Chandra Taylor Smith, Ph.D., has been named the National Audubon Society’s Vice President for Community Conservation and Education. Taylor Smith will lead Audubon’s unparalleled nationwide network of 47 nature centers and more than 450 local chapters, Audubon’s educational publishing efforts, and TogetherGreen, Audubon’s flagship corporate partnership with Toyota, which fosters innovation, leadership and diversity within the conservation movement.
“Chandra’s expertise in education and community values will help us connect our network of education centers and chapters to create massive on-the-ground conservation results,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “Audubon's 50 education centers serve a million people a year -- no other conservation organization has that capacity. Add to that our network of 470 chapters and the Toyota TogetherGreen program that has connected a quarter of a million people and you can see the opportunity that Chandra will help us realize. We have the potential to build on our work as a world-class conservation network.”
Taylor Smith comes to Audubon after serving as Vice President for Research for the Council for Opportunity in Education and Director of The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, where she led Pell’s mission to encourage policymakers, educators and the public to improve education opportunities and outcomes for low-income, first-generation and disabled college students.
Taylor Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. An ordained Christian minister, she provided pastoral leadership in local churches for several years before working simultaneously as a Development Officer and Assistant Director of Ministerial Studies at Harvard.
She returned to Vanderbilt as a Dorothy Danforth Compton Fellow to complete a doctorate of philosophy degree, for which her dissertation, “Earth Blood and Earthling Existence: A Methodological Study of Black Women’s Writings and their Implication for a Womanist Ecological Theology,” reflected on a childhood exploring nature, being captivated by birds and other wildlife. During her doctoral studies, Taylor Smith lectured or served on the faculties of several universities, including Harvard, Fisk, Vanderbilt, North Park, and at the University of Vermont as a New England Board of Higher Education Fellow.
Prior to her tenure at the Pell Institute, she was the first Executive Director of College Summit Chicago (opening the first regional office of the national non-profit College Summit) and then served as Deputy Director of the Postsecondary Education and Student Development Department and District Director for AVID at Chicago Public Schools under CEO Arne Duncan.
Chandra resides in Virginia with her husband Bennie Elvin Smith Jr., son Bennie Elvin Smith III, and mother Annie Dallas Taylor.