Press Room

2015 Audubon Gala Honors Esri, Ecotrust Founders, Raises $1.2 Million for Conservation

The Office's Kate Flannery emcees.

New York (April 1, 2015) –The National Audubon Society hosted its annual Gala Dinner last night at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The organization awarded two of the nation’s most prestigious environmental honors: the Audubon Medal and the Dan W. Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership.  Jack and Laura Dangermond, founders of Esri, were awarded the prestigious Audubon Medal, recognizing them for their outstanding achievements in the field of technology and conservation innovation, and support for research institutions, schools, and non-profit organizations. Spencer B. Beebe, founder of Ecotrust, and co-founder of Conservation International, received the third annually awarded $100,000 Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership, one of the largest awards in environmental recognition. Beebe was chosen to receive the award because of his lifelong focus on integrated solutions that that build ecological and economic value.

New to this year’s event, 20-year-old street art prodigy Boy Kong worked on a live art installation during the gala’s cocktail reception. Boy Kong is one of serval artists participating in the Audubon Mural Project, a community art project that helps support and bring awareness to Audubon’s recent Birds and Climate Change Report. The movement is transforming NYC’s West 140s and 150s into a fresh and modern outdoor art gallery with a focused mission to draw attention to the 314 bird species that are threatened by climate change. Boy Kong’s piece, a canvas painting of a wood duck, was sold during the gala’s silent auction for $9,500.

Actress Kate Flannery, from the NBC hit show, The Office served as the event’s colorful Master of Ceremonies, and started off the evening with a bit of bird humor. “In honor of the Audubon Society, I’ve decided to only drink bird related booze tonight,” Kate joked with the audience. She followed up by saying, “I was going to have a Wild Turkey, but this is the Plaza so I switched to Grey Goose.” Kate’s amazing sense of humor brought a great spirit to the gala, which was expected by Audubon. The actress is an active supporter of the organization, recently starring in a PSA for Audubon’s Toyota TogetherGreen program.

After the audience finished the herb crusted Filet Mignon with a crushed herb jus, Kate invited Cecil Andrus, National Audubon Society Emeritus Board Member, to the stage to present Spencer B. Beebe with the Lufkin Prize. Cecil spoke of the plethora of Beebe’s work and achievements in the field of environmental conservation, including founding Ecotrust, and co-founding Conservation International. Beebe’s remarks painted a narrative that highlights the importance of working together. Spencer noted the “undeniable reality that we the human species are about one of tens of millions of species, and while unique in so many extraordinary ways, we are all an inseparable, interdependent and wholly visible part of a larger community of life.” Spencer continued saying that “this world view requires that our conversation strategies embrace the whole system. Social justice, economic opportunity and conversation, are all part of a larger whole.”

The Lufkin Prize was established by Dan W. Lufkin’s family in honor of his love and dedication to supporting conservation and environmental causes. The prize is meant to honor individuals who have dedicated their lives to on-the-ground conservation.

David Yarnold, President & CEO, and David Ford, Chairman of the National Audubon Society, presented Jack and Laura Dangermond with the Audubon Medal for their dedication to the environment and their development of innovative technology that has allowed the National Audubon Society to advocate for conservation solutions, and to share data that has empowered citizen scientists throughout its chapters across the country. The Audubon Medal is one of the highest honors in conservation, awarded to only 53 past recipients, including Rachel Carson, Robert Redford, Ted Turner, and the Rockefeller family. With the help of Esri technology and the support of Jack and Laura Dangermond, Audubon has had the opportunity to improve the world and drive change using the power of geographic information system (GIS) technology.

Jack Dangermond took the stage on behalf of himself and his wife Laura. “This acknowledgement is special because it acknowledges the work that we’ve been doing,” Jack said. He accepted the award on behalf of their colleagues at Esri, partners in the NGO space, and Esri’s users all over the world. “Their work is the real science.” Jack continued and went on to discuss the GIS software Esri created noting that “technology fills in all of the blanks, and will become a nervous system for the planet.” Jack later noted his total respect for everything about nature, “But also I respect the trending aspects of what’s happening in the technology world. If we can bring these two worlds together, like what the Audubon Society is doing, I will have a lot more hope for the future.” Jack concluded his remarks saying “I am very deeply moved by this honor, and I am going to respect it for the rest of my life.”

The evening welcomed 350 guests and raised over $1.2 million to support the National Audubon Society’s conservation work.

Guests included: David Yarnold, Jack and Laura Dangermond, Spencer B. Beebe, Kate Flannery, Lili Taylor, Harry Lennix, Jane Alexander, Alexis Maybank, Julianne Michelle, Marinet Matthee, Mariana Santana, Jim Greenwood, Leonard Lauder; Gary Knell, Thomas Laffont; Leonard Lauder; David and Jane Walentas; John Loeb, Jr.; Norman Peck; Dan Lufkin; Nell Newman; David Ford; Mark Gilbertson; Alexandra Lind; Louis Rose; Richard Saul Wurman, and more.

High-res images can be downloaded here:

Please credit: Michael Loccisano Getty Images for the National Audubon Society

B roll can be downloaded 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 and @audubonsociety.

When: Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where: The Plaza Hotel, NYC

Contact: Izzy Tassy | | Sunshine Sachs 212-691-2800

Cristin Klein | | Sunshine Sachs 212-691-2800

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”