Ocean Career: NMSF Designation Project Manager

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is a leading voice for US protected waters, is seeking a Designation Project Manager, who will work with the Foundation and NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in support of developing public momentum for the designation of the proposed Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary.

In 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration directed the Department of Commerce to move forward with the designation process for five nominated national marine sanctuary sites, including Lake Erie Quadrangle. This designation effort supports President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative by expanding the National Marine Sanctuary System, addressing inequitable access to the outdoors and supporting locally-led conservation. The proposed designation area in Lake Erie represents a historically and culturally rich region where the long relationship between human activity and the maritime environment has created meaning and a sense of place, which is expressed and preserved in a wide variety of maritime cultural resources, from sacred places and cultural practices to lighthouses and historic shipwrecks.

This is currently offered as a two-year term position. Position may be extended based on continued availability of funding. The Designation Project Manager, Lake Erie Quadrangle supports the scope of a federal cooperative agreement award between the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries that focuses on public engagement in the designation process of new national marine sanctuaries. The position is embedded with Eastern Region Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the position will initially work remotely in Erie County, PA, until office space is identified.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is committed to a culture of inclusion, equity, and belonging. We are dedicated to attracting and retaining a diverse staff. We honor experiences, perspectives, and unique identities, and welcome the contributions that you can bring to the dedicated team. With a diverse team of employees, we can grow and learn better together and achieve our mission to protect the health of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes for current and future generations.

What You’ll Do

  • Facilitate meetings and share information about the designation process
  • Engage potential members interested in service on the Sanctuary Advisory Council and support coordination of and public access to advisory council meetings
  • Engage with state and local agency staff to inform and involve them in the designation process
  • Plan and implement activities, events, and programs that provide opportunities for community engagement with the proposed sanctuary. Represent the Foundation and the proposed sanctuary at community events
  • Conduct presentations for various interest groups to build awareness of the proposed sanctuary
  • Assist in writing the environmental impact statement, management plan, and regulations
  • Maintain ongoing communication and coordination with ONMS and Foundation staff.
  • Develop and maintain content for the web related to designation
  • Some travel required, primarily local and regionally
  • Perform other duties as assigned
  • Regular attendance required


  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited four (4) year college or university (preferably in Environmental and/or Science Education, Environmental Policy, or a related field), or at least eight years of experience in lieu of a degree
  • Five or more years of professional experience relevant to duties listed above
  • Familiarity with Great Lakes communities and organizations, particularly northwestern Pennsylvania and Lake Erie, and the ability to build and maintain positive collaborative relationships
  • Ability to collaborate and work well with others
  • Able to attend to details and effectively prioritize a variety of competing tasks under strict timelines
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Comfortable with public speaking, including the ability to speak fluently and persuasively about the demands and challenges at the proposed Sanctuary
  • Familiarity with the National Environmental Policy Act and National Marine Sanctuaries Act
  • Proficiency with a variety of virtual platforms for meetings, presentations, and other programs (such as Google Meet, Zoom, or GoToWebinar)
  • Self-starter who can work independently and work with a flexible schedule that may include an occasional evening or weekend
  • Interest and passion for maritime heritage, cultural and natural resources conservation

Why You Will Love Us

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (“Foundation”) is a leading voice for US protected waters, working with communities to conserve and expand those special places for a healthy ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. The Foundation works in close partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to increase stewardship of our ocean and Great Lakes through on-the- water conservation projects, and education and public outreach activities, and by support for research. Together, we safeguard species and the places they call home, and support coastal communities and economies.

  • Dedicated and passionate staff committed to marine and Great Lakes Conservation
  • Generous leave policy, plus paid time off the week between December 25 and January 1; and 12 paid holidays
  • Health benefits: Medical with an FSA option; dental, and vision
  • Foundation paid Life and Disability Insurance
  • Preparing for the Future: 403(B) with employer contribution after one year of service

Location: Erie County, PA (or surrounding communities)

Compensation and Benefits: $80-$90K, based on experience. The Foundation offers a competitive benefits package.

Applications received by February 11, 2024 will be preferred.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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