Seattle Aquarium - Senior Director of People & Culture

Seattle, Washington, United States | Full-time | Partially remote



Our Story

In water is life. As we need a healthy ocean to sustain us, so must we sustain the ocean. The world’s ocean gives life to all of Earth’s creatures. The  ocean covers more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface and is home to most of the living organisms on the planet. It produces half of the life-giving oxygen we breathe, and feeds 60% of the world’s population. Unfortunately, many do not grasp this. Fortunately, in the ocean there is also mystery, majesty, and magic. It is the mission of the Seattle Aquarium to connect these dots – to move people to awareness, education, inspiration, and commitment to the critical role the ocean plays in our very existence, starting in the Salish Sea.

The Seattle Aquarium has been a staple of Seattle’s Waterfront and a champion of the conservation throughout the Salish Sea, since 1977. In its nearly 50-year history, the Aquarium has welcomed over 21 million visitors, including 1.5 million school children, and has inspired countless numbers to preserve and protect the life-giving waters that surround and sustain us. And now, during a time of incredible transformation, along with the Elliot Bay Seawall and Central Waterfront, including a 4-phase capital campaign aimed at raising nearly $160 million dollars, the Seattle Aquarium seeks a Senior Director of People and Culture to help carry this important mission forward for generations to come.

Our Vision

The Seattle Aquarium is a conservation organization working to regenerate the health of our one ocean. We work among global leaders to advance animal welfare, marine and ecosystem science, public policy, f ield conservation, and education that benefits our one ocean. We thoughtfully bring the ocean to life for the public with experiences designed to inspire awe and conservation action.  We present extraordinary habitats, marine life, and educational programs that engage and delight all members of our local and global communities. Our work is integral to a healthy future for marine life, people, and the planet.".

S.A.L.I.S.H Values


Adopting and promoting, internally and externally, practices that improve ocean health


Creating captivating experiences for all audiences

Learning & Improving

Fostering, evaluating, and applying knowledge and discovery

Inclusive Community

Recognizing that diversity is critical to achieve our mission

Scientific Integrity

Ensuring our credibility with evidence-based practices

Honoring Place

Using our location and history as a lens for larger understanding


Your Role

As an integral member of the executive leadership team and reporting to the COO, the Senior Director of People and Culture will oversee all human resource functions of the organization and drive process, policy, and systems change with a lens toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. This newly reimagined Director role will work closely with senior leadership on strategic initiatives related to organizational design and development, change management, employee development and training, total rewards, performance management, and employee relations. In the immediate future, the Senior Director of People and Culture will be responsible for spearheading the following initiatives:

  • Oversee a professional and high-performing team of three, facilitating their individual growth and professional development and delegating appropriately to maintain balance between high-level strategy and hands-on tactical delivery.
  • Serve as staff liaison to the Board’s 403b and Compensation Committee as well as spearhead ongoing initiatives as part of the DEI Council.
  • Vet and implement new technologies and tools to meet the demands of an ambitious growth plan and ongoing professional development needs, including payroll system (ADP) and HRIS integrations and a new learning management system.
  • Review and refine the hiring process to enable greater autonomy of hiring managers, improve efficiency in decision making, and advance the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion values.


What you bring

Candidates will be evaluated on the full range of their lived and learned experience and core competencies. The successful candidate will demonstrate the following:   


  • Interest in and curiosity about ocean conservation and marine life. 
  • A track record of implementing new policies, procedures, and trainings to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, including a personal commitment to ongoing learning and development.
  • Proficiency in employee relations, talent acquisition, compensation, benefits, compliance, and the ability to nimbly pivot between high-level strategy and tactical delivery.
  • A passion for technology and leveraging tools for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Experience with change management, particularly during periods of growth, and a knack for utilizing data to analyze and refine processes for scalability.
  • Roughly 10+ years of human resources experience, including three years at a senior/executive level.
  • Bachelor’s degree in human resources, a related field, or equivalent work experience.
  • Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) certification or similar professional credential preferred.


To be considered

The salary range is set at $125,000 - $150,000 plus a comprehensive benefits package. The role is currently hybrid within Washington state and can be performed onsite or remotely if that remote location allows at least one to two days per week for work onsite, team meetings, and special events.

This role will remain open until it is filled. Candidate materials are reviewed on an on-going basis and initial interviews will begin by late May. To be considered, please submit a resume and cover letter as soon as possible addressed to the hiring manager, Helen Rice:

You may direct questions or make referrals to Chris Cannon or Ed Rogan at the Valtas Group.