John Flicker is stepping down after 15 years as President and CEO of the National Audubon Society. Flicker says he will be taking a much-needed break for a while, but plans to continue working for Audubon in another capacity to help the organization advance its conservation agenda.
The transition comes after major advances during the past year, including the spread of an Audubon-championed approach to saving an imperiled bird while allowing properly located domestic energy development; and the opening of three new Audubon Centers serving urban communities.
Audubon will launch a nationwide search for a new leader to help carry its hundred-year legacy of bird and habitat conservation into the new decade and beyond. Former Audubon Chief Scientist and current National Board Member, Frank Gill, PhD will serve as interim president during the search.
"It won't be easy to match John's vision, expertise and accomplishment," said Audubon Chairman Holt Thrasher. "We're lucky to have someone of the caliber of Frank Gill to step in for the short term while we look for a leader to help us build on the solid conservation foundation John created."
During Flicker's tenure, Audubon focused on keeping common birds common, educating the public and decision makers about the important role of birds as indicators of environmental health, and connecting new and diverse audiences to nature and their power to protect it. Flicker envisioned a network of Audubon Centers nationwide to build that connection. Today, 43 Audubon Centers engage more than a million people each year in nature discovery and conservation action. Urban Centers in places such as Los Angeles, Baltimore, Phoenix and New York City are helping to revitalize abused landscapes and empower local communities.
Flicker led Audubon through dramatic growth in revenue and programs and as the organization identified more than 2,400 Important Bird Areas across America, working toward their restoration and protection, often in concert with conservation efforts across the hemisphere. He helped educate the public about the alarming decline of bird species through Audubon Citizen Science that fueled headline-making reports and that now forms the foundation of ongoing analyses by an alliance federal agencies and non-profit groups. He championed landscape-level conservation efforts that brought huge strides in conservation of the Everglades and the Long Island Sound. And he brought Audubon's considerable credibility and political clout to the fight against climate change.
"John's tremendous leadership and vision allowed a storied conservation group to reach even further across this country and touch people from all walks of life," said Carol Browner, Assistant to President Barack Obama for Energy and Climate Change, and a former Audubon Chair. "The Audubon Society has seen many great leaders and I know John's years of tireless service will be remembered with gratitude and distinction."
"It has been a privilege to lead this great organization for so long and I look forward to continuing to work for Audubon in another capacity," said Flicker. "Among all the accomplishments of the past 15 years, I am most proud of our exceptionally dedicated team of staff and volunteers."
Flicker's interim replacement will begin work on January 21. The Chief Scientist of the National Audubon Society from 1996 to 2005, Frank Gill is former Vice President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and past President of the American Ornithologists' Union. He is the author of the acclaimed textbook Ornithology 3e. Gill is a resident of Rushland, PA and a graduate of the University of Michigan.