Program Director — San Francisco/Modesto


Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing our land, air, and water. Every day, we bring together business, landowners, communities and government, in some of the most productive as well as poorest parts of California, to steward the resources on which we all depend in ways that are just and make economic sense. Because we know that common ground is California’s most important resource. Please visit our website at to learn more about our work.


Our Water for the Future Program is working to transform the way water is managed in California. We seek to improve groundwater management by encouraging responsible pumping of deep-water stores during dry years, groundwater recharge to recover water levels during wet years, and efficient use of water and nutrients by growers to ensure safe drinking water for communities.

Our initiatives have seen significant progress due to expanding networks and new opportunities. We seek a Program Director to help lead these initiatives, working in collaboration with our dedicated Water Team. Under the general guidance of the Director of Resource Stewardship, the Program Director will advance our work by facilitating network collaborations and integrating technical knowledge to support groundwater sustainability statewide and provide internal support with mentoring and team management.

The Program Director should have deep experience in complex multi-disciplinary natural resource management issues involving a wide range of professionals, government officials, and other stakeholders and community leaders. . The Program Director will help guide and/or lead the implementation of multiple projects by Project Directors and other technical staff, including current initiatives to advance groundwater recharge and conservation, and groundwater protection in California’s Central Valley and Coastal areas, bridging water resource needs for food production, cities and rural communities and the environment.

Location: This position will be associated with our San Francisco and Modesto offices with remote work options available. Periodic travel throughout the state may be needed when conditions permit.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Guide strategy development with Water Team members for complex multi-disciplinary projects involving field data collection, analysis, development of guidance, and coordinating outreach with diverse stakeholders about results.
  • Mentor team members to increase technical, project management, and communication skills, including with those parts of our communities that are under-represented in water issues; be available to team members as a thought partner to talk through ideas and strategies.
  • Collaborate with the Director of Resource Stewardship on integrated program strategy, planning and goal setting.
  • Provide adaptive/dynamic team and program management, to include identifying staff resources and abilities, tracking and prioritizing progress across multiple team projects, motivating team effort, and being responsible for budgets, contracts, reporting.
  • Integrate and synthesize knowledge and data from multiple natural resource disciplines (hydrology, geology, agronomy, habitat ecology) and economics into practical management strategies and guidance for farmers and water managers.
  • Provide technical scientific structure and guidance to Water Team members on multiple projects.
  • Represent Sustainable Conservation in multi-stakeholder engagement at technical leadership level with academics, agencies, NGOS, community leaders, and consultants to encourage and facilitate collaboration to advance technical research and tool and guidance development to meet real world needs.
  • Manage external technical advisory review processes for input and review of technical products and to build buy-in for internally developed tools and guidance materials.
  • Plan outreach strategies with team members to disseminate project results to farmers, water managers, under-represented portions of relevant communities and policy makers.
  • Edit draft documents developed by team members and provide coaching to improve written communication skills as needed.
  • Be an ambassador for the organization in its fundraising efforts, and present compelling stories to Board of Directors, individual donors and foundation staff.

Experience and Skills Required

  • At least 5 years’ experience in planning and/or implementing complex natural resource management projects
  • Master’s degree or higher from educational institution that included integration of knowledge from at least two of the following disciplines: hydrology, hydro-geology, soil science, biology, restoration ecology, agronomy, forestry, watershed science, economics, and behavioral sciences.
  • Experience managing and working with interdisciplinary teams; mentoring and motivating others
  • Experience managing project design and implementation including setting goals, managing budgets and contracts, and developing reports.
  • Ability to evaluate external environmental and policy trends to develop strategic project proposals and adapt project strategies to achieve long-term measurable goals. Familiarity with natural resource regulations and ability to navigate regulatory processes with emphasis in California or the Western US.
  • Ability to lead multi-stakeholder collaborations to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Excellent listening and facilitation skills.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills with ability to translate complex technical information into summary findings and guidance for farmers, water managers, agency decision makers and other NGOs.
  • Experience working collaboratively with farmers and/or natural resource managers from diverse economic and social backgrounds

Also desirable:

  • Business development experience to assess demand for, and scope of, desired services, develop fee structure and contract terms for fee-for-service work products for farmers and/or water districts/GSAs.
  • Multi-lingual/multi-cultural skills and/or training.
  • Proficient in MS Office applications; experience with SharePoint/Office365 and Zoom, a plus.

What we offer: A competitive compensation package based on experience, fully-paid health insurance benefits, generous match on 401k, vacation, sick leave, plus the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day as holiday leave. Our best benefit is our culture. Our staff is collaborative, dedicated, and caring.

At Sustainable Conservation we value culture and diversity and as an equal opportunity employer we encourage qualified individual from all backgrounds to apply to our job openings.

To Apply: Please send your cover letter and resume to and include “Program Director” in the Subject line.