Audubon Canyon Ranch Board of Directors is pleased to announced the appointment of Tom Gardali as Chief Executive Officer of the sixty-year-old organization. He will assume the role on November 29, 2021.
“Tom’s depth of experience in conservation science is the right fit for ACR and for a region facing the ongoing conservation challenges of dwindling biodiversity and climate-driven wildfire,” said ACR Board President Carol Lynn Wood. “Over the course of his career, Tom has proven himself to be a team-focused leader and a dedicated advocate for both practical and innovative approaches to natural resource stewardship. Importantly, he is committed to continuing ACR’s journey to be a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization. On behalf of the entire board, we welcome Tom to Audubon Canyon Ranch.”
Gardali is only the fourth CEO in the organization’s history and succeeds John Petersen who retired earlier this year. Nils Warnock, ACR Director of Conservation Science, has been serving as interim executive director since April. “We are deeply grateful to Nils for serving as ACR's interim executive director and his outstanding leadership through this transition,” said Wood.
“I’ve long been a fan of Audubon Canyon Ranch because of its intentional connection between the power of place, science, resource management and education to make a difference for conservation, said Gardali. “I am excited to partner with ACR’s board, staff, and volunteers, as well as our broader community, to realize even better outcomes for the complex ecosystems of Northern California.”
Gardali has worked in the field of conservation for nearly thirty years, focusing on climate change, ecological restoration, at-risk species, and collaborative conservation. Prior to joining ACR, Gardali spent 18 years as the director of the Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group at Point Blue Conservation Science, where he led a team of twenty-five and oversaw a budget of $3 million.
His impact includes developing innovative ways to design restoration projects that are resilient to climate change—and training others to do so—resulting in thousands of acres implemented from streams in Marin and Sonoma, to Sierra meadows, to lands stewarded by the Nez Perce in Idaho; Partnering with local, state, and national organizations and agencies to develop and deploy practices that increase ricelands as surrogate wetlands for migratory shorebirds, waterbirds, and waterfowl in California’s Central Valley, where only 10% of historic wetlands remain; and facilitating the development of the California Landscape Conservation Partnership Strategic Plan; an alliance of state and federal agencies and NGOs whose mission is to foster integrated land- and seascape conservation and climate adaption strategies to benefit California’s exceptional biodiversity and human communities.
Gardali has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, including “California Bird Species of Special Concern: A ranked assessment of species, subspecies, and distinct populations of birds of immediate conservation concern in California.”
Warnock, who worked with Gardali at Point Blue for an extensive period early in their careers said Gardali’s appointment marks an exciting time at ACR. “While it has been an honor to lead ACR during this transition phase, I am thrilled to know that Tom Gardali is going to be our new CEO, as I have watched him grow into a strong and seasoned conservation leader.”
Gardali holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz and has completed foundational trainings from the Center for Diversity and the Environment. He has been recognized as an American Ornithological Society Fellow and for excellence in science by the Central Valley Joint Venture. He is a board member of the California Central Coast Joint Venture and the Tomales Bay Watershed Council.
Gardali lives in Inverness with his wife, Renée Cormier, an avian ecologist at Point Blue.