About Us

Meet the Audubon Louisiana Team

Dawn O'Neal, Executive Director, Audubon Delta

Dawn joined Audubon in 2021 as the Executive Director of the newly formed Audubon Delta regional office.  Prior to joining Audubon, Dawn served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Nature Conservancy where she developed and stewarded several long-term strategies to help Conservancy scientists build emotional intelligence, enhance technical capacity, and develop skills to enrich collaborations with stakeholders and increase the impact of conservation outcomes.  A cornerstone of that work was the development of the Diversity in Science Pathway Program, which leveraged the Conservancy’s partnerships with universities to engage scientists from diverse backgrounds and bring in needed expertise to conservation teams across the organization.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Dawn served first as the Director of Conservation Education and Research and then as Executive Director of the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station. She credits her tenure at the Huyck Preserve for helping to crystalize her commitment to connecting a diversity of people to nature. At the Huyck Preserve she pursued partnerships with like-minded conservation and research organizations becoming a founding member of a regional network of colleges/universities, non-profit preserves, and government agencies that informed sustainable management practices and natural resource conservation through scientific research and education. 

Dawn holds a BA in environmental studies from Washington University and a PhD in ecology from Indiana University. She has experience directing projects and leading research efforts at national and international levels with research experience in the fields of climate change biology, life history evolution, disease ecology, and eco-physiology. Dawn is also an Adjunct Professor at the University at Albany – State University of New York.

 

Brent Newman, Deputy Director, Audubon Delta

Brent joined Audubon Louisiana in 2019, with a focus on state policy and Audubon's involvement in the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition. Prior to this position, he served as section chief for the Interstate and Federal Section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. In that role he was responsible for activities relating to the Colorado River Compact, Upper Colorado River Compact and Arkansas River Compact. He managed projects and funding associated with section programming and provided section direction, input, and guidance on the implementation of Colorado's Water Plan. Brent attended the University of Mississippi for undergraduate and law school, and earned an LL.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy from the University of Denver.  

Erik Johnson, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Delta  

Erik joined Audubon in April 2011 as a Conservation Biologist for the Mississippi Flyway and Gulf Coast Initiative where he provided science-support and guidance for Audubon’s strategic planning process and building upon conservation and monitoring efforts in the region. Before coming to Audubon, Erik’s graduate work at Louisiana State University included researching the effects of forest fragmentation on Amazonian bird communities and understanding the effects of fire management on grassland birds in pine savannas of the southeastern U.S. and has published his work in scientific journals including The Auk and Ecology. It was while finishing his dissertation when the BP oil spill shocked the Gulf Coast and in response, Erik helped develop a citizen science program across the central Gulf Coast, Audubon’s Coastal Bird Survey, which he continues to lead. Erik started his ornithological career stewarding and monitoring breeding Least Terns and Piping Plovers in Massachusetts, and has returned to these coastal roots by leading the development of a comprehensive beach-nesting bird stewardship program in Louisiana by developing partnerships with other organizations and local communities. Erik also has developed several bird monitoring initiatives at the Paul J. Rainey Audubon Sanctuary to understand the effects of management on marshbirds, supporting the science-based restoration mission of the Rainey Conservation Alliance, a collaboration among local landowners in Vermilion Parish to save coastal marshes. Erik is active in Louisiana’s birding community and serves as Louisiana’s Christmas Bird Count regional editor, a member of Louisiana’s Bird Records Committee, Vice President of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, and Co-director of the Louisiana Bird Observatory. Erik lives in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Lauren Bourg, Communications Director, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, Audubon Delta 

In 2019, Lauren became the Communications Director for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, which comprises Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. In addition to playing a leadership role in the coalition's communications, Lauren will also ensure Gulf-wide consistency in communications for Audubon. Before her role as Communications Director, Lauren was Audubon Louisiana's Communications Manager. In that role, Lauren guided the strategy for all outreach and communication efforts for Audubon Louisiana. Lauren initially joined Audubon in 2014 as the Communications Associate for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition. Prior to joining Audubon, Lauren was the Manager of External Relations for the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (SDMI) at Louisiana State University. At SDMI, Lauren was responsible for overseeing the coordination of public relations, marketing, and development for the Institute. She also led the branding and launch of the Center for Business Preparedness, chaired the communications committee for the Food & Agriculture Protection Training Consortium and was on the Board of Directors for the International Disaster Conference and Expo. Prior to SDMI, Lauren worked in the public affairs department for the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, a counter-terrorism research and training academy located on LSU's campus. Lauren is a graduate of LSU, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication in 2007. Lauren lives in New Orleans.

