Glenn Olson—Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation through Advocacy & Public Policy
In 2009 Audubon named Glenn Olson as the Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation Through Advocacy and Public Policy. In this role he leads Audubon’s efforts to conserve birds and their habitats along the four flyways, catalyzing work across Audubon’s national network of state programs and Important Bird Areas as well as with our BirdLife International partners throughout the Western Hemisphere.
In 2010 Olson was appointed by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to serve on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Council which has protected over 25 million acres of wetlands for migratory birds in Canada, Mexico and the United States since being authorized by Congress in 1989. In that time, the NAWCA Council has approved over $1 billion in grants that in turn have been matched by over $3 billion in non-federal funds (usually funds raised by NGO’s)…for a total of over $4 billion focused on conserving and restoring wetlands for migratory birds. Olson was also appointed to the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Advisory Council by Secretary of the Interior Salazar. This council is responsible for overseeing Neotrop Act grants which can be spent on bird conservation work anywhere in the Western Hemisphere….since 40% of the breeding birds of North America winter in the Carribean or Latin America, you can not conserve these birds without conserving their wintering grounds and migratory stopovers.
His position is named for Donal O’Brien, who served as Audubon’s board chair for 15 years and remains a powerful force in conserving wildlife and wild places. Among Olson’s greatest resources is a network of Audubon staff, members, and volunteers in 500 community-based Chapters nationwide. “We have to take individual projects and roll them up into flyway-wide initiatives that deliver significant benefits across the hemisphere,” he says. “Expanding our collaboration is how we can make a lasting difference. With more than 50 Audubon Centers connecting people to nature, and over 2,000 Audubon Important Bird Areas, we can engage millions of people of all ages in sustaining ecosystems vital to both people and birds.”
Olson began his Audubon career as conservation chair for the Los Angeles Audubon Chapter; he also taught at the Audubon Camp of the West in Dubois, Wyoming. In the mid-1980s he became director of Audubon’s Western Region, spearheading major wetland restoration and protection projects throughout California. He previously studied in the Galapagos on a scholarship from the Charles Darwin Research Institute, and inventoried Southern California Golden Eagle nesting populations as a research assistant at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. In 2002 Glenn received Audubon’s Charles H. Callison Award in recognition of his conservation achievements.
Glenn earned his B.S degree in Zoology at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He later got a Master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA.