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Career Opportunities

Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science

The Director of Conservation Science at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a senior level, endowed position with primary responsibility for managing and leading our dynamic global raptor conservation science initiatives, guiding the international trainee program, acting as a mentor to the team, and furthering Hawk Mountain as a leader in global raptor conservation. The position reports directly to the president.


  • Builds Relationships: Has a demonstrated track record of building relationships both internally and externally for an organization based on effective communication and a positive attitude.
  • Communication: Exemplary communication abilities including written, oral, and presentation skills; ability to give enthusiastic public programs and presentations to diverse audiences.
  • Flexibility: Demonstrates professional flexibility, personally and interpersonally.
  • Leadership: Leads collaboratively. Develops talent and mentors colleagues with a positive and enthusiastic attitude across all core programmatic areas, and wins by elevating others.
  • Motivation: Motivates others with a genuine sense of enthusiasm for raptor conservation science while promoting the work of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary both internally and externally. 
  • Solution-oriented: Projects a positive attitude. Identifies problems yet focuses on solutions.
  • Teamwork: Creates synergy within the department, across the organization and with external partners by establishing meaningful partnerships and creating a supportive and collaborative environment. 

Qualifications and Experience

Ph.D. preferred with 10 years progressive leadership experience managing employees in field ornithology, conservation science, or a related discipline, with a preference for raptor ecology. Other qualifications include:

  • Experience with contemporary research methods and the equipment used in raptor research and monitoring. An understanding of the goals of Hawk Mountain’s conservation science program.
  • Comfortable with statistical and geospatial data analysis. 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills. A demonstrated track record of high-quality scientific publications, ability to prepare proposals and reports, and to deliver compelling presentations to diverse audiences.
  • Proven ability to build strategic relationships across academia, sister organizations, with individuals, and governmental and non-governmental organizations at a global scale.
  • Possesses strategic agility. Is creative, and desires to connect Sanctuary research through diverse outlets, including social media, to reach an international audience.
  • Demonstrated fundraising success in both individual and foundation giving.
  • A passion for raptor conservation and the ability to articulate and inspire others.
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills. 
  • Reputation for fairness, openness, and integrity when managing staff.
  • Demonstrated ability as an effective educator who understands contemporary student-centered experiential education, and who will mentor trainees into leaders in raptor conservation science.

Primary Duties

The primary duties of the director of conservation science include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Maintain the Sanctuary’s role as a global leader in raptor-migration science and conservation.
  • Oversee and take responsibility for all operational aspects of the Acopian Center. Work with facilities and land management to ensure buildings and grounds are appropriately managed. 
  • Serve as a chief spokesperson for the Conservation Science Program at the local, national, and international level.
  • Work with the President, Business Manager, and Development Director to ensure effective budgeting and financial reporting, and to identify funding opportunities. 
  • Work collaboratively with the President and Development Director to maintain and build excellent relationships with the Board of Directors, key stakeholders, foundations, and private donors. 
  • Coordinate with local colleges and universities regarding for-credit course offerings.
  • Oversee the Sanctuary’s international Conservation Science Trainee program.
  • Manage and evaluate the Acopian Center staff and ensure resources and goals are strategically aligned with the organization.
  • Produce, publish, and disperse results of Hawk Mountain conservation science.
  • Collaborate with a diverse international pool of research affiliates to leverage  funding and the  capacity to produce research.
  • Cultivate a culture of mutual respect, individual initiative, collegiality, and diversity. 
  • Coordinate ongoing long-term research projects.
  • Work collaboratively with other department heads to ensure conservation science is integrated across the organization. 
  • Promote the use of the Acopian Center, Scientist Residence, and other facilities to expand research on raptors and Appalachian ecology. 
  • Oversee effective management and provide access to Hawk Mountain’s intellectual research (e.g., library, long-term data).
  • Ensure that research staff participate as appropriate at national and international conferences and symposia, and ensure Hawk Mountain takes an active role based on its mission.
  • Evaluate global raptor population trends and needs to ensure Hawk Mountain maintains its global leadership role in raptor conservation.
  • Customarily and regularly hire, train, direct, discipline, and supervise full time and other staff, volunteers, and outside contractors.

Applications and Compensation

Qualified applicants should email a letter of interest and resume/qualifications to Shelley Davenport, subject line “Director of Conservation Science,” at davenport@hawkmountain.org.

This position includes a generous salary and health benefits package, including medical, vision, dental, and retirement, as well as optional housing as part of its compensation package.

Hawk Mountain will accept applications until the position is filled.

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