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Karyn Stockdale is the Senior Director of Audubon’s Western Water Initiative. In 2015, Karyn spearheaded the development and launch of Audubon’s integrated work in Western Water to address precipitous declines in water—with a focus on the Colorado River and saline lakes. Declining water resources risk the West’s environmental, societal, and economic health, putting communities and birds in jeopardy.
As Senior Director, Karyn leads innovative conservation, public policy, advocacy, and restoration efforts helping decision-makers adapt to diminishing water supplies with improved policies and increased investments in climate resilient strategies. She oversees a multi-state, multi-departmental Audubon team that is part of the conservation community’s efforts to address Colorado River basin water shortages and apply these lessons to other river basins, to scale up restoration projects in the Colorado River Delta and at the Salton Sea, and to conserve saline lakes—including Great Salt Lake—essential to birds across the West. Karyn has been working directly with land and water managers, community leaders, and other decision-makers focused on natural resources in the West for more than two decades. Under her leadership, science-based solutions and strong collaborations drive Audubon’s work on water management and water policies that align habitat protection and restoration with improved water supplies for communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and northwestern Mexico.
Karyn believes we must adopt new and better ways to interact with and restore the natural world around us, recognizing all that it provides communities, birds, and wildlife in the face of the intensifying reality and stresses of our warming climate. She believes that nature also has the power to heal us. Through social services work early in her career, Karyn learned the importance of inclusive and equitable access to wild places, and this continues to influence her view that we need to premise our strategies and solutions on equity for people—which is critical to positive outcomes for nature. As we are currently experiencing severe, climate change-related drought conditions and impacts to our water supplies, Karyn sees it is time to address the history of water development in the West, and how its systemic inequities denied some communities access to water as well as water for nature.
Karyn joined Audubon in 2007 as Vice President, Executive Director of Audubon New Mexico where she led statewide conservation work and a team focused on protecting and restoring habitat birds need, including the launch of a freshwater conservation program, and educating the next generation of scientists, as well as oversight of the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Karyn thrives on building and leading high-performing, collaborative, inclusive, and effective teams and partnerships. Additionally, she has a proven record of accomplishment in generating over $1 billion in federal and state conservation funding and over $50 million in philanthropic gifts to support conservation work. Prior to leading Audubon’s efforts, Karyn worked for the Trust for Public Land on the protection of critical open space, cultural and historic sites, and environmentally sensitive lands, with a focus on the Rio Grande.
Karyn works to live in line with her core values. Besides sticking her neck out for what she believes is right, Karyn is raising two teenagers, settling back in Colorado, and striving for more time outdoors— and every now and then she wishes she would have been a field biologist.