, national, and international programs, nature centers, and chapters have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. As a sentinel species, we recognize that the fate of birds is inextricably tied to the fate of us all.

Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the United States and seven countries in 17 state and regional offices, 41 nature centers, and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Together as one Audubon, we aspire to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss.

Audubon is committed to a culture of workplace excellence, where our talented and diverse staff are deeply engaged, with a strong sense of belonging. The birds Audubon pledges to protect differ in color, size, behavior, geographical preference, and countless other ways. By honoring and celebrating the equally remarkable diversity of the human species, Audubon will bring new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout the hemisphere.
Position Summary:

Audubon California was established in 1996 as a field program of the National Audubon Society, overseeing the organization's properties and leading conservation efforts. But our work in California goes back to the earliest days of the national organization, even before its formal founding. Audubon's legacy of conservation and activism in the Golden State establishes it as a force for conservation along the Pacific Flyway.

Audubon California (AC) represents an ever-expanding flock: with nearly 163,000 members and supporters, 49 chapters across the state, 5 nature centers and sanctuaries, and other properties we manage around the state. Audubon California’s varied conservation work – and our passionate supporters – give the birds we love a fighting chance, while creating a better future for us all.

Audubon’s work is just as interconnected as the ecosystems we work to save. Successful bird conservation requires us to weave together a broad spectrum of people, cross-cutting policies, and diverse places across the state to deliver lasting impacts.

Audubon’s work always starts with people – from our dedicated membership to our staff scientists and educators, to our expansive partnership network that includes farmers, legislators, environmental justice advocates, and conservation organizations. Audubon is consistently the bridge between diverse and often conflicting stakeholders, bringing people together to craft durable practical solutions in the places birds need most.

In California, Audubon members helped save the California Condor and remove the Aleutian Canada Goose from the Endangered Species List. Audubon California took the lead in designing and shepherding securing habitat at Owens Lake through a combination of policymaking and grassroots conservation, resulting in a sustainable habitat that has served as a model for other conservation projects.

With so many conservation challenges, Audubon must prioritize where to invest time, funding, and political capital. In California, we work on strategic projects in every major landscape. For example, along the coast, Audubon advances protections and restoration in 4 major estuaries, providing habitat, access to nature, and improved coastal resilience for millions of Californians. In the Central Valley, Audubon is focused on protecting surface and ground water for the last 5 percent of California’s remaining wetlands, the critical backbone of the Pacific Flyway. Audubon’s urban centers, the Audubon Center at Debs Park and the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, are inclusive spaces that welcome community members to learn about and participate in the transformational conservation efforts Audubon California leads, while enjoying the beautiful wildlife these efforts support. Centers host summer camps, youth conservation leadership programs, numerous volunteer opportunities, and serve as community hubs for environmental justice and advocate work, expanding the Audubon network and training new generations of conservation advocates.

Audubon’s policy staff works hand in hand with staff scientists and educators, chapters, our members and close allies, and other interested stakeholders such as farmers and water districts, to craft and deliver science-based policy solutions that will endure. In the past ten years, Audubon was central to passing legislation to ban toxic lead ammunition in California to save the California Condor, securing permanent protections for migratory birds, and establishing ambitious conservation goals such as “30 by 30” and other nature-based solutions to climate change. Audubon will continue to leverage its 163,000 members and supporters, 49 chapters, and extensive network of partners to meet directly with legislators and agency leaders to secure legislative, budget, and other policy wins at the regional, state, and federal levels.

Audubon California is well-positioned to contribute solutions to the immense conservation challenges ahead.
Essential Functions:

Strategy Development and Organizational Leadership

  • Aligned with Audubon’s overall conservation goals and strategies, lead in the design and implementation of the strategic goals that align with National strategic goals and initiatives that result in the organization’s increased statewide capacity to achieve the conservation of priority birds and their habitats. Priorities include coastal habitat, interior wetlands and riparian corridors, protection of vulnerable desert landscapes, ecologically-sustainable water management, nature-based climate solutions and policy, and community education, engagement, and empowerment.
  • Provide leadership, management, and mentoring to staff.
  • Integrate the values of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging into all aspects of Audubon’s work, including exterior-facing conservation campaigns and internal work plans and workplace culture.
  • Secure and focus resources on the most critical, high-leverage projects and strategies, including policy development and public engagement.
  • Leverage the impact of Audubon California’s broad membership, partnerships, centers and sanctuaries to achieve state and flyway goals.
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the state office, including setting financial and programmatic goals, analyzing results, and taking corrective actions, in close collaboration with California’s staff; ensure that all Audubon financial standards, operating policies, programmatic commitments, and legal requirements are met.

