Executive Search and Management Consulting

Job Posting Surfrider Foundation logo

Defenders of Wildlife
Senior Vice President for External Affairs

Explore Company Poster

Defenders of Wildlife is seeking to recruit a dynamic leader to serve as Senior Vice President for External Affairs.

About Defenders of Wildlife

Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is a national conservation organization focused solely on wildlife and habitat conservation and the safeguarding of biodiversity. Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of approximately 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage.

This singular focus defines the organization’s important niche in the environmental and conservation community. It serves as the anchor for the organizational values and the touchstone for the commitments they make to each other, supporters, and North America’s wildlife. Defenders of Wildlife’s approach is direct and straightforward: protect and restore imperiled species throughout North America by safeguarding and transforming policies and institutions and promoting innovative solutions that protect wildlife. Defenders of Wildlife speaks with one voice informed by scientific, legal and policy expertise, hands-on wildlife management experience and effective advocacy. By building on an integrated and focused strategy, Defenders of Wildlife will make a lasting difference for wildlife and their habitats for generations to come.

For more information on Defenders of Wildlife, please visit: https://defenders.org

Senior Vice President for External Affairs

The Senior Vice President for External Affairs is a newly created leadership position at Defenders of Wildlife. The Senior Vice President will align the external facing activities of the organization to optimize the impact of Defenders of Wildlife as a cutting-edge conservation organization committed to North American biodiversity conservation.

The Senior Vice President will provide leadership and oversight of the government relations, marketing and communications departments and support each department in implementing its specific goals and in ushering an integrated approach to expanding Defenders of Wildlife’s external engagement with its members, policy and philanthropic leaders, and the public at-large. The Senior Vice President for External Affairs will work closely with the President and CEO, guiding and strategically leveraging the CEO’s leadership profile, expertise, and impact.

The Senior Vice President has three senior direct reports – Vice President for Government Relations, Vice President for Integrated Marketing, and Vice President for Communications - and oversees a professional staff of approximately 50. The Integrated Marketing department is responsible for generating $17 million in gross unrestricted revenue. The position is based in Washington, DC.

The strategic goals for the Senior Vice President for External Affairs, include:

  • Provide strategic input and advise the President & CEO in all facets of expanding the impact of Defenders of Wildlife’s vision, mission, and strategic goals.

  • Support and oversee the Vice President for Integrated Marketing and Vice President for Communications, develop brand and marketing strategies to enhance Defenders of Wildlife’s external stakeholder engagement.

  • Support and oversee the Vice President for Government Relations in execution of the legislative strategies and messages to enhance Defenders of Wildlife’s government relations goals.

  • Coordinate with Defenders of Wildlife’s philanthropy department in the development and implementation of new strategies and tactics to develop new philanthropic opportunities for the organization.

 Professional Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The ideal candidate is a successful strategic communications and marketing professional with a demonstrated track record of success in a fast-paced advocacy and media relations environment. The ideal professional qualifications and personal attributes the Senior Vice President for External Affairs ought to possess are the following:

Professional Experience:

  • Demonstrated leadership of 20 years of relevant experience, with a proven record of success and experience managing a dedicated team of senior professionals.

  • Experience and knowledge in using coalitions and multi-faceted strategic grassroots and advocacy campaigns, engagement with federal and state public policy highly preferred.

  • Proven understanding and experience working with a broad spectrum of media relations, multimedia, and digital content.

  • Ability to represent an organization before many audiences and in a wide range of situations.

  • Demonstrated experience in financial analysis and exposure to fundraising activities (online, major donor, institutional philanthropy).

  • Experience working to maintain the brand value of a company, including crisis communications or other tactics required to mitigate reputational risks.

  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher in a relevant area of expertise.

Personal Attributes

  • A commitment to the mission of Defenders of Wildlife and a demonstrated passion for wildlife and habitat conservation.

  • A management style that is collaborative and goal oriented, but flexible; that respects the capabilities and independence of staff and provides them with a clear sense of direction.

  • Commitment to results and an outstanding problem-solver.

  • Collegial, trustworthy, and possessing the highest level of personal and professional integrity.

  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills, including effective presentation and negotiation skills.

  • A team builder who inspires collaboration; demonstrated success in collaborative work with internal colleagues as well as external ones.


Compensation for the Senior Vice President for External Affairs includes a starting salary range between $228,000 - $252,000, and an excellent package of health and employee benefits.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should submit a resume and cover letter, responding specifically to the experience and qualifications required, to Daniel Sherman, President, Explore Company at resumes@explorecompany.com. Refer to DW/SVPEA in the subject line. No phone inquiries please.

All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodation may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job. Defenders of Wildlife requires employees who engage in in-person work activities, including business travel or onsite work, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

An applicant (i) who is disabled or pregnant or who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates a COVID-19 vaccination or (ii) who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice may request an exemption from this vaccination policy.

This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable law. Any medical information concerning an applicant's disability will be treated as a confidential medical record in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.

Defenders of Wildlife provides equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, creed, religion, sex national origin, ethnicity, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, personal appearance, family/parental status, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, or any other legally protected characteristic in all personnel actions.

All correspondence will remain confidential.


Download This Job Posting



More Information

Submit Your Résumé



Legal Notice

Contact Explore Company

5 Rokeby Court

Kensington, Maryland 20895


301.933.8990 fax

Additional Links

© Explore Company, 2018

Web site by Marc Nathan and SImply Computers Plus