Cornell Lab of Ornithology Seeking Executive Director and Tenure-Track Professor

After 25 years serving as the Executive Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Dr. John Fitzpatrick has announced he is retiring at the end of the year. If you’ve attended one of our annual meetings, you’ve likely met Dr. Fitzpatrick (Fitz); many have worked closely with him on AOS Council and various committees, and no doubt everyone recognizes the tremendous impact of his leadership at the Lab. Please see the job announcement below.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the Lab), the world’s leading institute for the study and appreciation of birds, is seeking a new Executive Director (ED). The new ED will build on the Lab’s record of scientific innovation and international engagement to address critical environmental challenges through the lens of birds. We seek a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader and esteemed scientist who is passionate about advancing both professional and public understanding of birds and their habitats. The new ED will embrace the special capacity of the Lab to use birds to inspire diverse audiences to appreciate and protect the natural world. As a systems thinker, inclusive relationship builder, and visionary leader, the new ED will build upon the Lab’s multidisciplinary foundation and global reputation to guide the Lab into the future.

Founded more than 100 years ago by pioneering Cornell ornithologist Dr. Arthur A. Allen, the Lab is now a stand-alone unit within Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). The Lab’s mission is to interpret and conserve the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The Lab brings together world-class science, teaching, and public engagement with the agility and real-world impact of a nonprofit organization. The Lab’s contributions span disciplines from science to art, engineering to education. Its vast global community includes supporters, citizen science participants, and partners from all walks of life. The Lab’s headquarters is the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, surrounded by the Sapsucker Woods sanctuary, just three miles from the main Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York.

The Lab is the primary home for a community of 250+ faculty, scientists, postdocs, students, and staff members, including professionals in ornithology, animal behavior, bioacoustics, citizen science, conservation science, data science and statistics, ecology, evolutionary biology, community engagement, multimedia productions, online and K–12 education, science communication, technical hardware and software engineering, and app development. The Lab maintains close academic and collaborative relationships with many individuals and departments across Cornell University, both in Ithaca and including at the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in the heart of New York City; global partners include hundreds of other academic and nonprofit institutions. Its 2020 operating budget is $35M, funded by a combination of grants and contracts, program- generated revenue, annual gifts, major gifts, bequests, and distributions from its growing endowments that currently total about $130M.

Candidates will possess exceptional leadership qualities, management experience, and a significant track record of fundraising. The ability to relate and build relationships with a broad array of constituents will be key. A Ph.D. in a relevant field, including but not limited to biology and/or conservation of birds, and experience and qualifications commensurate with a tenured, full professorship at Cornell University are required. For the full leadership profile, please visit:

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations.

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