River Sustainability Director

Posted 2 months ago

Position Summary

The Cahaba River Society’s River Sustainability Director leads policy advocacy to protect and restore water quality, freshwater biodiversity, and drinking water sources for Birmingham and central Alabama communities. The position supports communities to improve best practices in stormwater and green infrastructure design and strengthen water resource policies, regulations, management and compliance, to reduce urban impacts such as pollution and flooding, improve climate resilience, promote water equity, and increase healthy greenspaces and river access opportunities for all.

The River Sustainability Director serves as a resource to local government officials, citizens, businesses, development professionals, and partner organizations, leading with collaboration and education, relying on river science, and advancing values of equity, diversity and inclusion.

About Cahaba River Society and our river: Cahaba River Society (CRS) leads our community to restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life. The diverse lives depending on the Cahaba include the people of Birmingham and central Alabama as well as the River’s globally significant biodiversity of freshwater wildlife. The Cahaba, the heart of “America’s Amazon,” has more fish species per mile than any other river in North America, a similar rich diversity of other river life, and is a spectacular, natural recreational resource.

Because our river is a major source of the Birmingham area’s drinking water, our service area – the “peopleshed” of those whose lives are affected by the River – is larger than the watershed, including Jefferson, Shelby, Bibb, Perry and Dallas County, stretching from Birmingham to Alabama’s rural Black Belt region.

Through collaboration, river restoration advocacy, and bringing people to the River for hands-on education, guided recreational opportunities, the arts, and volunteer stewardship projects, CRS has been building community support and making a lasting positive impact on the health of this valuable resource for 35 years. Learn more about the full range of our goals, partners, programs and impact at


  • Lead CRS strategy to promote Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development approaches in development. Pursue policy and regulatory advocacy, best practices education, and watershed planning to reduce urban stormwater impacts, the leading cause of damage to Cahaba water quality, water supply, and habitat
  • Collaborate with partners and stakeholders to identify opportunities and develop plans for stormwater retrofit projects that will reduce flooding and pollution impacts to the River and enhance community greenspace
  • Proactively promote and respond to policy and regulatory opportunities from government agencies on water quality issues, stormwater management practices, water and wastewater infrastructure, land use and development practices, and other policies to restore the Cahaba River
  • Evaluate significant development proposals and collaborate with developers, local government officials, and citizens to promote best practices to protect the ecological health of the Cahaba River, mitigate impacts to aquatic wildlife, and provide recreation access and habitat restoration
  • Assure that considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion are advanced by CRS policies, recommendations, and decisions and guide our collaboration with partners, where we work, and who we serve
  • Assure that CRS policies, recommendations and decisions are firmly seated in the best available science. Communicate river science to decision-makers and the public in ways that are engaging and inform policies and practices
  • Respond to pollution events in partnership with riverkeepers by working with responsible parties and empowering citizens to address them
  • Communicate with the public and media and give presentations before decision-makers (for example, city councils, county commissions, agency staff, development professionals) and civic groups to build understanding and support for CRS’ vision and strategies

Supporting Functions

  • Support other program areas in team with the staff, including youth and adult education and recreation outings on the River, volunteer habitat restoration, fundraising, and events.

Staff and Board relationships: The River Sustainability Director is supervised by and works collaboratively with the Executive Director. CRS staff members work closely with members of the CRS Board of Directors in their areas of expertise. This position staffs committees of the Board of Directors, as lead staff for Policy and Science Committees, and also participates in Stewardship and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committees. This position occasionally supervises interns.


  • Undergraduate degree and 3 years of experience in fields related to environmental management/science/policy/law, environmental engineering, sustainable development, urban planning, landscape architecture, political science, natural resource management, or field biology is required. Advanced degree in one of these fields is desirable.
  • Strengths in strategic program development, collaboration, and self-directed work are essential.
  • Skills in research and in public speaking and written communications that are clear, visionary, convincing, and pitched for a range of audiences are essential.
  • A familiarity with the natural history of the Cahaba River, its aquatic wildlife, and urban impacts to freshwater systems is desirable.
  • Experience in local, state and federal government regulatory processes and governmental relations is desirable.
  • Experience with GIS is desirable.
  • Part of the fun of this job is occasional time spent on the River, assessing river habitat, investigating pollution sources, and participating in educational, recreational, and stewardship outings.
  • Capabilities to participate in canoe trips together with other staff, or interest and ability to learn, is desirable.

Salary and Benefits: Salary is negotiable based on qualifications. CRS pays full cost of single-rate health insurance (currently $5.9k value), or this amount can be applied to family rate. We offer low cost dental, vision, disability, and life insurance and a 403B retirement investment / matching program. Flexible work hours, hybrid office/home work, generous vacation and leave policies. We invest in our team by funding professional development and training.

Fair Labor Standards Act Status: Exempt. This a professional, salaried position with evening and weekend activities commonly required, offset by flexibility in required office time.

Applying for the Position: Send resume and cover letter telling us more about your qualifications and why working in this position and for Cahaba River Society would be meaningful to you, by September 8, 2023, to and addressed to Beth Stewart, Executive Director. Questions about the position may also be sent there. Applications may also be mailed to 2717 7th Avenue South, Suite 205, Birmingham, AL, 25233.

Non Discrimination Policy: The Cahaba River Society is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment for any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, gender, gender identity or gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, age, religion (creed), disability, or military status. We also will not discriminate in selection of volunteers and vendors or provision of services.

We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, contractors, vendors, and program partners.

SPECIAL NOTE: We encourage applications from people of color, Indigenous people, people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, women (or non-binary identity), LGBTQ+, and other people of historically excluded identities.

Job Features

Job Category

Other Positions


$48,000- $55,000


Birmingham, AL

Apply directly via the instructions above.