President's Perch

Mike Yuan, newly elected Board President, stands third from the left with (from left to right) Advisory Council member Sandy Ewing, Immediate Past President Karen Benfield, and Past President Jeff Kimball.

President's Perch

This column appears in the summer 2024 issue of The Urban Audubon.

Mike Yuan, NYC Bird Alliance Board President | June 21, 2024

As I embark on my term as president of the board of directors, I think back on the organization’s presence in my life for the past 15 years when l first looked through a pair of binoculars, discovering the magic of migration and connecting with the city’s birding community through outings led by what was then called NYC Audubon. The spark that made me a passionate birder inspired me to lead birding outings for the Brooklyn Bird Club, coordinate and compile the Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Brooklyn, and since 2019, serve on the board of NYC Audubon (now NYC Bird Alliance). I’m proud to be a part of this organization’s 45-year legacy of conservation efforts and initiatives that make our city safer for birds and welcome its people to enjoy them.

NYC Bird Alliance’s expanded impact in recent years could not have been accomplished without the vision and guidance of Karen Benfield, our outgoing board president. Her encouragement and poise centered all of us and never dwindled, even during the uncertain times of the pandemic. She sought new ways to improve how we work and do more for our supporters and of course, the City’s birds. Under her guidance, I’m pleased to have taken the lead in promoting World Migratory Bird Day in May and October, which we celebrate with free bird outings in every borough. We’ve also reached new audiences via bilingual events, such as our first-ever Mandarin-English event in Kissena Park I had the honor to lead last month.

Looking ahead, I’m filled with excitement as the organization and its impact continue to grow. I’m energized by the board’s partnership with Executive Director Jessica Wilson and the entire staff, whose dedication, passion, and commitment drive our mission forward every day.

Nothing pleases me more than opening someone’s eyes to the world of birds, and to the warm community who loves and cares for them. With our new name, NYC Bird Alliance, we will continue to welcome new voices for urban conservation to make New York City a safer and more vibrant habitat for birds and a better place for all New Yorkers.