The Elizabeth River Project, a leading Virginia environmental non-profit, seeks a candidate with the proven ability to apply sound science to achieve effective on-the-ground environmental restoration. Continue our pioneer success with transforming the environmental health of the urban Elizabeth River as our Deputy Director – Science and Restoration. Be part of our most exciting chapter! In this position, you will work in the newly constructed Pru and Louis Ryan Resilience Lab, a global model for urban coastal living, officially open as of June 1, 2024.

In this job, you will have the rewarding opportunity to build on prior landmark achievements including the first Virginia tributary fully restored for oyster habitat (Lafayette branch of the Elizabeth, thanks to our construction of a dozen pioneer oyster reefs), and the first voluntary cleanup of contaminated sediments on the Chesapeake Bay (  which reduced cancer six-fold in the indicator species, the mummichog. We also have led the region in pioneering the construction of “living shorelines,” helping establish this nature-based approach as the statewide preferred approach for addressing erosion.

As the lead scientist and lead supervisor for environmental restoration programs and projects, the Deputy Director – Science and Restoration ensures that both small and large-scale projects measurably improve ecosystem health of the Elizabeth River, a tidal estuary of the Chesapeake Bay and one of the most industrialized waterways in the nation. You’ll also work with dozens of scientists around the region to track river health and ensure sound policies and practices for our restoration efforts. Reporting to the Executive Director, this position manages a Restoration Team of environmental professionals.


Lead large-scale restoration projects, cutting-edge programs and scientific monitoring to improve the Elizabeth River ecosystem. Oversee the Environmental Project Manager and field staff in the construction of oyster reefs and living shorelines. Oversee the River Star Homes Program Manager in managing a pioneer behavior change program, River Star Homes (6,600 participants), a partnership with three cities to engage residents in Best Management Practices. Further our top priority to address historic inequities in marginalized communities with the addition of green infrastructure projects in partnership with Norfolk State University. Coordinate an established collaboration of more than 50 public and private partners working long-term to reduce some of the world’s most severe PAH contamination (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in the river sediments.

The successful candidate will have a proven track record for collaboration with diverse stakeholders to overcome challenges and achieve measurable environmental gains. Duties include overseeing priority projects and identifying new project sites to address top ecosystem needs; securing funding, and overseeing project and program implementation.

Supervise a Restoration Team of 8 to 10 (note, we also have Education and Administration Teams, supervised by others), ensuring tasks are completed on time and within budget. Provide guidance on restoration practices to Restoration Team members including the River Star Homes Program Manager, Environmental Scientist, Environmental Project Manager, Landscape Designer, Restoration Administrative Coordinator, Environmental Field Foreman, Restoration Specialist, and Seasonal Field staff.

Oversee applications for grants and contracts and seek funding opportunities for river restoration projects. Cultivate relationships with stakeholders crucial for project success.

Oversee scientific studies including support for a periodic scorecard of river health, prepared with dozens of scientists across the region. Enhance technical capacity and ensure the scientific effectiveness of restoration efforts. Collaborate with the Executive Director and staff to meet watershed plan and strategic goals. Contribute to long-term planning, program development and board member engagement initiatives.


Required Qualifications:

  • At least four years of experience overseeing environmental restoration projects, to include problem-solving to overcome unusual challenges, with documented environmental gains.
  • Proven skills in diplomacy and bringing diverse groups together to resolve challenges. Compatible with a collaborative vs. confrontational approach to environmental goals.
  • Outstanding skill in connecting scientific knowledge with practical restoration needs, projects and programs.
  • In-depth training in relevant science and technology.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Strong commitment to environmental conservation.
  • Proven ability to think independently and solve problems.
  • Energized rather than daunted by large challenges requiring invention of new paths forward.
  • Training and experience in management, multitasking, budgeting, and supervising staff and volunteers.
  • Ability to handle logistical challenges and emergencies in the field.
  • Comfortable working in a fast-paced nonprofit environment.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • The upper range pay scale will only be considered for the preferred advanced degree in biology, ecology, or environmental science combined with experience managing projects, grants and-or contracts at the size of $1 million plus.
  • Ability to lead meetings effectively.
  • Physical capability to work outdoors in various conditions and lift heavy objects up to 50 lbs.


This is a full-time, exempt, salaried position that is eligible for our comprehensive benefits package. The salary range for this position is between $65,000 – $95,000.

HOW TO APPLY: If you are interested in joining our team, please send your resume to Human Resources Manager Jaye Hughes,

The Elizabeth River Project is an equal opportunity employer.

Elizabeth River Project Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Statement:

At Elizabeth River Project, we embrace diversity, inclusion, equity, and environmental justice as fundamental values of our river restoration work. Through active listening and intentional involvement, we seek to diversify our staff, board, and partners as we appreciate the unique perspectives and experiences of our diverse community. Our commitment extends to advocating for environmental justice, recognizing the intersectionality of social and environmental challenges. Together, we work towards a brighter future for the river and its people where everyone feels a sense of belonging and purpose within our organization and beyond.

At the Elizabeth River Project, we are committed to integrating DEI principles into all aspects of our work. By embracing diversity, promoting equity, and fostering inclusion, we believe we can restore the Elizabeth River in a way that benefits all communities and creates a healthier, more equitable future for both people and nature.

Research shows that women and people of color may hold back from applying for roles if they do not meet all requirements. Elizabeth River Project is dedicated to nurturing a diverse, inclusive, and authentic work environment. If you are passionate about this position but do not align perfectly with every listed qualification, we still encourage you to apply. Your distinct viewpoint is valuable to us, and we are excited to review your application.