On November 19, 2021, Houston Audubon’s Executive Director, Helen E. Drummond, received the Women in Coastal Conservation Award at Artist Boat’s Float the Boat fundraising dinner series. Drummond was one of the four exceptional women honored for their contributions towards coastal conservation, advocacy, restoration, and leadership.
Helen is a seasoned non-profit executive with over 35 years of experience in Environmental and Natural Resource Management. She has a proven track record of delivering conservation outcomes, creating innovative solutions to problems, and fostering effective partnerships. In addition to Helen’s extensive conservation work, her innate passion for helping others is evident in all she does, from her service as a Math and Science tutor in her 20’s to her participation in the Expand Your Horizons for Young Girls’ program in her 30’s. Her enduring efforts to support and engage women and youth of all backgrounds in conservation extends throughout her professional career. Helen co-created the Galveston Bay Conservation Assistance Program, a partnership program established in 2010 to support land-conservation projects that protect the long-term health and productivity of Galveston Bay. Helen served 13 years as program director of the Galveston Bay Estuary program, 1 of 28 National Estuary Programs in the country; there she facilitated partnerships to collectively restore and conserve 20,000 acres of coastal habitat and led the organization in winning 10 national awards for environmental improvements and establishing effective public-private partnerships at the regional and local level.
“It is a privilege to be recognized and to share this award with 3 other amazing women, two of whom I’ve worked with extensively over the years,” says Drummond. “We’ve worked on habitat, water quality, fisheries, and other natural resource management issues throughout the Galveston Bay area.”
Helen credited her family’s support of her nature-loving pursuits in setting a foundation for her career. “Determined to overcome barriers and roadblocks-- some intentionally set, some simply institutionally-established -- I could always find strength and courage to forge ahead in my family’s teachings and example. I learned from THEM how to work around and beyond the unspoken assumptions, disrespectful comments, or undermining actions and just keep forging ahead.” Helen also states that the support of other women was critical to her success and was grateful that “during some of the most pivotal moments in my career there have been women mentors and managers over me who encouraged me; and provided unexpected insight through a word they said or actions they took.”
Helen joined Houston Audubon in 2012 as Executive Director and has led the organization through several land acquisitions, major capital infrastructure and capacity building projects, and a national accreditation through Land Trust Alliance.
Established in 1969 as an autonomous, self-supporting chapter of the National Audubon Society, Houston Audubon Society’s mission is to advance the conservation of birds and positively impact their supporting environments which it accomplishes through acquiring and maintaining critical habitat as bird sanctuaries, providing education programs and nature experiences for children and adults, and advocating policy and management actions in support of the mission. Houston Audubon owns and manages 17 nature sanctuaries encompassing over 4,100 acres across the Greater Houston and Galveston regions and became an Accredited Land Trust in 2017.