Associate Director, Central Sierra Headwaters Conservation

TITLE: Associate Director, Central Sierra Headwaters Conservation
CLASSIFICATION: Associate Director II
DEPARTMENT: Conservation
REPORTS TO: Director, Central Sierra Headwaters Conservation
LOCATION: Nevada City, CA or home office within ~3-hour drive from Nevada City, CA (preference to be in the central Sierra).

Click Here to Apply

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 Central Sierra Headwaters Conservation will help American Rivers develop and implement innovative and inspiring projects and programs that protect and restore source watersheds in the central 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 support the Central Sierra sub-program area of the California Headwaters Conservation Program. 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. The Director will also support watershed and regional-scale collaboratives, like the Healthy Eldorado Landscape Partnership (HELP) meadows collaborative workgroup, a new meadow restoration-focused working group in Eldorado National Forest, and the Sierra Meadows Partnership, which American Rivers co-founded. We are seeking a team member with strong interest and skills in project management for watershed restoration projects; someone who can independently develop and lead 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 developing appropriate project monitoring. The Associate Director will also contribute to fundraising, strategic planning, communications, diversity, equity, inclusion and justice initiatives, and other internal needs of the headwaters program and California region.


  • Independently 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.
  • Monitor project outcomes. Develop appropriate monitoring plans and collect and analyze data on restoration project performance in conjunction with monitoring specialists.
  • Support the Central Sierra sub-program and be responsible for major functions contributing to the program’s overall success, including fundraising and grant management.
  • Contribute to project and program development. Support the development and writing of proposals for existing projects and programs as well as new innovative and catalytic projects and programs.
  • 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. Specifically, support the HELP meadows collaborative workgroup, a watershed-scale collaborative of diverse stakeholders working to advance restoration in Eldorado National Forest.
  • Communicate successes and lessons learned to diverse audiences including state and federal decision-makers, corporate and foundation funders, community members, and others.
  • 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.


  • Significant experience independently leading project management for ecological restoration projects, 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 and experience with environmental compliance for California stream and forest restoration projects.
  • Experience with watershed-scale stakeholder collaboratives and specifically engaging local tribes and working with diverse partners/stakeholders.
  • 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.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including public speaking and the ability to effectively communicate with teammates, partners, and agency representatives.
  • Demonstrated strength in critical thinking, judgment, and dependability.
  • Experience with fundraising for restoration and watershed stewardship.
  • Ability to develop partnerships, proposals, budgets, and strategies that will accelerate river restoration and conservation in California.
  • Willingness to travel frequently to project locations within the Sierra Nevada and participate in fieldwork in remote settings.
  • An advanced degree in a related field with a minimum of 3 years of relevant experience, or an appropriate combination of education and experience with at least 5 years of relevant experience.
  • Personal commitment to American Rivers’
  • 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 forest road improvement projects a plus.
  • Experience securing state and federal grants a plus.

Candidates who are unsure if they meet all minimum qualifications or who have transferrable skills and experience beyond the conservation sector are encouraged to apply.


The salary range for this position is $$69,000 to $79,000 annually depending upon qualifications and experience. Full-time employee benefits include health, dental, and life insurance; a retirement plan, training budget, sick leave, 11 paid holidays, four weeks of paid vacation, paid sabbaticals every seven years, and a 3% retirement match. American Rivers offers TIAA-CREF Social Choice, including green impact, as an investment option.


Our community’s core values motivate us to Lead with Collaboration and Trust, Infuse Equity and Justice, Deliver Results, and Ensure Staff and Volunteers Thrive. American Rivers offers staff professional development and training opportunities, engages in equitable hiring and retention practices, has taken the Green 2.0 pay equity pledge and participates in the transparency report, provides “no meetings” weeks, and hosts People of Color, Accessibility, LGBTQAI+, Women’s Leadership, Parents and Caregivers, and DEIJ affinity groups and committees led by staff and board members.


Click Here to Apply

We will begin reviewing applications on May 15th, 2024, and the position will be filled as soon as possible thereafter. Applicants should submit a resume and cover letter that describes how their experience aligns with the responsibilities and qualifications described above to BambooHR No phone calls, please.

American Rivers is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. To request this document in an alternate format or to request reasonable accommodation, please contact the Human Resources department at 202-243-7050 or Please note that one week’s advance notice is preferred.

Applicant must be legally allowed to work as an employee in the United States.

American Rivers is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Candidates of all personal and professional backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Green 2.0 Equal Pay Logo