Greetings! To all of our members and staff, first and foremost: thank you for everything that you have done for the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) over the past year. From renewing your memberships to shopping at the ANS store, from logging countless office hours to simply spreading the word about our good works on behalf of the environment. Your continued support helps define our organization and provides the foundation for all of our successes. I know that the rest of the Board of Directors join me in expressing our sincerest appreciation for all of the things that you do for the environment every day.
This has been the first year on the job for both Lisa Alexander, our Executive Director, and me. Looking back in review, I am gratified to report that Lisa and the Board have been able to work together to accomplish much. On a fundamental level we have continued to strengthen all of our internal systems, procedures and reporting mechanisms.
While none of these achievements have been glamorous, they have greatly improved the organization’s efficiency and provided a common understanding of elements such as our improved financial health to all ANS stakeholders. This year Lisa refined the reporting tool for progress on the Strategic Plan, to better enable the Board’s stewardship of our long-term goals.
At the board level, our vice-president Leslie Catherwood led us in reorganizing and re-energizing the committees that provide guidance on issues such as ANS’s finances, programs, development efforts and internal governance. All of the board members now serve on at least two committees. This reorganization allowed for the cross-pollination of ideas and greatly improved oversight of ANS’s many activities.
This year has also seen ANS begin to harvest the fruits of earlier labors and strategic decisions about how to best steward its assets, made during the tenure of my able predecessor Kathy Rushing. While President, Kathy oversaw the development of the ANS Strategic Plan which has continued to guide the staff’s activities and sharpen the focus of the organization. In keeping with the Plan we transferred ownership of the Webb Sanctuary in Fairfax County, VA in January to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (now NOVA Parks), that will be better able to unlock the property’s public-serving potential. Prior to doing so we furthered our own mission by putting a conservation easement restriction on development there. This action had the added benefit of allowing us to sell the resulting tax credits and make a substantial contribution to our investment reserves. We also benefited from the partnership that we established last year with NOVA Parks at the Rust Sanctuary. As we had forecast, relief from the operational burdens of the Rust Sanctuary has allowed us to concentrate on developing new environmental education and outreach activities in Virginia. An example of these is our successful Fresh Air Kids program, which is among the many accomplishments detailed in this report. Lastly, we have literally seen the results from earlier plantings with the maturation of our beautiful Blair Garden and meadow restoration projects at the Woodend Sanctuary. We gratefully acknowledge the donors who made these initiatives possible.
Over the past year you may have read more about our advocacy and educational efforts in the press. Our ability to garner this publicity arises directly from Lisa’s decision last year to create a Communications Director position. We have been fortunate to benefit from the many talents of Kelli Holsendolph, who assumed this mantle last September. Kelli’s communications savvy and media contacts were a significant part of the victorious Ten Mile Creek campaign, which was so professionally orchestrated by Conservation Director Diane Cameron and the chair of the Board’s Conservation Committee, Mike Gravitz. All of the inhabitants of our region can be thankful for Mike, Diane and Kelli’s tireless efforts, in which they were joined by so many of our own members and coalition partners.