Marcia Bansley, John Pruitt, Raphael Bostic among those now advising Atlanta Audubon

By David Pendered

Marcia Bansley, founder of Trees Atlanta, John Pruitt, retired anchor of WSB-TV, and Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, are among the seven members of a new group of advisors created to help Atlanta Audubon continue to expand its outreach.

atlanta audubon, learning about birds

Atlanta Audubon offers the Learning About Birds Program, which enabled these students at Dresden Elementary School to watch birds with the aid of binoculars. File/Credit: Melanie Furr

In addition to announcing the new advisors at its Dec. 9 meeting, Atlanta Audubon elected three new board members – Leslie Edwards, Evonne Blythers Lapsey and Ellen Macht – to three-year terms that begin Jan. 1, 2019.

“We are excited to welcome Leslie, Evonne, and Ellen to the Atlanta Audubon Board of Directors and to add this new group of Advisors to our organization,” Esther Stokes, board chair and a veteran of the urban parks movement, said in a statement. “These individuals bring a wealth of talents and experiences to the board that will help Atlanta Audubon fulfill its mission of building places where birds and people thrive.”

Atlanta Audubon is among several groups in metro Atlanta that have ramped up their development programs in the era since the depth of the Great Recession.

Atlanta Audubon’s programs include a grant that helps educators expose students to birds, habitats and conservation; building a garden in historic Washington Park, Atlanta’s first greenspace dedicated to African Americans; providing tours of places to inspire people to build wildlife sanctuaries; and building a tower in Piedmont Park to provide a home for chimney swifts, which are running out of places to call home as trees with cavities are cut or fall down and chimneys are capped.

The group of advisors to Atlanta Audubon includes:

  • Marcia Bansley, founder of Trees Atlanta;
  • Giff Beaton, author of Birding Georgia;
  • Mark Berry, Georgia Power’s vice president of environmental affairs;
  • Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta;
  • Robert Cooper, professor of wildlife biology at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources;
  • Stacia Hendricks, naturalist manager at Little St. Simons Island;
  • John Pruitt, retired anchor, WSB TV.

Atlanta Audubon provided the following information about the three new board members:

  • “Leslie Edwards holds a PhD in geography from the University of Georgia and has retired after serving on the faculty of the Department of Geosciences at Georgia State University. She is the lead author of The Natural Communities of Georgiaand wrote The Land, Climate, and Vegetation portion of The Georgia Breeding Bird Atlas, both published by the University of Georgia Press.  Leslie has served on the boards of several conservation-related organizations, and is currently active in Atlanta Audubon’s wildlife sanctuary certification program.
  • “Evonne Blythers Lapsey is currently a park ranger/naturalist with DeKalb County Recreation, Parks & Cultural Affairs, and serves as the director and founder of the Edge of Night Camping Club (ENCC). Formerly, she was an environmental education coordinator for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA). Evonne has been a passionate Girl Scout leader for nearly 20 years, and a very strong advocate in getting families outdoors. Her latest accomplishment, visiting all 65 Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. Evonne is an enthusiastic participant in Atlanta Audubon’s Taking Wing teacher professional development.
  • “Ellen Macht is one of the founders of Food Well Alliance that exists to unite the local food movement to build a healthier local food system together. She has more than 30 years of experience in corporate and investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, nonprofit management and as a nonprofit board member. Currently, Ellen is the immediate past chair of Georgia Organics and board member and treasurer of the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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