124th Annual Meeting
Resilience: Adapting, Growing, and Looking to the Future
Audubon is resilient. The pandemic did not slow or limit our work to protect nature.
We successfully advocated for climate change legislation, engaged thousands of students, families, and adults with virtual and in-person programming, and offered our trails as destinations to improve physical and mental health. We look to the future with a new agenda on renewable energy, avian research, and increased community engagement.
Watch the Meeting
Originally aired on Sunday, October 17, 2021
The 2021 - 2022 Board of Directors
David Caldwell, Jr.
Christian Capizzo, Esq.
Jameson Chace, Ph.D.
Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD
Owen Heleen (President)
Laura Landen, PhD
Deborah S. Linnell
Thomas Lisi, CPA
Amy Moses, Esq.
Emily Murphy Prior, Esq.
David T. Riedel, Esq.
Patricia Thompson, CPA
Carol Lynn Trocki
Olinda L. Urizar-Mendez
Meet the New Members
Elected to the Board of Directors on October 17, 2021.
Laura Landen, PhD
Dr. Laura Landen is retired Chair of the Philosophy Department and former Director of Environmental Studies at Providence College. She is currently filling an unexpired term on the current Audubon board of directors.
Amy Moses, Esq.
Amy Moses is General Counsel at Utilidata. She has been active in state environmental advocacy, most recently leading the Rhode Island team at the Conservation Law Foundation.
Olinda L. Urizar-Mendez
Olinda Urizar- Mendez is Assistant to Chief of Staff of the City of Providence and Director of Executive Operations. She has over 20 years of experience working with Faith and Latinx communities.
With a 30-year career in marketing and advertising, Emily Westcott became a vital volunteer for Audubon and was recognized for her outstanding leadership as the Audubon Volunteer of the Year in 2019.
Shawen Williams is a private financial manager and a supporter of land conservation. She has served on the boards of the Prudence Conservancy, The R.I. Land Trust Council, and Preserve Rhode Island.
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island gratefully acknowledges the terms of service of Nicholas A. Califano, MD, Meghan Frost, and Everett Stuart who are stepping down from the board of directors this year.
2021 Audubon Partner and Volunteers of the Year
Partner of the Year
Cranston resident and Providence Deputy Superintendent of Parks Brian Byrnes was honored as Partner of the Year by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island at the Society’s Annual Meeting held on October 17, 2021. Audubon recognized Byrnes for his outstanding leadership in the planning and growth of the Providence Stormwater Innovation Center in Roger Williams Park (PSIC). He continues to seek innovative ways to educate community members and other municipalities on the importance of green infrastructure and its effects on water quality.
Stormwater pollution impacts water quality throughout Rhode Island and is a prime source of pollution nation-wide. The PSIC showcases nature-based stormwater practices, provides training on green infrastructure, and tests innovative storm water treatment technologies – all to improve urban water quality while beautifying the landscape and creating natural habitat for birds and wildlife.
As Deputy Superintendent of Providence Parks and Recreation, Byrnes has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of the PSIC, partnering with the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and other environmental organizations to share the technologies, implementation, resources, and data with municipalities, engineers, construction companies and scientists. He fosters collaboration for nature-based climate solutions among public officials, academia, community members, and partners.
“Audubon recognizes Brian’s leadership, expertise and collaborative spirit with this award,” said Audubon Executive Director Lawrence Taft. “The Providence Stormwater Innovation Center became a reality because of Brian's vision, and we value his partnership and the ongoing research into green infrastructure practices at the Center.”
Strong partnerships provide Audubon with additional resources and opportunities for growth and outreach. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island applauds Brian Byrnes for his collaborative work on the Providence Stormwater Innovation Center and his significant efforts to improve water quality in Providence and in urban areas across the State.
Volunteers of the Year
Barrington residents Betsy and Richard Staples were honored as Volunteers of the Year by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island at the Society’s Annual Meeting held on October 17, 2021.
Audubon recognized the Staples for their dedication as volunteers and their strong commitment to Audubon. The couple has rolled up their sleeves to improve the Palmieri Pollinator Garden and the Jack Doherty Bird Garden at the Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium in Bristol. Betsy has been a committed garden volunteer for over four years, and in 2020 her husband Richard and their young grandson Reid joined her. In addition to many other garden projects, they were recently involved with the preparation, restoration, and replanting of the Jack Doherty Bird Garden behind the Center.
This family crew has weeded, mulched, raked, and beautified nearly every section of the gardens and grounds around the building. As Betsy is also an accomplished nature photographer, they also donated several of her bird images to enhance the space inside the Center that overlooks the Bird Garden. Audubon staff truly appreciate the commitment that the Staples family brings to their work with Audubon. “Betsy and Richard have been extraordinarily helpful and dedicated volunteers at the Nature Center and Aquarium,” said Audubon Executive Director Lawrence Taft. “They support a natural space where pollinators, birds and wildlife can thrive. The Staples also bring smiles and enthusiasm, along with their gardening gloves, every time they volunteer.”
Volunteers form the backbone of Audubon, and the Society applauds Betsy and Richard Staples for their dedication to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and our environmental mission.