The main goal of each organizer is to develop volunteer ambassadors that can communicate to their elected officials and communities the impact of climate change on birds, as well as the potential solutions to the problem. They achieve this by providing training and public education; pushing forward legislation; and involving people in Audubon program such as Climate Watch and Plants for Birds. Only in its second year, Audubon’s field-organizer initiative has seen tremendous success already while magnifying an unmatched strength of Audubon among nonprofits: We’re local, and we’re everywhere.
These are just some of the people making a difference in the field.
Maddox Wolf, Arizona
Maddox Wolfe is the Arizona field organizer for the National Audubon Society. Focusing on climate and water issues, she has a master’s degree in Social Justice and Community Organizing, and formerly volunteered and worked on campaigns for DREAMers, immigration justice, worker rights, healthcare, student/campus organizing, and indigenous land rights. Maddox is inspired by ordinary people organizing to change the conditions of their lives, and she believes through Audubon she can create effective advocates for birds. She currently supports the Western Water team in Arizona by working with nontraditional partners, Audubon members, and disparate stakeholders to protect vital water resources for people and wildlife alike. Through Audubon's Ambassador training, she has built a team of 45 active members who work in their local communities. Her team is currently expanding its training to help build a deeper understanding of the local issues among members and leaders that leads to action on water conservation in Arizona.
Kelly Knutson, New York
Kelly Knutson is the New York field organizer for the National Audubon Society. Often wearing a flannel shirt and with a coffee in hand, from the wooded forest of the Adirondack Mountains to the coastal beaches of Long Island, he works with a variety of communities to empower their voice in the political process and encourages our grassroots network to take action on the local, state, and federal level. To help expand and diversify Audubon’s membership, he’s fostered alliances with colleges and universities to train the next generation advocates for birds facing the challenges of a warming planet. Since joining Audubon in 2017, he's brought in more than 400 members to Audubon's Climate Initiative through Ambassador events, lobby days, regional conferences, chapter collaborations, and more. Of these new recruits, 30 percent identify as conservative or moderate, while 11 percent are millennials.
Tami Lunan, Ohio
Tami Lunan is the Ohio field organizer for the National Audubon Society. Based in Cincinnati, Tami uses her expertise in public policy and community building to mobilize Audubon chapters and members to take climate action. She believes success relies on building a grassroots effort that educates and empowers the community. Locally, she is building a network of conservation leaders through thoughtful partnerships with likeminded organizations. A recent example includes 37 volunteers from the Cincinnati Nature Center participating in Audubon’s Ambassador training, with the potential for additional opportunities for collaboration. She is also heading up an initiative to engage elected officials through handwritten letters from constituents and, in the future, office visits. Ultimately, Tami plans to leverage the Ohio area’s network in a variety of campaigns that create a greater demand for climate action.
Kim Brand, North Carolina
As a trained ornithologist, Kim Brand’s passion for birds—and for empowering the people who love them—runs deep. She created the Audubon’s Ambassadors program in 2015, and since then has trained and mentored more than 300 Ambassadors across North Carolina, transforming bird lovers to clean-energy advocates. Kim leads the Bird-Friendly Communities program for North Carolina, inspiring people to garden for birds and build nesting places for priority species. A former Audubon chapter leader herself, Kim works closely with North Carolina’s nine Audubon chapters and the first Audubon college club in the country, Seahawk Audubon Society at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. In 2013, Kim was an Audubon Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow for her work with Habitat for Humanity.
Ben Silesky, Washington
Ben is the Washington state field organizer for the National Audubon Society. His background as a public policy advocate includes work with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, fossil-fuel divestment campaigns on multiple colleges, and as the state field manager for Yes-on-732, the first carbon tax initiative in the nation. Ben joined Audubon in early 2017 after seeing the vastness of its network and how the organization’s solutions-based advocacy appealed across the political spectrum. In the past year, he has coordinated a lobby day with members representing almost every one of his legislative districts, and made lasting coalition partnerships with the solar industry, labor groups, businesses, and universities. Altogether, his members met with over 125 state representatives and had multiple meetings with Republican Congressman Dave Reichert. He has also helped members develop relationships with seven city councils to advocate for stronger sustainability plans. This year he plans to develop our grassroots and leadership influence within key districts in preparation for next year’s legislative session, where Audubon Washington hopes to pass the country's first 100-percent-clean-electricity-standard bill.