The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is a private, nonprofit research center dedicated to the creation, dissemination and application of knowledge about ecological systems.  With a current staff of more than 100, including 15 senior core scientific staff, joined by postdoctoral researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, the Cary Institute is one of the world’s premier independent ecological research centers.  The Cary Institute’s science program is complemented by its renowned education, communication and outreach initiatives.

The Cary Institute occupies a special place in American science with its long history of speaking with integrity and independence on environmental issues of critical consequence for society.  Cary Institute scientists have led the way in conducting pioneering research that recognized and documented the impacts of global change on forests and freshwater ecosystems.  Research over the past decade by Cary Institute scientists has advanced understanding of the ecology of infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and the West Nile virus.  This work on the intersection of ecology and human health has helped alert the public about serious health threats and has been important in shaping public-health responses.  Studies by Cary Institute scientists have been instrumental in informing the Clean Air Act, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and environmental management practices throughout the Northeast, including the Hudson River, New York’s Catskill and Adirondack forests, and the watershed of Baltimore, Maryland.  Other areas where Cary Institute scientists are international leaders include forest ecology and biogeochemistry, disease ecology, urban ecology, and the ecology and management of large rivers (including the Hudson).  The Cary Institute is also recognized as a “convener” of worldwide scientific expertise when particular problems demand new and immediate synthesis of what is known.  

Established in 1983 by Dr. Gene E. Likens, the Cary Institute is located on the historic 2,000-acre former Mary Flagler Cary Arboretum in Millbrook, New York.  Research and education programs are supported by outstanding facilities and an annual operating budget of more than $10 million derived from competitive grants, private giving and a healthy endowment.

The Opportunity

Retiring President, Dr. William H. Schlesinger, is handing over, at a dynamic time, a healthy institution with a strong reputation for scientific excellence.  The next President will be an entrepreneurial leader who will capitalize on the strengths and potential within the Cary Institute and the increasingly important role environmental research will play in guiding policy and decision-making in the civic realm.  It is expected that the President will be accomplished in the environmental sciences or related disciplines and a visionary leader with a demonstrated record of successful organizational management, as well as the skills and appetite necessary to be an effective spokesperson and fundraiser.

More specifically, the Board seeks to identify candidates with the ability and qualifications to meet the following responsibilities:

  • A visionary leader, who will collaborate with an engaged Board to continue to expand the reach and influence of the Cary Institute, while ensuring its stability and sustainability through an increased effort to secure financial support from government, foundation and individual sources.
  • A creative thinker who is able to spearhead the scientific program by recognizing the future directions of ecological science and positioning the Cary Institute appropriately, ensuring a coherent and innovative institute-wide research program; able to nurture the scientific staff so each one achieves his or her full potential as a practicing researcher, collaborator and as a member of the scientific community.
  • A President who can lead and manage successfully all aspects of the organization, including identifying future opportunities, implementing strategic plans, initiating  innovative management approaches, ensuring sound fiscal management and teamwork across the institution and operating in a cost-effective manner that conforms with all applicable laws and regulations.
  • A leader with a broad and inclusive vision of ecosystem science who possesses the professional credibility critical to expanding the Cary Institute’s reputation in a time of increasing competition for attention, funding and talent.  Able to work with the scientific staff to capitalize on funding that continues to be available for large interdisciplinary science and take advantage of the existing collaborative strength of the Cary Institute staff in pursuit of these funds in order to both advance ecosystem science and promote the financial sustainability of the Cary Institute.
  • A leader who possesses an enthusiasm for and the ability to identify, attract, support and develop the next generation of scientific talent, and who appreciates and embodies the collegial and collaborative culture that has been instrumental to Cary Institute’s success.
  • Someone who eagerly accepts responsibility for fundraising and will, in partnership with the Board and the development staff, ensure Cary Institute’s success by cultivating and maintaining strong relationships with local, national and international funding agencies, government leaders, private foundations, board members, volunteers and other individual donors.  Actively seek to develop new sources of support, especially among individual donors who have a passion for Cary Institute’s work. 
  • Serve as a visible and enthusiastic spokesperson for the Cary Institute and continue to build constructive relationships with governmental agencies and the private sector to encourage the application of the Cary Institute’s research, and to help the broader public understand the institution’s work and the role of ecological research in formulating natural resources regulatory, policy and management decisions.  One who can facilitate a wide range of connections that will benefit the Cary Institute.
  • A leader with an appreciation for land management who can delegate effectively, as needed, the proper care of the Cary Institute’s 2,000 acres.

The President will report to the Board of Trustees, who will set the annual performance expectations.

To Apply

Please submit nominations and applications to the attention of Sarah James and Becky Klein at


Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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