California Desert Associate Director

National Parks Conservation Association
Joshua Tree, California
Closing date
Mar 2, 2024

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Conservation science
Environmental Justice
Job Level
Mid level
Salary Type
Employment Type

We're protecting and enhancing America's National Park System for present and future generations.


National Parks Conversation Association (NPCA) is the nation’s oldest and largest national parks nonprofit, advocacy organization. NPCA has an exciting opportunity for a California Desert Associate Director to join our Pacific Regional Office (PARO).


This endowed position, titled the Ruth Hammett Associate Director – California Desert, will defend and protect California Desert Parks’ long-term future. The Ruth Hammett Memorial Desert Protection endowment honors the life and legacy of Ruth Hammett, a longtime supporter of NPCA and our national parks, to support the work of the California desert region.




When you join NPCA, you will become part of a highly supportive community that believes in respect through understanding and is guided by our core values: CommitmentInclusionIntegrity and Respect. Our core values embolden us to achieve excellence, unite us and fuel our commitment to become leaders fulfilling our shared mission of protecting and enhancing America’s national parks for present and future generations.


Location: California desert (e.g. Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Morongo Basin, Coachella Valley, Victor Valley, Barstow)


Salary: $70k – 75k (Grade N)


Benefits: We offer competitive compensation and benefits including a four-day, 32-hour work week, paid sabbaticals for staff after seven years of service and more. Learn more about our benefits.


Position Overview:


The California Desert Associate Director manages all aspects of the California desert program including advocacy campaigns to protect the parks and adjacent lands, staffing, external relationships, and public outreach. Specific campaigns include work on national monument creation and defense, protecting desert land, water and wildlife resources, building a broader movement to protect the California desert, and highlighting publicly the values and need to protect the California desert.


The California desert contains nearly 25% of all the national park lands in the lower 48 states and faces significant threats to its wildlife, ecological integrity, and its natural and cultural resources. It is also a frontier for scientific discovery, one of the most protected landscapes in the nation, and a place where landscape-scale conservation has and can continue to be achieved.


Essential Functions:


  • Strategically Lead California Desert Advocacy Campaign Work:               (50%) There are two primary elements of this function: 1. to monitor, understand, and act upon threats to desert national parks and connected natural and cultural landscapes. 2. Identify and act quickly to take advantage of opportunities to further protect these desert lands and cultural landscapes. Through a team-oriented culture, guide and refine the vision, goals and strategic direction of national park campaigns in the region by working with team to prioritize, design, implement and report out on progress and activities. Design advocacy strategies to address park threats, improve natural, cultural and historic resource protection, and improve the park visitor experience across the region. Support national campaigns such as calls for park funding and other systemic initiatives. Provide strategic oversight of current and future regional priorities. Cultivate relationships with public officials to become champions for national parks. Engage large and diverse communities of advocates to empower and uphold the highest protections for national parks. Provide strategic input and active participation in systemic or program-level, cross-departmental teams and campaigns.  The Associate Director is a public-figure who will work closely with the media to highlight national park issues in this region. That includes leading desert media tours, performing on camera interviews, speaking to and working closely with reporters in coordination with media relations staff, drafting opinion pieces, and supporting the communications needs of partners and coalition members. The ideal candidate will have some experience organizing media to help support strategic campaign goals and outcomes. 

Community leadership/movement building: (20%) Advocacy relies on community relationships and as such this role is very public facing. We work across a broad geography, with diverse communities, stakeholders, and interest groups. We seek a thoughtful leader with the ability to become an expert on desert issues and policy and build community around conservation issues, to become a trusted and respected ally in this region that supports others, builds relationships, builds coalitions, and can support and create policy change on the local, regional, state and national level.  This will include work with and building trust with rural communities, communities of color, tribes, faith-based groups, and new audiences who may not have had access or exposure to conservation or national parks issues. We seek to broaden the movement to protect the desert, and the Associate Director will lead that effort to build community, build grassroots and political power, build national park champions, and deepen the engagement of our friends and allies.  Team leadership, staff management and field office operations (30%): This position manages the California desert program including one staff person, part-time consultant(s) as needed, the program budget, and relationships at the local, county, state, and federal level. The Associate Director makes decisions about strategic direction, campaigns, resource allocation, and capacity to engage on issues. The Associate Director assists NPCA’s Development staff and the Pacific Region Director in fundraising for programmatic needs. A leader with a strong ethic of collaboration, empathy, vision, strategic thinking, and who focuses on empowerment of staff and community is essential.


Core Competencies

The Associate Director position requires a set of core competencies to perform the functions outlined above.


Strategic Direction and Management of Campaigns and Programs

  • Has experience structuring and running fast moving and complex programmatic and policy campaigns and programs Demonstrated skills working on policy with decision makers and identifying and coalescing a community of support for campaigns and programs and understands how the various political, policy, public and programmatic pieces fit together Experienced with building internal support for campaigns and programs, demonstrating the value to organization-wide mission and objectives Proven experience building strong and authentic relationships externally that contribute to positive programmatic outcomes Strength with developing benchmarks before launching an initiative and capturing stories to report on progress/impact

Administration and Human Resources

  • Experienced with managing budgets and being accountable to grant/donor deliverables and expenditures Skilled with ensuring policies, practices and facilities that support a high performance team Experienced at building and managing a diverse and professional team (e.g. staff and/or consultants) and providing direction and coaching for staff and is willing to receive the same

Personal Attributes

  • Confident in their leadership abilities Exhibits active listening skills, timely follow-up and accountability Works quickly without sacrificing quality or collaboration Comes prepared to all meetings and responds to requests in a timely manner Is clear and concise when communicating A caring, committed, and empathetic person who shares NPCA’s core values of commitment, inclusion, integrity, and respect.



Significant travel required across the California and Southern Nevada deserts and across Southern California. Occasional travel to Sacramento and Washington, DC will be required.


Green 2.0 Pledge: Our organization is committing to conducting a pay equity analysis of staff compensation to look at differences in compensation in regard to race, ethnicity, and gender, to collect and analyze relevant data, and take corrective actions to remediate pay disparities.


Physical Effort and Dexterity:  While performing the duties of this job, the employee is typically required to stand; walk; sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; climb stairs; talk or hear. The employee may lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by the job may include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


NPCA is committed to diversity among its employees and hiring practices.  All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.


Physical Environment: Office or home office setting; significant travel, significant time driving, time in field in national parks and other public lands.


Employer’s Rights:  NPCA reserves the right to revise this position description at any time.  The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment to the position. The job description does not constitute an employment agreement between the NPCA and employee and is subject to change by the NPCA as the needs of the NPCA and requirements of the job change. The above is in no way an exhaustive list of the requirements for the position.


COVID-19: Please be aware that NPCA requires all employees who are required to work onsite, whether regularly or sporadically to be vaccinated for COVID-19. This position will require the successful candidate to show proof of vaccination. NPCA is an equal opportunity employer and will provide reasonable accommodation to those individuals who are unable to be vaccinated consistent with federal, state, and local law. *This does not apply to applicants residing in Montana, Tennessee, and Florida.


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