Director of Conservation Programs & Partnerships

The Seattle Aquarium
14823 Alaska Way, Seattle, WA, USA
DOE, negotiable
Sep 01, 2017
Oct 01, 2017
Job Level
Senior level
Employment Type
Full time
Salary Type

Another Source’s client, Seattle Aquarium, is recruiting a director of conservation programs & partnerships to join their team.

Here's a little about Seattle Aquarium and the position they are seeking to fill:

Organizational history

The Seattle Aquarium is one of Washington state’s leading environmental conservation, education and stewardship institutions and the region’s green gathering place for discussion and dissemination of information about the ocean and marine conservation. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), it’s the eighth-largest aquarium in the U.S. by attendance and among the top five paid visitor attractions in the Puget Sound region. Since its opening in 1977, the Aquarium has hosted more than 25 million visitors and provided marine conservation education to nearly two million school children.

The Seattle Aquarium is owned by the City of Seattle and was operated by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation until 2010, when the nonprofit Seattle Aquarium Society assumed its management—a model used by most leading zoos and aquariums. The facility expanded by 18,000 square feet in 2007 with new exhibits—including the impressive, 120,000-gallon Window on Washington Waters—a gift shop and café, as well as meeting and event facilities that have grown more successful with each passing year and are a major source of revenue and exposure for the organization’s mission.

The Seattle Aquarium has a realistic plan for phased growth based on recent record-setting attendance, membership and fundraising growth, an energized board of directors and increasingly professional management. The current annual budget for the Aquarium is $17 million. The organization has recently developed a master plan to substantially increase in physical size and impact by opening a new exhibit building, the Ocean Pavilion. As Seattle continues to redefine its relationship with the waterfront by replacing the viaduct with an underground tunnel, the Seattle Aquarium will become the focal point of a new 20-acre park along the waterfront.

The role of the director of conservation programs & partnerships

For many years the Seattle Aquarium has had a director of conservation & education. The Seattle Aquarium is now expanding its conservation efforts by splitting the conservation & education department into two new departments. Jim Wharton (former director of conservation & education) will now lead the conservation engagement & learning department; and we are recruiting a new director of conservation programs & partnerships. The organization chart at the end of this posting outlines our new approach to conservation at the Seattle Aquarium.

The director of conservation programs & partnerships will be a key member of the Aquarium’s executive team and will lead the Aquarium’s conservation efforts. The Seattle Aquarium has a unique opportunity to play in the conservation realm with its long-running conservation research program, interactions with more than 850,000 guests each year—including more than 40,000 schoolchildren—and a team of life science and visitor engagement professionals that includes more than a dozen staff divers, 80 volunteer divers, and a full-time senior veterinarian. This highly skilled and diverse group allows the Seattle Aquarium to assume a major role in the conservation of the marine environment.

To help map out a conservation path, the Aquarium recently completed a conservation prospectus (see link). The director of conservation programs & partnerships will lead the implementation of the conservation prospectus, a process that will be heavily dependent on building a network of collaborators throughout the region and beyond. Our guiding principle will be to foster the emergence of an ocean ethic among our visitors in Seattle and beyond. The geographic focus of our efforts will be the Salish Sea and Coral Triangle.


  • Lead the Seattle Aquarium’s conservation programs by successfully implementing the recently completed conservation prospectus. A core element of the prospectus is remembering that we are an aquarium and collaborating with the other departments.
  • Be a member of the newly formed conservation committee, which also includes the director of life sciences, director of conservation engagement & learning, and the COO.
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with key conservation and community stakeholders regionally and within appropriate disciplines nationally and internationally; especially in fostering the emergence of an ocean ethic requiring sustained collaboration with partners.
  • Develop measureable conservation goals and standards, working in close collaboration with the Aquarium’s senior leadership and board of directors.
  • Work with the board on conservation programs, including staffing the board’s conservation committee meetings.
  • Ensure AZA, federal, state and local regulatory compliance in all aspects of the Aquarium’s conservation initiatives.
  • Partner with the philanthropy department to secure additional funding for the Aquarium’s conservation programs.
  • Promote a collaborative, team-based culture of high performance and continuous improvement.
  • Chair the Marine Conservation Network


  • Manage the curator of research, lab, and a yet-to-be-hired policy manager. Pending funding, a third position is expected to be added in the future.

Knowledge and experience required:

  • Demonstrated passion for the Aquarium’s mission and vision.
  • Deep understanding of ocean conservation—from historical context to emerging issues.
  • Five to 10 years conservation-related, progressively responsible experience in designing, managing and leading complex conservation programs.
  • Ability to communicate a compelling vision for the Aquarium’s work through excellent written and verbal communication skills, operating across a broad spectrum of internal and external stakeholders including general public and unique or special audiences.
  • Proven management capabilities and experience leading a motivated team to do their best work.
  • Demonstrated fundraising ability, including personal solicitations and grant writing.
  • Strong organizational, planning and budgeting skills.
  • Collaborator. Proven ability to work across departments and organizations in a positive manner to get complex projects completed.
  • Strong, well-developed, diverse network of collaborators from a wide variety of conservation professionals.

Education (equivalent experience may be considered in lieu of education):

  • Degree in environmental sciences, ecology or related field.
  • Master’s degree preferred.

Working conditions:

Most work is performed in a normal office setting. Private office/semi-private work area. Frequent interruptions of work. Other work areas include outdoor environments with the need for some international and domestic travel, occasional work on the Aquarium’s boat, visiting beaches and travel/walk between buildings and meetings in the city.

Salary and benefits:

Salary dependent on experience. Please include salary requirements in cover letter. Full-time staff are eligible for the Seattle Aquarium’s comprehensive benefits package which includes medical, vision, dental (subsidized dependent coverage also available), HRA, FSA, life insurance, short- and long-term disability, subsidized transit (ORCA) pass, and generous paid time off.

How to apply:

The Seattle Aquarium is a progressive, equal opportunity employer that values a diverse workforce. Please include a one-page letter of interest and résumé. Application review will begin immediately. All candidates are encouraged to apply. To read a full job description and to apply, visit:

Note: Must pass a background check, upon job offer, to be eligible for this position.

The Seattle Aquarium has partnered with Another Source, an external recruiting firm, to assist in the hiring process for this position. Another Source works with their clients, on a retained project basis, to maximize the recruiting process. Inquiries about this position should be directed to:
Another Source
Phone: 206-241-8906