This job posting has expired and no longer is available. Please explore other opportunities.

Chief People & Culture Officer

Monterey, CA

With a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (the Aquarium) is the most admired aquarium in the United States, a leader in science education, and a voice for ocean conservation through comprehensive programs in marine science and public policy. Everything we do works in concert to protect the future of our blue planet.


Founded in 1984, the Aquarium is known for our focus on local and global research and conservation efforts, excellence in exhibits and educational programs, and animal husbandry techniques. Frolicking sea otters, fast-swimming sharks, pulsating jellies and waddling penguins – the Aquarium’s world-class exhibits and breathtaking scenery instill a love of the ocean in our visitors. With nearly 2 million visitors a year and over 200 exhibits and 80,000 plants and animals, the Aquarium is a window to the wonders of the ocean.


Scientists at the Aquarium are rebuilding sea otter populations, transforming fisheries and aquaculture around the world, and working to protect California’s ocean. Our policy experts are moving the needle on legislation to address climate change and end plastic pollution. The Aquarium’s Seafood Watch team is shifting the global marketplace to make seafood more sustainable.


Education is a top priority at the Aquarium. Since 1984, more than 2.5 million students have visited for free. Our life-changing teacher and youth development programs are helping young people find their voices as ocean conservation leaders and will ensure a healthy future for the ocean.


The Monterey Bay Aquarium has taken a strong, public stance and made a significant investment in promoting diverse voices in ocean science and conservation. For too long, Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, as well as LGBTQIA+ people, have been underrepresented in marine science and conservation fields.


The Opportunity

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is seeking a transformational and equity-minded leader to serve as its Chief People & Culture Officer (CPCO) and build and lead a strategy that will strengthen the organization’s team, structure and culture. The CPCO will build and uphold a people-centered human resources vision and strategy, providing strategic and practical leadership in planning, developing and implementing policies, procedures and systems. 


As a culture leader, the CPCO will sit on the Executive Team, advising the Deputy Director, organizational leadership and CEO on aligning robust human resources and culture strategies that advance the overall organizational mission and vision by attracting, supporting, developing, and retaining a talented and diverse organizational team of 500. The CPCO will specifically design and lead a team of 25 professionals, including HR operations, Compensation and Benefits, Learning and Engagement, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) and Volunteer Engagement. 


This role offers an exciting opportunity to drive change and transform the People & Culture function and overall organizational culture. In so doing, the CPCO, in partnership with other organizational leaders, will help the Aquarium to fully realize the power of its talented team and compelling mission.


Key Responsibilities

  • Establish a people-first culture and vision and implement human resource practices, policies, and processes that effectively communicate, support, and align with the Aquarium’s mission and strategic vision for a supportive, engaged, and innovative culture.
  • Function as a strategic partner and advisor to the Executive Team regarding proactive solutions to key organizational, people, and culture issues.
  • Work closely with the organization’s Executive Team to establish sound talent management and workforce strategies that match the organization’s audience-centric business model.
  • Develop comprehensive and strategic recruiting and retention plans designed to meet the organization’s human capital needs and strategic goals. Lead efforts to establish a pipeline of diverse talent through enhanced sourcing, onboarding, and retention programs.
  • Keep current on non-profit trends in total rewards programs ensuring the Aquarium remains competitive in the marketplace in the various labor markets in which it competes.
  • Work closely with the staff and Board DEIA Committees to promote inclusion in the workplace and advance the goals set out in the organization’s Equity Roadmap. Ensure employment branding, talent attraction, onboarding and management procedures effectively recruit talent from a diverse range of candidate sources.
  • Implement and evaluate effective learning and engagement programs for the team.
  • Assess the effectiveness of human resources services, policy, programs, and systems and make recommendations to enhance and sustain high quality effective and efficient service.
  • Develop and implement comprehensive compensation and benefits plans that are competitive and cost-effective.
  • Oversee Volunteer Engagement including recruitment, placement, training, recognition, planning and volunteer management.  
  • Liaise with Board of Trustees on issues of executive compensation and other people-related matters.