Fundraising and External Relations

  • Partner with Audubon’s development team to cultivate and solicit new and existing major donors, foundations, corporations, and government agencies to significantly increase contributions.
  • Represent Audubon California throughout the region to raise the profile and visibility of our priorities and impact with funders, partners, policy makers, and the public, resulting in deeper donor investment.
  • Strengthen the financially sustainable business and development plans for the region with a focus on expanding new funding sources, inspiring new donors, and cultivating strategic partnerships with agencies and other NGOs.
  • Support fundraising for national priority projects with Audubon’s leadership and development teams. Collaborate meaningfully with other Audubon state programs and national development staff on donor strategies.

The Executive Director will manage a budget of $6.5M and lead a team of 31 employees. The senior leadership team for the state, reporting to the Executive Director, include Deputy Director, Director of Conservation, Development Director, and Policy Director. There are eighteen state or regional Executive Directors across the national Audubon network that the ED may regularly turn to for peer and strategy support. Further, national development, marketing, conservation, equity and inclusion, and network teams are available for further counsel and support. It is preferred that this position be based in the state headquarters in Oakland.

Qualifications and Experience:

The incoming Vice President and Executive Director must have demonstrated success in implementing innovative conservation, policy, engagement, and development strategies. Building on the successes across the State, the Executive Director must set strategy to prioritize programming and identify opportunities for the greatest conservation impact and align the network to achieve set goals and priorities. They must also inspire the region's decision-makers, conservation partners, and philanthropic community to invest in Audubon's conservation vision and strategic plan.

The successful candidate will possess the following education and experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management, business, conservation or related field preferred.
  • 10 years’ progressive professional experience, to include 3-5 years at a senior management level with comparable staff and budget responsibilities.
  • Strong leadership skills, with an entrepreneurial spirit and strong business and management skills; demonstrated ability to inspire and motivate staff, volunteers, donors, and potential partners a must.
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising, in particular extensive experience with major donors (5-figure gifts and above), foundations, corporations, and government funders.
  • Seasoned organizational leader with an array of experience in public policy development and advocacy, campaigns, lobbying, and/or involvement in the state legislature and in working with members of Congress.
  • Demonstrated ability to succeed in a highly matrixed, complex organization—strong ability to influence and persuade others required.
  • Strong commitment to Audubon’s equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) values, and a proven track record of success of managing diverse teams and volunteers, and the ability to integrate EDIB values into conservation strategies and policy work. Also, a commitment to continued learning and improvement of one’s own understanding and delivery of a more equitable and inclusive conservation outcomes and workplace culture.

Successful candidates will possess the following skills, competencies, and characteristics:

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills, judgment, and a demonstrated ability to collaborate and build coalitions with a wide range of individuals and organizations at the local, regional, and national levels.
  • Demonstrated experience overseeing complex or multiple projects through to success, including meeting financial goals, project deadlines, and coordinating the work of key staff and partners.
  • Excellent and persuasive communication skills, both written and verbal, including substantial public speaking experience, and the ability to effectively represent Audubon California to its members, state and federal elected officials, donors, and chapter leaders, as well as in traditional and social media.
  • Knowledge and appreciation of, as well as connection to California and its environment, conservation and political history, and the role of science in developing conservation strategies.
  • Tech-savvy, including proficiency with Microsoft Office applications, budgeting systems and donor databases. Comfort with and interest in leveraging technology to maximize conservation impact and network engagement.
  • Willingness and ability to travel routinely throughout the state and nationally, as required.
  • A strong commitment to the mission, values, and programs of Audubon California and the National Audubon Society.
EEO Statement:
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 identity, 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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COVID Policy:
All new hires must be fully vaccinated prior to their start of employment unless they are pre-qualified by HR for exemption.