Director of Conservation Economics and Finance

The Director of Conservation Economics is a leadership position for an experienced economist to take charge of and help set a new direction for a Program that already has a well-established reputation in the emerging field of ecosystem services.  

In particular, we are looking for an individual with interest in significant media exposure and work with Congressional offices on getting a comprehensive and accurate environmental damage assessment from the Gulf oil spill and figuring out the optimal allocation of resources to fix the most important habitats in the Gulf.

The Director will also be supervising ongoing projects in California and western states focused around potential ecosystem service payment programs for water quality, water quantity and wildlife benefits on rangeland.  Located in Washington, DC the Director will work closely with Defenders staff throughout the country, as well as other non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, and funders.  The position has a competitive salary and benefits, and a travel and operational budget.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement projects that measure the economic impacts of and incentive-based strategies for species and habitat conservation and promote their use and adoption in federal, state and private programs.
  • Provide oversight over ongoing ecosystem service valuation work conducted by natural resource trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, ensuring that all natural resource damages are valued and valued accurately.
  • Develop innovative approaches and alternatives to habitat equivalency analysis for the purpose of influencing efficient allocation of NRDA funding to Gulf of Mexico restoration, rehabilitation and replacement projects.
  • Serve as a spokesperson in meetings with NRDA trustee agencies, Members of Congress and federal and state agencies in advocating for use of the best scientific approaches to ecosystem service quantification and valuation.
  • Be Defenders’ lead for major economic valuation studies and incentive-based project teams (e.g., Farm Bill, other public and private incentive measures)
  • Work with staff and co-authors on analysis and publication of studies on the viability of potential payment for ecosystem service programs in California and other West Coast states and continue promotion of the Economic Benefits Toolbox.
  • Supervise Defenders economics staff
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with leading environmental and natural resources economists, scientists, agency administrators, members of Congress, Congressional staff, leading NGOs, and regional activists
  • Represent Defenders of Wildlife in public meetings, conferences, and elsewhere
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned.


  • Education: Ph.D. in natural resource economics, applied economics, finance or statistics, M.B.A. and related natural resource valuation expertise, or disciplines related to the field of conservation economics and ecosystem services and markets.
  • Experience: Five or more years of experience in applying economic valuation techniques, development of ecosystem service markets, or quantifying costs and benefits of natural resource conservation or restoration.
  • Experience with techniques such as contingent valuation, conjoint analysis, travel cost methods, benefit-transfer and meta-analysis.
  • Experience with metric development, identification of service buyers and sellers, the development of market standards.
  • 1+ year of management/supervisory experience.
  • Demonstrated capacity to work in a multi-disciplinary team environment to achieve applied research results and to translate these into effective conservation policies.
  • An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above.
  • Other:
    • Demonstrated ability to work independently to initiate, implement, apply, and/or publish scientific research and to communicate such research to both professional and lay audiences
    • Strong research, writing, organizational, and verbal communications skills
    • Strong desire to publish policy-relevant reports and peer-reviewed papers and able to balance writing workload with analytical and collaborative work.
    • Working knowledge of federal agencies, laws, treaties, and policies dealing with incentives and the costs and benefits of wildlife conservation in the U.S..
    • Proven record of fundraising for policy-relevant economics research
    • Practical experience with policy analysis is essential and on-the-ground experience with conservation implementation is desirable.

How To Apply

Interested applicants please reference Director of Conservation Economics and Finance in your subject line and submit a letter of interest, along with your resume and salary history (must be included to be considered) to us via e-mail at:

It is the policy of Defenders of Wildlife to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law, in all personnel actions.