The Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) is seeking candidates for the position of Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department). The Director reports to the Commission and is responsible for managing approximately 1,800 employees, a biennial operating budget of $437 million, and more than 900,000 acres of wildlife habitat. The position offers unique opportunities and challenges and requires a dynamic leader with demonstrated executive-level experience. The position is based in the state capitol of Olympia.
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Director
Compensation for this position is up to $170,352 annually, depending on qualifications. The State of Washington also offers a complete benefit package, including sick, vacation and military leave; medical, dental and life insurance coverage; generous retirement benefits; and a deferred compensation plan.
The Department serves Washington's citizens by protecting, restoring and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats, while providing sustainable and wildlife-related recreational and commercial opportunities.
The Director: 1) leads and manages a complex Department; 2) assists the Commission in developing and reaching agreement on policy directions; 3) coordinates with the Governor's Office, State Legislature, other state agencies and Congressional delegation; 4) represents the Department and Washington State in discussions, negotiations and partnerships with federal, tribal, regional and international organizations; and 5) serves as the principle spokesperson for the Department.
The Director is responsible for ensuring that the Department's programs and services safeguard the long-term health of the fish and wildlife under the Department's stewardship. The Director will provide leadership in building effective relationships with the citizens of Washington State and the broad array of constituents who have a stake in the Department's work. The Director will take responsibility for ensuring that the organization's culture is geared to achieving its strategic priorities.
Candidates are encouraged to carefully research the recent history of the Department and to be fully prepared to speak to the approach they would take in addressing the challenges outlined below.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
The Commission has adopted goals, objectives and measurements with which to evaluate the performance of the Director. These goals and objectives provide a list of priority issues currently facing the Department. Washington presents one of the most challenging contexts for resource management of all the western states. With a relatively large and growing human population and a comparatively small public land base, our state will find it increasingly difficult to support the rich diversity of fish and wildlife species we desire. Washington is the second most populous of the 12 western states and has the smallest land base of those states.
One of the Department's most costly and difficult challenges is to reverse the decline in salmon and steelhead populations. Recovery will demand a comprehensive and long-term approach that unites our stakeholders and the public in this important cause. Fish populations other than salmon and shellfish have also been depleted. In a number of cases, weak stocks have constrained the harvest of highly valued and healthy populations of fish. The Director will be asked to develop effective new approaches to conserving and recovering fisheries resources, while resolving long-standing and increasing conflicts among competing stakeholders.
Washington has a rich diversity of wildlife species. Some are abundant while others are listed as threatened or endangered under state and federal law. The Director will lead the agency as it confronts a range of key wildlife management challenges. The Department will not be able to provide the entire habitat that is needed to support healthy populations of wildlife, despite the continued acquisition of additional lands. These lands cannot be adequately managed without increased funding for maintenance and operation. Public use of agency lands has intensified as the Department has sought to expand recreational opportunities. User group conflicts have resulted. The Director will confront these difficult challenges.
Enforcement and Regulatory Programs
In the past decade, as Washington's population has grown, the number and complexity of rules and regulations have expanded. According to a recent outside evaluation, the Department has an insufficient number of commissioned officers and support staff to cover the agency's enforcement workload. The Enforcement and Regulatory programs often give rise to politically charged compliance actions. The Director will lead the agency's efforts to demand a high level of compliance with these rules.
Intergovernmental Resource Management
In general, tribal, state and federal governments share responsibilities for protecting and managing fish and wildlife resources. More specifically, some authorities are separate while other authorities overlap. The complex nature of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities and responsibilities creates the necessity for continual intergovernmental coordination on a range of issues. In addition to fisheries allocation decisions, coordination is necessary to fulfill the state's obligations under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and other laws.
The Director will establish and maintain professional and productive working relationships with other state and federal agencies and with the state's Indian tribes. The Director will lead the agency's effort to effectively advocate for conservation of the state's fish and wildlife in intergovernmental forums. He/she will represent the interests of our hunters and fishers and the public in negotiations with Tribal co-managers.
