Chesapeake Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Annapolis, Maryland, dedicated to ensuring a healthier Chesapeake Bay watershed where fish and wildlife thrive, with healthy waters and abundant forests, wetlands, shorelines, and open spaces. With the human population of the watershed approaching 19 million and growing, and with tens of thousands of acres of open space vanishing each year, the Conservancy works to connect people with the Chesapeake’s wildlife and history, conserve landscapes and rivers, and restore the region’s natural resources. The Conservancy works in close partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as many other federal, state, and local agencies, nonprofit partners, academic institutions, private foundations, and corporations to advance conservation.


The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a newly created position that will serve as a member of Chesapeake Conservancy’s management team. This position will lead, drive, and maintain tactical and operational plans to ensure the organization operates in a way to meet its goals, milestones, and budgets, as well as to advance its mission.

Reporting to the President & CEO, the COO will be a leading driver of cyclical strategic planning, implementation planning, and organizational performance processes. This individual will ensure business strategies, plans, and procedures are effective, efficient, and aligned and relevant across the organization. The COO will lead collaborative efforts to develop internal policies and procedures and to promote organizational standards, transparency, internal controls, and alignment with the strategic plan and available resources. They will also oversee risk management and safety. The COO will advise the rest of the management team on all areas of the organization and will serve as the staff liaison to key committees of the Board of Directors.

The COO will lead programmatic, communications, and human resources operations and administration for Chesapeake Conservancy, as well as organizational transformation, capacity, and change management. This person will address capability and capacity gaps, staff structure, fit, and growth.

The COO will be responsible for the following:  

  • Performance Management: Oversee evaluation, measuring, and monitoring systems for the organization and its people, technologies, processes, grants, initiatives, and programs.

  • Project Management: Develop organization-wide project management and project scoping expectations and training, using recognized and proven methodologies for work management.

  • Financial Management: Collaborate with the CEO and CFO on financial planning and to ensure accurate preparation, implementation, and performance tracking of all budgets.

  • Mission Alignment: Ensure that all projects fit within our strategy and that new opportunities are properly vetted, funded, and accounted for.

  • Human Resources and People Management: Oversee staffing processes including hiring, onboarding, and payroll. Ensure effective staff performance review systems. Oversee compensation, benefits, and secure recordkeeping. Monitor employee well-being and relations and develop a comprehensive staff professional growth and training approach. Include appropriate professional development funds in the forecasted budget.

  • Workplace Culture and Environment: Foster positive staff morale and an inclusive and collaborative environment. Actively facilitate team building and change readiness and resilience among staff. Develop methods to track and improve workload and to achieve a healthy work/life balance to reduce turnover and flight risk.

  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice: Foster recruitment of diverse staff; equitable treatment of personnel, partners, and the public; and the inclusion of previously unheard voices and stories in the conservation space.

  • Research, Assessment, and Evaluation: Conduct evaluations and assessments to identify assets, gaps, needs, and areas for improvement. Lead and manage standards for data governance and analysis to ensure credible findings and actionable recommendations.

  • Marketing, Branding, and Communications: Oversee the company’s approach to outreach, messaging, and external relationships with the public, lawmakers, civic leaders, funders, core partners, volunteers, and other audiences.

  • Programming: Provide collaborative leadership and insight to ensure that programs and special initiatives are successful, feasible, and fully integrated with company objectives.

  • Procurement and Contract Review: Review contracts and commitments to ensure that the Conservancy’s interests are protected. Ensure that the Procurement Policy is reviewed and revised regularly, and that staff are properly following it.

  • Cross-Organization Collaboration: Foster intentional collaboration, alignment, knowledge sharing, and problem solving across the organization.

  • Other Duties As Assigned


The successful COO candidate will have advanced leadership experience, exceptional written and verbal communication skills, and a proven ability to effectively execute the essential functions of this position. Additional qualifications include:

  • A bachelor’s degree (ideally in environmental science, business administration, organizational development, nonprofit leadership, change management, or another relevant field)

  • A minimum of 7 years’ experience as a COO or equivalent, with demonstrated success in executive operations leadership

  • Experience in core functions and work streams such as human resources, communications, strategic planning, business development, technologies, finance, and fundraising

  • Understanding of, and commitment to, the conservation field

  • Proven ability to delegate while managing organizational oversight and performance

  • Demonstrated ability as a persuasive and respectful communicator and leader

  • Strong people management skills

  • Excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills

  • Superior interpersonal skills

  • Outstanding organizational and time management skills

  • Strong prioritization, staging, and sequencing skills

  • Demonstrated experience in, and commitment to, diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and an ability to represent these values and practices to staff, stakeholders, and the public

  • All Chesapeake Conservancy employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19


  • An MBA and/or relevant certifications such as PMP or CAPM, Agile, or KPI

  • Work experience with an organization dedicated to Chesapeake Bay conservation and/or restoration a plus

  • Experience with collaborative management and in creating and maintaining a healthy organizational culture, building successful cross-functional teams, and applying performance practices

  • Experience designing and presenting strategies, plans, processes, metrics, and information in a clear and comprehensible manner

  • Ability to remain calm and focused in stressful or complex situations

  • Good knowledge of data analysis and key performance indicators

  • Familiarity with information technology and business infrastructure

  • Experience leading the standardization of practices in organizations to ensure adherence to the laws and regulations governing administration, operations, programs, and services


Some travel around the Chesapeake Bay watershed to meet with current and prospective funders, state and federal officials, and other conservation organizations will be required.


This position will be based at Chesapeake Conservancy’s office in Annapolis, Maryland. The office operates with a hybrid remote/in-person environment with the number of days in the office per month negotiable.


The salary range for this position is $140,000-160,000 annually with an anticipated starting salary dependent upon the qualifications and experience of the hired candidate.  In addition, Chesapeake Conservancy offers an outstanding benefits package including:

  • Comprehensive medical, dental and vision insurance

  • 12 Paid Holidays and one floating holiday

  • Up to five years of service, 15 days of paid vacation leave; 5+ years of service, 20 days of paid vacation leave

  • 4 weeks of paid sick leave  and family leave

  • Life Insurance

  • Short Term and Long Term disability

  • 5% match contribution of employee salary to a 403 (B)


Bonsai Leadership Group has been exclusively retained for this search. To make recommendations or to express interest in this role, please email Careers@BonsaiLeadershipGroup.com and include “CC COO” in the subject line.  All applications must include a letter of interest and a resume.

This position is open until filled. Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to apply at their earliest convenience. Applications will be screened against the criteria listed in this profile.

All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.