Des Moines, IA

Iowa State Director, The Nature Conservancy

The Organization


Founded at its grassroots in the United States in 1951, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has grown to become one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. Thanks to more than a million members and the dedicated efforts of a diverse staff and more than 400 scientists, TNC impacts conservation in 79 countries and territories across six continents. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been doing work you can believe in, protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on. As a science-based organization, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to earth’s toughest challenges so that we can create a world in which people and nature thrive. We’re rooted in our Mission and guided by our Values, which includes a Commitment to Diversity and Respect for People, Communities, and Cultures. We recognize that conservation is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of widely diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities. Hiring and cultivating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable staff is a reflection of our global character, the communities in which we work, and our collaborative engagement with partners. We promote a work-environment that is supportive of the health, wellness, and flexibility needs of the people we employ by offering a competitive benefits package, including, but not limited to, health insurance, domestic partner coverage, matched 401(k) program, floating holidays, and paid parental leave.

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Since 1963, TNC in Iowa has worked to preserve the state’s natural landscapes through the advancement of our land and water conservation work. Project managers across the state work within their own communities to protect and conserve private lands and work with agricultural producers and companies on best practices. With a staff of 19, a Board of Trustees comprised of 21 members, and an annual operating budget $3.5M, the Iowa Chapter protects more than 20,000 acres of land.  This role offers a unique opportunity to help shape a resilient, viable future for all Iowans.

Our TNC Iowa Chapter Objectives:

• Execute protection and management of resilient lands and waters at a pace and scale that matters.

• Be recognized as a leading conservation organization in Iowa.

• Champion farmers, ranchers, and private landowners to serve as conservationists of our soil and water resources.

• Transform agricultural systems in Iowa to create regenerative, healthy soils for food and water that positively impact and enable sustainability.

• Broaden support for climate action in Iowa that will aid the US to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience to climate change impacts.

• Build organizational capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver on all conservation outcomes at a pace and scale that matters.

• Build a diverse and inclusive environment, both amongst staff, trustees, and around Conservancy projects.

Position Overview


Based in Des Moines, the State Director drives our conservation strategy, public policy leadership, and development activities while working closely with our Board of Trustees.  Together they shape and implement the Chapter’s Strategic Plan in alignment with the Chapter Objectives, TNC’s Shared Conservation Agenda priorities, and TNC’s values.

The key role of the State Director is to lead, manage, and inspire the chapter staff and trustees to collectively achieve the maximum contribution to the organization’s mission. They ensure measurable success in conservation and fundraising programs and contribute intellectual, financial and human resources to priority, cross-boundary initiatives. They support alignment of activities by securing, coordinating and configuring resources, capacity and programs to address the most critical conservation priorities of the organization at multiple scales. They are responsible for collaborating with others across the division and throughout the organization on the procurement and application of resources in Iowa as well as in areas beyond their span of authority.

The State Director assures fundraising success and works with philanthropy staff to secure increased private and corporate support for conservation from donors of various backgrounds, engaging with major donors, corporations and foundations and supporting staff in nurturing donor relationships. The State Director approves budgets and sets priorities that dictate private and public fundraising goals. They serve as the primary statewide spokesperson for TNC to internal and external audiences (including staff, volunteers, the Board of Trustees, public and private donors, government agencies and officials, community leaders and other partners) and cultivate those audiences to support and promote TNC’s mission and vision.

Through the empowerment of other managers, the State Director develops and supports the chapter staff to meet the conservation priorities of the Chapter and of the global organization.  The State Director also ensures a work environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive and maintains organizational values.  The State Director reports to the Great Plains Division Director and works closely with the state’s Board of Trustees.


