On The Avenue

A Gala for the Birds (and the Bigwigs who Love them)

by Ben Diamond Photographed by Patrick McMullan
Friday, March 3, 2017
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New York’s high-flyers flocked to Gotham Hall last Wednesday for the National Audubon Society’s annual gala. Emceed by actresses Lili Taylor and Jane Alexander, the wingding centered on the annual presentation of the Audubon Medal and the Lufkin Prize for Environmental Leadership, with former NRDC president Frances Beinecke and environmental advocate Nathaniel P. Reed in the night’s catbird seat. Taylor and Alexander kept the evening’s mood largely airy, although its tenor could not help but fall to earth with every reminder of current political realities.


Presenting the Lufkin Prize to Reed, Paul Tudor Jones acted the mockingbird. “Without further ado,” he crowed, “the winner is… Scott Pruitt, EPA. Is Scott here?” referring, of course, to the newly confirmed EPA head often disparaged as a fox guarding a henhouse. The night’s proceedings were a tribute to women as much as to the environment. In celebration of women’s history month and the important roles that women have had in the conservation movement, the Society built a strong nest of female speakers, presenters and honorees. Eagle-eyed attendees no doubt noticed that the speakers for the night tended more hen than rooster.


The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the goal of protecting birds and other wildlife. Through its state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners it reaches millions of Americans every year, and comes closer to realizing its vision of a world where humans and animals live in harmony. 260 guests attended this year’s benefit, including David Yarnold, Pete and Helen McCloskey, Margaret Walker, Dan Lufkin, David B. Ford, Allison Rockefeller, Anne Thompson, Maurice DuBois, Rhea Suh, Austin Fremont, Ben, Candace, Jake, and Rick Beinecke, Coleman and Susan Burke, Leslie Stevens, Eric Goode and Katie Carpenter. Overall, they helped raise more than $1.1 million. Now that’s a lot of birdseed!

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