Tucson Audubon Board of Directors
President, Mary Walker
Vice President, Tricia Gerrodette
Secretary, Deb Vath
Treasurer, Richard Carlson
Conservation Action, Kathy Jacobs
Engagement, Deb Vath
Finance, Richard Carlson
Nominating & Governance, Cynthia VerDuin
Personnel, Tricia Gerrodette
Resource Development, Kimberlyn Drew
Paton Center Buildings & Grounds, Laurens Halsey
Richard started birding as a child in Minnesota 70 years ago. After a brief interlude at Harvard, where he majored in caving, mountain climbing, winter mountaineering and economics, he began birding again in Washington DC with the Maryland Ornithological Society. He was one of Chan Robbin’s volunteers in establishing the first Breeding Bird Surveys. Bribed by the Nixon administration to leave town with a fellowship to Stanford, he moved West in 1969. He worked at Stanford Research Institute, where he co-authored “Solar Energy in America’s Future” and led field trips for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. He became President of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory and expanded his birding to Latin America. He has birded throughout the Neotropics and in Africa, Australia, Antarctica, India, China and Europe. He hopes to ultimately see at least half the birds of the world. He and his wife Pat now migrate between homes in Tucson and Lake Tahoe depending on where the birds are.
Les grew up on a farm in New England and migrated from a rural coastal town along the Connecticut River to the desert and sky islands of Arizona in 1996. He has always been closely connected to the land and nature and has been hooked on birding for over 40 years after being smitten by his first Hooded Warbler during migration at a park in New Haven. Les has been a conservation executive for more than 38 years and birds and birding has always been an important element of his life.
Les has a long history with Audubon having first joined as a member in 1970 while organizing Earth Day programs at college. Beginning in 2001, Les held several leadership positions with National Audubon Society for 12 years where he oversaw field operations nationwide. His personal passion has always been focused on setting ambitious goals, harnessing the spirit of community collaboration, and translating it into meaningful conservation results – especially for birds and wildlife. Early in his career Les served as the Executive Director for both the Connecticut Audubon Society and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire where he initiated many programs including establishing several new Audubon Centers and sanctuaries. One of his favorites was working with Nellie Teale to establish the Edwin Way Teale Sanctuary at their farmstead in Eastern Connecticut. He has always been active with local Audubon Chapters and fondly remembers participating in Christmas Counts with Roger Tory Peterson as members of Potapaug Audubon in Old Lyme and tagging along on New Haven Bird Club field trips with 12 year old David Sibley.
A professional biologist, Les earned a BS degree in environmental biology for the University of Southern Connecticut and a Master’s degree in Forest Science from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to his work with National Audubon, Les was a Vice President of The Nature Conservancy for 15 years and directed state programs in Connecticut and Arizona.
During his career he has raised millions in public and private funds for specific conservation projects protecting critical habitat for such diverse places as the San Pedro River, San Rafael Valley grasslands, Sonoran Desert, Tidelands of the Connecticut River, Long Island Sound, Darien Park in Panama, Rio Bravo Park in Belize, and Blue Mountains National Park in Jamaica. Les has led many Audubon and Conservancy expeditions outside the U.S. to generate support for conservation programs and expand his life list.
He currently serves on the Board of the Arizona Open Land and Water Trust, the Pima County Conservation Acquisition Commission, and works with the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. Les was instrumental in establishing the Arizona Common Ground Roundtable and chaired a committee advising Arizona’s Growing Smarter Commission. The recipient of numerous awards and special recognition for his achievements in conservation, his most cherished, the Charles Callison Award, was presented to Les in 2011 for his dedication to Audubon’s mission and for being a life-long champion of conservation.
Les and his family reside in Tucson, Arizona and is looking forward to semi-retirement and spending more time with our avian friends. In his free time Les enjoys birding, photography, hiking, gardening and exploring the wonders of nature with his spouse Bonnie and their four grandchildren.
A graduate of the University of Arizona, Ed Curley was employed by the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department (RWRD) for over 35 years. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Curley served as Strategic Planning Manager for the Department. In this position, he analyzed state and national water quality initiatives; coordinated regional water quality planning; managed the Wastewater Advisory Committee and worked with jurisdictions and tribal entities served by RWRD. His previous assignments included the development of 20-year $1.4 billion Capital Improvement Plan for the Department and Metropolitan Facility Plan Updates.
From 1995–2007, Ed served as Project Director of the Arid West Water Quality Research Project (AWWQRP), an EPA grant administered by RWRD to research the science and policy issues of water quality standards for arid environments. The Project produced a series of major technical and policy papers, published numerous scientific articles and made over 250 presentations throughout the West and the nation. Mr. Curley was co-editor of the resulting book: “Relevance of Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Ephemeral and Effluent-Department Watercourses of the Arid Western United States” published by the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC 2008).
