• Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon Minnesota and Upper Mississippi River

    Job Locations
    US-MN-St. Paul | US-MN
    Regular, Full-Time
    Job Category
    Executive/Senior Management
    St. Paul
    Additional Location : State/Province
  • Overview

    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 Minnesota and Upper MS River


    Audubon Minnesota was established in 1979 as a state office of the National Audubon Society. Through conservation, advocacy, community involvement, and with the partnership of the 13 Minnesota chapters with 26,000 members, Audubon Minnesota has had a major impact on conservation and is regarded as a leader in conservation throughout the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”  Over the past decade, Audubon Minnesota has established 300 Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) in 12 million acres of public and private lands throughout the state that are vital to birds and other biodiversity. The VP for AMN & UMR also executes Audubon’s priorities in Iowa, which includes 88 Important Bird Areas covering 1.7 million acres and over 4,000 Audubon members in 9 chapters. The program has an annual budget of $1.4 million and a staff of seven.  

    Audubon is developing an Upper Mississippi River initiative as part of its national strategy to protect and provide clean water for birds and people. Audubon Minnesota is the lead office in the development and implementation of this initiative, which spans the breadth of the Upper Mississippi River watershed. Coordinating closely with Audubon’s national policy, science, and conservation teams, Audubon Great Lakes, and the Audubon Center at Riverlands, Audubon Minnesota stewards collaborative on the ground conservation activities, policy and network objectives, and partnership for this work in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In addition to this initiative, Audubon Minnesota plays an important role in policy and conservation actions in the Great Lakes, Upper Mississippi Flyway, and national landscapes.

    Audubon Minnesota played a key role in helping pass Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution for the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, water and land by increasing the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent from July 1, 2009 to 2034. Audubon Minnesota continues to be a leader with other groups in advocating for conservation in Minnesota at the legislature and other avenues.

    Position Summary

    Audubon seeks a dynamic leader to serve as the Vice President and Executive Director of Audubon Minnesota and Upper Mississippi River, 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 Minnesota’s contributions to conservation across Minnesota and throughout the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Flyway.   
    The Vice President and 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 regional Advisory Boards 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 Minnesota’s evolving role with the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Flyway.


    The position will report directly to Rebeccah Sanders, Vice President, Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Flyway and Senior Advisor to the Chief Conservation Officer.

    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 region-wide capacity to achieve the conservation of priority birds and their habitats. Priorities include:
    • Important Bird Areas (IBAs) protection throughout the region;
    • Engaging in community science, conservation, and engagement;
    • In conjunction with senior management, explore opportunities and the feasibility of expanding Audubon leadership along the Upper Mississippi 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 office, including setting financial and programmatic goals, analyzing results, and taking corrective actions, in close collaboration with local and national 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 population centers.
    • Leverage the impact of Audubon physical assets to achieve state, regional and national goals.

    Fundraising and External Relations

    • Represent Audubon throughout the region and raise its profile and visibility to funders, partners, policymakers, and the public.
    • Play a key role in fundraising and ensure Audubon’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 Mississippi 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 Advisory Board of Directors to support development and growth to further the development of a strong regional organization through fundraising, program development, and conservation advocacy.
    • Work closely with, support and provide guidance to the Chapters in the region to expand Audubon’s capacity for on-the-ground conservation and education at scale. Work to strengthen the regional presence of Audubon, and support these organizations in their local efforts.
    • Prioritize engagement and activation of the region’s diverse population communities in the Audubon movement, including chapter leadership, advisory board participation, staffing, volunteers, program participation, and partnerships across the region.
    • 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; knowledge of how conservation work is advanced in the region (Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri) and knowledge of key conservation leaders is strongly preferred.
    • 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.
    • Demonstrated success in fundraising; experience with major donors, foundations, corporations, and government funders.
    • 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 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.
    • Excellent and persuasive communication skills, both written and verbal, including substantial public speaking experience, and the ability to effectively represent Audubon to its members, state and federal elected officials, donors, and chapter leaders, as well as in traditional and social media.
    • 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. Knowledge of Salesforce is strongly preferred.


    • Knowledge of regional political and demographic reality with broad connections to partners and the philanthropic community strongly desired.
    • Knowledge and appreciation of, as well as connection to Upper Mississippi River/Great Lakes area 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 Minnesota preferred.  Experience with Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund and Legacy Funds is strongly 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.


    • Bachelor’s degree required.


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


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