Vice President, Working Lands

With world attention on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. By focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches, we tackle urgent threats with practical solutions. We are one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of approximately 630 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We operate in 22 geographies with unique projects running across four programs. You will be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, where innovation and results are a way of life.


Program Overview


Ecosystems is one of four major programs within EDF. The program has bold goals to reach by 2025 that are centered around reversing habitat loss on working lands, building resilient coastal communities, rebalancing water systems and their ability to provide a resilient water supply, and ending agriculture fertilizer pollution. The VP, Ecosystems Working Lands will lead the teams and formulate the strategies associated with creating resilient working lands that benefit people and the planet by improving habitat, reduce impacts on water quality and rebalance management of water supplies, mitigating climate change, and contributing to thriving economies.


With a projected 9 billion mouths to feed by mid-century, meeting human needs for food and water in ways that benefit natural systems requires that we sustainably intensify agriculture - grow more on the same (or less) land with techniques that cut pollution and increase biodiversity.

EDF’s Working Lands program builds on our credibility as an unconventional but credible partner, working with ranchers, farmers and companies to bring sustainable farming practices and habitat protection to scale; developing better ways to track progress toward environmental outcomes; and aligning public and private financial incentives to reduce the risk for farmers and ranchers who adopt more sustainable and resilient farming systems. 


The Working Lands Program has emerged from over a decade’s of work at EDF. This position leverages that record to position EDF as a national level leader, with opportunity for expanding internationally. The program requires deft management of science, policy, economics, business and communication. This role requires expert leadership, communication, and management skills, and the ability to develop meaningful relationships with EDF’s staff, board, funders, and external partners. This is an outstanding opportunity for a politically-savvy leader with fundraising experience. 


Overall Function

The VP will provide the overall vision, strategy and leadership on sustainability of working lands. The VP will directly manage EDF’s teams working on the following core outcomes:

  • Partnering with farmers and companies to drive sustainability forward
  • Using data to drive improved fertilizer and soil health practices
  • Boosting the business case for conservation practices across the food supply chain
  • Working lands habitat protection campaigns

The VP will work collaboratively with peers across the organization, actively engaging them, and also keeping stakeholders informed. The VP will work closely with EDF’s+Biz program (corporate partnerships) on agriculture initiatives that pertain to the supply chain and with the U.S. and Global Climate programs on climate mitigation and policy. The VP will lead the process in implementing EDF’s agriculture and habitat related projects, and serve as a key strategic partner intertwining sound science, economics, policy, and strategic communications.  The VP identifies opportunities, develops and implements projects, and manages advocacy efforts relating to their program. The VP works independently and supports the Senior Vice President of Ecosystems in a number of aspects of his leadership, and is a part of the Ecosystems leadership team, working in collaboration with other peers both within Ecosystems and across the organization. 

Key Responsibilities


1. Strategic Vision and Leadership

  • Create a focused, collaborative, entrepreneurial, and sustainable strategy across EDF to implement the goals of the Working Lands Program
  • Focus on the task of creating more resilient working lands
  • Develop the case for expanding the work of  agriculture sustainability and habitat exchanges  internationally  
  • Demonstrate political skills with a track record of building non-partisan alliances, a strong understanding of public policy, and identify and lead the development of policy support needed to reach the goals of the program
  • Assess the needs to apply program’s  principles with other market based strategies
  • Capitalize on opportunities and manage risks
  • Collaborate with senior program staff to manage delivery of outcomes as defined by the program vision
  • Continually stay abreast and informed of other organizations’ work and emerging habitat and agriculture issues
  • Ensure the scientific and economic foundations for the program’s strategy are robust and well supported
  • Effectively communicate program achievements, progress, challenges, and opportunities to stakeholders, board members, EDF senior leadership, and other internal and external audiences

2. External Relations and Partnerships

  • Collaborate with senior development staff to develop and execute a diversified fundraising action plan to secure a robust pipeline of funders interested in a resilient framework  for agriculture and habitat work; contribute to proposal development and reporting
  • Work with development staff to craft and target outreach opportunities to maximize support for existing donors
  • Cultivate relationships with board members and other external stakeholders to identify other areas of program growth, including programmatic work and/or new funders.
  • Identify and implement partnerships with other members of the environmental community, influential academic institutions, and other stakeholders to achieve key programmatic goals
  • Working with the SVP, program staff, marketing & communications, and other expert leaders, create momentum within industry, agriculture, governmental and advocacy circles for the cause of ending fertilizer pollution and increasing habitat on working lands 
  • Represent the organization externally, making public presentations as required and engaging and building relationships with the media, elected officials, and government (agency) representatives to keep them apprised of progress and establish EDF as a subject matter expert on species protection, biodiversity and  agriculture sustainability issues

3. Organizational Management

  • Actively engage with peers to create stronger collaboration between and across programs and identify cross-cutting funding opportunities
  • Provide leadership, direction, and support for the staff
  • Promote an organizational culture and structure that fosters cooperation, communication, collaboration, teamwork, and trust, and embraces diversity
  • Hire, train, supervise, mentor, and provide staff with professional development activities that upgrade skills, support learning, motivate performance, and promote retention
  • Manage and select independent contractors who will maximize goals and objectives



The successful candidate will have the following minimum qualifications:

  • 10+ years of substantive, relevant work experience, including experience in an NGO or government setting leading and implementing applicable projects
  • Demonstrated experience developing and implementing a strategic vision
  • Proven success with fundraising both in stewarding donors and helping to secure large gifts
  • Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills with proven ability to attract funders and partners by communicating a compelling and inspired sense of purpose
  • Advanced degree in a relevant field required (e.g., economics, natural resource management, environmental science/policy, MBA, or legal)
  • Thorough knowledge of current agriculture trends, habitat protection mitigation as well as significant experience in, and understanding of supply chain, agriculture carbon markets, as well as familiarity with research, analysis, and academic publications pertaining to agriculture and species protection   
  • A strong understanding of public policy with a proven track record of building alliances and working with policymakers—experience achieving results in public policy through outreach and advocacy preferred
  • Strong reputation and network among conservation organizations and leaders in the nonprofit, philanthropic, government, and for-profit sectors highly desirable
  • Team-building skills and a collaborative leadership style with the ability to empower and inspire staff and encourage staff development, as well as the capacity to enforce accountability and learn the strengths and weaknesses of a team in order to position teams for success
  • Experience managing geographically dispersed staff preferred
  • Experience leading and developing dynamic teams of 10+ staff members
  • Strong entrepreneurial capabilities and ability to foster innovation
  • Excellent communication skills and experience with public speaking and working with the media
  • Demonstrated experience building and maintaining effective relationships with relevant outside stakeholders, including media, elected officials, and academic institutions
  • Excellent problem solving and decision-making skills
  • Willingness and ability to engage in regular regional travel, up to 30%
  • Commitment to and passion for EDF’s mission, vision, and values

Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.