Washington's growing population has led to the development of lands that have historically supported a wide diversity of fish and wildlife. At the same time, public land acquisitions are controversial in some of the areas where the most abundant habitat remains available for conservation and outdoor recreation. A high priority for the next Director will be to pursue strategies that recognize the importance of habitat conservation while addressing the concerns of communities affected by public ownership. He/she will be called upon to encourage innovation in habitat protection and the mitigation of development impacts, and to promote more efficient and effective regulation of developments that may pose environmental challenges.
The Department's stewardship of agency lands will become even more important as the human population grows and habitat for wildlife shrinks. These pressures will make it vital that the Department continue to work cooperatively with private landowners whose properties provide important habitat values. Such partnerships offer opportunities to enhance recreational access to private lands.
An emerging issue around the country is the extent to which those who are not active hunters or fishers are involved with the management of our natural resources. Most Washingtonians support conservation, but only a fraction of that population actually uses the public resources managed by the Department. This category includes those who watch wildlife, take photographs, ride horses on public land, to name but a few. The Director will be required to be knowledgeable on these issues and to work with the Commission to strike the right balance between traditional and non-traditional users.
Conflicting public attitudes about how our state's fish and wildlife resources should be managed have presented increasing challenges in recent years. The Department periodically conducts opinion polls to aid in understanding the views of hunters, fishers, and the public and to better serve our mission. In relation to a number of priority issues – such as wolf recovery and land acquisitions – active, vocal, and opposing constituencies press hard for their preferred policies and practices. Such deep-seated conflicts challenge the Department's ability to steer a management course that is based on good science and sound reasoning. The Director will demonstrate a sophisticated ability to formulate effective approaches to conflict resolution.
The Commission supervises the Director and sets agency policies. The Department's organizational structure is a complex mix of centralized functions and decentralized operations. The Department's six administrative regions play an essential role in ensuring that the policies are sensitive to local conditions and preferences. The Director will be asked to strike the optimal balance between developing one organizational vision and culture and allowing sufficient flexibility to adjust to the circumstances present in different areas of our state. The Director will be expected to work closely with the Commission.
The WDFW Budget
WDFW has a complex operating budget that includes local, state, and federal funding, as well as user fees paid by people who buy fishing, hunting, and other recreational equipment, licenses, and permits. The Department has experienced continual budget management pressures in recent years, particularly since the national recession of 2008. Future projections indicate these challenges will continue, especially as the Department's traditional license-buying customers "age out" of their customary recreational pursuits.
The Director will be required to lead the agency through this transformative period. The nature and number of pivotal choices facing the agency make this a watershed time. Executive leadership skills of the highest order are essential. Difficult times such as these call for clear vision, true leadership, and firm decisions.
What emerges from this time of change should be an agency that is more focused and more disciplined. It must be ready to carry out its essential core functions with competence. At the end of this transformation, the agency will be judged on its performance in meeting expectations for cost cutting and its readiness to face the future. The process of re-establishing its credibility and reputation for excellence will begin anew. The fiscal discipline adopted during this transformative period should be retained as core functions are strengthened.
The Director will establish and maintain a professional working relationship with the Washington State Legislature as a whole and with key lawmakers who serve on committees that influence Department policies and funding. Clearly articulating the agency's position and responsibilities regarding high-profile issues that impact legislators' constituents is a critically important aspect of the Director's position.
ESSENTIAL QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS
The Director should possess the following qualities and characteristics:
1. Conservation ethic
The Department serves as the trustee of the state's fish and wildlife resources. The Director must be motivated by a strong conservation ethic: a determination to place the highest priority on the long-term interests of the resources and their habitat. The interests of the public and specific user-groups are important, but they cannot supersede the welfare of the fish and wildlife populations we are charged with managing. The Director should have a record of making the decisions that have led to the recovery of depleted resources.
2. Capacity for strategic and visionary leadership
The Director should bring to this job an established reputation for strategic and visionary leadership. The Director will be expected to assess and decide the best way to achieve substantial cost savings, while preserving critical functions and increasing agency efficiency.
