Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon California

US-CA-San Francisco
Regular, Full-Time
Job Category
Executive/Senior Management
San Francisco


Founded in 1905, the National Audubon Society is one of the most venerable conservation organizations in the world. Audubon follows birds to ecosystems, conserving them for wildlife, for people, and for the earth’s biological diversity. Today, Audubon enjoys a widely respected centrist brand, a powerful legacy of conservation success, deep loyalty among its supporters, and the clarity that springs from working for the benefit of birds and the places they need to survive and thrive.

Audubon works to save birds through conservation and advocacy firmly grounded in science. As leaders in applied bird conservation science, Audubon engages in research and analysis to support the development of its programs, to build its authority as a science-led thought leader, and to inform and evaluate the work of Audubon and its partners.

Audubon’s powerful distributed network has an unparalleled reach. No other conservation organization matches the size, reach, scale, influence, diversity, and creative energy of its chapters, nature centers, staff, volunteer leaders, and US and international partners. At its best, the network has the knowledge and credibility to care for birds, and the places they need, in communities across the country - and it unites to tackle big challenges facing birds that cannot be solved by any single part of the network alone.

By connecting the work of the Audubon network - 463 Chapters, 41 nature centers and sanctuaries, 22 state offices, more than 650 staff members, 1 million members and volunteers, and U.S. and international partners - along each of the four major migratory flyways of the Americas, Audubon weaves a seamless web of conservation for birds and other migratory and non-migratory species. By working toward common flyway conservation goals, Audubon is having greater impact, and by coordinating resources, physical assets and expertise, it is dramatically increasing its efficiency across the network to address the most pressing conservation issues of our time.

Audubon is focused on five cross-cutting conservation strategies--climate, coasts, working lands, water, and bird friendly communities. The organization has built a scientific foundation for each of its strategies, established clear goals and is mobilizing its powerful network to achieve conservation wins at scale. Audubon also has a clear-eyed focus on increasing diversity and promoting inclusion. Audubon is putting more than $100 million annually to work on conservation (compared with $73 million just five years ago). This new robust Audubon is a strategic, pragmatic, responsive, integrated organization that can tap people’s passion for bird-centered conservation and translate it into action.




Audubon’s presence in California dates back to the earliest days of the conservation movement. Through conservation, advocacy, community involvement, and with the partnership of the 49 California chapters, Audubon California has had a major impact on conservation and is regarded as a leader in conservation throughout the Golden State. Audubon California’s network is one of the organization’s most important and unique strengths, with 350,000 members and supporters statewide. The program has an annual budget of $8.0 million, a staff of 51 across the state, and over 17,000 acres under land management.

In 2014, Audubon California approved a five-year business plan with measurable outcomes to protect birds in California. One of those goals is to increase the number of voices raised to ensure a future for California birds to thrive – particularly 35 focal species. The organization has a vision to mobilize 500,000 Californians in order to win the most important policy victories for birds and secure bird-friendly management of 500,000 acres of the most important habitats.

Audubon California’s recent policy wins -- made possible by a combination of science, policy leadership, strong communications and member advocacy -- include a new ruling from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to proactively protect several types of forage fish in 280,000 square miles of ocean, providing critical foraging habitat for albatrosses, shearwaters, and other seabirds, and successfully passing legislation requiring the use of non-lead ammunition for hunting in California by 2019.

In 2016, Audubon California was an important partner in a coalition that secured $500 million to support climate adaptation projects in the San Francisco Bay. Audubon California works in the Central Valley by providing technical assistance to private landowners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge system to provide critical habitat for birds. The organization’s work on water issues across the State is growing and it is now leading the effort to restore the Salton Sea as part of a larger Colorado River restoration effort.



Position Summary

Audubon seeks a dynamic leader to serve as the Vice President & Executive Director of Audubon California, leading the organization to its next level of conservation and fiscal success. The leader will build on the rich history of conservation and expand Audubon California’s contributions to conservation across California and throughout the Pacific Flyway.

