Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director

Trust for Public Land was founded 50 years ago to create parks and protect land for people where they’re needed most so that everyone will have access to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. Since 1972, we have protected 4 million acres of public land, created 5,364 outdoor spaces, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors.

Trust for Public Land has long partnered with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities to protect and return access, stewardship, and ownership of culturally important lands. This work includes supporting Tribal and Indigenous efforts to protect and revitalize the languages and cultural lifeways inextricably linked to these homelands. Since 1989, TPL has worked with more than 100 Tribes and Indigenous/Native community organizations to help protect their traditional homelands and culturally significant places. Through these highly collaborative efforts we have protected and/or helped return more than 250,000 acres of land to Indigenous Peoples. We are currently working on a wide variety of exciting projects with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities across the United States. As of this posting, we are collaborating with more than 30 Tribes and Indigenous/Native communities on 20 land projects consisting of more than 500,000 acres, 13 schoolyard and park development projects, and multiple policy efforts to create more opportunities for Tribal Nations and Indigenous/Native communities to reclaim and care for these important lands.

TPL seeks to build on this body of historic and current work centered in our commitment to equity and community. We are seeking an experienced, passionate individual to lead, strengthen and expand TPL’s Tribal and Indigenous Lands program by combining their expertise with Trust for Public Land’s tools and resources.

At TPL, we're a team of outdoor advocates who believe in connecting everyone to the outdoors. As an ethos, we believe access to the outdoors is a fundamental human need and essential to our health and well-being. ​We're committed to creating more places that bring us outside—parks, trails, playgrounds, and public lands—and making them available and welcoming to everyone, everywhere, regardless of ZIP code. We also understand that land has meaning; it tells the story of our history. That's why, through our Black History and Culture initiative, we're working to preserve sites that more fully represent the Black American experience; and we're an ally and partner to Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, working in partnership to reconnect them with their traditional lands.

One hundred million people, including 28 million children, don't have nearby access to a park within ten minutes of their home. We're determined to change this outdoor equity gap–and as a result, nine million people and counting now have access because of our work. We have miles to go and a plan to get there. We're inclusive change-makers who believe in connecting everyone to the outdoors. We inspire by paving the way forward and strengthening our connection to nature. Join us! 
You believe access to the outdoors is a fundamental human need–not a luxury for just a few. When you hear about the outdoor equity gap, you want to roll up your sleeves and fix that. If you're convinced that smiles get wider outdoors and that nature is vital to our health and well-being, then you'll fit right in with our TPL team. We're seeking individuals whose resolve is strengthened when met with injustices and challenges. We're looking for people who are united in the conviction that experiences in nature build relationships and keep us healthy. Since 1972, we've grown into a community that's rooted in our five shared values: belonging, creativity, collaboration, impact, and hope. Is your personal passion to ensure that more people can connect to the outdoors, ensuring healthy communities for generations to come? If so, join us! 

The Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director will be responsible for building upon TPL’s past and current work with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities and will lead, strengthen and grow TPL’s Tribal and Indigenous Lands program by bringing together the full suite of TPL strategies and expertise with their expertise and innovations in working with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Communities. This role is equally to provide internal leadership to build organizational proficiencies, capacities and practices, externally focused on building relationships and partnerships, and catalytic in creating new collaborations and opportunities. This body of work is implemented organization-wide with particular focus in field programs and aligns with TPL’s Strategic Plan. The position will work closely with field leadership, initiative leads (lands, parks, schoolyards, trails), commitment leads (equity, climate, health, community) and relevant philanthropy partners to build and maintain a robust portfolio of work.
Essential to this work, the Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director will help secure program and project-specific funding, coordinate field implementation, and align with TPL’s Strategic Plan objectives. The position will be responsible for the following specific duties:

  • Explore, implement and support on-the-ground projects in collaboration with TPL’s field staff and key partners.
  • Collaborate with Government Relations staff and Tribal leaders on relevant policy work.
  • Strengthen, expand and lead a highly collaborative program to plan and implement land acquisition, return and stewardship projects in partnership with Tribes and Indigenous communities in a manner that supports Tribal sovereignty, empowerment and leadership in land conservation.
  • When appropriate, co-lead endeavors where two or more Tribes and TPL collaborate together on a single project or a suite of projects.
  • Develop and support capacity building for Tribes and Indigenous communities through funding and other resources essential for effective and lasting partnerships between TPL and Tribal Nations/Indigenous communities.
The Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director will act as the external lead and contact for TPL mission delivery related to Tribal and Indigenous work and will build/maintain relationships with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, landowners, agencies, public officials, stakeholders, donors, TPL’s National Board, and TPL’s Tribal and Indigenous Lands Council.

