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Chief Scientist

Nature Serve
Washington D.C.
$140,000 - $150,000
Closing date
Jan 17, 2023


For nearly 50 years, NatureServe has been the authoritative source for biodiversity data across North America. With an international network of more than 60 Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centres (CDCs) across the United States and Canada (“the Network”), NatureServe is the leading source of information on rare and endangered species and threatened ecosystems. To promote protection of threatened biodiversity, NatureServe works with conservation scientists throughout the Network and beyond 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 respected scientist in the field of biodiversity informatics to join the Executive Team as Chief Scientist, a Vice-President level role. Ideal candidates will be highly collaborative individuals with a commitment to conservation and a desire to help shape the future of an established but quickly growing organization. The individual who assumes this role will work closely with NatureServe’s Vice President for Data and Methods, as well as the Vice President for Technology and Partnerships, and report to the Executive Vice President for Programs.  

The Chief Scientist is the senior leader of NatureServe's Science Applications department. In this capacity, they guide the strategic development and growth of science programs, projects, partnerships, and fundraising with the goal of providing the best available information to support conservation of species and ecosystems. The incumbent will broker scientific partnerships, provide scientific leadership with and to our Network, and promote and support innovative approaches for the development and management of scientific information, including the advancement of tools that facilitate the use of this information in land management and conservation planning. Working with other scientists and philanthropy, they will lead business development efforts and support fundraising to advance NatureServe’s strategic goals. They will provide thought leadership in conservation data collection, analysis, and application for NatureServe, the Network, and the broader biodiversity informatics and conservation community. 

NatureServe’s Conservation Science team, which includes Science Applications and Data and Methods, develops scientific methods to support conservation data production and analyses. The team develops and maintains information on taxonomy, location and distribution, conservation status, and threats for plants, animals, and ecosystems. We apply this information through a range of projects to conduct endangered species assessments, predict species habitat and ranges now and in the future, classify and map ecosystems, assess the ecological integrity of specific places, and help society adapt to climate change, among other applications. Key staff positions within this department include a Chief Zoologist, Chief Botanist, and Chief Ecologist. 


  • Provide strategic leadership for NatureServe's scientists, by: implementing the State-of-the-Art Conservation Science pillar of NatureServe’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan; and, with the Vice President for Data and Methods, guiding 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.  
  • Oversee the implementation of scientific projects to meet timelines within budget targets. 
  • Provide thought leadership and serve as a spokesperson to elevate the role of NatureServe in key scientific organizations, inspiring a range of stakeholders to engage with NatureServe’s mission. 
  • Develop and maintain partnerships with national and international organizations such as federal and subnational agencies, professional organizations, and academic institutions to enhance development and application of scientific standards, methods and products for the conservation of biological and ecological diversity. 
  • Raise public and private funds to support scientific activities, including by seeking contracts from private and government entities and by seeking philanthropic support from individuals and institutions in collaboration with NatureServe’s Philanthropy team. 
  • With other NatureServe leaders, 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.
  • Publish methods, results, and other documents that advance effective conservation action, including through peer-reviewed venues and as whitepapers.
  • Contribute to Government Relations, Public Relations, and Network Relations initiatives.
  • Other duties as assigned by the President and Executive Vice President for Programs. 



  • Ph.D. in biology, ecology or related disciplines, with special emphasis in areas of conservation science relevant to NatureServe’s mission. 
  • Leadership in the conservation science community. 
  • More than seven years work experience in applying the concepts of conservation biology and related fields to conservation decision-making and natural resources management (ten years preferred).
  • Experience in program development and leadership, priority setting, and the management of finances, people, and workloads of large programs with numerous contracts and deliverables. 
  • Experience making compelling presentations to a wide variety of stakeholders.
  • Proven success in fundraising for scientific programs, particularly in biodiversity and/or conservation. 



  • Understands NatureServe’s mission and demonstrates a 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.
  • Extremely well organized, and able to orchestrate multiple activities to accomplish set goals in a fast-paced environment. 
  • Ability to work closely and productively with colleagues including Vice Presidents, the Executive Vice President for Programs, and direct reports. 
  • Excellent skills in partnership development.
  • Superb written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to travel 10-25% of the time in the U.S. and internationally. 



  • A professional network of conservation collaborators that includes both domestic and international partnerships.  
  • Candidates with experience working within, or in partnership with, NatureServe or one of its Network programs preferred.
  • While candidates who live in the Washington, D.C. metro area (or are willing to relocate) are preferred, other locations will be considered. 



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

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.   

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