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  • IUCN

Director, Science (Land)

How You’ll Contribute

The National Geographic Society invests in a diverse, global community of National Geographic Explorers who are leading a new age of exploration in support of our mission: to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world through science, education, and storytelling. These bold individuals represent more than 140 countries and their vast array of backgrounds, perspectives, and fields bring us to the far reaches of the globe.

The Science & Innovation team oversees the Society’s funding efforts in research, conservation and technology, develops and manages major mission programs, and establishes programmatic partnerships with like-minded non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Our Land focus area work aims to explore, understand, and conserve terrestrial and freshwater systems around the world. Across topics like terrestrial geoscience, terrestrial/freshwater ecology, climate science, conservation technology, community-based conservation, paleoscience, and related fields — our goal is to inspire and empower others to better understand and protect our lands, lakes, and rivers.

Reporting to the Senior Director for Science, the Director leads the scientific component of the development of high-impact initiatives, and the scientific evaluation and recommendation of funding opportunities in the Land focus area. The Director adaptively manages the focus area’s scientific portfolio by guiding and participating in needs assessment and gap analyses, and helps identify opportunities for new program development and expansion. Given their experience and subject matter expertise, the Land Director understands the relevant field(s) of the Land focus area, stays networked and informed on emerging trends, and scans for opportunities in the focus area’s portfolio.

This is a strategic role in the organization. The Director seeks to identify Explorers and projects with the potential to achieve sustainable positive impact for terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. The Director serves as an expert internal scientific consultant for programmatic development and represents the National Geographic Society to external constituencies. The Director should have a proactive and collaborative mindset, and the ability to lead and follow-through on projects.

Competitive applicants will have experience in conservation and/or scientific research, and knowledge of current trends in relevant disciplines. Competitive applicants will have experience working with local communities and stakeholders. The Director will build on the Society's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by engaging with underrepresented groups in the sciences as well as non-scientific and youth audiences.

Your Impact

Responsibilities Include

Strategy and Program Development (25%)

  • Lead the strategic development and adaptive management of the focus area’s scientific portfolio, working with programmatic colleagues in Science & Innovation, Education, and Storytelling. Implement and participate in needs assessment and gap analyses. Identify gaps in the focus area and identify opportunities for new program development and expansion.

  • Serve as a thought partner as we implement NGS DEI Guiding Principles across the breadth of our programmatic and scientific portfolio.

  • Collaborate on the development of high-impact initiatives consistent with the Society’s strategic vision and through lines.

  • Understand the relevant field(s), stay networked and informed on emerging trends, and scan for opportunities in the focus area’s portfolio.

Program Management (50%)

  • Lead scientific evaluation and recommendation of funding opportunities (grants and projects), maintaining and improving the rigor and integrity of the Society's scientific activities.

  • Identify, cultivate, and manage programmatic partnerships, target communities, and stakeholders to support initiatives and maximize impact.

  • Act as primary contact for Explorers leading grants and, as needed, the Society’s larger investment projects, and be an internal expert on those projects, including understanding the context in which they occur.

  • Communicate with Explorers to stay apprised of new discoveries, high profile academic publications, and/or media-friendly results that should be elevated.

  • Advise on Explorer integration into NG media projects and activities, and provide internal expertise and content for related Education/Storytelling activities.

Team, Divisional, and Organizational Collaboration (25%)

  • Develop and maintain strong positive and empathetic working relationships with other NGS divisions and external teams to maximize impact and reach.

  • Represent Science & Innovation at meetings with other NGS divisions, NG media divisions, and outside funders/entities.

  • Serve on internal cross-platform workgroups as a focus area expert.

  • Serve as an external representative of NGS, interfacing with representatives from partner and peer organizations. Maintain their expertise and reputation in the field through activities such as publication of papers, external service on professional committees or boards, and public presentations.

What You’ll Bring

Educational Background

  • Master’s degree in geoscience, terrestrial or freshwater ecology, climate science, or related field required. Ph.D. degree preferred.

Minimum Years and Type of Experience

  • 3+ years of management experience and 10+ years of experience in a field of science related to ecology, conservation, or geoscience. Experience working with local communities and stakeholders required, experience in grant-making preferred.

Necessary Knowledge and Skills

  • Understanding of the scientific method and peer-reviewed literature with experience in conservation and/or scientific research.

  • Ability to work with individuals and groups at all levels.

  • Ability to work on multiple projects, under deadlines, with changing priorities in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.

  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively in teams that span organizations and cultures, and internally within a diverse and dynamic institution.

Desired Qualifications

  • Knowledge of current trends in relevant disciplines.

  • Ability to manage projects with high attention to detail.

  • Reputation for high ethical standards and integrity, displaying diplomacy and tact in difficult or sensitive situations.

  • Experience speaking in front of small and large audiences and putting together reports for different types of audiences.


1 staff, plus interns and/or contractors on occasion.

Job Designation

Hybrid - This position has been designated Hybrid, meaning your position will be performed from NGS Base Camp three fixed days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and can be performed remotely for two fixed days a week (Monday and Friday).

We encourage you to apply even if your experience is not a 100% match with the position. We are looking for someone with relevant skills and experience, not a checklist that exactly matches the job description. We want to help you grow and in return, you help us grow into a stronger, more inclusive organization.

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