Director, California Land Program

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The Nature Conservancy

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Sacramento, CA, United States

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Sacramento, California, USA

Negotiable within the state of California, United States.



The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Grounded in science, we develop innovative 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; respect for people, communities, and cultures; and a collaborative, bipartisan approach. Thanks to more than 1 million members, over 400 scientists, and the dedicated efforts of our staff and partners, we impact conservation around the world.

The California Chapter is TNC’s largest state program and one of the largest, most dynamic conservation organizations in the country. With approximately 230 employees, from financial analysts and fundraisers to ecologists and economists, we are currently invested in 14 strategies to address the biggest challenges facing California and the world, including numerous community-based projects designed to increase the pace, scale, and effectiveness of conservation. Over the past six decades, we have protected 1.4 million acres, 5,000 miles of streams, and 3.8 million acres of ocean habitat in California and off the coast.

The California Chapter believes that we are most effective when we are embedded in our state’s communities, politics, media, and environmental issues. For this reason, and to reduce our carbon footprint when meeting in person, all staff live in California, including those in a home office.

Finally, we are passionate about the middle ground in American politics and life. The hallmark of The Nature Conservancy is its “big tent” approach, engaging people across the political and ideological spectrum to find solutions that last. We ask all employees to embrace this critical strategic position of our organization.


In an increasingly crowded and urban world, terrestrial ecosystems are facing unprecedented strain. Habitat destruction – and the fragmentation and subsequent degradation of the remaining habitat – leads not only to predictable losses of biodiversity, but also to the loss of many of the benefits natural areas provide for people. Rapid climate change is compounding the strain, as many natural communities and species lack the resiliency to rebound from the impacts of extreme drought, wildfire, storms and other anthropogenic threats. For many species to persist, they will need to move to track the climatic conditions to which they are adapted. Unfortunately, many landscapes are not permeable to such movement, often because incompatible human land uses are in the way. Conservation requires assembling public and private land holdings into a robust, interconnected network for nature – and managing that network to be the stage on which dynamic natural processes like dispersal can play out.

Our vision for California is that its natural landscapes sustain native species, reliably deliver important ecosystem services, and are resilient in a changing world – and the manner in which we secure that future offers an economical and effective model for accelerating conservation worldwide. Protected areas are key to that vision. They are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation, not only for the refuge they can provide sensitive plants and animals, but also for the “laboratory” they can provide for developing ways to better manage natural systems. These areas also can be powerful platforms for inspiring current and future generations of conservationists.

TNC aims to be a leader in building out, taking care of and leveraging the conservation estate in California. We do that by driving a protection agenda to fortify the network of conservation areas needed to connect and fully represent California’s diverse ecosystems. We then use TNC’s extensive holdings to develop and demonstrate best practices in conservation management, including the development of approaches to set priorities and act in the face of climate change, such as by assisting the migration of species outside of their historic ranges. Lessons from such efforts are then disseminated to the broader scientific and conservation communities to improve resource management generally. Finally, we leverage TNC’s preserves to demonstrate conservation thought leadership and build an influential constituency for conservation.


The Land Program in The Nature Conservancy of California advances strategic initiatives aimed at conserving and restoring terrestrial ecosystems so they can sustain biodiversity in the face of climate change and provide a suite of ecosystem services that benefit society – and to create models for doing so that can be scaled through replication or policy change to effect conservation more broadly. The Land Program Director leads and manages this team and effort. The position is effectively the director of TNC’s “land trust” in California. As such, this position leads what is effectively the largest land trust in the State.

The Director is responsible for leading and managing teams advancing two major strategies. TNC-California’s Land Protection Strategy seeks to galvanize a public and private protection agenda that fills in key gaps in California’s protected area network, and to serve as a center of excellence in the organization in terms of transactional expertise, innovative deal structuring and financing, and ambitious real estate pipeline development and management. Its Stewarding, Restoring and Leveraging our Lands Strategy advances best practices for efficient and effective management of a diverse and dispersed portfolio of land and water assets, with the aim of maximizing the potential of the overall preserve system to protect priority biodiversity, and leveraging the places we have protected to build constituency and influence to drive additional conservation at and beyond those places. The Land Program Director leads and manages the team of conservation professionals driving this work and ensures that the Conservancy provides the protection and stewardship results needed at this urgent moment of the global extinction, climate and sustainability crises.

The California Land Program Director:

  • Develops, communicates, and drives a compelling vision for the Land Program.
  • Provides executive leadership in a dynamic, fast-paced organization.
  • Develops and advances 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.
  • Leads and manages the team that manages the Chapter’s roughly 600,000 acres of conservation interests, including iconic nature preserves such as TNC’s Santa Cruz Island Preserve and the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve.
  • Provides overall direction of the Chapter’s land protection efforts, with investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Recruits, manages, and develops a talented, high-performing team of conservation professionals.
  • Fosters a culture of collaboration, initiative taking, and accountability for delivering meaningful results.
  • Cultivates and manages strategic relationships, and serves as the Program’s principal contact for industry, government agencies, conservation organizations, tribes and foundations.
  • In partnership with science staff, ensures that robust science and decision analysis underpins priorities and strategies.
  • In partnership with development and external affairs staff, leads the Program in fundraising from private and public sources.
  • In partnership with marketing staff, utilizes strategic communications to advance conservation goals.
  • In partnership with internal and external experts in conservation technology and finance, develops and deploys innovative approaches to conservation.
  • Holds overall responsibility for financial management of the Program, including setting financial goals, analyzing results, and taking corrective actions.
  • Negotiates complex agreements and oversees policy initiatives, often in political environments.
  • Manages financial, legal, and reputational risks to the organization and leads staff in risk identification, assessment, and management.
  • Communicates effectively and compellingly in oral, written and graphical forms; is called to speak publicly and to various audiences on a regular basis.

Travels frequently within California and occasionally outside of California, including internationally.


  • BA/BS degree and 12 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience in public and private fundraising, and donor cultivation.
  • Experience designing, implementing, and directing complex or multiple projects of strategic importance, including managing finances, supervising multidisciplinary professionals and coordinating the work of partners while meeting deadlines.
  • Supervisory experience, including motivating, leading, setting objectives and managing performance.
  • Experience in partnership development with non-governmental organizations, community groups and/or government agencies.
  • Experience networking with high-level conservation contacts.
  • Experience conceiving and implementing strategic and creative initiatives.
  • Demonstrated negotiation success.
  • Experience working in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain, and under physically demanding circumstances.
  • Valid driver’s license.


  • Master’s degree and 12-15 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Passion for conservation, and the roles of protected areas and land stewardship in advancing it.
  • Familiarity with California ecosystems, and current approaches to ecosystem management and restoration, such as best practices in conservation translocations and invasive species management.
  • Conversant in conservation issues in California and current trends in conservation, including contemporary philosophical perspectives on the history and role of protected areas, both ecologically and socially.
  • Demonstrated effectiveness engaging with donors and governmental leaders.
  • Excellent presentation and writing skills.
  • Political and business savvy.
  • Multi-lingual and or cross-cultural experience appreciated.


Job Family: Conservation

Job Number: 250013

Salary Grade: 10

The salary range for this role is $125,000 - $200,000 annual depending on candidate's experience and geographical location.


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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 with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. 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 orientations, gender identities, military or veteran status or other status protected by law. The Nature Conservancy is also a “big tent” organization. We believe that all people benefit from conservation and that the cause should be inclusive of everyone regardless of their political persuasion. We work hard to make conservation a non-partisan issue through partnerships with stakeholders, elected officials, and industries that span the political spectrum.