Director of Conservation

Job Locations
Regular, Full-Time
Job Category
Community Relations/Outreach


Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action.  By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of approximately 450 local chapters, 120 campus chapters, 17 state and regional offices, 34 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country. 


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 identify, 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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Position Summary

Audubon Minnesota (AMN) is a regional field office of the National Audubon Society. AMN manages Audubon’s conservation and network priorities in the states of Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri. This geography includes 190 Important Bird Areas covering more than 20 million acres and over 20,000 Audubon members and supporters, many of whom belong to one of Audubon’s 32 local chapters.


Reporting to the VP & Executive Director of Audubon Minnesota (Upper Mississippi River), the Director of Conservation will lead the development and execution of landscape level conservation objectives for the implementation of Audubon’s five priority conservation strategies in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri for the benefit of birds, communities, and the places they need to thrive. Their portfolio includes driving the conservation objectives of Audubon’s nascent Upper Mississippi River initiative, which spans Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The Director of Conservation will collaborate with natural resource agencies (federal, state, county, municipal, and tribal), private conservation organizations, Audubon Great Lakes, and Audubon chapters for successful implementation of their work across the landscape. The Director of Conservation will work closely with national, flyway, and state fundraising, science, engagement, and policy teams to build sustainable income streams, conservation science strategies, equity in conservation objectives, and policy/engagement strategies to further Audubon’s conservation objectives in the region.

The Director of Conservation will design and lead implementation of all conservation objectives in the region, manage the conservation and science staff, and track conservation outcomes and measures of success. They will develop funding proposals to foundations, corporations, agencies, and individuals. This role will also be responsible for identifying and securing funding opportunities and managing the funding relationships with natural resource agencies at multiple levels of governance along with some funder and donor relationships as assigned.

Essential Functions

  • In collaboration with the VP & Executive Director, develop and implement conservation strategies for the benefit of birds in the region, which includes leadership of the Upper Mississippi River conservation strategies.
  • In collaboration with national and conservation and field leadership teams, design and direct the conservation programs in the region to be fully aligned with National Audubon’s strategic plan, maximizing Audubon’s impact by integrating work across the full suite of Audubon’s national and regional science, conservation, network, policy, and development teams.
  • Further Audubon’s reputation through building partnerships and coalitions with a network of land and wildlife management agencies, NGOs, and community partnerships
  • Develop and oversee priority conservation water, climate, and bird-friendly-communities projects in support of Audubon’s hemispheric bird conservation initiatives and priorities.
  • Manage staff and engage volunteers to implement Audubon’s conservation programs.
  • Using a lens of bird conservation and community equity across priority landscapes, design, implement, and direct measures of success focused on birds and habitat across priority landscapes.
  • Build and support the team’s capacity to provide technical expertise related to birds and habitat in the region to internal and external audiences and partners.
  • Support the Vice President with development activities including solicitation of gifts and prospect development. Specific activities may include, but are not limited to, leading bird walks, giving presentations to public commissions as well as existing and prospective donors.
  • Research and secure public and private funding opportunities to support conservation programs.
  • Coordinate with regional science, policy, education, and communications staff not under direct supervision to guide planning, monitoring, and conservation implementation in the areas overseen by Audubon Minnesota.
  • Oversee the incorporation of community science engagement in Audubon’s conservation work and the analysis of these data and those collected by Audubon staff to inform adaptive management strategies and understand outcomes of conservation action.

Qualifications and Experience

  • B.S. in ornithology, avian ecology, forestry, natural resources management, hydrology, wetland ecology or a related field – an M.S. in one of these fields is preferred.  Experience will be considered in lieu of education.
  • 10+ years of experience in the natural resources field with a focus on landscape conservation design and implementation, including at least 3 years of management experience, specifically leading professional teams.
  • Must be wellversed in conservation, biology, and avian ecology.
  • Strong understanding of the value and previous experience supporting community science, especially in the realm of adaptive management.
  • Deep understanding of conservation issues, partners, and agencies in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and the Upper Mississippi River region.
  • Proven record in project management including managing grants (writing proposals, coordinating with funders, completing reports, administering contracts), writing articles, and stewarding other relevant projects.
  • Fundraising experience, specifically from public agencies and foundations and in conservation preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience working with public agencies (federal, state, county, municipal, and tribal).
  • Must be selfmotivated and able to work in a flexible, nonstructured environment.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills and the ability to synthesize and communicate technical and complex information to both technical and nontechnical audiences.
  • Strong leadership and collaborative ethics, as demonstrated in previous work.
  • Strong interpersonal and social skills with a positive attitude and good sense of humor.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office, working knowledge of GIS technology preferred.
  • Candidate must be willing to travel (overnight) 25-30% of the time (post-pandemic) in cars, airplanes, boats and other vehicles, and be comfortable with working evenings and weekends as the job demands.
  • Valid driver's license required.
  • Ability to work outdoors, in all weather conditions and on varying terrain, with or without accommodation.
  • Ability to carry field equipment, with or without accommodation.


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