Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

New York, NY   |   December 13, 2019

About NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation’s most effective nonprofit environmental advocacy organization. NRDC works to safeguard the earth — its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We believe the world’s children should inherit a planet that will sustain them as it has sustained us. NRDC works to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild, and to prevent special interests from undermining public interests.

NRDC uses law, science, and the support of 3.1 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. NRDC was founded in 1970, and our staff helped write some of America’s bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations; our water enforcement cases played a major role shaping current water policy throughout the country. Today, our staff of more than 700 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy advocates, communications experts, and others, work across the United States and internationally from our offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing.

NRDC is currently seeking an exceptional Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer to join the organization and help lead a collaborative, organization-wide initiative to deepen NRDC’s internal diversity, equity, and inclusion across all of its policies, procedures, and activities. The Chief DEI Officer will be a member of the Executive Leadership team and report to the organization’s President. This is a full-time position, preferably located in the New York City office.

For more information on NRDC, please visit

The Opportunity

NRDC is committed to infusing the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into its work and workplace. This high-level commitment and focus will enrich the work environment and enhance NRDC’s effectiveness as an advocate for the safeguarding of our earth and environmental justice. The creation of the Chief DEI Officer role, a new executive-level position, reflects NRDC’s ongoing commitment to continuing this work and ensuring that policies and processes across the organization are fully aligned with DEI principles and values.

The Chief DEI Officer will provide vision, leadership, and coordination for the organization’s efforts to ensure DEI across all aspects of the organization’s work and efforts. The duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Leading an inclusive, collaborative design process that results in a framework for NRDC’s DEI initiatives internally and in NRDC’s external-facing programmatic work
  • Establishing and communicating key institutional DEI goals and metrics as well as the measurement of NRDC’s performance in attaining DEI objectives and regular, transparent reporting on progress
  • Collaborating with NRDC’s HR team to help deepen and strengthen an inclusive and diverse internal culture and reinforce principles of diversity and inclusion in hiring and workplace conditions
  • Working across the organization at all levels and within all departments to ensure that the objectives and underlying values of NRDC’s DEI work are clear, communicated, and understood, and are reflected in NRDC’s culture and substantive advocacy
  • Promoting accountability throughout staff for engaging in genuine, effective DEI-related work and providing guidance and support in implementing those goals
  • Communicating and collaborating with existing DEI groups and initiatives, including office DEI committees, and other individuals and groups who have been leading DEI work internally to ensure clarity of purpose, efficacy, and coordination across efforts
  • Serving as an external liaison in thought partnership with other organizations around essential DEI initiatives
  • Providing strategy and support on behalf of institutional fundraising efforts, helping to ensure that fundraising strategies reflect DEI principles as well as supporting efforts to secure funds for DEI-focused initiatives
  • Partnering with NRDC’s communications teams to ensure that internal and external communications reflect DEI values and practices, participate in external surveys and groups producing research, data, and communication about DEI-related issues
  • Playing a key role on the executive team, advising the President and senior leaders on DEI-related issues and providing guidance and advice for executive team members’ work as equity-focused leaders and managers, attending board meetings and preparing materials for these meetings as needed
  • Coordinating engagements with any DEI-related consultants across the organization
  • Ensuring that the voices of staff, including the office DEI committees, are heard and valued
  • Collecting and making available to staff resources on DEI-related matters, such as lists of relevant consultants, training, best practice documents, etc.
  • Managing a budget and team that will initially include one additional person and discretionary funds with the potential to grow
Candidate Profile

The Chief DEI Officer will bring deep expertise around DEI practices and principles and experience leading large-scale culture change. The candidate will be an exceptional strategist, communicator, and facilitator who can create a vision, a road map for achieving that vision, and the collective buy-in and accountability required to achieve organizational change. The Chief DEI Officer will work in close partnership with NRDC’s incoming President and colleagues on the executive team as well as staff members across the entire organization to develop and implement a framework and vision for NRDC’s equity and inclusion work. While it would be helpful for candidates to bring an understanding of environment/climate justice and NRDC’s programmatic areas of focus, it is not a requirement for the role.

Additional desired competencies and characteristics include:

DEI Leadership and Expertise

  • A track record of extensive leadership in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability
  • Strong diversity, equity, and inclusion analyses and commitments as well as experience successfully leading the integration of DEI throughout organizational policies, practices, management, and culture
  • A significant background as a thought leader in the field with unquestioned commitment to DEI values
  • Experience and understanding of leadership in a multiracial, multigenerational setting and the ability to coach others to be inclusive leaders
  • Willingness and comfort with engaging with staff at all levels to help build an inclusive, equitable culture
  • Experience with building learning and development systems and initiatives that support and advance DEI values and principles

Change Management and Leadership

  • Demonstrated experience in significant change management processes that require building buy-in and leading across a wide range of stakeholders
  • Keen understanding of how to empower people, influence colleagues, and work across departments in a complex organization
  • Proven ability to translate strategic thinking about complex challenges and organizational gaps into executable plans to deliver on strategic imperatives and solve problems large and small, and measure progress toward goals
  • Experience managing complex projects and budgets, including the ability to use benchmarking and data metrics to drive organizational change and accountability
  • Leadership strength, including the proficiency to motivate disparate colleagues and influence decision making
  • Aptitude to take risks, see opportunities, and pivot when called for by circumstances
  • Ability to serve as an effective member of the executive team and internal leader organization-wide as well as, in time, a partner and thought leader in the environmental movement externally

Communications and Relationships Building

  • An emotionally intelligent, results-driven leader who can inspire staff and volunteers at all levels, collaborate across departments, and provide feedback and coaching to support the achievement of complex goals
  • Thoughtful and patient communicator who will strengthen NRDC’s efforts to establish shared norms, vocabulary, and practices around DEI
  • Ability to serve as an organizational spokesperson and inspire internal colleagues with diplomacy, passion, and gravitas
  • Highly skilled communicator, written and verbal — both individually and in large audience or public communications

Natural Resources Defense Council has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. To express interest in this unique opportunity, please submit a compelling cover letter and resume to Molly Brennan and Shelby Woods here.

NRDC is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in our work and in our workplace. We believe that celebrating and actively welcoming a diversity of voices and perspectives is essential to solving the planet’s most pressing environmental problems, and we encourage applications from candidates whose identities have been historically underrepresented in the environmental movement. We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit