Darwin observed, “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed”. This also applies to ecological research, which requires contributions from numerous disciplines to address pressing scientific questions. Funding agencies play a critically role in identifying, soliciting, and coordinating research priorities. While rallying the community towards a research need is often easy, the challenge is building, and empowering teams while simultaneously navigating issues with budget, competing priorities, data-sharing, infrastructure, etc. This talk provides a program manager’s perspective on collaborations and developing strategic priorities for future ecological questions.