3. Strong leadership and support for diversity and inclusion
To be successful, the Director must inspire excellence, earn respect, and ensure accountability. In 2017, WDFW embarked on a major workplace diversity and inclusion initiative designed to set high standards for recruiting, retaining, and promoting a high-performing workforce that reflects the diverse skills, interests, and demographic makeup of the broader population of Washington.
The Department is determined to become a model employer within Washington state government and among fish and wildlife agencies nationally in fostering a welcoming, safe, rewarding, and accountable workplace environment. The Director must assume a strong leadership role in this effort and, in particular, must be expert in using management techniques that hold all Department employees accountable for their conduct and performance.
4. Problem solving skills to resolve longstanding issues
The Director should be an individual who believes that longstanding problems can be solved, rather than that they should be accepted as inevitable and irresolvable. The Director will be energetic and creative in looking for innovative means to address priority issues and conflicts among constituent groups. He/she will actively seek out new ideas and methods that may be brought to bear to advance the agency's mission.
5. Fairness and an ability to work with all stakeholders
The Director should have a personal manner that works well with constituents from all backgrounds. It should be evident that the Director approaches his/her authorities and responsibilities with humility and open-mindedness. The Director should display an attitude that inspires others to join in collaborative processes, because they are confident of being treated fairly. He/she should be capable of maintaining a professional demeanor.
In carrying out intergovernmental responsibilities, the Director should have strong negotiating abilities that demonstrate sensitivity to the needs of all parties. At the same time, the constituents represented by the Director should be able to trust that he/she will be a forceful advocate for their interests.
7. Scientific rigor
The Director should have demonstrated the ability to work closely with the scientific community in building a defensible scientific basis for resource management. He/she should also have a working understanding of scientific analyses and quantitative methods used to study fish and wildlife population dynamics, as well as the health and productivity of habitats.
8. Effective communication
As the leader of the organization, the Director should be an effective communicator in all settings. The Director should inspire his/her audiences with a clear understanding of the Department's vision, mission and strategic directions. The Director should bring knowledge of and experience with risk communication. Other important experience includes the ability to lead creative innovation with contemporary communication and marketing tools.
9. Work ethic
The Director should be energetic and committed to serving as a role model for staff. The Director will be personally accountable for the accomplishments and shortcomings of the Department and must assume responsibility for all aspects of agency leadership.
10. Ability to work collaboratively with the Commission
The Director should be prepared to enter into a collaborative working relationship with the Commission. The Commission was created by vote of the people in order to ensure that the agency would remain responsive to the views of citizens. The Commission sets policy for the agency. The Director implements the policies set by the Commission. In a number of arenas, the Commission has permanently delegated its authority to the Director. The Commission also evaluates the performance of the Director. The Director should have a successful record of accomplishment for working with boards of directors or commissions.
DESIRED EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
The Commission seeks candidates with the following experience and achievements:
A bachelor's degree in natural resources, public or business administration or other related areas, and at least ten (10) years of progressively responsible professional experience in the management of natural resources for a large, complex organization or any similar combination of education and experience that will yield the desired competencies of the position. An advanced degree is a plus.
Desired qualifications include:
- Managing and recovering wildlife populations.
- Managing diverse fisheries, including those with stocks protected under state or federal endangered species acts.
- Experience in expanding and sustaining opportunities for traditional and new use of public lands.
- Expertise in agency budget development processes.
- Expertise in administrative procedures for financial accountability to ensure effective utilization of appropriated funds.
- Experience in the state and federal legislative processes.
- Experience in managing senior level staff.
- Experience in developing communication and positive relations with constituents.
People interested in this position must submit a cover letter, current resume, and salary history.
If you have questions regarding this announcement, please call the WDFW Human Resources Office at 360-902-8132. The position will remain open until filled. To be considered for the first round of interviews, please submit your application by 5 p.m. Friday, March 30, 2018, to Personnel@dfw.wa.gov.
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The State of Washington is an equal opportunity employer and is strongly committed to enhancing the diversity of its workforce. We will provide assistance in the recruitment, application and selection process to applicants with disabilities who request such assistance.
Job Number - 2018-02043*DO