Organization: National Wildlife Refuge Association

Location: Washington, DC

Express Interest

About National Wildlife Refuge Association:

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is an independent nonprofit exclusively focused on protecting and promoting the 150 million acres within the refuge system, with stewardship responsibilities bringing the total management responsibilities to over 800 million acres. Founded in 1975, the Refuge Association’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife for future generations through programs that protect, enhance, and expand the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries. This incredible network of lands and waters supports 2,170 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, hosts 47 million visitors each year, and generates $2.4 billion of economic return for America. In our 41st year, the Refuge Association continues to accomplish our mission and raise the stature of the Refuge System. The Refuge Association engages thousands of supporters as diverse as the System itself – members of Refuge Friends groups, private landowners, hunters and anglers, educators and students, wildlife enthusiasts, hailing from all walks of life: urban, rural, suburban, and international – to create a collective voice for the Refuge System. In addition, our unique model leverages and partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help staff efficiently and effectively accomplish an ambitious conservation mission for the benefit of the American public, protecting endangered species, biological diversity, and all the wildlife who call the Refuge System home.

The goals of the Refuge Association are to build a strong constituency for wildlife, to give wildlife a voice on Capitol Hill, and to conserve the integrity of the National Wildlife Refuge System. We do this through several interconnected strategies, including building and mobilizing a grassroots network of refuge Friends groups throughout the country, addressing Refuge System funding, management, and strategic growth, and providing training workshops, communications networks, partnerships, Hill visits, and advocacy to generate support for wildlife refuges locally as well as the National Wildlife Refuge System as a whole. The Refuge Association also vigilantly watches for and addresses policies and legislation that undermine the integrity of the Refuge System while advocating for efforts that advance wildlife conservation.

In response to the alarming loss of vital refuge buffer habitats, the Refuge Association launched the “Beyond the Boundaries” program in 2005 to expand support for conserving landscapes that surround national wildlife refuges. We believe that conservation cannot be confined to lines on a map or a refuge “box.” Through partnerships with government agencies, private landowners, and conservation organizations, “Beyond the Boundaries” brings a compelling vision of landscape conservation together with the people and resources that can make it happen. Our strategic approach to landscape conservation seeks to safeguard open space, rural ways of life, and a healthy environment, while ensuring that our wildlife heritage is protected for generations.

For more information on the National Wildlife Refuge Association, please visit

The Opportunity:

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is seeking an experienced, dynamic, and strategic leader to guide the organization through an exciting time of transition and growth. Working closely with a committed Board of Directors and a talented staff, the President will lead the development and implementation of strategies to ensure the operational and financial health of the organization as it continues to grow and evolve in the pursuit of its mission. S/he will bring a new infusion of creativity and visionary leadership to all areas of the Refuge Association’s work, and inspire existing and new constituents to support America’s wildlife refuges and wildlife conservation on the local, regional and national levels. This is an incredible opportunity for an outstanding leader to join a uniquely positioned organization and to steer a passionate and talented group of stakeholders in important efforts to conserve wildlife for generations to come.

Specific responsibilities include:

Strategic Leadership & Vision

  • Set organizational vision; develop and execute strategic plans to advance the mission of the organization, with an understanding of the physical, economic, and political environment of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as the special role and history of the Refuge Association vis-à-vis the Refuge System.
  • Develop strategic plans to thoughtfully maximize capacity and resources to reach organizational goals.

Fundraising & Resource Development

  • Serve as an external spokesperson to compellingly communicate the Refuge Association’s mission and vision to a wide variety of audiences.
  • Cultivate and grow relationships with individuals, foundations, corporations, and agencies to strategically increase the Refuge Association’s funding and donor base.

Operational & People Management

  • Effectively manage the Refuge Association’s annual budget, update Board on all significant financial developments, and work with the Board and senior staff to ensure that business practices and plans meet all financial goals.
  • Oversee a staff of 15-20, aligning staff to strategy in the management of all Refuge Association activities and ensuring the financial and operational health of the organization.
  • Serve as an inspirational internal leader, communicating continually with staff and fostering a collaborative team atmosphere in both the DC office and remote offices across the country.


  • Work closely with the Vice Presidents of Development and of Programs on cultivating philanthropic and agency support of programs.
  • Oversee progress and completion of deliverables on projects and work together with senior staff to ensure the availability of accurate, up-to-record progress on all grants, contracts, and other commitments


  • Cultivate collaborative, productive relationships with the current Administration, Congress, and philanthropic and environmental communities.
  • Collaborate with the Vice Presidents of Programs and of Government Affairs on relations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Work closely with the Vice Presidents of Programs and Government Affairs and with the Board to select issues on which to focus, frame positions, and advocate.

Board Relations

  • Partner with the Board of Directors to drive the organization’s vision and develop strategic priorities.
  • Leverage the experience and expertise of the Board on key initiatives and thoughtfully grow the Board as the organization moves forward.
  • Ensure that Board members are up-to-date and engaged in all aspects of organizational governance, including delivering periodic financial reports and proposed agendas for Board Meetings.

This is a full-time position located in Washington, DC.

Candidate Profile:

The President will be a dynamic leader and advocate for the National Wildlife Refuge Association. S/he will be able to inspire and motivate others to protect the Refuge System by sparking interest in and passion for the critical role that refuges play in maintaining our ecosystem. The ideal candidate will be an experienced nonprofit leader and manager, an accomplished fundraiser, and an enthusiastic communicator.

The President will ideally also possess the following experiences and skills:

  • A commitment to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association.
  • 10+ years in management positions, with the ability to grow an organization in size, impact, and visibility.
  • Experience aligning strategic plans with organizational capacity and fiscal resources; a sense of financial acumen with the ability to oversee the budget of a nonprofit institution.
  • Fundraising talent with the ability to develop and execute a development plan and connect with existing and untapped philanthropic resources; experience fundraising for advocacy is a plus.
  • Strong external relations skills with experience identifying potential partnerships and other revenue-generating opportunities; experience building a membership base is a plus.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to serve as a compelling spokesperson who can articulate the Refuge Association’s mission and work to a variety of stakeholders.
  • Experience with and knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues.
  • Inspirational and goal-oriented management style with the ability to mobilize, lead, facilitate, and inspire trust amongst staff, board, Friends groups, and other constituents.
  • Instincts and aptitude for political strategy and networking; ability to work collaboratively and cooperatively with Congress and government agencies including, but not limited to, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • An innovative, creative capability in communicating a wide range of environmental issues, including the organization’s role in helping to shape the public discourse; the ability to serve as a thought leader who can move from ideas to action.
  • Commitment to equity and inclusion in conservation and in organizational culture.
  • Ability to travel locally and nationally (30-50% of the time).


The National Wildlife Refuge Association has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume to Molly Brennan and Alena Guerra here.

The National Wildlife Refuge Association is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

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