Audubon Naturalist Society Announces Decision to Change Its Name

New name will build on strengths of the past and usher in a more inclusive future 

Media Contacts:  Caroline Brewer at [email protected] or Vince Robinson at
[email protected]

CHEVY CHASE, MD – After listening to the voices of ANS community of members, volunteers, program participants, donors, board and partners, the organization has decided to update its name to signal a new chapter that builds on the strengths of ANS’s past and moves forward toward a stronger, more inclusive future. With temperatures climbing, fires raging, and storms becoming more deadly, it’s clear we cannot address the substantive challenges to nature conservation without engaging with all communities. 

“The mission and vision of the organization have not changed,” said Lisa Alexander, Executive Director of ANS. “The deliberate and thoughtful decision to change our name is part of our ongoing commitment to creating a larger and more diverse community of people who treasure the natural world and work to preserve it. It has become clear that this will never be fully possible with the current name,” she said. 

ANS acknowledges that the art of John James Audubon Naturalist Society was a catalyst for bird conservation in our nation, and that the Audubon Naturalist Society community has achieved much together over the past century. However, ANS knows that names matter and can cause harm and stress to many members of its community. Retaining the name Audubon Naturalist Society without regard to the pain that John James Audubon Naturalist Society inflicted on Black people and other people of color is a disservice to the ANS community. 

“This is about more than what we call ourselves,” said Diane Wood, incoming Board President. “We can and must do better to address equity and racial justice in everything we do. We are deeply invested in breaking down barriers and acknowledging our part in an exclusionary past,” she said. 

This name change is part of a process started in 2010, when ANS began to reassess its policies and practices and found that some of  its work did not fully realize its mission to connect everyone to nature in the Washington, D.C. metro region that ANS has a mission to serve. The decision to change the name is due to the organization’s increasingly diverse set of programs and is rooted in its commitment to the communities ANS serves in the DC region.

“Our organization has been on this path for more than a decade,” explained Alan Spears, ANS Board Member. “I appreciate the bravery, steadfastness and willingness to listen to members, staff, partners and allies on this issue, which is about the future of ANS and how we become a better organization.” 

ANS is excited to continue this work, and looks forward to collaboratively changing the organization’s name to one that reflects the growing and rich diversity of the region ANS serves and sends a clear message: Nature needs all of us.

The new name and brand identity will be decided after a deliberate and thoughtful process of listening and learning from the current ANS community as well as the nature lovers that the organization aspires to partner with in the future. 

Learn more at here.


The Audubon Naturalist Society Naturalists Society (ANS) is the oldest independent environmental organization in the Washington, D.C. region. ANS inspires residents of the greater Washington, D.C., region to appreciate, understand, and protect their natural environment through outdoor experiences, education, and advocacy.

Follow ANS at: Naturalist SocietyNaturalistSociety, 
and @ANSNature on Instagram.

 About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS‘s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.