Audubon Honors Carol Browner & Toyota

Audubon New York honored Carol Browner and Toyota at the annual Keesee Conservation Award Luncheon in New York City November 2.

Carol Browner was Assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. During her tenure, the White House secured the largest investment ever in clean energy and established the national car policy that included new automobile fuel efficiency standards.   During the Clinton/Gore Administration, Browner served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for both terms.  A native Floridian who grew up near the Everglades,  she led the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, helping to negotiate a settlement to a federal lawsuit regarding damage to the Everglades, and forcing the sugar industry to bear much of the $1 billion cost.   Browner currently works as a Senior Counselor for the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm where she provides counsel to clients on environmental protection, energy conservation, climate change, water security and resource scarcity.

Carol Browner served on Audubon’s Board of Directors from 2001- 2008, and was elected the first woman to Chair the Audubon Board in 2003.  She led Audubon’s initiative to engage diverse communities in urban areas, and played a key role in establishing Audubon's Rachel Carson Award, now in its ninth year.

Toyota and Audubon launched the TogetherGreen initiative in 2008 to fund conservation projects, train environmental leaders, and offer volunteer opportunities that significantly benefit the environment. It is funded by a $20 million Toyota gift to Audubon, the largest in the conservation group’s long history.  Now marking its fifth year, the partnership had funded 160 Fellows, and launched the Pennies for the Planet initiative.

The goal of the initiative is to spur “innovation, diversity, and volunteerism,” according to Patricia Pineda, Toyota’s group vice president for national philanthropy. Every year 40 fellows are chosen by a national advisory board on the basis of their leadership potential as well as their commitment to inspiring and engaging diverse audiences. Fellows receive a $10,000 stipend and attend a weeklong boot camp, where they learn conservation planning, fund raising, and strategic communications. Since 2008, more than 160 projects have received TogetherGreen Innovation Grants totaling more than $4.7 million to protect land, water, and energy resources nationwide.

TG Fellow Drew Lanham gave an inspiring talk at the event about his work in South Carolina.

 “Audubon and Toyota care about empowering people and creating conservation results in communities across the country,” said Audubon President & CEO David Yarnold.  “In Kentucky, we have a young mother converting her local school’s buses and equipment to bio-fuels.  In New Orleans and Boston TogetherGreen is helping to grow urban gardens.  In Washington, DC TogetherGreen funding helped install solar panels on the roof of an inner-city school. The bottomline: Toyota has helped start a grassroots movement across the US.  How many corporate partners can say that?”

Accepting the Keesee Award on behalf of Toyota was Mr. Yoshimi Inaba, President and CEO of Toyota North America, Inc.

Audubon New York established the Keesee Award in 2001 to honor individuals whose contributions, talent and commitment to the environment have advanced conservation and environmental education. The award's namesake, Thomas W. Keesee, Jr., spent his lifetime committed to the environment; his support of Audubon helped to ensure that future generations can live healthy lives in a sustainable environment.  Previous recipients include Adrian Benepe, New York City Parks Commissioner,  Wendy Paulson, and Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff.

 “We are excited to honor a dedicated and visionary conservationist, Carol Browner, and a progressive, thoughtful corporation, Toyota, with the 2011 Thomas W. Keesee, Jr. Conservation Awards,” said Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York.  “This award is given annually to environmental leaders in their respective fields, and these recipients exemplify conservation excellence and have committed time and resources to connect new and diverse audiences to nature. This event will support Audubon New York’s efforts to protect birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity through education and advocacy, based on sound science."

The Awards luncheon, held at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, will benefit Audubon New York’s statewide programs. 

Audubon New York is dedicated to the protection of birds, other wildlife and their habitats through advocacy, science and education, serving as the state program of the National Audubon Society.

See video tribute to Carol Browner shown at the event