He is a past President and a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Western Coalition of Arid States (WESTCAS). Ed has received a National Environmental Achievement Award from the Association of Metropolitan Sewage Agencies in 2002, a Metropolitan Pima Alliance “Common Ground” Award in 2005, and the WESTCAS President’s Award in 2007. Ed also received the WESTCAS Founders Award in both 1997 and 2015.
Ed became involved with birding in the early 1980’s and took part in the first birdathons held by Tucson Audubon. His favorite birding experiences include finding Elegant Trogons along Cave Creek, watching condors soar directly overhead on the updraft from a hot hillside in Southern California and taking a very foggy, choppy boat ride to see Atlantic puffins off the coast of Maine. Ed also served on the Tucson Audubon Board of Directors during this period and has been an active supporter of birding and the environment ever since.
Ed is currently involved with policy and research on water resources and the natural/built environment on an international scale. In 2011, Ed made a presentation on “The Role of NGOs in the Formation of US Water Policy” to the 3rd International WATArid Conference in Paris, France. Most recently, Ed has been a stakeholder in a multi-year European Union/United States joint venture titled the Sustainable Water Action (SWAN) Project. SWAN has brought together the scientific and stakeholder communities related to water resources management in Europe and the United States to establish a long-term sustainable water network though a “Transatlantic Water Dialogue”. Ed has participated in annual SWAN conferences in Europe and the United States and co-authored several articles on sustainable water resources with other SWAN stakeholders.
Kimberlyn Drew has been in business and sales since she helped in her mom’s insurance agency as a kid. She went on to sell advertising to put herself through UCLA, then moved to Tucson to attend the UA’s Eller School for her MBA. After a successful corporate career at Honeywell, she returned to sales with a real estate license. When Kimberlyn joined Long Realty in 2006, she was one of the first members of Tucson Audubon’s nascent Birds & Business Alliance.
Kimberlyn Drew and her husband Andy Moore have been Audubon members since the mid-90’s, and have attended many Riparian Family Institutes, the Institute for Desert Ecology, and Bird & Wildlife Festivals with their daughter, Phoebe (a budding birder). Kimberlyn was the Honorary Chair for the 2015 Gala.
Kimberlyn is excited to join Tucson Audubon’s Board of Directors, to take her support for this important environmental organization to the next level, and to learn how she can put her business background to use in new and productive ways.
Laurens has been passionate about (or maybe even obsessed with!) birds and birding for practically his entire life. His interest in birding was inspired by his parents, whom he delighted with his identification of an Indigo Bunting at the age of four (pronounced “Indian Bunny”). But birding has always meant more than just identifying the bird and moving on. Even as a young teenager, he sought a deeper connection with the birds. He wanted to get to know the birds, observe & study their plumages, behaviors, habits, and habitats. Once familiar with birds in his home state, he wanted to see more of the birds, and has birded throughout the United States from Washington to Florida, Maine to California, Texas, Alaska, and off three coasts. Laurens began visiting the premier birding destination of southeast Arizona in the early eighties and became a resident of the area in 1999. Though he is most captivated by birds, Laurens is also enthusiastic about all creatures in the wild, whether they are covered with feathers, fur, scales, or some sort of exoskeleton. Today Laurens is a birding guide and wildlife photographer. He formed Desert Harrier Guiding Services in 2007 and conducts day guiding & private tours for individuals & small groups throughout southeast Arizona and beyond. Guiding and sharing his photographs is Laurens’ way of helping others connect with nature. Laurens is a voting member of the Arizona Bird Committee, volunteers for Tucson Audubon and the Friends of Madera Canyon, and is an avid eBirder and regional eBird reviewer. He lives just outside of Madera Canyon near Green Valley with his very tolerant wife and the most precious cat in the world.
Katharine is a faculty member at the University of Arizona in the Department of Soils, Water and Environmental Science and is the Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) within the Institute of the Environment. CCASS builds and supports climate change adaptation and assessment capacity at regional, national and international scales, based on climate science and service investments within the University.
From 2010 – 2013, Jacobs served as an Assistant Director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. Jacobs was the director of the National Climate Assessment, leading a team of 300 authors and more than a thousand contributors who wrote the Third NCA report. She also was the lead advisor on water science and policy, and climate adaptation, within OSTP.
