Making Way for New Leadership at Bird Alliance of Oregon

When I joined Bird Alliance of Oregon in the spring of 2015, I was amazed by both its remarkable history and future potential: a hundred-year track record of statewide conservation, a large and active membership, a dedicated volunteer program, and a central role in educating people about nature and supporting the birding community. It has been both a joy and privilege to help expand upon Bird Alliance of Oregon’s great legacy, making key investments to make us stronger, increasingly influential, and more expansive and inclusive. Our tagline, “Together for Nature,” is both aspirational and becoming reality.

Now, after serving six years as Executive Director, I have decided to step down and make way for a new leader. Today’s challenges require fresh energy and a new vision, so we can continue to innovate and grow. Bird Alliance of Oregon is well positioned to successfully make that change.

Nick and daughter Ellie at Chapman Elementary School watching the Vaux's Swifts.

When I arrived at our Cornell campus, we set in motion an ambitious five-year strategic plan to address critical needs in staffing, infrastructure, and communications, which would expand the impact, inclusiveness, and relevance of our conservation and education initiatives. We are nearing completion of that plan, having achieved the following:

  • Built the Marmot Cabin camp for kids, a remote educational facility to affordably connect thousands of youth each year with nature through Outdoor School, overnight camps, and family programs.
  • Protected and added 22 acres of land to the Portland Wildlife Sanctuary, stopping a housing development and securing a land donation valued at over $14 million.
  • Established diversity, equity, and inclusion as a primary driver of our continued relevance and impact, launching a holistic equity program to evolve our culture, staffing, and programs to be more welcoming to everyone.
  • Created a more inclusive and engaging rebranded communications program to connect us with new and existing audiences, complete with a new website, logo, Warbler, and other vital tools.
  • Established a year-round presence in Eastern Oregon, with a focus on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Achieved countless conservation wins, from protecting forest, marine, wetland, urban, and sagebrush habitat, to fighting for imperiled species, addressing climate change, and creating more equitable access to nature by funding Outdoor School for every Oregon child.
  • Increased wages and benefits for staff to make careers in environmental education and conservation a viable and attractive option for more people.
  • Established the Naito Emergency Operating Reserve to ensure financial stability through challenging times.

Six exciting years later, we are a stronger organization and recognize even greater potential for our next chapter. I am confident a new Executive Director will set an expansive vision for a more inclusive and impactful future, and work in our community to make this a reality. If there is anything I’ve learned about the Bird Alliance of Oregon flock, it’s that we rise together to achieve our greatest ambitions.

Over the next several months, I will focus my energy on the final leg of our strategic plan, which is to fund a revitalization of our campus and new Wildlife Care Center — a valuable tool in connecting people with nature. We will have more to share on this exciting project in a special June edition of the Warbler, so stay tuned.

An Outdoor School program explores the forest edge outside of the new Marmot Cabin.

To support the transition during this capital campaign, our board will bring on an interim Executive Director as they begin a nation-wide search for my successor. Until then, our senior leadership and staff are well poised to carry us forward and continue their critical work in conservation, education, land stewardship, and wildlife rehabilitation.

Although my time is coming to a close as the Executive Director, this is not a “good-bye.” I will forever remain a passionate and dedicated member of this family. Thank you for your support, inspiration, dedication, and commitment to bringing an increasing diversity of inspired and caring people “Together for Nature.”