Executive Director, Marine Conservation; Wildlife Conservation Society

Job Title: 
Executive Director, Marine Conservation
Job Location: 
Application Deadline: 
Friday, January 31, 2020


WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. Started in 1895 (as the New York Zoological Society), WCS has a long history of ocean conservation and exploration. Today, WCS is a world leader in the conservation of coral reefs; the protection and recovery of iconic marine species, such as sharks, rays, and marine mammals, the sustainability of small scale fisheries and the creation and management of Marine Protected Areas.  The scope of WCS’ marine conservation portfolio extends to the waters of 25 countries around the world, with more than 250 field-based marine conservationists carrying out its work. WCS focuses on protecting areas with the greatest biodiversity and aggregations of marine wildlife, as well as important habitats and fisheries on which coastal communities depend. WCS is based at the Bronx Zoo, and operates the four zoos and the New York Aquarium in New York City, collectively visited by 4 million people annually.


Position Description

The Executive Director of Marine Conservation leads the strategic direction and programmatic goals of the WCS marine portfolio, and shares responsibilities for funding, political engagement, and outreach to ensure that activities and impact are scaled globally. WCS’ marine conservation efforts currently focus on five core areas: marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, coral reefs, marine mammals, and sharks and rays.  Supporting these strategies, WCS maintains a strong commitment to applied marine scientific research and is building its capacity to leverage our impact through WCS’ New York Aquarium and other innovative partnerships addressing conservation finance, capacity development, technology, etc. Leadership of the WCS marine conservation portfolio is coordinated with the with regional directors who oversee the work of ~250 marine conservation staff in 25 countries (Belize, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, New York and the Arctic Beringia).  The Executive Director directly supervises a core leadership team in New York consisting of program directors for sharks/rays, marine mammals, MPAs, fisheries and corals, as well as administrative staff.  The position is based in the WCS headquarters located at the Bronx Zoo, New York.  


Position Responsibilities:

Program Leadership, Management and Technical Support  

  • Advance the strategic development and implementation of WCS's global marine conservation strategy in coordination with WCS global and regional leadership, and in conjunction with regional and national strategies.  
  • Ensure that field programs receive support and assistance on all aspects of the marine conservation portfolio, including science and research; management interventions; policy development; and conservation finance.
  • Support and strengthen existing collaborations among WCS field programs (regionally and nationally) regarding all aspects of the marine conservation portfolio, regarding and monitoring and implementation of metrics for measuring impact.
  • Ensure that workplans, activities and outputs are aligned with both the requirements of funding sources and regional priorities so as to achieve marine conservation goals
  • Guide and coordinate multilateral marine policy positions with the International Policy team.
  • Facilitate consultancies, partnerships and relationships globally, regionally and locally in support of marine conservation goals.
  • Develop and coordinate the budget for the marine conservation portfolio.


Development and Fundraising

  • Working with Program, Program Development and Global Resources, oversee fundraising to ensure that necessary funds exist for the development and implementation of the WCS marine conservation portfolio and related projects and activities.
  • In conjunction with the development teams and other global and regional leadership, elevate the profile of WCS activities and impacts relating to marine conservation with funders and donors, including international and domestic public agencies, private donors, foundations and corporations.
  • Guide and oversee funding proposals and related reports, including narratives and budgets, in support of the marine conservation portfolio.



  • Represent the WCS marine conservation portfolio to external audiences in media, conferences, events, etc.
  • Develop and coordinate programmatic communications with external partners, donors and the general public, regarding research, results and accomplishments.
  • Oversee and develop programmatic reports, outreach materials and other communications.
  • Facilitate and maintain constant coordination, collaboration and active dialogue between global, regional and national programs, WCS departments, and external partners.


Experience and Qualifications

  • PhD, Master’s Degree or similar graduate degree in a relevant discipline, such as conservation, management, policy, or economics.
  • 15 years of relevant work experience, including project management and administration, fundraising and development, field research and conservation, finance and operations.
  • Relevant subject-matter expertise and experience in marine conservation.
  • Excellent leadership and management skills, with an ability to inspire a team and oversee/manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Excellent communication skills in writing, editing, and oral presentations.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including an ability to work with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures and within a dispersed team that includes both WCS and non-WCS staff.
  • Effective at both collaborative and independent work.
  • Ability to both take initiative and work as part of a geographically scattered team.
  • Foreign language fluency (e.g., French, Spanish) highly desirable.
  • Willingness to travel internationally essential.


Compensation and Benefits

Salary commensurate with experience. WCS offers a competitive compensation package including medical/dental insurance, 401(k) retirement plan, pension plan, life insurance, disability insurance, paid sick leave and generous vacation.


Work Environment and Physical Demands

The physical demands and work environment described above are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions.


To Apply

Please apply online at http://www.wcs.org/about-us/careers and send a cover letter and CV with the subject line “Executive Director, Marine Conservation” to marineprogram [at] wcs.org.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  WCS is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from diverse candidates.

Please note that all jobs are automatically removed once the application deadline passes. Jobs without a deadline are automatically removed after 30 days.