Illinois Ecological Restoration Director

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Chicago, IL, USA



The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we develop innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the world’s toughest environmental challenges so that people and nature can thrive. Our work is guided by our values, which include a commitment to diversity and respect for people, communities, and cultures. From a rewarding mission to career development and flexible schedules, there are many reasons to love life #insideTNC. Want to know more? Check out our TNC Talent playlist on YouTube to hear stories from staff or visit Glassdoor.

One of TNC’s primary goals is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that employees around the globe have a sense of belonging and feel that their unique contributions are valued. We know we’ll only achieve our mission by hiring and engaging a diverse staff that reflects the communities in which we work. Recognizing that people bring talent and skills that have been developed outside the scope of a job, we take a holistic approach to recruitment that considers life experience in addition to the professional requirements listed in our postings. Please apply – we’d love to hear from you. To quote a popular saying at TNC, “you’ll join for the mission, and you’ll stay for the people.”


The Ecological Restoration Director works primarily in the Calumet region of Cook County and other nearby sites and provides leadership and oversight for the restoration and management of the Conservancy’s Indian Boundary Prairies Preserves. Through effective partnerships within the Conservancy, among natural resource agencies, academic institutions, other environmental not-for-profit organizations, and the public, they address critical threats to natural systems and species native to the Calumet ecosystem by developing and implementing a broad range of conservation strategies across Illinois’ Calumet region and more broadly in Chicago. This position will:

  • Oversee the Conservancy’s model urban nature preserves at Indian Boundary Prairies (IBP) using best available science, stewardship, and community engagement practices, managing on-site staff with multiple areas of expertise.
  • Expand the impact of strategic partnerships leveraging the Conservancy’s experience at IBP to benefit other natural areas in the Calumet region and across Chicago, including managing at least one staff person in partnership with Chicago Park District’s natural areas program.
  • Pursue new opportunities for natural area restoration and biodiversity conservation in this geographic area, which may include complex restoration projects of urban natural areas with partners, and working with colleagues to pursue public and private funding for such initiatives.
  • Seek coordination of conservation and engagement initiatives with Conservancy colleagues in the Indiana Calumet region for greater impact.


  • Geographic size and scope is larger than a preserve and smaller than a business unit, or overseeing one or more components of the conservation function for an entire business unit.
  • Programmatic scope may require cross-boundary work and relationships.
  • May be responsible for leading or co-leading a whole system program.
  • Leads and manages team or project to support and improve conservation efforts.
  • Manage multi-disciplinary administrative and professional staff, with responsibility for performance management, training, and career development. Establish clear directions and set stretch objectives.
  • Establish and maintain optimal standards of performance for the department or program while controlling costs and administering budgets.
  • Responsible for ensuring that public and private funds are raised to meet program needs.
  • Builds cooperation from outside parties to accomplish program goals.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.
  • Frequently makes independent decision based on analysis, experience, and context.

This is a full-time position based in the Chicago area with time split between our Chicago office and our Indian Boundary Prairies Preserve in Markham, Illinois.


The Nature Conservancy in Illinois is seeking an Ecological Restoration Director to address critical threats to natural systems and species native to the Calumet ecosystem. Illinois’ Calumet region is part of a high-biodiversity, heavily populated region stretching from southern Cook County through northwest Indiana into southwest Michigan. Extending from Chicago’s South Side through southern Cook County, Illinois’ section of the Calumet hosts many high-quality remnant wetlands, prairies, savannas, and other habitats, including the Indian Boundary Prairies, a 360-acre set of five high-quality prairie remnants mainly in Markham, Illinois. The Conservancy employs a highly skilled team to manage and restore the prairies with prescribed fire and other techniques, while engaging surrounding communities to benefit equitably from access to these natural areas. The Ecological Restoration Director will be responsible for ensuring excellence in the restoration of these sites, the benefits they provide to the surrounding community, and leveraging the impacts of the Prairies to positively impact other important natural lands in the Calumet region and the City of Chicago. If you’re looking for a career where you can find meaning and purpose, come join our Chapter to fulfil conservation objectives in the beautiful state of Illinois and beyond!


Minimum Qualifications:

  • BA/BS degree and 5 years’ experience in conservation practice; or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience managing complex or multiple projects, including staffing, workloads, and finances under deadlines.
  • Supervisory experience, including motivating, leading, setting objectives, team building, and managing performance.
  • Experience in partnership development with non-profit partners, community groups and/or government agencies
  • Experience working across differences such as race, culture, disabilities, socio-economic class, and language groups.
  • Must have and maintain a valid driver’s license.

Desired Qualifications:

  • Multi-lingual and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.
  • 5-7 years’ experience in natural area restoration, and/or the oversight of a nature preserve/park/conservation area, or other related conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Demonstrated experience influencing, developing, and implementing conservation policy and plans.
  • Knowledge of current trends and practices in natural area restoration, ideally with some prescribed fire experience.
  • Communicating clearly via written, spoken, and graphical means in English and other relevant languages.
  • Some experience with fundraising, particularly pursuing and overseeing public grants.
  • Experience with GIS mapping.
  • Awareness and experience in environmental and/or social justice related work and collaboration with local communities.
  • Politically savvy.


Since 1951, TNC has been doing work you can believe in. Through grassroots action, we have grown from a small non-profit into 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 and partners, we impact conservation around the world!

TNC offers a competitive, comprehensive benefits package including health care benefits, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) plan with an 8% 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 on our Culture Tab on

We’re proud to offer a flexible work environment that supports of the health and well-being of the people we employ.


The starting pay range for a candidate selected for this position is generally within the range of $80,000-$86,000 for annual base salary. This range only applies to candidates whose country of employment is the USA. Where a successful candidate’s actual pay will fall within this range will be based on a variety of factors, including, for example, the candidate's location, qualifications, specific skills, and experience. Please note countries outside the USA would have a different pay range in the local currency based on the local labor market, and not tied to USA pay or ranges. Your geographic location will be confirmed during the recruitment.


To apply for job ID 54645, submit your materials online by using the Apply Now button at 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.

The successful applicant must meet the requirements of The Nature Conservancy's background screening process.

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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.

An attractive salary and benefits package is part of TNC’s value proposition to our employees. TNC strives to provide competitive pay and bases salaries on the geographic location of the role committing to being equitable across groups and providing hiring salary ranges when possible.

Since we support flexible and remote work for our employees, many positions have a flexible location within countries where we’re registered as a Non-government Organization and established as an employer. This may mean we’re unable to provide a hiring salary range in the posting for some of our positions. However, candidates invited to be part of our interview process will be provided their location specific range upon request.