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27 Mar 2019

Full-Time Senior Director, Oceans Division (New York City, DC, or San Francisco)

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – Posted by Anywhere

Job Description

The Client

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) works to safeguard the earth – its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today’s leadership team and board of trustees make sure the organization continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.

NRDC combines the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the conservation and protection of the air, water, and the wild. With dedicated staff working in more than a dozen program areas, NRDC partners with businesses, elected leaders, and community groups on the biggest issues we face today. Today, our people work across the world, with major offices in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana and Beijing.

With fiscal year 2017-2018 revenue of over $190 million and over 600 employees, NRDC is among the top global environmental advocacy organizations. The majority of its support comes from individual members and donors, supplemented by grants from institutional funders. Charity Navigator awards NRDC its top 4-star rating.

For more information about Natural Resources Defense Council, visit

The Oceans Division

“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy.” – Jules Verne

The ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. Covering 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, the ocean transfers heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns. Oceans provide at least a sixth of the animal protein we eat. Pollution not only affects marine life and its environment, it contaminates our food chain, impacting all life on our planet.

For decades, NRDC lawyers, scientists, and policy advocates have been instrumental in the fight to protect our oceans for current and future generations through effective policy work and impact litigation. They work to maintain and restore healthy ocean ecosystems by seeking to prevent or end destructive practices, such as overfishing, harmful offshore oil and gas drilling, and seismic blasting. They have also been leaders in promoting the establishment of marine protected areas and in protecting threatened and endangered species such as marine mammals in the United States and internationally.

One of four divisions of the NRDC’s Nature Program, along with Land, Wildlife, and Water, the Oceans Division has a budget of $4 million and 23 staff. It operates with a high degree of autonomy in addressing the most critical environmental issues affecting the world’s marine environment.

In 2018, after nearly a decade of discussion, countries began negotiating a new agreement for the conservation and management of the high seas – the area of ocean beyond the 200-mile zones of individual countries that constitutes nearly two-thirds of the world’s ocean – thanks to the persistence and dedication of the NRDC and its allies. The goal of the agreement is to create fully protected marine parks and to conserve bio-diversity. This epic accomplishment is typical of the hard work and effectiveness of the Oceans Division and emblematic of the impact it can have on the health of our planet. Other examples of the Oceans Division’s work include helping to secure the nation’s first statewide network of marine protected areas, promoting adoption and implementation of a strengthened U.S. fisheries law to end overfishing and rebuild depleted ocean fisheries, and protecting endangered and threatened marine mammals from a variety of sources of harmful ocean noise.

The Position

The Senior Director of the Oceans Division reports to the Managing Director of the Nature Program, participating as part of the Nature Leadership Team. The Senior Director currently supervises the following:

  • Director of International Oceans
  • Director of Domestic Fisheries
  • Director of Marine Mammals
  • Director of Pacific Ocean Initiative
  • Legislative Director for the Nature Program
  • A Senior Ocean Scientist
  • A Senior Policy Analyst

In addition, the Senior Director is supported by a shared Program Assistant and oversees the work of outside consultants as needed.

Specific duties and responsibilities include the following:

  • Provide overall strategic direction to the Oceans Division, including providing guidance and expertise to develop and advance effectively its suite of ambitious policy and advocacy goals;
  • Prioritize achievement of the Oceans’ goals of the NRDC Strategic Plan;
  • Collaborate with staff to refine and update strategies as necessary, in response to changing environmental conditions and other factors;
  • Ensure that as emerging issues arise, there is a process in place to evaluate and determine whether and/or how NRDC should address them;
  • Support the project leaders, assisting and assuring implementation of the strategic plan and effective management of Program staff;
  • Provide leadership to the Oceans staff as a whole;
  • Assure that the program meets budgetary expectations and is well-supported by donors;
  • Build relationships that advance the work of the Oceans Division with partners and collaborators, including ocean policy leaders within U.S. agencies, the U.S. Congress, other conservation organizations, academic institutions, and foundations;
  • Enhance professional growth of self and teams by keeping abreast of latest trends, best practices and a deep understanding of issues and events impacting the work of Oceans;
  • Assure that the Division successfully communicates its work internally and externally, using traditional and social tools;
  • Assure that Division staff have clear direction, support, opportunities for professional development, and work in a productive and collegial program environment;
  • Represent the Division with donors, and internally with senior staff and the Board;
  • Represent the organization at appropriate funding, legislative, public education and media forums;
  • Serve as a member of the Nature Leadership team helping to provide guidance and support for the overall Nature Program;
  • Work on behalf of the Oceans Division in budgeting and other internal processes; working in concert with Division staff, develop and implement budgets; and help secure the internal and external resources needed for successful campaigns;
  • Serve as an institutional leader for NRDC by serving on committees or project teams, as needed.

