Executive Director, Marine Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society

Posted: 30 December 2019   |   Full-Time   |   Center for Global Conservation, Bronx, NY |
Country Program/Sector: Marine Conservation

Application deadline: Position will remain open until filled

Organisation Background:

Major Responsibilities:

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a New York not-for-profit corporation founded by statute in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society. WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through research, science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. That mission is achieved through our global conservation programs (WCS currently oversees a portfolio of more than 500 conservation projects in 65 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and North America, and the oceans between them) and through the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks–the Bronx Zoo; the New York Aquarium; and the Central Park, Queens, and Prospect Park Zoos (the City Zoos).

Marine Conservation Program Overview:

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.

Job Summary:

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.

Major 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.

Minimum Requirements:

  • 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.

Application Process:

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

WCS is an equal opportunity employer and the organization complies with all employment and labor laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination in hiring and ensures that candidates from all backgrounds are fairly and consistently considered during the recruitment process. We are dedicated to hiring and supporting a diverse workforce. We are committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment and look for future team members who share that same value.

The organization provides equal employment opportunities for all qualified candidates. The organization does not discriminate for employment based on age, color, disability, gender identify, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by laws and regulations.

Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interview.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.