Global Strategy Director, The Nature Conservancy

JOB FAMILY: Conservation
JOB NUMBER: 250013
LOCATION: Arlington, Virginia preferred


  • BA/BS degree and 12 years experience in conservation, agriculture or relevant field, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience with aspects of fundraising, especially identifying donor prospects and donor cultivation.
  • Experience designing, implementing, and directing complex or multiple projects of strategic importance, including managing finances, supervising multidisciplinary professionals and coordinating the work of partners.   
  • Experience in partnership development (business, community, government, etc.).
  • Experience conceiving and implementing strategic initiatives.

Perhaps nothing has a greater effect on ecosystems and economies than agriculture, both cropland and ranchland.  It employs a quarter of the world’s population, covers more than half of the world’s habitable land, and is essential for feeding humankind.  Yet it is also the single largest threat to biodiversity, the most prolific consumptive human water use, and the principal cause of soil erosion and nutrient run-off.  With an increasing and more affluent global population, demand for agricultural commodities is growing rapidly.  Reasonable estimates to meet this demand call for agricultural production to nearly double by 2050, generally through intensification in the developed world and agricultural expansion in the developing world.

The Nature Conservancy has hundreds of field projects in both developed and developing countries that address the challenges agriculture poses to our conservation targets.  The current focus of our work is largely working with landowners and community leaders to increase compatibility between agricultural production and biodiversity conservation in priority landscapes.  In places where most arable land has already been converted to agriculture, our focus is on the impact of existing agricultural land on surrounding habitats, both terrestrial and freshwater.  In developing countries where there is an actively expanding agricultural frontier, our focus has been on guiding where and how agricultural expansion occurs.  Our strength in project implementation in the field has gained the Conservancy a reputation for getting things done and our pragmatism and even-handedness in working with partners has led to good relations with producer associations and agriculture-based corporations.

We are now looking to expand upon this foundation to take conservation actions commensurate with the scale of the challenge posed by the imperative to expand agricultural production globally. The Nature Conservancy’s mission compels us to work more effectively to integrate agriculture and conservation.

A preliminary strategy review has identified two broad areas of focus for the Conservancy in the future.  First, the benefits nature provides to agriculture and the impacts of agriculture on nature need to be more properly valued in agricultural decision-making. Second, investments toward increasing agricultural production made by the public and private sectors need to be made while fully considering nature and its benefits.

The  Global Strategy Director, Agriculture will lead the Conservancy’s organization-wide efforts to ensure that global efforts to achieve food security are pursued in a manner that safeguards biodiversity and ecosystem services.  The Director will transform the broad themes above into a specific, actionable business plan and then lead the organization toward its vision.  

Toward this end, the Director will play a leading role in engaging donor support for agriculture and conservation projects that meet Conservancy goals.  He/she will serve as a key contact to the agricultural sector, government agencies, other conservation organizations, foundations and the academic community.  He/she negotiates or informs the negotiation of complex and innovative solutions with government agencies, major institutions, and landowners related to conservation in the agricultural sector.  In consultation with government relations staff, he/she will develop policy platforms and then coordinate work to advocate for that platform with relevant government and international agencies. He/she will work with key Conservancy staff to coordinate and integrate the Conservancy’s many agriculture projects, helping the organization leverage its field successes into new policy and corporate engagement tools that dramatically increase the scale of our influence.


  • Lead the development and implementation of cutting-edge strategies to address agriculture as a coherent sector.  This may include integrating and leveraging existing projects as well as expansion into relatively new areas for TNC such as agricultural trade issues, corporate supply chain sustainability, agricultural product certification schemes, and other sector-wide activities that would enable the Conservancy to leverage its impact on the agriculture sector.
  • Working with the Conservancy’s External Affairs leadership and Executive Team, develop and lead a strategy to engage major international agencies and foundations that support global food security to do so in a manner that mitigates its impact on ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation.
  • Spearhead Conservancy efforts to ensure that billions of dollars invested annually to build new irrigation, ports, roads and other infrastructure supporting the agriculture sector is made with adequate consideration of the impact of growing agricultural development on the natural environment and on the ecosystem services on which people depend.


  • Identify and cultivate high leverage partnerships around conservation goals related to the agriculture sector.
  • Lead efforts to increase awareness among donors and the public of the benefits that nature provides agricultural producers and the impact of some practices on wildlife and ecosystem services.


  • Lead efforts to identify and concentrate action across the Conservancy on leverage points that can give our current agriculture projects greater impact across the sector.
  • Lead efforts to improve coordination, communication and planning across operating units on agriculture projects and policy. Key partners include External Affairs staff that work on agriculture policy and corporate engagement, Global Freshwater team staff that work on agricultural water use and impacts, and extant agricultural field programs in the United States, Brazil and other countries. 
  • Serve as a focal point across the Conservancy to integrate Conservancy activities related to the agriculture sector and ensure a coherent, unified approach commensurate with the potential threat.

The Global Strategy Director, Agriculture reports to the Managing Director, Conservation Lands Focal Area.


  • BA/BS degree, Masters in area relevant to conservation or agriculture preferred, and 12-15 years experience in conservation, agriculture or other relevant field, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Demonstrated leadership and visionary qualities and ability to work effectively with and through others in a decentralized and geographically dispersed organization.
  • Successful experience in partnership development (partners, community, government, etc) including extensive networking with high-level conservation, business, and/or government contacts; political savvy.
  • Demonstrated successful experience in fundraising. 
  • Successful experience in developing, directing and managing multiple projects.
  • Experience conceiving and implementing strategic initiatives.
  • Demonstrated experience influencing, developing and implementing conservation policy and plans at the state and/or country level.
  • Ability to communicate clearly via written, spoken, and graphical means.
  • Demonstrated success as an inspirational manager who has successfully motivated staff to achieve and sustain excellence. 
  • Proven interpersonal, communication, and negotiation skills.  


  • Negotiates complex agreements, sometimes in political environments.
  • Anticipates, diagnoses, and resolves complex problems and identifies creative solutions.
  • Designs, implements, and directs complex and diverse projects, encompassing multiple programs and coordinating the work of other professionals, inside and outside the organization.  Incorporates cross-disciplinary knowledge to support program objectives.
  • Highly diversified work involves participation in the formulation and evaluation of broad policies and/or long-term programs, or making decisions, which typically have broad organizational impact.


  • Makes decisions based on incomplete or ambiguous information and accepts associated risks.
  • Makes independent strategic decisions frequently based on analysis, experience and judgment.
  • Decisions may affect organization’s public image.


  • Builds cooperative relationships and collaborates with diverse groups, including land owners, conservation partners, government officials, donors, board members, and the general public, to recruit support for the Conservancy and publicize Conservancy efforts.
  • May speak with and in front of varied audiences on scientific topics and the Conservancy’s mission; interacts and provides input/guidance to senior managers.
  • Ability to establish excellent working relationships with outside partners, state/local/federal agencies, land managers, private landowners and the academic community. Leverages constructive and effective relationships inside and outside the Conservancy.  
  • Creates and communicates a compelling vision; practices the Conservancy’s core values.

This position may require frequent travel domestically and/or internationally and require evening and weekend hours.

Visit and apply to job #12698.  Complete entire application form, and then attach your resume and cover letter as a single document.  You must click “Save and Submit” to apply for the position. Application deadline April 15, 2011.

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer.