Press Room

Audubon Elevates Chad Wilsey As Organization’s Next Chief Scientist

Expert on North American birds and climate change tapped to lead Audubon researchers in providing science-based foundation for conservation and policy agendas.

NEW YORK — Today, the National Audubon Society announced that Vice President of Conservation Science Chad Wilsey, PhD, will become the organization’s next chief scientist, officially accepting a role he was filling in for the interim. 

“Rigorous scientific support has driven Audubon's agenda as we've protected birds and the places they need for 115 years,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of National Audubon Society. “As birds face bigger and more global threats than ever before, I couldn’t be prouder to have Chad Wilsey leading our robust and growing science division.”  

“Audubon is an organization in which scientists are empowered to produce cutting-edge science to support bird conservation,” said Wilsey (@ChadBWilsey). “I’ve devoted my entire career to understanding birds and the threats they face from global changes, and it is the opportunity of a lifetime to be trusted with leading Audubon’s science division in supporting our far-reaching conservation network. I’m grateful to my family for their support and to my friends and colleagues at Audubon, without whom I wouldn’t be here today.” 

Since arriving at Audubon in 2013, Wilsey has lead teams of scientists conducting analyses in support of Audubon’s national initiatives on Climate, Coasts, Water, and Working Lands. Recently, he was a principal investigator on Audubon’s Survival By Degrees: 389 Bird on the Brink report, the North American Grasslands and Birds report, the Future of Birds in Our National Parks study, and Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline report.   

“From the common birds in your backyard to rare birds in the farthest corners of our hemisphere, Chad has studied the impacts birds face from our changing climate and other threats. He is a proven leader of cross-functional teams generating science products that become cornerstones of Audubon’s conservation and policy agendas. Birds and those who love them can rest a little easier knowing Audubon’s science team is on the case,” said Karen Hyun, PhD, vice president of coasts and interim deputy chief conservation officer, to whom Wilsey will report. 

Prior to Audubon, Wilsey’s scientific research focused on applied conservation biology with an emphasis on birds. He completed a comprehensive assessment of climate change impacts on birds and other threatened wildlife in the Pacific Northwest; he examined the sustainability of cowbird management for the then-endangered Black-capped Vireo in Texas; and he demonstrated the value of cacao and banana plantations for birds in Costa Rica. Wilsey began his professional career as a wildlife biologist conducting surveys for Greater Sage-GrouseBald Eagles, and other breeding species in energy development projects in Wyoming. He is fluent in Spanish and lived abroad for 3 years in Mexico and Costa Rica. He has a PhD from the University of Washington, an MS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BS from the University of Puget Sound. Wilsey grew up north of Milwaukee, one mile from the Schlitz Audubon Center that he visited regularly. He now lives in Berkeley with his wife and 9-year-old daughter and works out of the Audubon California San Francisco office.

To learn more about Audubon’s science team, please visit https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science. 

###

About Audubon 
National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety. 

Media Contact: 
Nicolas Gonzalez, nicolas.gonzalez@audubon.org, (310) 897-9836. 

“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.”