A Valedictory Visit With Ellie Cohen as the CEO Leaves Point – from Bay Nature

By David Loeb for Bay Nature

Read the full Bay Nature article here

By the time I got out of my car at the Petaluma headquarters of Point Blue Conservation Science on the morning of November 8, the sky had already turned a sickly yellowish tan. On the drive up from Berkeley, I had started noticing what first appeared to be yellow fog to the northeast, while the sky remained clear and blue to the west. Strange, I thought; fog usually comes in from the west. By the time I reached Petaluma, the whole sky was blanketed by the sickly yellow haze; the acrid smell when I got out of the car told me immediately this was not fog. Inside the office, Ellie Cohen, CEO of Point Blue, was already communicating with Point Blue field staff about the fast-moving wildfire that had ignited just a few hours earlier near the town of Paradise in Butte County. “Get inside and be safe,” she pleaded. What we couldn’t have known at that point was that this was the start of the deadliest wildfire in California history, leaving 86 people dead and thousands displaced.

This was an all-too-appropriate segue to my interview with Ellie Cohen, on the occasion of her impending departure from Point Blue Conservation Science (founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory/PRBO). Because if the world at large had been heeding Ellie for the past 12 years, we might already be on track to make the choices and changes necessary to avoid this apocalyptic, smoke-filled vision of the future of California … and the planet….

Gratitude and Inspiration — Video and Photos from Point Blue’s “Thank you Ellie” Celebration

October 25, 2018

By Ellie Cohen

Saturday’s (Oct 20th) celebration in honor of my 20 years of leadership at Point Blue was a wonderful and personally moving day that I’ll always remember. (For a list of our collaborative accomplishments over the past two decades, see here and see here for a local Pt. Reyes Light article that captures the essence of the day!)

I was profoundly touched to have so many of our fantastic partners and funders, wonderful board leaders, dedicated members and supporters, and truly outstanding staff with us—all working toward the common goal of securing a healthy, vibrant future! What an inspiration!

With many thanks to the Nancy Gamble, Jaime Lilly, and the many others who made this a stellar day reflecting the collaborative brilliance of Point Blue, here are links to the short tribute video that was shared on Saturday, photos from the day, a three minute event highlight video, and Congressman Jared Huffman’s tribute. Congressman Huffman also presented a Congressional Record statement honoring me that will be read in Congress on November 13th in Congress and that will become a permanent part of the Library of Congress (how very humbling!).

You can view the entire program video here (Part 1Part 2, and Part 3) for the heartfelt accolades shared at the event from Melissa Pitkin (Education and Outreach Director), Geoff Geupel (Emerging Projects and Partnerships Director), former Board Chair Carolyn Johnson, and our close partners who spoke on stage:

  • Carlos Suarez, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Diana Craig, Deputy Director for Ecosystem Management, USDA Forest Service Region 5
  • Maria Brown, Superintendent, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Speakers in the short video tribute included:

  • Steve Thal, Former Board Chair
  • Laurie Dachs, President and Vice Chair, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
  • Laurette Rogers, STRAW Founder and Ambassador, Point Blue
  • Ted Eliot, former Board Chair
  • Meredith Elliott, Senior Ecologist, Point Blue
  • Dr. Nadav Nur, Quantitative Ecologist, Point Blue

It was also wonderful to hear from partners, board members, supporters, and friends in the audience.  I am grateful to Susie Thompkins Buell and Mark Buell, as well, for their generosity and for inviting us to use their Peace Barn in Bolinas for this special day.

As Ted Eliot wrote to me that evening, “I was so glad I was there this afternoon. I was deeply moved by what you and your team have done over the past 20 years…”

I sincerely believe that the many acknowledgements and honors truly reflect the invaluable work of everyone in the extended Point Blue family. Thank you for all you’ve done to make our successes possible. And thank you for the honor of leading this fabulous organization over the past two decades!

Wherever my path takes me, I will always be a strong supporter of Point Blue.  Please join me in making a generous donation today to help ensure that Point Blue’s powerful climate-smart conservation science continues to make a difference in these rapidly changing times. Thank you!