Director of Life Sciences

  • Seattle, WA
  • Industry

The Seattle Aquarium is looking for the next director of life sciences to join the team. This senior leadership position reports to the Aquarium COO and is an integral part of the Aquarium’s executive team. The director is responsible for managing all aspects of animal husbandry and welfare and is a member of the Aquarium conservation leadership team. We are searching for a candidate who values collaboration, brings creative ideas forward and helps staff develop and excel in their roles. As the organization moves toward expansion and building of the new Ocean Pavilion, the director will play a significant role in the design and planning of our newest exhibit space.

Essential functions:

• Oversee general welfare, maintenance and husbandry of the living collection to ensure the highest standards of care. Work closely with husbandry, research, veterinary, exhibitry and life support personnel to safely showcase the living collection at the highest level possible.

• Serve as an active and collaborative member of the executive team to manage and evaluate day-to-day and long-term operations of the Seattle Aquarium.

• Serve as an active member of the Aquarium’s conservation leadership team (director of life sciences, director of conservation programs & partnerships, director of conservation engagement & learning, COO).

• Oversee the Aquarium’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation process, ensuring the organization is current and up to date with all requirements and regulations.

• Prepare and manage departmental budget, ensuring effective and responsible fiscal practices.

• Oversee the planning and development of the institutional collection plan. Oversee compliance with federal, state and local regulatory agencies as they pertain to the animal collections and exhibitor license.

• Oversee and manage dive safety office and dive operations budgets; represent the integration of dive training and activity across departments and uphold safety practices and routine operational standards.

• Collaborate with the conservation programs and partnerships department to develop and implement cross-departmental field conservation, research and wildlife rehabilitation programs.

• This position must establish themselves as a representative of the Seattle Aquarium and pursue leadership roles within the AZA.

• Play a central role in establishing a vision for future exhibits, setting standards for balancing the life support needs of the collection with the educational needs of the audience, and developing policies and practices related to the organization’s conservation mission.

• Partner with the philanthropy department to secure additional funding for the Aquarium’s conservation programs. Work closely with the board of directors for day-to-day operations and long-term planning.


• Manage the life sciences team, consisting of 22 full-time and five part-time employees as well as various animal care and dive volunteers; directly supervise curator of birds and mammals, curator of fish and invertebrates, senior veterinarian and dive safety officer. Significant team growth is expected in the next five years as the organization expands.

• Leverage strengths of life sciences team members, help to clarify roles and responsibilities, and develop and implement training programs to maximize and reach optimal individual and organizational goals.

• Provide leadership in strengthening internal communications with staff at all levels throughout the organization; create and promote a positive, supportive and inclusive work environment.

• Ensure staff and volunteers are managed in a manner consistent with institutional values and HR policy. This includes actively examining life sciences practices and policies using an equity lens, making changes where needed to continually improve accessibility, and inclusion for staff and all audiences.


Education and experience:

• A minimum of 10 years full-time experience managing at an AZA-accredited aquarium, demonstrating levels of increased responsibility.

• Experience planning and building large-scale exhibits, ideally with warm-water species requiring life support systems.

• A./B.S. degree in marine biology, zoology, fisheries or related field. M.A. preferred.

How to apply:

The Seattle Aquarium is a progressive, equal opportunity employer that values a diverse workforce. Please include a one-page letter of interest and résumé. Application review will begin immediately. All candidates are encouraged to apply.

Posted 10 months ago