New Leadership at Audubon Washington and Audubon Great Lakes

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NEW YORK—The National Audubon Society today announced the addition of non-profit conservation leaders Deborah Jensen and Michelle Parker to direct two of its state offices.

Deborah Jensen will head Audubon Washington. She brings decades of experience leading nonprofit organizations, managing high-performing teams, and advancing conservation and community goals in Washington State. As CEO of the Woodland Park Zoo, she led a significant transformation of the organization, forging a new public-private partnership with the City of Seattle. She also expanded the zoo’s field conservation programs to operate or support some 35 projects worldwide. Before joining the Woodland Park Zoo, Jensen served for nearly a decade at The Nature Conservancy, where as director of conservation science she helped craft a new vision for the organization, focused on conservation of landscapes and habitats. She has also worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and served on the boards of the Puget Sound Leadership Conference, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, and the California Native Plant Society, among other organizations. Jensen attended UC Berkeley throughout her academic career, earning a bachelor’s degree in botany, and a master’s and doctorate in energy and resources.

“I’ve considered myself a naturalist since childhood,” said Jensen. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to study nature as a scientist and to work connecting people with nature to inspire actions that save species and habitat. I am thrilled work with the great Audubon  Washington community – the staff, chapters and partners – to create lasting conservation and policy solutions for birds and people in our state.”

Michelle Parker will lead Audubon Great Lakes. She has nearly two decades of experience as a conservation leader and non-profit executive. Most recently, she led the environmental and disaster response programs at Crown Family Philanthropies, where she created and raised $5.2 million for the Wisconsin Fund, a collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Fund’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Program. Previously, Parker spent 12 years at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, where, as vice president of Great Lakes and sustainability, she led the aquarium’s Great Lakes Initiative, integrating the aquarium’s location into its programmatic work and establishing Shedd as a leader in Great Lakes conservation, education and policy work. She began her career as an expedition coordinator at Earthwatch Institute, where she traveled globally developing volunteer-friendly research programs with scientists. In addition, Parker currently helps lead the Calumet Collaborative, and has served on the boards of numerous conservation-focused organizations and initiatives. She received a bachelor’s degree in conservation from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a master’s degree in zoology from Miami University of Ohio.

“I once described the Great Lakes region as ‘a chirping, splashing, buzzing, flapping, crashing, laughing splendor,’” she said. “Though my career has taken me around the world, there is nothing quite like hearing cranes overhead or a loon on a foggy Midwest morning. My interest in conservation was sparked as a teen volunteer at Massachusetts Audubon’s Drumlin Farm: to join Audubon’s phenomenal Great Lakes team 25 years later feels like a homecoming.”

Jensen and Parker will begin their new duties this week.


About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.

Media Contact: Jason Howe,; 415-595-9245

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