VP of Conservation

Job Description

Location: Denver, Colorado Springs, or consideration for other locations within service area including Fremont, Chaffee, or Pueblo counties

Job Type: Full-time, exempt position 

Salary Hiring Range: $90,000-$100,000

Position Summary

Reporting to the President and CEO,  the Vice President of Conservation position is an exciting opportunity to join the executive team of an innovative and multifaceted regional conservation organization. The position calls for a strategic thinker who is deeply committed to Palmer’s mission of protecting land and water for the health and wellbeing of nature and people. The Vice President of Conservation is charged with expanding Palmer’s conservation impact, vision, and innovative programming by leading a historic western water initiative; safeguarding the conservation and access of critical parks, open spaces, and trails; protecting vital habitat and resilient landscapes; and ensuring southern Colorado maintains a strong local food supply and agricultural heritage. 

Candidates should possess the vision, knowledge, and leadership talent necessary to guide and implement Palmer’s strategic conservation priorities of: Land for People, Land for Food, Land for Nature, and Water for Life. Their expertise should include crafting and successfully implementing sophisticated land conservation models, executing real estate agreements and transactions and associated conservation financing frameworks, and leading and managing a team of conservation professionals. The ideal candidate has experience navigating complex water transactions and a proven ability to develop dynamic and complex community conservation initiatives for impact.

About Palmer Land Conservancy 

Palmer Land Conservancy is one of the leading nonprofit land conservation organizations in Colorado. Since its incorporation in 1977, the organization has protected more than 137,000 acres including 20 public parks and open spaces, working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, and scenic views. Palmer is one of the twenty largest local land trusts in the country based upon conserved acreage holdings (there are approximately 1,700 land trusts in the United States), and it is one of the country’s first 100 nationally accredited land trusts. Its main office is located in downtown Colorado Springs and it has staff located throughout its service area. More info at palmerland.org.

The Opportunity

The Vice President of Conservation will arrive at a time of remarkable growth and opportunity within the organization. A new and ambitious 5-year strategic plan, combined with fiscal strength, a drive for innovation, and a bold vision for growth have positioned Palmer to extend its impact even further. Despite the continued consequences of the COVID pandemic, as well as other global and national impacts, Palmer has remained operationally and fiscally strong and well-positioned to weather future challenges. The Vice President of Conservation will work with the President & CEO, the executive management team, the Conservation Team, and the Board of Trustees to amplify this momentum.

Key Objectives for the Vice President of Conservation:

Executive Leadership

Serve as a visionary and strategic implementer for conservation initiatives, projects, and programming, overseeing a growing Conservation Team. 

Develop and maintain a robust pipeline of conservation projects and work closely with the President and CEO and the executive team to seek, develop, and implement projects. Support the Board’s Land Committee in thoughtfully vetting real estate or water transaction projects.

Pursue the goals of the new five-year strategic plan and actively participate in the strategic and operational management of the broader organization.

Inspire and empower a staff of rising conservation leaders. Guide and provide mentorship to the conservation team providing expertise in crafting conservation easements as well as complex, multi-faceted transactions.

Water for LIfe

Manage and oversee the Bessemer Farmland Conservation Initiative and pursue its replicability across the West. This sophisticated and complex historic water initiative has a bold vision with significant funding and investment. This position is responsible for managing the initiative in concert with Palmer’s Pueblo-based conservation staff. 

Manage other water initiatives in the Arkansas River Basin, including seeking innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges with water quantity variability, unique partnerships with water utilities, and developing solutions to agriculture buy and dry.

Land for Food: Farm and Ranchland Protection

Oversee the expansion of Palmer’s farm and ranchland protection work across southern Colorado, and work with the executive team to help expand Palmer’s service area into new markets.

Lead a conservation team in maintaining an active portfolio and pipeline of conservation projects with focus on working lands throughout southern Colorado. Ensure the efficient and successful management of all aspects of conservation transactions, including conservation easement and fee projects. 

Land for People: Pikes Peak Conservation and Beyond

Manage and help implement Palmer’s priority public access initiatives, including Ring the Peak and Front Range Trail.

Hold responsibility for ensuring Palmer meets its 5-year strategic objectives to increase outdoor recreation and public space opportunities.

Land Stewardship & Conservation Accountability

Ensure Palmer meets its perpetual conservation obligations by overseeing a growing stewardship-focused team.

Ensure conservation excellence by maintaining the highest standards are achieved and that Palmer continues to meet all accreditation, regulatory and legal standards within its land protection program.

Conservation Finance

Conduct financial modeling for conservation easement and fee acquisition projects throughout Palmer’s service region.

Explore and implement financial tools and frameworks that achieve conservation at scale.


Manage Palmer’s farmland acquisition fund program and other funds restricted for conservation projects.

On behalf of Palmer, cultivate deep and meaningful relationships with key funding partners to advance critical conservation initiatives.

Qualifications & Experience

The successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and attributes:

  • Informed passion and sense of urgency for Palmer’s mission and conservation in southern Colorado
  • Vision, knowledge, and leadership talent necessary to guide the protection of land and water for the health and wellbeing of people and nature.
  • A bachelor’s degree is required, and a master’s or J.D. degree preferred, with a minimum of 10 years of experience in conservation, real estate, land use planning, or a related field required. 
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and drive; an eye for creative opportunities tied to a commitment to accountability and results; excellent relationship builder and steward; ability to successfully establish, sustain and strengthen relationships with key public and private funders, regulators, partners, public officials.
  • In-depth land protection or real estate experience and expertise, and ability to formulate and execute complex transactions.
  • Extensive project management experience including ability to motivate, lead, set objectives, and manage conservation staff, as well as key stakeholder groups. Proven experience producing results and meeting program goals.
  • Fundraising experience is desired, particularly with foundations and public agencies; aptitude for donor relationship management and advancement.
  • Very strong communication skills; superb writing and editing ability; demonstrated experience as a highly effective public speaker; demonstrated cultural competency.
  • Competency with ESRI ArcGIS desired to support a variety of conservation planning and land protection projects.

Other Requirements

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Physical demands may involve:
    • Lifting materials and equipment – including, but not limited to, office supplies, event supplies, and boxes of swag – up to 25 pounds.
    • Working in variable weather conditions at remote locations on difficult and hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances


Palmer offers full-time employees top tier benefits including: robust health care package which includes medical, dental, and vision benefits; retirement plan with company contribution; short-term and long-term disability; paid parental leave; paid sabbatical leave; and an innovative open paid time off policy for senior staff.

Company Culture

Palmer leadership values a culture of generosity, trust, and dedication to conservation. The work environment is goal-based, and work plans and performance are focused on identifying and achieving attainable, but ambitious objectives on a quarterly timeline. This is not a micro-managing environment, and instead, employees are trusted to get their work done with a high level of personal responsibility. Palmer was voted as one of Colorado Springs best workplaces in 2022.

Palmer’s employees are hard working high performers and in exchange they are supported in pursuing work-life flexibility with policies such as open paid time off, sabbatical leave, and remote work. 

How to Apply

The position is open until filled. To apply, please send resume, cover letter, and answers to the following questions as a single pdf to: [email protected] with subject line “VP of Conservation.”

Please limit responses to no more than 200 words per question:
 1. Why does conserving land, water, and nature in southern Colorado matter to you?
 2. Please describe your experience relevant to the position's core responsibilities.
 3. Where do you see yourself in 3 years?