NJ AUDUBON SOCIETY ANNUAL MEMBERS MEETING
The 2022 Annual Meeting of Members will take place virtually on October 25 at 12 pm. It is easier than ever to participate in this important annual meeting.
Registration is required
- Welcome and Introductions – Alex Ireland, President and CEO
- Meeting Call to Order – Richard Kauffeld, Board Chair
- Determine Quorum – (35 members needed for quorum)
- Board Chair’s Report – Richard Kauffeld, Board Chair
- President’s Report – Alex Ireland, President and CEO
- Nominating & Governance Committee’s Report — Diane Louie, Committee Chair
I. Nomination and Election of Slate of Candidates to the Board of Directors
As proposed by the Nominating & Governance Committee and approved by the Board of Directors:
All terms begin January 1, 2023, and are for three years
a. 1st term
Angela Ortiz, Paula Vuksic
b. 3rd term
David Hall, Richard Kauffeld, Elizabeth Wilkes, Philip Witt
(Ask for Motion and Second; Vote)
II. Recognition of Graduating Board Member(s)
Alan Bernstein, Diane Louie, Geraldine Smith
- Other business – Alex Ireland, President and CEO
- Meeting adjourned – Richard Kauffeld, Board Chair
BOARD MEMBER BIOGRAPHIES
As an employee of Public Service Enterprise Group with broad technical knowledge of climate change and corporate social responsibility, I lead the development and implementation of the corporate sustainability, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), and climate strategies. PSEG has a long-standing relationship with NJ Audubon, and I have become familiar with the organization through my involvement over more than a decade in their various collaborative projects and initiatives.
The alignment between NJ Audubon’s values and my own motivated me to join its Board. My 6-year-old daughter loves nature, the outdoors, and birds. Growing up in Colombia, I have lived in urban settings my whole life. My connection with NJ Audubon is allowing me to learn about and to be exposed to nature and conservation. That connection in turn allows me to teach and expose her so that she will grow up closer to nature than I did
I grew up in the South Bronx in an urban environment, but I remember daily trips to the local park starting when I was very young. We seemed to always be outside — no matter the weather. When we moved to New Jersey in my teens, I discovered farms, hiking trails, and nature centers. Now, as a Girl Scout leader, I enjoy sharing with young people the types of outdoor experiences I had as a child. I have taken groups of kindergarten Scouts to NJ Audubon’s Lorrimer Sanctuary in Franklin Lakes on their first hiking experience. During the pandemic, we set up several bird feeders in the yard, bringing a little bit of nature closer.
I was introduced to the NJ Audubon Board by Ashley Rey, a Board member at the time and a financial advisor professionally. Given my expertise as an accountant, I volunteered as an advisor on the Board’s Audit Committee. After two years in that capacity, I was honored to be approached by the Nominating & Governance Committee to be a voting member of the Board. I am really excited to be more deeply involved with NJ Audubon, supporting and furthering the mission of the organization by serving on its Board.
David (“Dave”) Hall
I am a very active birder. Most days I bird in the morning — often accompanied by my family’s Springer Spaniels — in one of my favorite locations near my home in Essex County before traveling to my laboratory at Albert Einstein University in the Bronx where I am Professor of Neuroscience. I enjoy teaching others and introducing them to familiar, reliably “birdy” locations in northern New Jersey — places like nearby Hatfield Swamp; Hilltop Reservation in Verona; Mehrhof Pond in Little Ferry; and that urban oasis in Newark, Weequahic Park. I have led frequent birding trips for NJ Audubon as a volunteer Associate Naturalist for more than a decade.
Since joining the NJ Audubon Board in 2016, I have served on the Conservation Committee, which I now co-chair, and the Communications Committee. Besides serving on the NJ Audubon Board, I have been a long-time member of the Bergen County Audubon Board — along with my wife Nancy, who is also an avid birder – and the compiler of the Hackensack/Ridgewood Christmas Bird Count.