Prior to her work in the White House, from 2006-2009 Jacobs was the Executive Director of the Arizona Water Institute, a consortium of the three state universities focused on water-related research, education and technology transfer in support of water supply sustainability. She has more than twenty years of experience as a water manager for the State of Arizona Department of Water Resources, including 14 years as director of the Tucson Active Management Area. Her research interests include water policy, connecting science and decision-making, stakeholder engagement, use of climate information for water management applications, climate change adaptation and drought planning.
Ms. Jacobs earned her M.L.A. in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She has served on eight National Research Council panels and was Chair of the NRC Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change and a member of the panel on America’s Climate Choices.
R. Cynthia Pruett
For a long period I was what you might call a “lapsed birder”. I started birding in college with a boyfriend who became my husband and we traveled all over the United States while he was in the service; leading to a pretty comprehensive bird list. Then suddenly, other life activity got in the way and for about 25 years birding was shelved. In the late 80’s I was introduced to an avid woman birder at an environmental conference and the passion came back. My work career involved many executive jobs, some of them key environmental positions, which only reinforced my understanding of the need to protect important habitat around the world. It’s (the birding) led to many trips to many countries, a joy of seeing both new and revisited birds and of course, to becoming active in Audubon chapters, both here and in Virginia.
Deb has been an elementary and middle-school teacher/librarian for most of her professional career. Noting that children rarely engage in outdoor activities, Deb has made it her mission to mentor students and provide opportunities for them to enjoy and appreciate southeast Arizona’s great outdoors. With the support of Tucson Audubon, she has developed the Trekking Rattlers, a local middle school student group that offers monthly nature outings to underprivileged youth. Deb offers birding opportunities to various youth groups in the Tucson Valley.
Cynthia M. VerDuin, CPA
Cynthia brings value to clients with over 20 years of accounting, tax and business management experience .She graduated from Kent State University with a BA in Accounting with honors in 1990. She passed the CPA examination on the first attempt, achieved her license in 1992, and began her practice after college at one of the “Big Eight” accounting firms – Arthur Andersen. She has since practiced with local accounting firms prior to starting and growing her own ten years ago. Cynthia has a passion for assisting non-profits with their accounting and tax reporting/planning challenges, and has done so for her entire career. Cynthia is also a Physical Therapist and commercial hot air balloon pilot. She enjoys hiking, birding, running, biking and swimming. She completed her first sprint Triathlon last fall as well as the Tour de Tucson.
Cynthia’s birding experience: began when she was 10; she helped her girl-scout troop create a bird-watching badge, which her mother embroidered for each member of the troop. Her mother-in-law re-introduced her to her birding passion and she began birding with family, friends and with bird walks in the Northeast, Northwest, and Southeast Ohio regions. Since coming to Tucson in January 2010, she has enjoyed the local bird walks and short trips offered by the Audubon Society. Since moving here full time in June 2016, she has become more engaged with the Tucson Audubon Society, participating in the Birding Festival in 2016 and 2017, volunteering with the Festival in 2017, Meet your Birds events in 2016, and recently beginning to work on the Bird Festival Committee for planning the 2018 event. She looks forward to working on the Gala committee and the finance committee with Tucson Audubon, and joining the board..
Mary was raised in a small town in northern Pennsylvania, where she had a forest mountainside to explore adjacent to her home. When she was a small girl, her grandfather had responsibility for her daytime care, and their walks in the woods together developed her love of the peace, beauty and complexity of the natural world.
Mary became an environmental chemist through studies at Newcomb College of Tulane University, St. Andrews University in Scotland, and the University of Georgia where she received her BS degree with honors. She has worked in environmental and medical research, environmental compliance, public participation and public policy related to environment at EPA, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and several consulting firms. For several years she owned and operated Mary Walker & Associates, Inc., an environmental consulting firm located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she also founded the quarterly magazine EnviroLink®, serving Tennessee, north Georgia, and northeastern Alabama. The magazine highlighted industries, local governments and non-profit organizations that took action creatively, individually and cooperatively to promote sustainable development and enhance environmental quality in the region.
Mary was a member of the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee for ten years and chairman for two years. She has been chairperson of the Mayor’s Advisory Council for Environment in Des Moines, Iowa, Director of the Chattanooga Task Force of the Tennessee Toxics Program, and a member and officer of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Board. She was a director of Audubon Arizona from 2010 to 2013.
Mary is an instrument rated, multi-engine private pilot with 25 years of flying experience. In 1997 she and her husband retired and moved to La Cholla Airpark in Tucson, where her favorite activities include birding, photography, and playing and teaching mountain dulcimer. The Walkers have two sons: Alan, a deputy clerk of the Superior Court in Tucson, and Ross, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah.
Tucson Audubon Society
300 E University Blvd. #120 Tucson, AZ 85705
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742
Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624