Associate Director of California Central Valley River Restoration

Confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork of the Smith River in Del Norte County | Photo by Clinton Steeds

TITLE:  Associate Director of California Central Valley River Restoration                    
DEPARTMENT:  Conservation
LOCATION: Sacramento, California



American Rivers is championing a national effort to protect and restore all rivers, from remote mountain streams to urban waterways. Healthy rivers provide people and nature with clean, abundant water and natural habitat. For 50 years, American Rivers staff, supporters, and partners have shared a common belief: Life Depends on Rivers℠.

American Rivers centers the ongoing work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in all that we do. The beauty of rivers is that they connect all people and communities, and we seek to build and embody this diversity in our organization and throughout the conservation field. The life experiences, knowledge, innovation, and talent that everyone brings to our work provides perspectives, experiences, and competencies which are critical to our effectiveness in protecting wild rivers, restoring damaged rivers, and conserving clean water for people and nature.


The Associate Director, California Central Valley River Restoration will help American Rivers develop and implement exciting and inspiring projects to protect and restore rivers and floodplains in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds and Delta to increase resiliency to climate change, support natural biodiversity, increase nature access and flood safety among vulnerable communities, and promote a river stewardship ethic among California decision makers. We are seeking a team member who is capable of developing and managing on-the-ground restoration projects from conception to implementation, including securing funding, managing budgets, and schedules for state and federal grants, and coordinating with multiple agencies, partners, and consultants in the Central Valley. Our Central Valley program works to protect native fisheries and aquatic species, improve water quality for people and the environment, and expand the use of natural solutions in flood management and land use planning. We are looking for a genuine team player and someone with the desire and ability to restore California’s Central Valley rivers and streams. The position will report to the California Conservation Director and will work closely with numerous partner organizations, including other conservation groups, government agencies, universities, and communities. In addition to project management, the Associate Director, California Central Valley River Restoration will contribute policy and technical expertise to our efforts to restore Central Valley floodplain functions and reform flood management policy at the state and national level.

American Rivers’ vision is to restore vibrant river corridors across the Central Valley to increase resiliency to climate change and tackle two of the region’s most persistent problems – devastating floods, drought, and declining fisheries. Expanding floodways and restoring floodplains will restore fish and bird habitats, protect communities from flooding, increase groundwater storage, improve reservoir flexibility and associated water supply reliability, and enhance the quality of life for residents of the valley. American Rivers is building its capacity to shape and influence policies – such as the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – to increase resiliency to climate change, restore Central Valley fish and bird habitat, improve water supply security, and protect communities from flooding.


  • Work with the Central Valley team to develop and implement multi-benefit strategies for restoring Central Valley River floodplains at scale, prioritizing areas that improve nature access and reduce flood impacts for vulnerable communities.
  • Manage planning and implementation of multi-benefit river restoration projects in the Central Valley, including partner engagement, budgeting, contracting, invoice tracking, soliciting bids, public outreach, and project construction tracking.
  • Help develop solutions to technical, legal, and political challenges of expanding flood bypasses and restoration projects on the lower San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers.
  • Work with American Rivers’ Central Valley and national staff to support the exchange of knowledge and experience on multi-benefit floodplain restoration across regions within American Rivers.
  • Identify sources and work with the Central Valley Team to develop fundraising proposals for identified projects.
  • Draft comments and advocacy letters to shape river and water management projects, programs, and
  • Represent American Rivers in public planning forums as appropriate.
  • Potential to apply expertise (preferred expertise in fish or aquatic ecology) for river restoration planning and monitoring in field and in quantitative analysis.
  • Experience in project management, including grant budget management and overseeing consultant teams.
  • Experience leading watershed management or river/creek restoration or similar projects/programs.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice.
  • Demonstrated understanding of California water policy, with focus on flood management, hydrology/hydraulics, and river restoration preferred.
  • A team player with excellent interpersonal skills and a good sense of humor, and ability to work effectively with a diverse range of people.
  • Strong organizational skills and demonstrated experience meeting project deadlines.
  • Ability to manage budgets and project tasks in Excel spreadsheets.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including public speaking and the ability to effectively communicate with partners and agency representatives.
  • Demonstrated strength in critical thinking, judgment, and dependability.
  • Initiative, coupled with creative and strategic thinking.
  • Experience in community engagement, particularly with disadvantaged and underrepresented communities a plus.
  • Willingness to travel frequently to Sacramento and other parts of the Central Valley and valid California driver’s license.
  • Experience with fundraising for restoration and watershed stewardship.
  • Graduate degree in a relevant field and at least 3 years of relevant experience; or an appropriate combination of education and at least 5 years of relevant experience.
    • Knowledge of native fisheries a plus.
  • Personal commitment to American Rivers’

Full-time and full-time equivalent employee benefits include health, dental and life insurance, a retirement plan, and generous leave time.

Anticipated salary range is $65,000 to $75,000 commensurate with skills and experience.