Press Room

Audubon Society Board Names Margaret Walker Chairman and Susan Bell Vice Chair

NOLA Holdings Executive and Singh Family Foundation President Join America's Most Effective Conservation Network

NEW YORK — The National Audubon Society today announced the election of Margaret Walker to succeed David B. Ford as its board chairman, effective January 2017. Audubon also announced the election of Susan Bell as vice chair and two new directors to its board; Christian T. Brown of NOLA Holdings LLC and Center ID’s chief marketing officer Heather Singh.

“Audubon's board continues to grow stronger with these community leaders from across the country,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “ Their business and non-profit expertise makes them terrific partners for the staff leaders of America's most effective conservation network.”

Margaret Walker serves on the board of the University of Washington Foundation, where she chairs the Advisory Board of the College of the Environment. She is also co-chair of the Seattle Central Waterfront Committee, and Chair of the Board of Global Partnerships and Friends of Waterfront Seattle.  She and her family are committed to the environment, education, and the arts, supporting them through the Walker Family Foundation at the Seattle Foundation.

 "Audubon has a vision for diversifying the base of people who care about the natural world, and that’s what resonates so deeply with me,” says Walker. "I’m excited about its new strategic direction and the full potential we’re about to unleash.” 

Susan Bell is Principal of Susan Bell & Associates, where she provides strategic counsel to private philanthropies and nonprofit organizations addressing environmental and social issues.  She is also managing director of the Water Funder Initiative, a collaborative effort to activate water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the U.S. Bell served as vice president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for over twelve years, and helped launch the ClimateWorks network—in the United States, Europe, China, India, and Latin America—designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable economic growth. She is also vice chair of the board of the European Climate Foundation, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Water Foundation, and on the Founding Advisory Board of MenloSpark.

“Audubon has a unique opportunity to do large-scale conservation by following birds to its work,” says Bell. “Audubon has a solid legacy and, with a top flight management team, it has a bright future.”

Christian T. Brown is managing director of NOLA Holdings, LLC; the chairman of McIlhenny Company, the 150-year-old maker of Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce; and the vice president, treasurer, and a director of Avery Island, Inc., a family-owned land management company. Brown previously served as the inaugural board chairman of Audubon Louisiana, a state office of the National Audubon Society. His great-grandfather E.A. McIlhenny, was the founding president of Audubon Louisiana, and is credited for helping save the snowy egret from extinction. Brown currently serves as vice chairman of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, chairman of the Selley Foundation, and is a trustee of the James Beard Foundation.

 “Audubon’s members span the political spectrum,” says Brown. “Audubon is a credible, authentic presence in communities because it understands that conservation isn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue – it’s everyone’s issue. Nowhere is this fact more apparent than along the quickly disappearing Louisiana coastline.” 

Heather Singh is the chief marketing officer for Center ID, a tech start-up preparing to launch a financial-services product for small businesses. Her experience includes product management, strategic planning, and public relations. She has also worked as a journalist and freelance writer. Inspired by Audubon’s efforts to focus on conservation across the flyways, she joined the board of Audubon Washington in 2014. Singh is president of the Singh Family Foundation and a member of the philanthropy campaign committee of The Nature Conservancy Washington. 

"Audubon has the unique strength that comes from combining a broad, grassroots network of chapters with a science-based approach to conservation. I’m excited about its opportunity to bring people together to take action through a shared passion for birds and the places they need,” says Singh. “Conservation has to adapt to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and Audubon is on the leading edge of innovation.”

Read about other members of the Audubon board here.

With total revenues in 2016 of $98 million (34% increase since 2010), Audubon is one of the nation’s largest conservation organizations, comprising 23 state offices, 41 nature centers and 23 wildlife sanctuaries and representing 463 local chapters. Audubon – which focuses on the protection of birds and the places they need throughout the Americas – has been transformed in recent years, according to Crain’s New York Business, through cutting edge technologies, a sharpened conservation focus and operational overhaul that has increased revenue and decreased overhead expenses.

As written in The Chronicle of Philanthropy and GreenBiz, that strategic and operational transformation has attracted new funders and broadened the organization’s reach to younger and more diverse audiences as Audubon expands its international work and achieves conservation victories. For the first time in nearly two decades, Audubon has also earned Charity Navigator's highest ranking of four stars.

Audubon’s main Facebook page has more than 985,000 followers and reaches approximately 4.1 million people each week as the organization’s supporters share and interact with Audubon’s posts. And the organization’s 2014 birds and climate change campaign, which earned more than two billion media impressions, recently won a Diamond SABRE award from public relations industry leaders.

To learn more about Audubon and its new strategic direction, please visit here.

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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Contact: media@audubon.org, 212-979-3100

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