Director, Terrestrial Wildlife Program

Organization Summary

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 whose mission is to alleviate the suffering caused to animals by people. With headquarters in the Eastern Market district of Washington, DC, AWI employs approximately 27 staff and consultants, with most located at its headquarters and others operating from locations around the country. AWI is program oriented—more than 90 percent of our budget goes to support our programs to protect terrestrial and marine wildlife, farm animals, animals in research, and companion animals via educational programs, strategically crafted campaigns, political advocacy, and engagement with industry, policymakers, scientists, and other NGOs.

Position Summary

The primary responsibility of this newly created position will be to oversee AWI’s domestic and international terrestrial wildlife program. AWI’s organizational structure has historically been flat, with all staff reporting to the president and executive director. However, as our programs grow, adding specific program oversight roles has proven to be valuable.

The successful applicant will manage with a light touch, collaborating rather than commanding. He or she will oversee a 3–5 person team of biologists, lawyers, and other wildlife experts and will manage people and resources to assure that projects are completed efficiently and that resources are budgeted and allocated as warranted. Because AWI bases its policy positions on sound science, a science background is required. Compassion for animals is essential.

Specific duties will include:

  • Identify and engage in opportunities to preserve threatened and endangered species and protect terrestrial wildlife from cruel exploitation, inhumane management, and other harmful human activities.
  • Draft and review a variety of documents, including rulemaking petitions, comments on rulemaking notices, federal listing petitions, and environmental analyses, as well as action alerts, press releases, op-eds, educational materials, social media posts, donor updates, and AWI Quarterly magazine articles highlighting AWI’s wildlife protection campaigns.
  • Attend meetings, hearings, and other events to inform, develop, and implement programs and campaigns.
  • Coordinate campaigns, including working with other programs—particularly the marine wildlife program.
  • Write occasional grant applications and draft status reports for grants received.
  • Support AWI’s government affairs staff by engaging with policymakers and providing expert testimony at federal and state congressional hearings.
  • Coordinate with other staff members to ensure the successful execution of AWI’s annual Christine Stevens Wildlife Awards.
  • Along with other members of the terrestrial wildlife program team, act as media contact for wildlife issues.
  • Engage in a wide range of activities related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in conservation biology, wildlife biology, ecology, or related field; advanced degree a plus.
  • Law degree (J.D.) a plus.

Skills and Experience

  • Demonstrated commitment to AWI’s mission, including the preservation of wildlife and prevention of animal suffering.
  • Exceptional management skills—a minimum of three years’ experience managing both people and projects is required.
  • Exceptional advocacy skills—a minimum of five years’ experience (preferably related to animal protection and conservation, but can be in other areas)
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to prioritize heavy workload, work independently but also as part of a team, and work under pressure in a fast-paced environment.
  • Working knowledge of the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedures Act, Freedom of Information Act, and other federal and state laws that protect terrestrial wildlife.
  • Knowledge of CITES issues and processes.
  • Demonstrated ability to cultivate and maintain relationships with a wide range of stakeholders and policymakers influencing wildlife conservation, including other NGOs, state and federal government officials, and legislators and their staff.
  • Ability to multitask and manage short- and long-term deadlines.
  • Strong attention to detail, as well as problem-solving and trouble-shooting skills.
  • Strong computer skills, including proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint.
  • Ability to work effectively with a diversity of people, cultures, and constituencies.

Job Location

Washington, DC Remote working will not be considered for this position. Some travel, including international, will be required.


Salary is commensurate with experience and abilities. Benefits include employer-paid medical, prescription, and dental insurance, employee-paid vision insurance, 401(k) with employer match, paid leave, on-site parking, and IRS commuter benefit program.

To Apply

Please send a cover letter, resume, and brief writing sample that is predominantly your own work (white paper, op-ed, regulatory comment, sign-on letter, or administrative rulemaking/ESA-listing petition are preferred writing samples) to, “Attn: Wildlife Director.” The position will remain open until filled. No telephone calls, please.

Download a pdf of the posting here.

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