Tribal and Indigenous Lands Director Responsibilities:
  • Advance Tribal and Indigenous work in alignment with TPL’s strategic plan and mission, via strategy development and implementation, internal collaboration among TPL departments, and external engagement with Tribes and Indigenous communities, partners and donors.  
  • Refine and implement a multi-year vision and plan for TPL’s Tribal and Indigenous Lands work.
  • Monitor and advise on the project portfolio to meet TPL’s mission and ensure consistency with TPL Strategic Plan; coordinate with field staff and State/Regional leadership regarding budgeting and staffing (management of budgets and staffing lies at the state/region level).
  • Explore new projects as needed, working in collaboration with Tribal leaders and with TPL’s State/Regional leadership, field staff, with guidance from Initiative Leads.
  • Serve as programmatic lead for the Tribal and Indigenous Lands Advisory Council. Coordinate closely on Council support and interactions with Philanthropy, with a top priority of growing the Council into an effective philanthropic and networking body that will interact, as appropriate, with TPL’s National Board on Tribal and Indigenous Lands issues.
  • Provide assistance and guidance to field programs in project exploration and implementation, via direct project work, partnership development, technical expertise, and connections to the community of practice.
  • In close coordination with Philanthropy and Finance, allocate funds raised for Tribal and Indigenous Lands work to relevant projects, programs, and organizational support. Work with field leadership and executive team sponsor to make decisions around the allocation of raised funds that will lead to the greatest benefit for projects, programs, and communities.
  • Work with Philanthropy on efforts to secure lightly restricted funding; advise local field staff and local philanthropy staff on restricted fundraising as needed for specific projects. Assist Philanthropy as needed to identify and grow donor pipeline, and steward, cultivate and solicit current and prospective donors.
  • Build, maintain, and act as the primary contact for external relationships relevant to the Tribal and Indigenous Lands’ body of work with public officials and partners to advance TPL goals.
  • Plan, organize and help lead meetings with Tribal and Indigenous leaders and representatives, partners and stakeholders
  • Gain working knowledge of the perspectives, interests and needs of Tribes and Indigenous/Native community organizations with which TPL is partnering in order to more effectively engage in and support project work. As appropriate and relevant to relationship building and project work, attend Tribal and Indigenous community meetings and other events.
  • Collaborate with TPL’s Land and People Lab in order to link field implementation of Tribal and Indigenous Lands work to TPL thought leadership.
  • Lead on policy issues relevant to TPL in partnership with Government Relations staff and Tribal leaders.
  • Work with Federal Affairs and Tribal leaders on relevant congressional delegation outreach and cultivation. Act as partner and spokesperson to promote TPL’s federal policy goals.
  • Work with data and research staff on planning, mapping, conservation economics, and other efforts that advance TPL’s goals with respect to Tribal and Indigenous Lands work.
  • Support Tribal Nations’ and Indigenous communities’ efforts to tell their own stories in their own voices about their traditional lands, cultural lifeways and histories.
  • Work with Marketing and Philanthropy to strengthen TPL’s identity and reputation as an organization committed to and successful in collaboratively securing and protecting lands of significance to Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities through appropriate avenues such as outreach events, public speaking engagements, press opportunities, and creating a public presence for TPL in the community.

  • Minimum 5-10 years of relevant experience, including demonstrated success working with Tribes and Indigenous communities:
    • collaborating and negotiating with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities in settings that feature diverse groups and interests
    • program building, planning and management, including strategic planning
    • securing philanthropic support of program work
    • experience in leading Tribal government and/or Tribal community programs or initiatives, and in innovating and/or building successful collaborations within Tribal-led and/or Indigenous community-led endeavors
    • working knowledge of the specialized areas of Tribal and Indigenous law, policy and governance through direct experience working in settings involving these subjects
    • policy, advocacy and government relations
    • working with diverse community leaders, agency staff, elected officials and local media to promote successful projects.
  • Experience in leading, co-leading or managing land projects (e.g., planning, acquisition, easements, restoration of lands of ecological, cultural, historical, or recreational importance); or, experience in on-the-ground conservation work (e.g., in the fields of wildlife biology, botany or ecology, etc.; or in wildlands policy, planning and/or management of wilderness and/or protected areas; protection of species and habitats; roles in planning or implementing recreation, interpretation, or education on public lands or private reserves, etc.)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including effective public speaking
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders
  • Strong research and organizational skills
  • Strong leadership skills within the context of an organizational culture that greatly values collaboration and teamwork, as well as independent and innovative thinking
  • Expertise in the histories and cultures of Tribal and Indigenous Lands
  • A passionate commitment to Trust for Public Land’s mission of creating parks and protecting land for people, particularly as it relates to Tribal and Indigenous Lands
  • Location: Flexible, some travel required​

As a full-time exempt employee, you will be eligible for Trust for Public Land’s comprehensive benefits program which includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, holidays, and a 403(b) retirement plan, currently with up to a 7% company match. We offer competitive salaries commensurate with experience; the hiring range for this position is $100,000 to $130,000 annually.