• Ensures measurable advancement of the stated objectives of the Iowa Chapter;

• Manages the development and successful execution of the Chapter’s Strategic Plan, budget, financial plans, philanthropic goals, marketing and communications plans, and annual conservation work programs;

• Provides leadership in public policy efforts within the chapter and the region;

• Ensures recruitment, management and development of high quality, diverse, and effective staff;

• Demonstrates a strong understanding of on-the-ground land management conservation;

• Ensures that programmatic commitments, financial standards and legal requirements are met;

• Incorporates organizational values and competencies as foundational elements in all aspects of work;

• Promotes a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion;

• Presents and represents the Chapter’s and TNC’s vision in a compelling and engaging manner to internal and external audiences as lead spokesperson;

• Delivers effective and persuasive speeches and presentations on complex topics to associate groups, managers at all levels, board members, key stakeholders and outside organizations;

• Provides support of regional and global TNC priorities;

• Demonstrates a willingness and ability to travel throughout the geography and globally as required;

• Works flexibly, sometimes beyond the normal workday, including weekends, as necessary, during deadline periods;

• Performs well under pressure;

• Actively participates in the Great Plains Division leadership team, collaborating on innovative, cross-boundary projects;


• Bachelor’s degree and minimum of 7 years of experience as a leader in the conservation arena, non-profit sector, advocacy or related for-profit area, or equivalent experience;

• Experience in leading and managing a large multi-disciplinary team;

• Experience communicating with and presenting to diverse audiences, including donors, board members, employees, and outside partners;

• Experience and/or a strong desire to fundraise; and raise major gifts;

• Experience in budget management;

• Experience overseeing complex conservation projects;


Strategic Leadership and Collaborative Management:

• Appreciation for the important role that science plays in the design, implementation and measurement of land and water conservation and stewardship. Demonstrates a curiosity for the complexity of our conservation work. An ability to “zoom in, zoom out” from regional view to local view and experience leading and participating in strategic planning efforts to influence large, complex systems;

• Extensive and proven management experience, including ability to motivate, lead, set objectives and manage the performance of a large multi-disciplinary team;

• Ability to inspire and be inspired by a board of trustees, donors and partners, and staff working to align vision and strategy for greater impact;

• Desire to fundraise from private individual donors, foundations, government agencies and business. Success in raising gifts of $500,000 or more;

• Understanding and interest in working with government agencies and the legislative process, especially in the realms of sustainable development, natural resources, energy, climate, water, environmental justice, the environment or related fields;

• Experience managing a portfolio of initiatives that utilizes cross functional teams, as well as some experience serving as the champion/leader who was accountable for outcomes;

• Understanding and experience with strategic financial management, including long-term sustainability and complex budget management: grants, donations, endowments, indirect costs, personnel costs and benefits, etc.; and

• Ability to attract, develop and retain diverse staff talent, trustees and donors critical to mission success. Success building workplace climates that are fair, inclusive, representative of Iowa’s demographics, and equitable, where every staff member feels they belong and can offer their maximum contribution to the Shared Conservation Agenda and all TNC’s operations. Ability to diagnose needs of staff and support different leadership, management and work styles within a learning organization.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:

• Exposure to various cultures, geographies, nationalities, ethnicities, and points of view, appreciating the basis of each person’s worldview;

• Exposure to various economic sectors in order to appreciate the vastness of experience and expertise of others outside their field of interest, such as financial, manufacturing, technology, government, natural resources, education, etc.

• Demonstrated respect for committing to local, on-the-ground involvement with people, communities, and cultures, with awareness and sensitivity to their economic realities; and

• Understanding of Iowa’s unique history, heritage, and culture; aptitude and capability to work closely with communities large or small, rural or urban, etc.

• Multi-lingual skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.

• Demonstrated level of awareness, understanding and the ability to communicate about systemic inequalities that affect the field of environmental conservation.

• Experience advancing justice and equity within the field of environmental conservation.

Interpersonal Communication Skills:

• Active listening skills, including awareness of body language and physical-mental-emotional linkages. Curiosity for the motivations of all parties, seeking intersections among differing perspectives and viewpoints;

• Capacity to advocate successfully using science and data, communicate with authenticity and credibility and exert influence by being a role model for people, programs, and ethics. Ability to engage others through dynamic, empathetic, and articulate presentations and dialogue, conveying contagious enthusiasm that engenders a shared vision for the future; and

• Ability to communicate love of nature and passion for conservation in an inspiring, motivating and positive way.

How To Apply

The application deadline is September 20, 2021, prior to 10:59 p.m. Central Time (11:59 p.m. Eastern Time).

External applicants: Please apply to Job #50232 at, or apply directly HERE and submit (required) cover letter and resume using the upload buttons.

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The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

TNC is committed to offering accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application process. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please send a note to with Request for Accommodation in the subject line.

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