Richard (“Rich”) Kauffeld
While I have always enjoyed hiking and other outdoor activities, my interest in birding and habitat conservation blossomed when my wife Anita and I moved to West Cape May. After walks in the South Cape May Meadows with Pete Dunne and meeting other Cape May Bird Observatory staff and NJ Audubon members on the Cape May Hawkwatch, I wanted to be part of that community and joined as a Life Member. During a Thank-a-thon in 2015, when Isobel Wayrick, NJ Audubon’s Board Chair, asked about my professional expertise as a business strategy consultant, I volunteered to help articulate NJ Audubon’s Conservation Priorities which drive and focus the organization’s strategic planning updates. Since joining the Board in 2016, my leadership roles have included Development Committee Chair, Communications Committee Chair, and Secretary. This year, as Board Chair, I led the group overseeing the leadership transition.
It is a privilege to work with NJ Audubon’s senior staff and Board to expand our conservation impact, grow a larger and more diverse membership, and enhance our long-term sustainability. I have greatly enjoyed leading our Board’s team in the World Series of Birding, traveling to Cuba and Louisiana on NJ Audubon eco-tours, and joining countless walks led by the CMBO’s skilled naturalist guides. I am grateful for the dedication and knowledge of the staff and many volunteers who make NJ Audubon’s events, programs, and conservation impact possible.
Elizabeth (“Wendy”) Wilkes
I remember spending childhood summers at my grandmother’s farm in Port Murray, NJ. Later, my father, Gurdon Wattles, placed it into the Green Acres program and donated the house and barn to NJ Audubon; it is now the organization’s Wattles Stewardship Center, a 51-acre wildlife sanctuary open to the public and the location of NJ Audubon’s northern stewardship staff. The Wattles Center is a model for blending environmental awareness, wildlife habitat restoration and agriculture. Although I now spend most of my time in North Carolina, my family and I enjoyed making annual visits to the Wattles Center to see the good works that we support in action. Further reflecting my family’s passion for land conservation and wildlife preservation, we have contributed to NJ Audubon’s Northern Bobwhite restoration initiative.
I serve on the NJ Audubon Board Development Committee and on the Executive Committee for “SOAR”, the ongoing comprehensive campaign which is entering its public phase. In addition, I am Chair of the Facilities & Land Management Committee. In these ways, I am helping NJ Audubon continue my family’s legacy of environmental stewardship.
Philip (“Phil”) Witt
NJ Audubon is how my wife Becky and I learned to appreciate nature, generally, and to bird, specifically. Our first Cape May Fall Festival was in 1977. In the 1990’s, we progressed from participating in NJ Audubon activities to volunteering: first, by helping behind the desk in the bookstore at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary; and in recent years, leading photography workshops there. In many ways, NJ Audubon has been and continues to be, like an extended family for us, providing a sense of community and shared values. Those feelings are what motivated me to serve on the NJ Audubon Board—to help NJ Audubon fulfill its mission of bringing nature and conservation to all of New Jersey.
Since joining the NJ Audubon Board in 2016, I have served on a range of its committees, including Nominating & Governance and Finance. My leadership positions have included co-chairing the Conservation, Development, and “SOAR” comprehensive campaign Executive Committees. My Board committee involvement has broadened and deepened my understanding of what it takes to make NJ Audubon run, from developing (and following) a budget to setting (and achieving) conservation, education, and research priorities. It is a privilege to serve on the NJ Audubon Board, allowing me to work with people I respect and admire—both Board members and capable, professional staff.
Alan Bernstein (in memoriam)
Alan H. Bernstein (1935-2022) was the long-time Board Counsel for NJ Audubon. For more than 40 years, he provided pro bono legal services, working closely with senior staff leadership Frank McLaughlin, Rich Kane, Tom Gilmore, and Eric Stiles, always having the interests of NJ Audubon close to his heart. He secured Green Acres Funding, pursued those who dumped trash/debris on sanctuary properties, appeared before planning boards and closed title on new sanctuary properties. My father was a tireless advocate for conservation, birds, and the environment, borne out of his sense of wonder with the natural world from a young age.