Candidate Profile

While it is understood that no candidate will offer every desired skill and characteristic, the following offers a detailed aspirational view of the ideal candidate profile:


Strong candidates will bring deep people, culture, and HR competencies and skills combined with the vision and energy required to infuse a global organization with leading-edge people and talent practices and policies. They will be a strong leader and manager with the capacity to work in partnership across the organization to drive change and ensure that the Aquarium’s greatest asset, its people, are fully engaged and supported, and that organizational values are reflected in all activities. They will thrive within the ethos that great people and HR systems not only create a positive work environment, but help organizations achieve their missions.


Passion for the Mission/Cultivator of a Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive and Accessible Culture

The CPCO, embodying the values and mission of the Aquarium, will serve as an inspiring and motivating force, encouraging others to collectively propel the organization's vision forward. They will be an experienced change agent with deep cultural competence and the ability to promote a unified culture that is focused on equity and inclusion.

This inspiring and collaborative leader will prioritize respect in interactions, leading by example, and recognizing the significance of empathy as an essential quality.

They will enthusiastically collaborate with the organization’s staff in developing awareness, comfort, and confidence to address and champion equity in all aspects of the organization. The CPCO will be a leader who establishes and maintains a level of credibility and trust that encourages employees at all levels to discuss issues openly and sets a tone for the entire organization.


Change Management Facilitator/Organizational Development Skills

The CPCO will bring deep experience in change management, including identifying opportunities for innovation and transformation, implementing appropriate solutions and effectively communicating the ‘why’ for these changes. Proactive and insightful, the CPCO will be a continuous learner, staying on the cutting edge of people and culture strategies nationally and excited by bringing new approaches to their organization. 

They will empower staff by operating with a high degree of transparency, clarity and autonomy while simultaneously focusing on outcomes. The CPCO will also bring organizational development skills and experience ensuring that systems and structures are designed to most efficiently and effectively support both the people and the mission of the organization.


Collaborator, Partner and Relationship Builder

The CPCO will be exceptionally skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships and partnering with senior leaders and other managers to evaluate and resolve employee-related matters. They will be a natural partner with a demonstrated ability to connect, build bridges, and establish trust. They will enjoy interacting with all staff, consistently seeking out opportunities for feedback and relish being known and seen as an advocate for the team.

This leader will bring a history of inclusive leadership focused on the building of consensus and recognition of teamwork. A deep listener and supportive leader, they will have a track record of motivating and inspiring others to achieve impact through creativity and leveraging individual strengths to meet organizational goals. Bringing outstanding written and verbal communication skills, they will effectively share policies and progress toward goals with a variety of internal stakeholders.


Strategic, Transformational Leader/People Expertise

The CPCO will bring a proven track record of building and leading a best-in-class human resources function with a superior understanding of human capital and talent management strategies. They will have demonstrated experience establishing progressive systems and structures designed to support the development and engagement of staff and overall organizational goals. Bringing significant management expertise, they will be adept at executing on organizational goals and implementing a strong business model to support those goals. With natural leadership abilities, the CPCO will embrace change and have a strong track record of bringing new and innovative ideas and a fearlessness to their organizations. 


Compensation & Benefits

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. The salary range for this role is

 $230,000 - $270,000 with a generous benefits package. The exact salary that will be offered to the Chief People & Culture Officer will be determined based on a consideration of the successful candidate’s skills, experience, and aligned with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s compensation policies.


This role is hybrid (not fully remote) and is required to be in the office in Monterey at least three days a week; this is subject to change.



Koya Partners l Diversified Search Group has been exclusively retained for this engagement, which is being led by Erin Reedy and Shannon O’Neill. Submit a compelling cover letter and resume by filling out our Talent Profile. All inquiries are strictly confidential.


Monterey Bay Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.


About Koya Partners l Diversified Search Group

Koya Partners, a Diversified Search Group company, is the nation’s premier search firm dedicated to mission-driven leadership. Since its founding in 2004, Koya has had an exclusive focus on mission-driven clients and was founded on the belief that the right leader can transform an organization and have a deep and measurable impact on our world. Koya works with nonprofits & NGOs, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.


Diversified Search Group is consistently recognized by Forbes on its top 10 list of “America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms” and is an industry leader in recruiting transformational leaders for a changing world. The firm is deliberately different in its approach, with best-in-class teams who have decades of experience in cultivating inclusive leaders, understanding the dimensions of diversity, and building equitable teams.

Subscribe to Job Alerts