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TypeFull Time
Application DeadlineFebruary 4, 2024
College Degree Required?Yes
Salary Range$150,000 - $160,000



For nearly 50 years, NatureServe has been the authoritative source for biodiversity data throughout North America. With an international network of more than 60 natural heritage programs across the United States and Canada (“the Network”), NatureServe is the leading source of information on rare and endangered species and threatened ecosystems. To protect threatened biodiversity, NatureServe works with over 1,000 conservation scientists to collect, aggregate, and standardize biodiversity information, providing comprehensive data to the public for strategic conservation efforts. NatureServe and the Network develop and manage data for over 100,000 species and ecosystems, answering fundamental questions about what exists, where it is found, and how it is doing.

NatureServe offers employees a comprehensive benefits package. To explore the benefits visit:


NatureServe seeks a highly collaborative individual with a commitment to conservation and a desire to shape the future of NatureServe and biodiversity conservation in the United States and Canada, and beyond. The incumbent will be part of NatureServe’s leadership team as Chief Scientist. The person who assumes this role will provide strategic scientific leadership, represent NatureServe to scientific and philanthropic audiences, and generate significant revenue for NatureServe’s conservation science program.

NatureServe’s current strategic plan runs from 2022-2026. During this timeframe, NatureServe is building on decades of success with earned revenue to achieve a balanced model of financial sustainability that also generates significant philanthropic fundraising. The Chief Scientist will work closely with NatureServe’s Vice President for Data and Methods, as well as the Vice President for Technology and Partnerships, Executive Vice President for Programs, and Chief Advancement Officer to execute this plan.

NatureServe has a team of more than thirty applied scientists who collaborate to provide foundational information on North American biodiversity (including species and ecosystems) to guide conservation action. NatureServe scientists conduct endangered species assessments, develop predictive habitat models, classify and map ecosystems, conduct ecological integrity and climate change assessments, and synthesize information to develop biodiversity indicators, and identify conservation priorities. This also includes upscaling these approaches and techniques to conservation partners outside of North America and through NatureServe’s membership in global partnerships (e.g., Red List Partnership, NatureServe’s Biodiversity Indicators Program, etc.).

Along with the VP for Data and Methods, the Chief Scientist is responsible for guiding the strategic development and growth of a range of existing science programs, projects, and partnerships. They will work with other science leaders, our CEO, and our philanthropy team to bring in funding to support work in these areas while advancing NatureServe’s strategic goals. The Chief Scientist will oversee select funded projects in their area of expertise to ensure the scientific integrity of the work and cultivate relationships with funders. They are directly responsible for the oversight of our botany, zoology, and ecology teams; NatureServe’s Chief Zoologist, Chief Botanist, and Chief Ecologist will be direct reports.

The Chief Scientist also leads NatureServe in developing novel applications of NatureServe data to meet conservation needs. The incumbent will provide leadership to advance one or more emerging portfolios of interest, potentially including the use of Artificial Intelligence to advance biodiversity informatics including for conservation status assessment, corporate biodiversity impact reporting and accounting, biodiversity trend detection, climate change and distributions of species and ecosystems, and/or integration of remotely sensed and in situ information for conservation assessment and planning.

The incumbent will provide collaborative scientific leadership to the NatureServe Network, broker scientific partnerships, and represent NatureServe’s science to government, academic, donor, and public audiences.

This is a high profile position. The incumbent will represent a respected network of over 1,000 scientists and data managers working across North America and will directly influence the conservation of biodiversity at a continental scale.

Job Duties


  1. Provide leadership for NatureServe’s applied scientific work (20%)
  • Lead implementation of the Conservation Science pillar of NatureServe’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. With the Vice President for Data and Methods, guide the strategic development of data, methods, tools, and integrated information products that result in significant enduring benefits in the conservation of biological and ecological diversity.
  • Engage scientists throughout the NatureServe Network in the ongoing development, documentation and deployment of scientific protocols that support the collection and analysis of consistent biodiversity data across the Network.
  1. Help operationalize strategic leadership by raising public and private funds to support scientific activities (30%).
  • Lead a business development portfolio, support other NatureServe scientists in their business development pursuits, and partner with philanthropy on fundraising for conservation science activities.
  1. Oversee the implementation of funded high-profile science projects (20%).
  • Work closely with technical leads, project managers, and others to develop work plans, ensure sound scientific approaches, and ensure timelines are met within budget targets.
  • Leverage funded projects to deepen current relationships and cultivate new ones.
  1. Publicly represent NatureServe science (10%).
  • Attend conferences and meetings to raise awareness of NatureServe’s work and build relationships with partners.
  • Publish methods, results, and other research that advance effective conservation action, including through peer-reviewed venues and as whitepapers.
  • Contribute to a range of external relations and fundraising campaigns.
  1. Support Operational Management of Science (10%).
  • In partnership with the VP for Data and Methods and EVP for Programs, support the operational management of science by participating in the organizational budgeting process, contributing to meetings on science staffing strategies and workload allocation, and monitoring department discretionary spending.
  1. Other duties as assigned by the President and Executive Vice President for Programs (10%).

Skills Required


  • Ph.D. in biology, ecology or related discipline, with special emphasis in one or more areas of science relevant to NatureServe’s mission.
  • Proven success in business development and fundraising for scientific programs, with an emphasis on conservation results.
  • More than five years work experience required in conservation biology and related fields to conservation decision-making and natural resources management.
  • Experience in program development and leadership, priority setting, and the management of finances, people, and workloads of a large programs with numerous contracts and deliverables.
  • Personal and professional credibility in the conservation science community.


  • Understanding of NatureServe’s mission and demonstrated commitment to conservation.
  • Proven strategic thinker who can identify opportunities, set priorities, evaluate the financial and strategic implications of decisions, and motivate and support teams.
  • Ability to thrive in environments of uncertainty and lean in to high-risk/high-reward activities.
  • Commitment to working closely and productively with colleagues and direct reports in a matrixed organization.
  • Extremely well organized, and able to orchestrate multiple activities to accomplish set goals in a fast-paced environment.
  • Excellent skills in partnership development.
  • Superb written and verbal communication skills.


  • Experience with philanthropic fundraising and knowledge of foundations with biodiversity conservation goals.
  • Experience with federal natural resource agencies including DOI and USDA.
  • A professional network of colleagues that includes both domestic and international relationships.
  • Candidates with experience working within, or in partnership with, NatureServe or one of its member programs will be preferred.
  • Knowledge of corporate interests in U.S. and Canadian biodiversity conservation and track record of successful corporate partnerships.


  • Ability to travel independently and attend conferences and meetings up to 20% time.
  • Ability to speak clearly and hear well, to participate effectively in telecommunications with network members and partners.

Applicants must be authorized to work for any employer in the U.S. We are unable to sponsor or take over sponsorship of an employment Visa at this time.  

NatureServe is an equal employment opportunity employer and does not discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, citizenship status, disability status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression of an otherwise qualified individual, or membership in any other class protected by applicable law. 

Additional Info


Remote, with Washington, D.C. Metro Area preferred.