Policy Advisor, California

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Sacramento, CA
United States

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Job Description:

This professional-level position is responsible for contributing to the development and implementation of Defenders of Wildlife’s strategic plan, with an emphasis on federal lands management policy and planning and the conservation of at-risk species and their habitats in California. This position requires legal and policy knowledge and experience in a broad array of California-specific natural resource conservation issues, including endangered species, federal land management policy and planning, environmental and administrative law and procedures, landscape-level planning and conservation biology. The Policy Advisor will pursue conservation objectives through a variety of tools including policy, legislative and regulatory reform, reviewing and commenting on wildlife and habitat restoration and translocation plans, engaging with priority coalitions, supporting public outreach efforts, contributing to the development of legal strategies, writing and reviewing litigation memoranda, and recommending decisions on proposed litigation. The position may oversee contractors working for Defenders on public lands and related wildlife conservation issues. 

Assignments are results- or goal-oriented, requiring substantial discretion on the part of the position in determining how to design and implement program elements to meet the assigned goals (e.g., conservation of at-risk species through ecosystem and habitat protection while identifying and supporting environmentally suitable and sustainable activities in land management planning processes). This position requires interdepartmental collaboration between Field Conservation, Conservation Law and Landscape Conservation, including the Federal Lands program and the Center for Conservation Innovation. 


  • Influence California-specific federal land management and wildlife policy through administrative, legislative and judicial forums, using a range of strategies including but not limited to seeking policy and programmatic changes in federal and state agencies; direct and grassroots lobbying in the California Legislature and with Congress; and recommending litigation where appropriate and providing technical support.
  • Monitor and strategically engage in significant federal and state activities and prepare comments on proposed land-use and imperiled species actions in coordination with other Defenders’ staff.
  • Cultivate, maintain and grow positive working relationships with federal and state agency personnel, members of the California Legislature and Congress and their staff, leading conservation biologists, research scientists, and partner organizations to further Defenders’ conservation objectives for federally managed public lands; identify new partners as appropriate.
  • Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ programmatic work in California.
  • Represent Defenders in coalitions, public meetings, hearings, press events, conferences and national forums, and in general communications with public officials, the media, members, the donor community and the public.
  • Undertake a wide variety of duties as needed to implement program plans, including drafting letters; negotiating sign-ons to Defenders’ policies and group letters; and writing and editing reports and proposals.
  • Inform and mobilize community activists, including Defenders’ members and supporters, to support conservation on federal public lands.
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned and be an energetic, enthusiastic and committed advocate for Defenders’ programs.


Education: Bachelor’s (B.A./B.S.) degree or equivalent. J.D.preferred.
Experience: 8 years of relevant experience

An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above. 

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