Vice President, Human Resources

Posted by
Defenders of Wildlife
Washington, DC
Published 14 days ago


The Vice President of Human Resources is responsible for developing and implementing a human resources (HR) function that serves the needs and provides excellent service to a diverse and geographically dispersed workforce. The position is responsible for developing and managing Defenders of Wildlife’s HR programs and initiatives, with a focus on diversifying Defenders’ recruitment pool, ensuring an inclusive organizational culture, and establishing equitable and inclusive initiatives, policies and processes. This includes the development and oversight of recruitment and retention plans and processes, benefits administration, employee relations management, performance management, HR compliance, training and development, and systems and process improvements. The position supervises a team of HR professionals who manage the daily operations and support for Defenders’ workforce. 


  • Lead and coach the HR team to deliver excellence and efficiencies in all aspects of HR operations and workforce optimization, to include talent acquisition, on/offboarding, leadership development, training, benefits management, performance management, compensation, employee relations, compliance, HR analytics, employee relations, and employee engagement;
  • Serve as a strategic HR thought partner and advisor to the President & CEO and members of the Executive Team;
  • Develop and implement HR strategies and initiatives, in support of Defenders’ strategic goals and objectives;
  • Develop and manage the department’s annual budget and provide recommendations to the Senior Vice President of Operations for strategic investments;
  • Design, implement, and maintain human capital planning models to identify competency, knowledge, and/or talent gaps; develop programs to address the identified gaps;
  • In collaboration with the Vice President, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice, design and implement DEI-focused recruitment strategies, to include partnerships with community groups and educational institutions, targeted advertising and recruitment, active recruiting efforts, tracking applicant pools, and monitoring Defenders’ success against established metrics;
  • Design and implement staff training and development programs, to include new employee onboarding, leadership development, skills-based training, and compliance-related training;
  • Coach/train on employee relations issues and develop strategies for guiding supervisors and staff to resolutions of issues;
  • Oversee the annual performance management process;
  • Coordinate employee relations and performance management, to include mediation, coaching, progressive discipline, and execution of performance improvement plans;
  • Establish and monitor HR-related metrics, develop and implement action plans based on the metrics;
  • Oversee benefits administration, to include oversight of the open enrollment process, working with Defenders’ benefits broker to analyze existing benefits and identifying any recommended benefits changes, and staff education;
  • Oversee HRIS data maintenance and the joint administration with Finance of the payroll process, identifying process improvements as needed and ensuring data accuracy;
  • Oversee the design and implementation of HR systems, processes, and improvements;
  • Ensure federal, stateand local compliance on HR matters in all states where Defenders staff work and reside;
  • Keep up-to-date on all HR-related benefits and regulatory changes;
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned.


Education: Bachelor’s (B.A./B.S.) degree or equivalent

Experience: 12 years of relevant HR experience; 7 years supervisory; 5 years managing 2+ layers 

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

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for All Defenders

  1. Personal interest in and commitment to conservation.
  2. Ability and willingness to model the tenets of Defenders’ Commitment Statement: Mission, Transparency, Respect & Trust, Appreciation, Empowerment & Accountability, Professional Growth, Fairness, Diversity, Safety, Work/Life Balance, and Pride.
  3. Ability to approach work in a collaborative and inclusive style, with a solutions-oriented manner.
  4. Ability to work independently as needed, problem solve, and exercise sound decision-making skills in fluid environments to meet job expectations and achieve goals in an accurate and timely manner. 
  5. Ability to represent Defenders to external entities and the public in a professional manner while exercising tact, diplomacy, and discretion.
  6. Demonstrates a willingness and ability to productively engage and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  7. Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders, in both verbal and written forms.
  8. Ability to effectively navigate through change and maintain flexibility. 
  9. Ability to effectively address and manage conflict.
  10. Working knowledge of Microsoft Outlook and Word. 

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Executive 1  


  1. Ability to accurately maintain electronic and physical records.
  2. Anticipate and meet the needs of internal and/or external stakeholders delivering excellent service. 