This position requires travel nationally and internationally (including overnight and weekend stays).

Professional Criteria

 The successful candidate will bring the following:

  • 15 to 20 years of advocacy experience working on ocean or related environmental issues;
  • Proven record as effective environmental advocate with a strong commitment to conservation;
  • Proven record as successful fundraiser and manager, including an ability to nurture and support independent leaders;
  • At least five years of experience managing at a Project Director-level or equivalent;
  • Documented success in building strong organizational partnerships with national leaders and organizations;
  • Experience in managing policy and/or legislative campaigns and initiatives, with a successful track record;
  • Experience managing staff in multiple locations is desirable;
  • Clear understanding of how oceans policy at the national, regional and international level is made and influenced;
  • An advanced degree in a relevant field, such as JD, PhD, MA or MS in Environmental Science or Policy.

Personal Characteristics

 The ideal candidate will have:

  • A passion for the ocean and knowledge of ocean health/conservation issues and oceans policy;
  • High emotional intelligence with strong interpersonal skills, including kindness and compassion for co-workers;
  • A willingness to provide guidance and mentoring to department managers, staff, board members and volunteers;
  • A collaborative decision-making style, seeking input and buy-in from the team and transparency in execution;
  • Vision and the ability to inspire and motivate others to perform at their very best;
  • Accepting of feedback from others; giving appropriate recognition to staff; and a willingness to take calculated risks to accomplish goals;
  • Adaptability to changes in the work environment; managing competing demands; changing approach or methods to best fit the situation; ability to deal with frequent change, opportunities, delays or unexpected events;
  • Strong organizational skills with a dedication to continuous improvement;
  • Effective fundraising and donor cultivation skills;
  • Superior oral and written communications ability.

Above all, the successful candidate must believe in the value and vital importance of the organization and the Division’s work.


 Our client is offering a highly competitive salary commensurate with experience as well as a comprehensive benefits package. Basic relocation expenses are possible for an exceptional candidate. This position may be based in New York, Washington, DC, or San Francisco.


 The Senior Director position is an opportunity to lead a once-in-a-generation environmental effort of importance to our future and one of profound humanitarian merit.

How to Apply

Please submit a brief cover letter and résumé as attachments via e-mail to: Joe McCormack, Founding Partner McCormack+Kristel 1740 Broadway, 15th Floor New York, NY 10019 Email: Office: 212.531.5003 Fax: 212.203.9599 Website Please note that your education, dates of employment and other information will be verified prior to an offer.  All inquiries or referrals will be held in strict confidence. Candidates may be required to submit writing samples or undergo skills assessment as part of the application process.  NRDC is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. NRDC is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, religious creed, religious observance, color, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, political affiliation, age, sex, sexual preference or orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, marital status, military service and veteran status, HIV/AIDS status, pregnancy, childbirth, medical condition as defined by applicable state or federal law, physical or mental handicap or disability, genetic information or predisposition, arrest or conviction records, status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking, and sex offenses or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state and local laws and ordinances. NRDC offers competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a pleasant working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, for positions based in San Francisco, CA NRDC will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

Job Categories: Water. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 100,000 and above.

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