Director of Operations - Ecosystems Program

With world attention focused on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. This leading green group, with programs from Boston to Beijing, has tripled in size over the past decade by focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches. You can be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, with a focus on results. 

EDF aspires to transform society’s stewardship of whole ecosystems – not just patches of them. Our approach has been two fold.  First, advocate for public policy initiatives that restore habitats and river ecosystems. Second, work in partnership with stakeholders to demonstrate practices and policies that reward landowners and water right holders for: (a) producing environmental benefits (wildlife, water flows in rivers, habitat, pollutant reduction, carbon sequestration) along with food, timber, energy and other vital commercial outputs and (b) maximizing efficient use of inputs (water, chemicals, nutrients), thereby reducing their impact on the environment.  

Overall Function

The Ecosystems program (the Program) at the Environmental Defense Fund is one of seven main business/ program units at EDF.  We are undergoing an organizational transformation as we prepare to double in size over the next 3 years from a budget of $20M to $40.    We need a Director-level individual who is uniquely qualified, through skills and interests, to join our team.

The role of Director of Operations is a newly created position and offers an opportunity to have a major impact on Ecosystems.  It requires a resilient, strong, deeply engaged manager with interest in issues related to water and land stewardship, current policy, and proposed solutions.

The successful candidate is a strong, deeply engaged manager fluent in communication of all types and with problem identification and problem solving skills.  S/he has a keen sense of organizational and systems thinking, and organizational awareness.  S/he is intuitive about balancing relationships with tasks and boldly dives into creative ways of thinking and doing.  The person in this position will help mediate disputes and deal with issues so they don't become major problems.

S/he lives in the solution not in the problem.  And s/he can see the big picture, work in the weeds, discern what’s most important, and know when and how to collaborate.

The Director of Operations will act as the conduit for information flow up and down the entire organization and act as a thought partner to the VP and AVP in organizational, management and other strategic issues.  S/he requires sophisticated operations, management, communication, coaching and consulting skills and a high level of emotional intelligence.

This position reports directly to the Vice President of Ecosystems.  In close communication with the Vice President and Associate Vice President, s/he will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the 60+ strong Ecosystem team and systematically managing the business aspects of the Program.  Business and finance staff will report to the Director of Operations.  Specifically, the Director will establish and implement appropriate financial planning, accountability and adapative program management systems, main program effectiveness, and ensure overall program focus. 

Key Responsibilities

Help ensure that program goals and milestones are achieved; fundraising responsibilities are addressed, and assist senior staff in providing management and support to staff.  To accomplish this, the Director’s key responsibilities include:


  • Lead the business management, budgeting and finance operations of the program to include: staffing levels, budgets, contracts, and financial management.  In particular, develop the annual budget, forecast expenses, monitor expenditures and report on each.  Identify gaps and ensure they are addressed and resolved.  
  • Build and manage relationships with EDF (Corporate) IT, HR, and Finance departments.
  • Guide senior directors and work with staff to ensure they have the information they need to manage effectively from the proposal development process through all phases of project implementation.
  • In collaboration with VP and AVP, determine frequency and content of status reports (budgets, progress against goals) from project managers, analyze results, and trouble shoot problem areas in order to mitigate risk; develop metrics to get more benefit out of the operational reviews and improve how the Program develops proposal budgets and report on grants.

Project Management Oversight, Training

  • Participate in annual development of program goal setting, work plans, and areas of staff development.  Oversee implementation and execution of projects that support programmatic objectives including appropriate staffing, skills, work plans that support programmatic goals, and after-action reviews.
  • Determine, in cooperation, with senior staff how best to track progress toward overall goals.  Contribute to the performance evaluation process by providing feedback to program managers.
  • Regularly review budget and expenses with program staff to ensure time and appropriate use of approved resources.
  • Develop best practices, techniques and tools for project planning, execution, project management, ongoing milestone/deliverable tracking, and development of key performance metrics.
  • Assess and advise on the project management skills required and available for projects.  Make recommendations for staffing and assist in the recruiting of the necessary skills.  Mentor, coach and train project managers.

Coordinate Work Across Programs

  • Facilitate better communication and coordination between programs, to flag and help directors resolve potential conflicting objectives among programs to help identify and develop inter-program synergies.
  • Participate in the planning and implementation of appropriate program-wide sharing strategies.
  • Identify specific issues requiring cross program coordination, especially with respect to external, ongoing actions (i.e., positions on legislation or policy decisions; meeting or communication with high-ranking officials, communication with key external partners.

Communication of key day-to-day information within the organization

  • Ensure that the VP and AVP are informed and positioned to engage with the staff in the right ways, places and times.
  • Work closely with VP and AVP to create and implement effective and efficient communications pathways throughout the organization that support the execution of our work.
  • Facilitate the development of practices, relationships and structures that ensure effective deployment of the VP, foster strong communication channels, and support the VP's engagement with staff and stakeholders.


Qualifications include but are not limited to:

  • MBA in business, accounting, finance or public administration with at least 7 years financial management experience, preferably in a non-profit environment.
  • 7+ years in a senior management role at a major national or international organization, ideally one with multiple regional offices, running the operations of $30M+ and staff of over 100.
  • Strong project management and execution skills. 
  • Strong background and experience in organizational effectiveness; consulting background a plus
  • Strategic ability and big-picture problem-solving capacity.  Experience with strategies that involve economic and market-based solutions to environmental challenges along with the ability to translate strategy into tactics. 
  • Strong relationship and communication skills.
  • Flexible and resilient in the face of change and organizational growth.
  • Excellent organizational skills with attention to detail and the ability to effectively plan and problem-solve
  • A collaborative leadership style, with proven ability to empower and inspire staff and encourage staff development 

This position will be located in San Francisco, CA

Due to the volume of employment applications and queries received, EDF is unable to respond to each application individually. Applicants will be contacted directly if selected as a candidate.

Environmental Defense Fund is an Equal Opportunity Employer


June 5, 2014
Regular Full-Time
San Francisco, CA, United States