Communication (Written and Verbal)

  1. Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders.
  2. Ability to articulate complex ideas clearly, accurately and concisely.
  3. Ability to convey effective messages to broad and diverse constituencies.
  4. Ability and willingness to effectively represent Defenders’ interests in external environments.
  5. Ability to exert influence and build consensus with internal and external stakeholders.

Critical Thinking 

  1. Ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters with discretion.
  2. Strong research and data analysis skills, including ability to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources to produce high quality work products in a consistent, efficient, accurate, and timely manner.
  3. Creative problem-solving and troubleshooting skills with willingness to experiment and innovate new methods. 
  4. Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ work.
  5. Ability to independently exercise appropriate judgment in response to complex and/or fluid environments.
  6. Strategic thinker with the ability to create high-level strategy, identify organizational-level impact, and translate strategy into relatable points and action steps. 

Project Management 

  1. Ability to work well under pressure and tight deadlines while balancing competing assignments.
  2. Ability to remain flexible and adaptable to shifting priorities while remaining responsive to urgent requests.
  3. Ability to take ownership of a project or process and to use problem solving skills to resolve issues.
  4. Ability to manage deadlines on multiple cross-functional projects in a dynamic environment. 
  5. Demonstrated ability in managing competing interests on complex issues.
  6. Ability to independently initiate project and initiative ideas; managing projects and initiatives through to completion.
  7. Ability to create and implement programs, initiatives, and/or systems which will result in organizational-wide impact; assess specific needs; design oversee implementation; establish benchmarks and track key performance indicators; provide recommendations for improvements; advocate and champion the program internally.

Coalition and Community Engagement

  1. Strong interpersonal skills and ability to form effective working relationships with internal and external constituencies.
  2. Ability to lead diverse internal and external stakeholders in collaborative activities, to anticipate issues impacting Defenders’ mission and make recommendations within Defenders, other organizations, and coalitions.
  3. Networking skills to engage with leaders in the conservation community, federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other organizations.

Leadership and Management

  1. Ability to foster a team and organizational culture which models the tenets of the Commitment Statement.
  2. Ability to connect employees and their work to Defenders’ mission.
  3. Ability to set and maintain clear expectations, ensuring clarity of roles, accountabilities, and responsibilities.
  4. Ability to ensure that staff have the skills and support required to perform at the highest level.
  5. Expert-level knowledge of Defenders’ business and people systems and processes.
  6. Ability to create and maintain a diverse, inclusive, and high-functioning environment.
  7. Ability to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in department and organizational-level decisions.
  8. Ability to manage employee conflict and resolve escalations in an inclusive and healthy manner.
  9. Ability to effectively lead and manage change.
  10. Ability to develop mid-level leaders and staff to their highest capabilities, through delegation, coaching, empowerment, and professional growth opportunities.
  11. Ability to provide effective feedback in real-time.
  12. Ability to create and implement team and organization-wide strategies in support of Defenders’ Strategic Plan.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Vice President of Human Resources

  • Expert level knowledge of employment law and regulations required;
  • Expert-level knowledge of HRIS and Applicant Tracking Systems required; ADP Workforce Now experience required;
  • Expert knowledge of HR-related best practices required;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of DEIJ tenets and best practices in the workplace required;
  • Thorough knowledge of federal, state, and local employment laws required;
  • Ability to design and implement HR analytics functions required;
  • SHRM Certification or other professional certification preferred.


Physical Activities: Remaining in a stationary position, often standing or sitting for prolonged periods; communicating with others to exchange information; assessing the accuracy, neatness and thoroughness of the work assigned. 

Work Environment: No adverse environmental conditions expected. 

Physical Demands: Sedentary work that primarily involves sitting/standing. 

Visit to apply. 

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 accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule


$135,000 - $140,000


Temporarily Remote
Work must be performed in or near Washington, DC
Associated Location
Washington, DC, USA

How to Apply

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