NEW YORK-- The National Audubon Society today announced the appointment of Chandra Taylor Smith, Ph.D., as the organization’s first vice president for diversity and inclusion. Dr. Taylor Smith will be charged with leading, implementing and deepening the conservation organization’s diversity and inclusion activities, which have included community outreach and leadership development programs, changes in hiring practices and employee evaluations, and participation in a new GuideStar program to release diversity data publically.
“Diversity and inclusion is a core value and a strategic imperative at Audubon, and we know that action – not just intent – is the only thing that matters,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “Chandra brings expertise that can help us be more effective in the communities we serve and with our current and prospective partners. She will continue to help transform our staff and our culture, our outreach and conservation work, and our unparalleled network of members, supporters and partners.”
“We’re going to help shape a new narrative about the relevance of diversity and inclusion in the conservation movement,” said Dr. Taylor Smith. “Audubon’s greatest asset – the thing that can put us on the cutting edge of diversity and inclusion – is the deep and authentic engagement our grassroots network is already providing in diverse neighborhoods throughout America.”
For the last three years, Taylor Smith managed support and program development for Audubon’s nationwide network of 41 nature centers and 463 local chapters, Audubon’s education department, and its Toyota TogetherGreen conservation leadership development and innovation program.
Visitors to Audubon nature centers for whom demographic information was available averaged 36 percent people of color in 2014, and Toyota TogetherGreen programs for which demographic data were available served 43 percent people of color from 2008-2015. And in the last three years, the number of people of color in full-time Audubon staff positions has grown 41 percent from 12 percent of staff to 17 percent, according to information released on GuideStar.
Audubon’s diversity and inclusion statement declares in part: “Our business and conservation strategies are enriched and made stronger by the contribution of the experiences, perspectives, and values of diverse individuals and communities. Protecting and conserving nature and the environment transcends political, cultural and social boundaries, and so must Audubon in order to expand our network’s reach and engage more people in protecting birds and habitat.”
Before joining Audubon, Dr. Taylor Smith was vice president for research at the Council for Opportunity in Education and director of The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, where she led Pell’s mission to encourage policymakers, educators and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income, first-generation and disabled college students. Dr. Taylor Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, where she also completed a Ph.D. in ecological theology after earning a Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School.
She brings her scholarly interests in the intersections of the cultural, spiritual and physical health dimensions of human connections with nature to her new role at Audubon. Her approach to diversity and inclusion was also formally shaped by her past roles as director of Women’s Studies at North Park University and as the assistant director of ministerial studies at Harvard Divinity School.
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 www.audubon.org and follow @audubonsociety.
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