The Nature Conservancy - Point Conception Institute

Job Type: Full Time
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 72 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Point Conception Institute

The Nature Conservancy is launching the Point Conception Institute, which will be focused on advancing environmental science and conservation management through the use of GIS, technology applications, open data and collaboration. This institute will take advantage of the coastal and marine environments associated with the breathtaking Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in California, and leverage leading technologies and cross-disciplinary collaboration to create multi-scale digital abstractions of these natural landscapes and seascapes. The institute will help promote, organize, and coordinate numerous scientific collaborations taking place on the Preserve with the aim of accelerating learning and enhancing conservation effectiveness.

While global protected areas only cover about 15% of land on Earth, they can be engines of knowledge generation that help us understand a world in flux and confront the global crises of climate change, environmental degradation, and extinction. Most protected areas have not prioritized investments in collaborative research and innovative commercial technologies to the science performed on site. Using the Dangermond Preserve as a 24,364-acre laboratory, the Point Conception Institute will facilitate basic and applied research as well as practical applications of technology that will inform and improve adaptive conservation management in an era of unprecedented global change.

About the Role

The Director is the first employee dedicated to the Institute and will work closely with an Advisory Board of key supporters and partner institutions to execute on the vision and direction of the Institute.  The Director will facilitate and empower research initiatives that leverage technology and data, inspiring a community of like-minded scientists and conservation practitioners to participate in collaborative, reproducible research and contribute to open data. The Director is also the business lead of this new Institute, responsible for launching and developing it into a sustainable operating model. This will involve extensive stakeholder management across an array of funders, technologists, academics and partner organizations. The Director will supervise a core PCI team and will work with matrixed colleagues at The Nature Conservancy and with partners.

Successful candidates will have the skills necessary to catalyze and drive new collaborative ventures and relationships, along with a strong background in applying practical technology and data science to conservation. Our ideal candidate will be an entrepreneurial thought leader with solid communication skills who can bring leadership, creativity, and technological sophistication to collaborative ecological research. This leader will advance conservation science by facilitating globally significant research collaborations, innovative technology, and contributing to the digital replica of the Preserve.

Responsibilities & Scope

  • Responsible for leading a new venture, the Point Conception Institute, advancing its vision by developing and executing on ambitious strategic and business plans. 
  • Provide strategic direction for the Institute by integrating the input and advice of an Advisory Board, TNC leadership, and other key internal and external stakeholders                             
  • Facilitate productive and high impact research collaborations at the intersection of adaptive management, environmental change, and the application of innovative technology 
  • Manage staff and lead multi-disciplinary teams
  • Collaborate with a wide range of partners to identify research opportunities that leverage a dense sensor network and associated multi-realm ecosystem models at the Preserve (a digital twin)
  • Manage relationships with key funders and stakeholders, technologists, and collaborating research institutions
  • Serve as an external spokesperson, including in efforts to amplify the reach and impact of the Institute through public forums, media and symposia
  • Must work in variable weather conditions, at the Dangermond Preserve, a remote site in Lompoc, California, in hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master's Degree in science-related field and 6 years’ experience or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Supervisory experience.
  • Strong background in applying practical technology and data science to conservation.
  • Record of peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals.                          
  • Experience directing a major program of strategic importance and working with a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Experience in relationship building with peers, partners, government agencies, land owners, academic community, etc.                       
  • Experience fundraising and/or writing grants and research proposals.    
  • Excellent communication, facilitation and presentation skills, with sufficient fluency in ecological research and technology to lead discussions with experts and lay audiences.
  • Ability to diagnose complex problems and identify solutions. 
  • Ability to manage a budget to ensure sound financial performance. 

Desired Qualifications

  • Multi-language skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.
  • Ph.D. and 10 years’ experience in the application of scientific research and data science to conservation practice, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Demonstrated expertise in developing and executing multi-disciplinary, collaborative, peer-reviewed research that adheres to the practice of open data publication.
  • Strong knowledge of California conservation issues and land management in terrestrial and coastal ecosystems.
  • Strong knowledge of relevant software applications.
  • Experience launching a new venture and taking it scale.

Compensation and Location

TNC offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary commensurate with experience. The preferred location is Santa Barbara County.

To Apply

Interested candidates should click "Apply to this Job" to be redirected to TNC's career portal to submit resume (required) and cover letter. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received and the position will remain open until filled.

CEA Consulting is assisting TNC with this search. Non-technical questions may be directed to:

Eileen Ashton, Senior Associate | CEA Consulting | eileen@ceaconsulting.com  | (415) 820-4436


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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