In his later years, after his retirement as Board Counsel, he joined the NJ Audubon Board as a voting member in 2013, handling myriad roles, often as a leader for the committees on which he proudly served. Alan Bernstein cherished his relationship with NJ Audubon, which he considered New Jersey’s premier conservation organization.
NJ Audubon introduced me to birding and birders. That was more 20 years ago. Before then, I did not have any real consciousness of birds or the natural world.
Years later, after I had transitioned to a career in the pharmaceutical industry, I was honored to be invited to join the NJ Audubon Board. Together with other Board members, I applied my policy and management training to assist staff in establishing updated Conservation Priorities which are the drivers of its strategic planning. My expertise in regulatory affairs enables me to translate complex technical language into clear guidance and achieve ambitious goals through the creation of defined, efficient processes. With these skills, the Nominating & Governance Committee which I chair developed Board Committee and Annual Meeting Descriptions and templates for the preparation of the Annual Meeting of Members. These and related documents are included in the handbook provided to each new Board member at their orientation held prior to their first committee or Board meeting. I pushed to amend the NJ Audubon By-laws to make the mission statement more inclusive and aligned with the organization’s ethos and raised awareness of barriers to accessibility. I advocated for increased diversity in the NJ Audubon Board, staff, and membership.
I am proud of what I have accomplished during my time on the Board. But in truth, I have gotten back much, much more. From the very first, NJ Audubon staff and volunteers made me feel welcome. They connected me to birds, nature, and other people around the world. As a result, my life became immeasurably enriched. For that, I will always be grateful.
Geraldine (“Gerry”) Smith
I have had a life-long interest in environmental conservation. Prior to my retirement last year from the Public Service Enterprise Group, I was Deputy General Counsel directing the environmental legal practice for one of the largest combined electric and gas companies in the United States and a member of PSEG. My duties also included developing and implementing corporate environmental policy and to identify and manage risks associated with regulatory, legislative and policy developments. In addition, I served on the board of the New Jersey chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
As a member of the NJ Audubon Board, I have been able to foster the already long-standing relationship the organization has had with PSEG and to continue ongoing management of utility right-of-ways to create habitat for endangered species like the Golden-winged warbler. With funding from PSEG, NJ Audubon completed urban ecology surveys to evaluate interactions between birds and buildings in Newark. The data will inform the development of strategies to make urban settings more bird friendly. The PSEG Foundation has provided major grant support for Eco-Schools USA, a program managed by NJ Audubon which advances sustainability action and environmental learning in schools. Given my high regard for the organization, I was delighted to refer my colleague, Angela Ortiz, as a prospective member of the NJ Audubon Board to the Nominating & Governance Committee on which I serve.
I was thrilled that my teenage son, Peter, joined me in participating with the Board team, the Wandering Tattlers, in my first World Series of Birding. He subsequently founded a high school birding club and fielded his own WSB teams. This year, I recruited Peter and my soon-to-be husband David and stepson Chris to join me on the Wandering Tattlers. Not only was Chris the Wandering Tattlers Rookie-of-the-Year, but our newly combined family was able to spend a memorable day birding together while raising funds to sustain the great work of NJ Audubon.
Since retiring, I have taken what I have learned from my work with NJ Audubon and its Corporate Stewardship Council by beginning to create a pollinator garden on my 12-acre property in Woodstock, NY. So far, we have tackled about 4 acres and have been amazed by the birds, bees, and butterflies we have attracted! I have harvested hundreds of seeds from our current milkweed plants — and have purchased many, many more – and plan to use them to greatly expand our milkweed plantings next year. We are also working on a 3-acre wildflower meadow incorporating many native species. Hopefully that will also be thriving next year.