Website California Academy of Sciences

The Academy is looking for candidates who do great work and may come from several different backgrounds and experiences. We encourage you to apply even if you believe you must meet every qualification for the position.

About the Opportunity:
The Director of People Experience plays a crucial role in driving the organization’s culture, fostering employee engagement, and ensuring the workplace is a positive and inclusive environment where employees can thrive and contribute to the Academy’s mission. This new role will provide the leadership necessary to deliver a broad range of strategic and tactical people support to employees and managers across the Academy. In collaboration with the Chief of People & Culture and a team of direct reports, this new role will have the opportunity to transform and enrich the workplace culture at the Academy through new and ongoing talent & culture initiatives.

Organizational Culture:
Join a team dedicated to the Academy’s mission, vision and values! Currently, the Academy has a new strategic plan including three initiatives – Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030 – that leverage biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement to regenerate fragile ecosystems around the world. Learn more at

We hope you are inspired by what we do and are excited to contribute to our mission. The mission of the California Academy of Sciences is to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration.

This position is based in San Francisco, California. This exempt, full-time position reports to the Chief People & Culture Officer. Staff are currently expected to work from the Academy offices at least two days per week, which may fluctuate based on business needs. Please only apply if you can also work onsite.

About the People & Culture Team (PACT):
The People & Culture team collaborates across the Academy to: 1) build a thriving culture in which all staff members feel cared for and respected, with opportunities for growth: and 2) deeply connect employees to the Academy’s purpose of regenerating the natural world.

As Director, People Experience, you:

  • Coach and mentor team members, bring them along on the journey through change, support their development, and encourage them to thrive.
  • Are comfortable with ambiguity, fluidity, and finding multiple paths forward in a dynamic environment.
  • You view new insights and knowledge as an opportunity to stress-test and re-evaluate your strategy and approach.
  • Have a knack for building warm and collaborative working relationships across all levels and areas of an organization.
  • Are excited to build for scale, drawing on your broad knowledge of HR specialties and functions to create and bolster a foundation for the Academy’s people initiatives.
  • Are energized to lead and work across several Centers of Excellence, including Learning & Engagement,
  • People Operations, & People Experience.
  • Bring a strong equity lens that informs your decision-making as a leader and as an employee.
  • Approach your work in a spirit of appreciative inquiry and collaborative problem-solving.

Key Responsibilities:
Supervision and Management:

  • Manage and lead a team with workstreams focused on strategic program management, employee relations, people experience, and learning & engagement.
  • Synthesize, elevate, and contextualize staff feedback and needs up to executive leadership in partnership with Chief People & Culture Officer
  • Develop the key programmatic issues for PACT, including organizational effectiveness, performance management, talent development, culture, and employee engagement, to support the Academy’s overall success.
  • Build, coach, and lead a high-performing team that includes two People & Culture Business Partners and a
  • Learning and Engagement Lead, provide guidance and mentorship to team members to drive key initiatives within PACT and across the Academy
  • Act as a thought leader to the People & Culture team as a whole; consult and advise across all centers of excellence, making informed decisions to keep the work moving forward

Strategic Leadership:

  • Collaborate with the Chief People and Culture Officer to understand and implement the organization’s strategic goals related to workforce planning, training, retention, and building culture.
  • Propose and implement policies and programs that support staff performance, engagement, development, and accountability.
  • Propose and implement impactful initiatives to enrich and expand our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for all Academy employees.
  • Define, collect, analyze, and present data and metrics designed to measure the effectiveness of people-related programs; use data and metrics to identify opportunities for further growth as well as successes to celebrate.

Program Oversight & Implementation:

  • Performance Management: Consult with the senior leadership team to establish an effective performance management process that provides regular feedback, sets clear expectations, and supports employee growth. Work closely with learning and engagement lead to roll out and maintain ongoing performance management processes.
  • Oversee the administration of People & Culture programs such as performance, talent management, training and development, engagement, and succession planning.
  • Guide, advise, and oversee various workstreams to ensure timely roll-out of processes, policies, and programs.
  • Work closely with the People Operations team to ensure consistent policies, programs, and practices are followed across the organization.
  • Cultivate and reinforce a positive workplace culture that aligns with the Academy’s values and goals.
  • Develop and execute effective communication strategies that keep employees informed and engaged in Academy people initiatives.

Experience and/or Education:

  • Undergraduate degree, preferred, advanced degree in HR Management or equivalent with SPHR/SHRM-SCP certification a plus
  • At least 10 years experience of People & Culture experience, with 5+ years in people management within a talent function in a nonprofit, social impact, and experience flexing across different functional units for impact.
  • Experience working in a union environment is a plus.

Skills and Abilities:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of business and people management principles, strategic planning, and resource allocation; proven ability to advise, direct, and lead across a broad range of HR functions.
  • Ability to manage across various portfolios and Centers of Excellence; eagle eye for detail and deadlines.
  • Ability to plan and implement a strategic roadmap while retaining the flexibility to adapt to new information and changing business needs as they emerge.
  • Successful track record of anticipating business needs and proactively recommending solutions
  • Ability to maintain strict confidentiality, establish trust and credibility, and act with complete integrity.
  • Proven track record of identifying people’s problems and using strategic skills to drive and influence appropriate solutions.
  • Excellent communication, presentation, coaching, and influencing skills.
  • Experience applying best practices around coaching, employee engagement, and change management.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.
  • This job description may change as our team continues to grow and evolve – we hope you’ll be excited to evolve with us as we scale and increase our impact.

Physical Environment:
The Academy complies with federal and state disability laws and makes reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. If reasonable accommodation is needed to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and/or to receive other benefits and privileges of employment, please contact our People & Culture team at [email protected].

Compensation and Benefits:
Starting salary will vary based on experience and relevant skills/knowledge set. The Academy offers a total compensation package that emphasizes both base salary and comprehensive benefits based on the hours per week worked.

Review of applications will begin on September 18, 2023 and will be reviewed on a rolling basis and continue until the position is filled.

How to Apply:
Interested candidates should submit a resume and optional cover letter through our Careers Page portal.

The California Academy of Sciences will give full consideration for employment to all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

The Academy is committed to creating a diverse team and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We know that representation matters in the workplace and with our partners; to that end we are committed to a hiring process grounded in equity and inclusion. All qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, citizenship or immigration status, national origin, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, political ideology, the presence of any physical, mental, or sensory disability, age, or any other status or characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. Read our full Equal Opportunity Statement here.

Candidates are required to have up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, absent qualifying exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. Individuals receiving a conditional offer of employment from the California Academy of Sciences will be provided the full text of the vaccination policy.

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