Chief People and Culture Officer

San Francisco, CA
Full Time
Senior Executive
Senior Executive

About the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is committed to regenerating the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. The Academy’s new strategic plan recognizes that solutions to the ecological crisis must begin with a radical reimagining of our relationship to nature. The Plan's three initiatives - Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030 – 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 Academy is looking for candidates who do great work, and we know they may come from a number of different backgrounds and experiences. We encourage you to apply even if you do not believe you meet every one of the qualifications for the position.

Our museum is located in San Francisco, California. 

About the People and Culture Team
The People and Culture Team is at the heart of the Academy’s work. This new team pulls together all aspects of the employee experience to deeply connect employees to the Academy’s purpose of regenerating the natural world.  They are responsible for helping to build and support a thriving culture in which all staff members feel cared for and respected, with opportunities for growth. The People and Culture team’s approach is highly collaborative and rooted in learning and relationships.

About the Opportunity
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Chief People and Culture Officer (CPCO) will serve as a key member of the Academy’s Senior Leadership Team and will lead a new team of People Leaders - Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access; Director of Learning and Engagement; Senior Director of People Operations(HR). This position represents a unique opportunity for someone who wants to forge new territory as we reimagine what drives engagement, what the employee experience is, and how to strengthen our culture. This role is responsible for people policies and practices that encompass all the functions that attract, support, and engage the employee population.

Key Responsibilities
The CPCO is primarily responsible for: setting and leading execution in people operations; staff engagement, and development; building our capabilities in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; as well as growing and maintaining a strong culture in which all staff feel welcome and cared for, with opportunities for growth. The CPCO responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Development and Implementation of People Strategies

  • Establish and implement comprehensive short-and long-term plans, strategies, practices, and policies that effectively support and drive the Academy’s mission, vision, values, goals, and key metrics. Translate strategic business goals into robust people and culture strategies and tactics to reinforce an exceptional employee experience.
  • Understand the end-to-end employee experience and the drivers of engagement, retention, and growth. Analyze and address reasons for attrition.
  • Provide leadership to the People and Culture team to ensure alignment with organizational goals.
  • Build internal competencies so that the People and Culture team functions as credible business partners, culture and change agents, capable talent managers, organizational consultants, strategic thinkers, impactful coaches, and responsive solution providers.
  • Develop and oversee the People and Culture division budget.
  • Ensure the Academy’s overall compliance with federal, state, and local laws, rules, regulations, standards, and adherence to safe work practices.

Collaborative Internal Engagement

  • Partner with Academy leaders on key management issues, including organizational effectiveness, performance management, talent development, culture, and change management, to support the Academy’s overall success.
  • Collaborate with other Academy staff to identify approaches and new opportunities for employee engagement.
  • Liaise with operations, legal, communications, and finance team members across the Academy to ensure compliance and seamless integration of the People strategy.
  • Promote transparency of decision-making.
  • Strengthen our culture of belonging. Evolve our Standards of Conduct to promote a respectful and productive work environment characterized by diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).

Ideal Candidate

  • The California Academy of Sciences seeks individuals who demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to the employee experience.  The CPCO shares the belief that the most successful organizations empower their people to learn and grow, share in decision-making, and recognize and celebrate contributions.  This person will be committed to breaking down barriers and modeling trust and transparency.
  • The ideal person will have a strong learning orientation, growth mindset, and ability to work independently and cooperatively with fellow staff. This individual should be adaptive and able to effectively engage in workflows and collaborative engagement with peers.

Skills and Behavioral Competencies

  • Passion for engaging effectively with various stakeholders throughout the Academy. Ability to work well with people from different races, ethnicities, geography, genders, socioeconomic classes, and sexual orientations.
  • Aptitude for building relationships based on trust, strong communications, transparency, and respect.
  • Leadership skills and the ability to demonstrate and lead on values, initiatives, and culture of the organization.
  • Comfort with decision-making that involves the appropriate individuals and the development of appropriate plans of action from multi-disciplinary perspectives
  • Ability to conceptualize, formulate ideas, and implement ideas for process improvement.
  • Strong active listening, negotiation, and presentation skills.


  • A minimum of 10 years of demonstrated experience in providing strategic leadership with some portion of that experience in the nonprofit sector and/or movement building.
  • Eight plus (8+) years of supervisory experience.
  • Ability to work effectively in settings where the strategies are evolving, and the work is new to the organization.
  • A reputation for collaborating effectively, consulting with colleagues, and co-building strategies to solve complex problems.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead change in an evolving organization.
  • Any combination of education, training, and experience that demonstrates the ability to perform the duties of the position. 
  • Human Resources and/or Organizational and Talent Development experience is desirable.

Compensation and Benefits
The California Academy of Sciences is committed to providing compensation that is competitive within the nonprofit sector. The Academy offers a generous total compensation package that emphasizes both base salary and comprehensive benefits. The salary range for this role starts at $250,000. Offers are based on the candidate’s years of experience and the practice of maintaining salary equity within the California Academy of Sciences.

This position is based in San Francisco, California. Please do not apply if you are not willing to relocate. Staff are currently expected to work from the Academy offices at least 2-3 times per week, which may fluctuate based on business needs. The candidate must easily be able to work onsite at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park when needed. Candidates are required to have up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving a booster shot, 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.

Application Instructions
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Review of applications will begin October 10, 2022 and will continue until the position is filled.

APPLICATION PROCESS: A complete application should consist of: (1) Cover letter describing your interest in the Academy and how your professional goals align with the Academy mission and/or strategic initiatives and; (2) Resume.


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 California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to ensure that all employees and applicants receive equal consideration and treatment, regardless of race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity or gender expression), religion, marital or domestic partner status, age, place of birth, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, height or weight, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.


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