The Vice President & Executive Director will exercise broad leadership and management responsibility in developing statewide conservation strategies, initiatives, and public programming. This will include working closely with the Audubon California Board of Directors and staff, and Audubon’s key national conservation leaders to continue to develop the state program in tandem with strategic regional and national priorities, including Audubon California’s evolving role with the Pacific Flyway.


Leadership Search Partners is conducting this search on an exclusive basis on behalf of the National Audubon Society. Interested candidates should apply via email by sending a letter outlining qualifications, brief bio and resume as PDF or Word documents to Stacey Konner at, with “Audubon CA – VP & ED” in the subject line. Applications will be accepted through Friday, October 20th, 2017.

Inquiries may be made, in confidence, to Search Consultant Leyna Bernstein at

Essential Functions

Conservation Strategy Development

  • Develop strategic goals and initiatives aligned with Audubon’s overall conservation goals and strategies that result in the organization’s increased statewide capacity to achieve the conservation of priority birds and their habitats. Priorities include:
    • Coastal habitat conservation in areas such as San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay and other points along the coasts;
    • Water conservation programs in places like the Salton Sea and the Central Valley;
    • Important Bird Areas (IBAs) protection throughout the state;
    • Engaging in community science, conservation, and engagement;
    • In conjunction with senior management, explore opportunities and the feasibility of expanding ACA’s leadership along the Pacific Coast and in the Pacific Flyway.

Organizational Leadership

  • Provide leadership, management, and mentoring to staff while preserving open communication and recognizing the value of the management team.
  • 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.
  • Focus resources on the most critical, high-leverage projects and strategies, including policy development and public engagement, focused on California’s population centers, particularly in Southern California.
  • Leverage the impact of Audubon California’s Centers and Sanctuaries to achieve state and Flyway goals.

Fundraising and External Relations

  • Represent Audubon California throughout the state and raise its profile and visibility to funders, partners, policymakers, and the public.
  • Play a key role in fundraising and ensure Audubon California’s ability to cultivate and solicit major donors, foundations, corporations and government agencies to significantly increase contributions.
  • Play an active role in helping to promote fundraising for regional priority projects across the Pacific Flyway working with other state directors, the program managers and other supporting staff.
  • Collaborate with other Audubon state programs and national Development staff on donor strategies under the One Audubon approach to members and donors.

Stakeholder Relations

  • Work closely with the Audubon California Board of Directors to support the efforts of ACA to further the development of a strong statewide organization through fundraising, program development, and conservation advocacy.
  • Work closely with, support and provide guidance to the Chapters in California to expand Audubon’s capacity for on-the-ground conservation and education at scale. Work to strengthen the statewide presence of Audubon, and support these organizations in their local efforts.
  • Prioritize engagement and activation of California’s diverse population communities in the Audubon movement, including chapter leadership, state board participation, staffing, volunteers, program participation, and partnerships across the state.
  • Work with government departments and non-governmental organizations to promote and prioritize bird science and habitat conservation.

Qualifications and Experience


  • Substantial and progressively responsible professional experience, including 3+ years as an enterprise executive with accountability over multiple programs and/or regions.
  • Experience in the field of conservation; ideally knowledge of how conservation work is advanced in California, including knowledge of key conservation leaders.
  • An array of experience in public policy development and advocacy, campaigns, lobbying, and/or involvement in the state legislature and/or in working with members of Congress.
  • 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, in organizations of similar or greater size than Audubon California.
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising; experience with major donors, foundations, corporations, and government funders.
  • Demonstrated commitment to creating an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment; ability to build and lead a diverse team of staff, board members and supporters.


  • 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 ability to succeed in a highly matrixed, complex organization—strong ability to influence and persuade others required.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 of California’s political and demographic reality with broad connections to partners and the philanthropic community strongly desired.
  • 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.
  • Knowledge of funders and donors engaged in conservation philanthropy in California preferred.

Personal Characteristics:

  • Willingness and ability to travel routinely throughout the state and nationally, as required.
  • A strong commitment to the mission, values, and programs of the National Audubon Society and Audubon California.



  • Bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management, business, conservation or related field required; advanced degree strongly preferred.


 Audubon is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).


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