RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Philanthropy

POSITION TITLE: RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Philanthropy

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM: Membership and Philanthropy Departments

REPORTS TO: Carolyn Stevens, Donor Communications Manager

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time                             

LOCATION: The Wilderness Society, Washington, DC            


Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate conservation-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color. The RAY Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship designed to equip recent college graduates with the tools, experiences, support, and community they need to become leaders in the conservation sector—one that, in our visions of the future, fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of the United States.


Our mission is to protect wilderness and inspire people to care for America’s wild places.

We aspire to be inclusive in the work that we do, and in the kind of organization we are. Internally this means working as a team that listens to different points of view, recognizes the contributions of every employee and empowers each employee to bring their whole selves to work every day. Externally this means ensuring that public lands (including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas and monuments) are inclusive and welcoming, so that our shared wildlands can help people and nature to thrive. We are committed to equity throughout our work, which we define as our commitment to realizing the promise of our public lands and ensuring that all can share in their universal benefits. To learn more about our commitment, please see Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Our Values are: Trust and Collaboration – We forge trusted, respectful relationships and lasting collaborations. We are humble as individuals, and proud as a team; Community and Commitment – We are committed to the ideal that wilderness and all public lands can bring people and communities together and that everyone should share equitably in their benefits; and Solutions and Science – True to our history, we are guided by science, learning and adapting to create enduring solutions for future generations.

The Philanthropy and Membership teams at The Wilderness Society are responsible for raising the funds to fuel the organization’s fight to protect our nation’s remaining wild places for future generations. The teams are comprised of experts and skilled practitioners in all the major disciplines in philanthropy.


The Fellow will be an active member of the teams that share responsibility for securing the funds that allow The Wilderness Society to protect and defend our nation’s public lands.  In Year One, the Fellow will be on rotating assignment with each team for six to eight weeks to learn and implement the fundamentals of the full range of fundraising disciplines. During this time, the Fellow will learn and apply important strategy planning, relationship-building, communication and analytical skills employed to inspire both individuals and institutions to contribute more than $34 million annually to advance our work. In Year Two, the Fellow and will pursue one or two keystone projects, determined in consultation with the team leaders, to hone their skills as they look ahead to future employment in the Philanthropy sector. The Fellow will also have the opportunity to work with members of the Conservation, External Affairs and Finance & Administration teams to develop an understanding of the interconnectedness and mutual dependence of all aspects of the organization.

This is an opportunity to begin a career that offers a great variety of employment opportunities throughout the nation, advancing a wide array of missions and causes, and which, for many, provides the deep satisfaction of knowing your work makes a difference.


The Fellow’s primary responsibilities with the teams will be:

Membership and Strategic Operations: Support Direct Response Marketing managers in producing innovative campaigns to engage people through multiple communications vehicles, including direct mail, social media and email; and help analyze data used to inform decision-making to improve results. 

Donor Relations: Work with the team to create materials that will highlight the important work of The Wilderness Society and be used to engage existing major gift donors to ensure their continued support; and help build relationships with our high-level members and major donor prospects.

Major Gifts: Help plan and manage events for current and prospective major donors to elevate our work among their priorities for charitable giving; participate in strategy discussions aimed at securing major gifts; help identify effective models for engaging diverse communities in major gifts philanthropy.

Planned Giving: Help craft a marketing strategy and materials to make selected donors aware of the opportunity they have to make the largest charitable gifts of their lives possible through careful financial, legal and tax-savvy planning.

Foundations and Corporations: Conduct research to find new potential funders of The Wilderness Society’s priorities emerging from the new Strategic Plan; learn how to prepare for a relationship-building meeting with a foundation donor; help prepare proposals, reports and other documents for funders. 


In addition to the responsibilities at the host institution outlined above, RAY Fellows will spend, on average, 2-4 hours per week (5-10% of work time) on the following:

  • Actively communicating and building community with their RAY Fellow cohort and previous RAY Fellows.
  • Attending monthly check-ins calls (including 1-on-1 check-ins with RAY program staff and group calls with their RAY Fellow cohort).
  • Meeting regularly with mentors both inside and outside the host institution.
  • Attending monthly professional development webinars, trainings, and other opportunities to build knowledge and skills.
  • Developing a Personal Leadership Plan (PLP) with the support of supervisor(s), mentors, RAY program staff, and their RAY Fellow cohort. The PLP will serve as a tool for self-reflection, planning, and assessing progress towards professional, personal, and leadership goals.
  • Preparing and leading an hour-long end-of-fellowship webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2020.
  • A 3-day Leadership Retreat in February 2021.
  • At least one other in-person training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial / ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be less than 2 years out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2020 (we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


  • A college degree by the time of employment.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • A track record of working collaboratively across race, ethnicity, gender and age with people who offer a diverse range of talents, perspectives and experiences.
  • Strong analytical, organizational, and communication skills.
  • An eagerness to learn.


This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one-year renewal) starting on or after July 15, 2020.


The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by The Wilderness Society, which offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities. The salary for this position is $40,000 annually.  We also offer a rich benefit plan which includes:

  • Emphasis on a work/life balance and some telework may be available
  • Strong organization commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion. Find more information here
  • Competitive Salary, Comprehensive Medical, Dental & Vision plans
  • Medical insurance available for as little as $5.00/month for employee only coverage.  Dependent coverage available at an additional cost
  • Generous Paid Time Off plan (20 accrued vacation days, 2 personal days, 12 accrued sick days and 11 recognized holidays per year)
  • Expansive network of outdoor retailer discounts


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website: https://rayfellowship.org/apply.
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a curriculum vitae or a resume, two essay and one short answer responses, and a letter of support.

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 22, 2020. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Program Coordinator, Guilu Murphy, via email at guilu@elpnet.org.


The Wilderness Society is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, handicap, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. The Wilderness Society is continually seeking to diversify its staff, particularly to broaden opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy.