President's Perch: A Proud Farewell from Karen Benfield

NYC Bird Alliance Board President Karen Benfield and Executive Director Jessica Wilson at a member birding event. 

president's perch: a proud farewell from karen benfield

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

Karen Benfield, NYC Bird Alliance Board President | March 6, 2024 

With spring comes growth and renewal in our City’s green spaces. As I wind down my four-year term as president, I am awed by the growth and renewal inside our organization as well. 

Since I began my role, we have welcomed new faces to all levels of our staff. These tireless and creative dynamos bring a diversity of experience to our work, commitment to conservation and birds, and endless energy and expertise. In the last four years, I have been fortunate to work alongside two extraordinary executive directors; first Katherine Heintz, and since 2022, Jessica Wilson. They have paved the way for continued impact. 

We have also grown our community outreach through new initiatives like our NYCHA in Nature partnership with public housing residents, multilingual bird outings, and the City’s first Spanish-English bird guide. Our volunteer and advocate armies continue to expand. And oh—the progress we have made for the birds: passing landmark bird-friendly design and artificial light laws, partnering with buildings to retrofit bird-killing glass, and leading the charge in the creation of a network of green roofs that have become a haven for wildlife and make our City more resilient. 

NYC Bird Alliance Board President Karen Benfield speaking at the 2023 Fall Roost fundraising event.
Of course, our core mission remains unchanged. For more than four decades we have been guardians for birds in our urban spaces. We continue to protect waterbirds along our waterways and beaches. We know which birds are thriving and which are in trouble, and we have plans to help. Our Project Safe Flight program, launched in 1997, has become a nationwide model and remains a cornerstone of our bird collision efforts. 

Excitingly, we will continue this work under a new name this spring, welcoming all New Yorkers into our conservation community with a new calling card. I am proud to have led our dedicated board, committed to tackling important projects like the name change to serve the organization’s future. 

Left to right: Board Members Sandy Ewing, Karen Benfield, Mike Yuan, and Jeff Kimball at a summer member-birding event.
I step down fulfilled by the privilege of being part of such magnificent expansion of urban conservation. And what an honor it has been to have come to know our members. Your support of our mission is key to the continuing growth of our organization and the future for birds.

Join our flock! Become a member to support our mission and do your part for the birds.