Audubon Name: Message from Washington’s Executive Director

Racism in the conservation movement must be addressed

Recently, the National Audubon Society Board of Directors announced its decision to retain the name Audubon after a year-long investigatory process. The Board’s decision-making was driven by its view that keeping the organization’s name would best enable us to fulfill our mission of protecting birds and their habitats – particularly at this critical moment for our planet.

Unlike Audubon chapters, which are independent organizations, Audubon Washington is a state office of the National Audubon Society and, as such, our name will remain the same.

At Audubon Washington, we understand the importance of confronting our past to create a better future for all. We acknowledge the troubling history of our namesake, John James Audubon. He was an enslaver and held abhorrent views about black and indigenous people.

Since the Board’s announcement we have heard reactions to this decision from some of our colleagues, partners, chapter leaders, and members. Some of the responses have expressed hurt, anger, and disappointment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We are listening to these concerns, and we recognize that building a more inclusive and equitable organization is vital.

Regardless of the names we operate under, we will continue working alongside chapters to advance our shared goals and values.

Systemic racism exists in the conservation movement, and we are compelled to work to address it in a meaningful way. Actions that address the concerns of historically excluded and marginalized communities are necessary to change the status quo. Our work to protect birds and the habitats they need, reduce the effects of climate change, and ensure equitable access to nature is where we are best positioned to make a difference. People from all walks of life should be able to connect with nature, enjoy clean air and water, and take part in conservation.

As we move forward, we at Audubon Washington are committed to incorporating equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging values into all aspects of our work. We pledge to continue learning and growing as an organization to better serve our communities and the birds we love. Through our work, we believe we can make a positive impact on our environment and contribute to a more just and sustainable future for all.

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