Ryan Chauvin, Digital Marketing and Communications Manager, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, Audubon Delta

Ryan Chauvin is Audubon's Digital Marketing and Communication Manager for the Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition. In this role, he manages the website, email, and social media platforms to raise awareness and increase the reach of the coalition. Ryan grew up in South Mississippi and is proud to be working for an issue affecting the lives of his friends, family, and community. Previously, Ryan has worked as an SEO and marketing specialist for Forthea Interactive Marketing in Houston and as a Digital Communications Associate for the Pew Charitable Trusts working on environmental issues across their portfolio of global campaigns. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MA in Media and Public Affairs from George Washington University.

Nic Dixon, Outreach Associate, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition, Audubon Delta

Nic is responsible for engaging communities and getting grassroots support for conservation of birds and coastal restoration in Louisiana. Formerly working for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Nic has been engaging a variety of communities about coastal restoration in Louisiana since 2014. Previously, Nic has been involved with bird conservation efforts throughout the country, including field work in the Yukon River Delta of Alaska and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Educated at Louisiana State University with a degree in Natural Resource Ecology and Management, a Louisiana native, and a waterfowl enthusiast, Nic strives to be a positive influence on the policy and science that will protect our coastal birds and people.

 

Katie Barnes, Coastal Stewardship Manager, Audubon Delta

Katie has a Master of Science degree from East Stroudsburg University where she focused on Louisiana Waterthrush nesting ecology and published a paper detailing that work in Northeastern Naturalist.  She has worked at the Costa Rica Bird Observatory and Powdermill Avian Research Center as a bird bander, with the University of Illinois as a field biologist to detail the ecology of Fort Polk and endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, and with a consulting firm to monitor endangered Southwest Willow Flycatchers, among other exciting experiences.  As an Audubon Louisiana 2016 and 2017 coastal bird technician, Katie established the beach-nesting stewardship program in Cameron Parish.  She built many positive relationships with community leaders, landowners, and other groups, and created a strong foundation for our program to grow.  She then went on to help the Birmingham Audubon Society build their first beach-nesting bird protection program, where she identified critical nesting sites, built strong relationships with landowners and wildlife agencies to increase awareness of the conservation issues, and provided important recommendations to coastal restoration planners that will have lasting benefits to the birds of that region.  Now back in Louisiana, and in addition to monitoring and stewarding birds and coordinating with volunteers, she has a leadership role in guiding our coastal bird stewardship program.

Lindsay Nakashima, Geomorphologist and Geographic Information Systems Analyst, Audubon Delta

Lindsay joined the Audubon Louisiana’s Baton Rouge office with experience in coastal geomorphology and GIS/GPS/UAV applications. He implements ESRI desktop and web-based GIS applications as well as utilizes RTK GPS technology in tandem with UAV capabilities as analytic tools for project-specific GIS and photogrammetric analyses. Lindsay has a strong publication record in the field of nearshore sediment transport, shore zone mapping, and coastal zone management. He participates in scientifically based conservation and restoration efforts affiliated with the Restore the Mississippi River Delta campaign and the Rainey Conservation Alliance. His GIS/GPS project experience includes: field surveys of changes in dredged canals, marsh creation sites and shorelines; UAV vegetation/habitat mapping; hurricane impact mapping; GPS/fathometer surveys; environmental site assessments; dredged material assessments; and mapping fate and transport of oil spill and other contaminants in water and sediments for projects in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Alaska, and New York. Lindsay received a Ph.D. in Geography from Rutgers University, a Masters in Physical Geography from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Bachelors in Physical Geography from the University of Toronto.

Katie Percy, Avian Biologist, Audubon Delta

Katie is from and grew up in Baton Rouge, and has an extensive knowledge of Louisiana ecosystems having participated in research on Louisiana barrier islands, in longleaf pine savannas, and in coastal marshes. She moved to Tennessee where she lived for several years conducting her Master’s research at the University of Tennessee studying the effects of fire management on the abundance and nesting success of Golden-winged Warblers, a species of high concern. After staying in Tennessee to train and work with the next generation of students, and then spending a summer leading a team monitoring California seabirds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Katie has returned to her roots in Louisiana where she has worked in the consulting industry preparing Environmental Site Assessments and Biological Assessments since February 2014.

 

How you can help, right now

Audubon Arkansas, Audubon Louisiana, and Audubon Mississippi have joined forces to become Audubon Delta.