Press Room

Experts in Ecology & Developmental Disability Join National Audubon Society Board of Directors

Nation’s oldest conservation nonprofit elects two new leaders to national board of directors.

NEW YORK (November 18, 2019) – In October 2019, the National Audubon Society welcomed two new members to its national board of directors, Jessica Hellmann of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and Anna Warwick Riggs, a careered leader in healthcare services and developmental disability arenas.

“The newest members of Audubon’s national board each have a distinct understanding for how nature – and a changing world – uniquely impacts people individually,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of the National Audubon Society. “The expertise and insights Jessica and Anna bring to Audubon strengthen our efforts in addressing the existential crisis of climate change and ensuring the conservation movement is accessible for all.”

Jessica Hellmann, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, brings an ecological perspective to big questions about people and the planet. Her studies focus on how climate change is affecting living things and what people can do to reduce the negative impacts in order to live healthy, happy, and sustainable lives. She is also a faculty fellow in the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota as well as a member of the graduate faculty of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the conservation sciences program of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. She serves on the board of directors of several science and sustainability organizations, including The Great Plains Institute, The Science Museum of Minnesota and Climate Generation.

Anna Warwick Riggs of Little Rock, Arkansas offers a long career of expertise in healthcare services and developmental disability arenas. When her daughter was diagnosed with autism, she became a charter member and president of the Arkansas Autism Society. Later, she worked as a consultant with organizations like the Arkansas Department of Education on Medicaid program development and implementation. Most recently, she partnered with state universities to create post-secondary education options for people on the autism spectrum. Anna has served on and been appointed to boards and commissions, including the Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Council; Arkansas Advisory Board for the Education of Individuals with Disabilities; Arkansas Department of Human Services Committee for Long Term Care Services; and the Arkansas Women’s Leadership Forum. After falling in love with the outdoors, she raised her six children with her husband, John, to appreciate nature the same way and particularly recognized the connection between her daughter with autism and the outdoors. Anna has been on the Audubon Arkansas Board since 2005 and is currently the chairperson.

About Audubon

With a century-long history, Audubon is recognized as one of the world’s oldest, largest conservation organizations and is comprised of an unparalleled wingspan of 23 state offices, 41 nature centers, more than 450 local chapters, and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Beyond a network of 1.65 million members, Audubon boasts a reach of 1.75 million followers on its main social media account and hundreds of thousands of additional supporters through state and regional Audubon pages and accounts.

Throughout 2019, Audubon worked tirelessly to safeguard birds with policy and conservation initiatives on local, state and federal levelsIn October, Audubon released, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brinkrevealing that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change, but we can significantly improve the chances of 76 percent of those species if we take climate action now. On the state level, Audubon was integral in four clean energy wins in six months in ArkansasNew YorkSouth Carolina and Washington, pushing initiatives around solar energy access, energy freedom and 100 percent clean energy standards. 

Locally, Audubon acted to save birds by protecting 90 percent of the threatened Tricolored Blackbird colonies (178,500 birds) during breeding season with the help of Audubon California’s Tricolored Blackbird conservation team, donors, family farms and other agricultural partnersAdditionally, thanks to a series of advocacy campaigns and beach restoration activities of the Chicago Park District and dedicated volunteers Piping Plovers successfully nested and fledged their young in Chicago for the first time in 70 years. 

To learn more about Audubon’s highlights and wins from last year (2018), find the press release hereFor more information on the organization’s 2016 - 2020 strategic direction, please visit here. 

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About the National Audubon Society 
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, 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 @audubonsociety. 

Media Contact:Chandler Lennon, chandler.lennon@audubon.org, (212) 979-3063 

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