President and Chief Executive Officer

The Board of Directors of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) seeks to recruit a President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) capable of inspiration and leadership as the organization adjusts the scope of its resources, reach and impact. The CEO will be based in Washington, D.C.

The Opportunity

The new CEO inherits an organization that is poised to engage in a powerful new strategic thrust to inspire the next generation of conservation stewards in the United States.

The CEO will tackle two crucial challenges simultaneously. The first is to fashion the organization’s extensive program offerings into a seamless progression of conservation-leadership opportunities for steadily increasing numbers of youths and young adults nationwide. The second is to ensure that this growth occurs on strong financial footings, largely by boosting the overall amount and relative share of SCA’s philanthropic and corporate support. Charting a new business strategy for SCA will require the CEO to continue developing new fee-for-service and grant opportunities with federal and state government agencies, private companies, landowners engaged in natural-resource protection,  and outreach to constituency of prospective partners – workforce development agencies, community colleges, etc.

SCA is an organization which must face the future with a new spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement.  After 22 years of budget surpluses and growth, the past four years have witnessed essentially flat revenues in a challenging environment of declining federal budgets. Approximately $23 million (73%) of SCA’s $31 million budget is secured through government agreements and grants. The balance of $8.5 million (27%) is comprised of foundation support, major donor contributions, alumni gifts and corporate sponsorships. The new CEO will lead an organization that must adjust to a new competitive marketplace filled with numerous locally-based conservation training and environment education programs for young people and diminished public sector investment.  SCA’s strategic plan sets a goal of increasing overall revenue while shifting the ratio of government partnership support to a maximum of 60% with at least 40% coming from private sources.  SCA’s CEO will enjoy the support of both Board and staff in meeting this turnaround.  SCA’s ability to lead and meet its mission requires bold, creative and inspired leadership.

Building on its 57 year history of success, SCA recently set out a strategic plan to engage more young people in addressing the nation’s critical conservation issues and preparing a passionate, capable and diverse generation of conservation leaders for tomorrow. The new CEO will lead efforts to develop and implement this plan, which aims to:

  • Double the number of young people annually engaged in SCA Programs to 10,000 and serve over 100,000 young people and adults each year through community outreach and education activities.
  • Create an integrated continuum of experiences to help young people progress from the stage of first-time volunteer to that of committed conservationist, whether as a vocation or as an enduring dimension of the work they do in other fields.
  • Ensure that conservation is relevant to and inclusive of the nation’s richly diverse youth population.
  • Expand regional conservation hubs throughout the nation to address local/regional conservation needs.
  • Support, oversee and direct a comprehensive marketing plan.
  • Activate the network of 70,000 SCA alumni into a national conservation force.
  • Establish SCA as a stronger voice for youth conservation in our nation.
  • Complete the $25 million “Ensuring America’s Conservation Legacy” campaign. Launched in the fall of 2013, over $17 million has been secured so far in the quiet phase of the campaign.

Professional Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The CEO should ideally possess the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

  • A commitment to SCA’s mission, a love of the outdoors, a vision for tomorrow’s conservation leaders and a demonstrated conservation ethic.
  • A dynamic leader, with a demonstrated record of success building for profit or nonprofit organizations.
  • A capacity to engage, inspire, motivate and mobilize people, particularly staff, alumni leaders, volunteers and supporters in joint and shared enterprises.
  • Demonstrated experience in leading development and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising program.
  • Successful experience in developing, managing an organizational budget that meets and exceeds its targets.
  • A leadership and management style that is goal oriented, but flexible; that embraces organizational transformation and change management.
  • Sound interpersonal skills and the ability to establish and maintain effective partnerships and relationships, with corporate supporters, government agencies and other conservation and youth development organizations, working in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • A strong work ethic and willingness to travel extensively, often for weekend and evening meetings and events.
  • Energy, vision, an articulate voice, and diplomatic skills.
  • The highest level of personal and professional integrity, trustworthiness and quality standards.
  • An undergraduate degree (required) and an advanced degree (appreciated).

About SCA

The mission of SCA is “to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands‐on service to the land.” Founded in 1957 by Liz Titus Putnam, SCA is America’s largest and oldest youth conservation corps. In 2010, Liz became the first conservationist to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal – the nation’s second-highest civilian award.

SCA members, numbering over 4,000 each year, protect and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces in all 50 states. Over 70,000 alumni include thousands of environmentally active professionals, such as park superintendents, environmental engineers and urban planners, as well as many who show conservation leadership in other contexts ranging from school boards to corporate boardrooms. All can trace the start of their conservation ethic and learning to SCA. Through SCA, men and women, most between ages 14 and 26, connect with nature, render hands-on service, gain new skills and perspectives, and launch a lifetime of leadership and stewardship.

Offering short-term and year-round training and service opportunities in urban conservation, SCA’s Community Programs engage diverse high school students in major U.S. cities providing meaningful opportunities to connect with them with their natural environment and “green” job opportunities. SCA currently operates Community Programs in 14 cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

SCA members grow as leaders and learn important life skills while providing crucial, cost effective conservation services to leading federal, state and municipal agencies and private organizations across the U.S. With decreasing federal funding, SCA’s alumni network has become an important and reliable basis of support. SCA is pleased that many of its members advance to professional positions with these same partners. The National Park Service alone has estimated up to 12% of its workforce got its start with SCA. The resource management partners include:

•    National Park Service
•    The Nature Conservancy
•    AmeriCorps
•    Native American Tribes and Nations and Alaska Native Corporations
•    U.S. Forest Service    •    U.S. Geological Survey
•    U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force Natural Resource Programs
•    Bureau of Land Management
•    Bureau of Reclamation
•    State Parks nationwide
•    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

SCA is supported by 155 professional staff serving in offices in Washington, D.C.; Oakland, CA; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Boise, ID; Seattle, WA; Anchorage, AK; and
Charlestown, NH; as well as program offices in sites across the country. The Board of Directors is comprised of up to 33 members, who meet three times a year. SCA is built upon public and private partnerships.


Compensation for the President and Chief Executive Officer includes a competitive base salary and a comprehensive package of employee benefits.

How to Apply

Qualified candidates should email a cover letter explaining how their skills and background fit this position and a resume to: Daniel Sherman, President, Explore Company at [email protected]. Refer to SCA/President/CEO in the subject line. No phone inquiries please.

The Student Conservation Association is an equal opportunity employer.
All correspondence will remain confidential.

Full Time
SCA National Office