As I write this, it has been almost a year since I was selected as the first woman CEO in the National Audubon Society’s 117-year history. I have been reflecting on the year’s highlights and how our work encompasses different facets of the same core imperative to protect birds and the places they need. We need to work where birds are throughout their lives and work in ways that support the people who live alongside them. We need to address current threats and those that birds and people will face as the climate continues to change.
Over the past 12 months, our work in the United States and throughout the hemisphere took giant leaps forward in conservation, policy, and science. Among the most notable, the Bezos Earth Fund invested $12 million in Conserva Aves, a partnership formed by the Audubon Americas program. Conserva Aves supports local communities’ and Indigenous peoples’ efforts to establish and strengthen protections for close to 5 million acres of critical bird habitat in nine Latin American countries.
Audubon also helped build momentum for the Inflation Reduction Act—the most significant climate legislation ever to become law in the United States. The act, which calls for $60 billion in clean energy infrastructure, $3 billion for environmental justice projects, and billions more invested to accelerate climate action, is the result of months of advocacy and education by Audubon staff, chapters, and membership. Our efforts harnessed close to 70,000 actions in support of passing the bill.
This year also saw the launch of one of Audubon’s greatest science and technology achievements. I am filled with awe and immense pride for the new Bird Migration Explorer, a tool that helps bird lovers and scientists alike understand the full life cycle of birds, how they migrate each spring and fall, and what threats they encounter at every stage of their journey. Years in the making, this marks a pivotal moment for bird conservation and the partnerships that made it happen. To date, more than 150,000 people have logged onto the Bird Migration Explorer to learn more about birds, the challenges they face, and the magic of migration.
So what is coming up next? For the first few months of 2023, we will be crafting our next strategic plan, building on our accomplishments, and honing where we see opportunities for successful conservation. I will be sharing more about our vision and strategy in 2023.
Audubon’s work does not exist in a vacuum. It happens because we, collectively, want to make the world a better place for birds and people. I want to thank each and every one of you who listened to what the birds were telling us and acted: those who wrote a letter to local lawmakers, grew native plants, participated in a community science project, or renewed your Audubon membership. May the winter holiday season bring joy and renewal to you and your families.
This piece originally ran in the Winter 2022 issue. To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.