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Migrating Through Audubon

Charley Wilkinson, Audubon Washington's development director and interim executive director, reflects on her career working for Audubon across the country

Dear Friends,

It’s with bittersweet excitement that I announce my migration from Audubon Washington to new adventures in Honolulu, HI. I’ve accepted a position with Planned Parenthood, and am already a proud member of the Hawaii Audubon Society, where I’m excited to continue exploring birds and their behaviors while working to protect them.

Many of you have walked beside me on the last leg of my Audubon journey in Washington, sharing your knowledge with me, and always enjoying the spectacular birds. I am eternally grateful. What some may not know is that my tenure with Audubon began nearly a decade ago when I joined the team at the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary as a bright-eyed conservation intern intent on learning the birds, plants, and butterflies of the Hudson Highlands. 

I didn’t expect to fall in love with birds, but that’s precisely what happened. After just one season banding birds with the Institute for Bird Populations’ MAPS program, I was hooked. Under the wing of many talented ornithologists and bird watchers, I discovered a passion for birds and conservation which has continued to guide my career ever since—leading me to take a position with Audubon in Vermont at the Green Mountain Audubon Center, and opening the door for me to serve as development director at Audubon Washington and the Seward Park Audubon Center.

Working to protect birds and the places they need has meant doing many things I never expected, like conducting glass eel surveys, guiding canoe trips, hiking with kindergarteners, birding by bike, and even maple sugaring! I’ve traveled throughout the states where I’ve worked and birded with local experts in estuaries, forests, and sage lands—each time learning new ecosystems and the creatures that depend upon them. These experiences have delighted and challenged me in ways I could not have imagined, and I thank all of you for investing in Audubon and in me over the years.

Together, we’ve pushed hard for legislation to reduce carbon emissions, passing the 100% clean electricity transmission act in 2019—a huge victory for birds and Audubon. We’ve also represented birds in conservation decisions that affect their critical habitat, like keeping pesticides out of our coastal estuaries, preserving tree canopy coverage in our urban neighborhoods, and demanding bird-friendly management of public lands in Washington. I’m so honored to have played a role in these successes and look forward to celebrating your future victories on behalf of our birds. 

I wish you all healthy, safe, and birdy days ahead.

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