Associate Director, California Headwaters Conservation

TITLE: Associate Director, California Headwaters Conservation
CLASSIFICATION: Associate Director I
DEPARTMENT: Conservation
WAGE CATEGORY: Exempt or Non-exempt
REPORTS TO: Program Director, California Headwaters Conservation
LOCATION: Nevada City, CA or home office within ~2-3-hour drive from Nevada City, CA


About American Rivers

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 of California Headwaters Conservation will help American Rivers develop and implement innovative and inspiring projects that protect and restore source watersheds in the Sierra Nevada to increase climate and water supply resilience, support natural biodiversity, and benefit local and downstream communities. The Associate Director will join a team that works at multiple levels to achieve tangible results and scale impact. Our approach is to implement on-the-ground projects that catalyze partnerships and policies to achieve river conservation at the regional and state-wide scales. The Associate Director will develop and oversee a range of headwaters projects including restoring mountain meadows and streams, improving forest health and roads to protect rivers, and other conservation efforts in the California Region. There will also be opportunities to engage in watershed and regional-scale collaboratives, like the Sierra Meadows Partnership, which American Rivers co-founded. We are seeking a team member who can develop and manage on-the-ground restoration projects from conception to implementation, including securing funding and permits, managing budgets and schedules for state and federal grants, coordinating with multiple agencies, partners, and consultants, and conducting appropriate project monitoring. The Associate Director will also contribute to fundraising, strategic planning, DEIJ initiatives, and other internal needs of the region.


  • Manage river restoration projects. This will include managing subcontractors and project budgets, coordinating partners, reporting to agencies and funders, developing restoration designs with subcontractors, completing permits, overseeing construction, leading outreach activities, and identifying opportunities to scale successes.
  • Identify and develop restoration projects that build capacity, accelerate progress, engage new partners, and expand the impact of the river conservation field. 
  • Troubleshoot restoration project hurdles and identify and implement broadly applicable solutions that advance the restoration field.
  • Collaborate with state and federal agencies, Native American tribes and tribal organizations, non-profit partners, and private interests to accelerate restoration and improve watershed management policies and practices in California.
  • Monitor project outcomes. Develop appropriate monitoring plans and collect and analyze data on restoration project performance.
  • Communicate successes and lessons learned to diverse audiences including state and federal decision-makers, corporate and foundation funders, rural landowners, and others.
  • Contribute to project and program development. Support the development and writing of proposals for existing projects as well as new innovative and catalytic projects.
  • Participate in California and headwaters program strategic planning, including authentic incorporation of DEIJ. Strive to improve the existing programs and identify new opportunities.
  • Conduct outreach activities and help develop media that builds awareness about American Rivers and the value of healthy rivers to communities, funders, and decision makers.
  • Represent American Rivers at conferences, press events, and other public events. 


  • Experience in project management, including coordinating multiple partners, grant budget management, contracting, and overseeing consultant teams.
  • Experience leading watershed management, river/creek restoration and/or similar projects/programs.
  • Knowledge/understanding of watershed processes, and California water resource issues.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice.
  • Innovative thinker with excellent organization skills and demonstrated experience meeting deadlines, setting priorities, and working in a self-directed manner in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to develop partnerships, proposals, budgets, and strategies that will accelerate river restoration and conservation in California.
  • 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.
  • Experience with fundraising for restoration and watershed stewardship. 
  • Willingness to travel frequently to project locations within the Sierra Nevada and participate in fieldwork in remote settings.
  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and a minimum of two years of relevant experience, or a minimum of three years of relevant experience.
  • Personal commitment to American Rivers’ mission.
  • Knowledge of river/meadow ecology (or related), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), California plants and wildlife species a plus.
  • Experience with fuel reduction/prescribed burning and/or forest road improvement projects a plus.
  • Knowledge of river/meadow ecology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), California plants and wildlife species a plus.


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 $60,000 to $67,000 commensurate with skills and experience.


Click Here to Apply

We will begin reviewing applications on May 31, 2023, and the position will be filled as soon as possible thereafter. Applicants should submit a resume and cover letter that describes how your experience aligns with the responsibilities and qualifications described above to No phone calls, please.

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