Dawn O’Neal has a decade of experience leading and steering improvement strategies for non-profit conservation, education, and research organizations. She strives to help organizations engage in meaningful and productive collaborations with communities and stakeholders and to develop equitable and inclusive business practices with the goal of elevating and increasing the number of BIPOC in science and conservation. She also has a deep passion for nature and the outdoors and can be found most weekends hiking or kayaking. Dawn is always looking for opportunities to build bridges between her expertise in conservation and her passion for outdoor recreation, like her involvement on the Outdoor Afro board of directors. She believes her expertise and passion can work together to help create healthy and safe environments, mitigate climate change, and increase access to the outdoors for black and brown communities.
Dawn is currently with the National Audubon Society building and leading Audubon's new regional office across Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. As Executive Director of Audubon Delta, she steers a talented team in advancing regional conservation priorities and delivering durable policy solutions. Dawn also serves as a Vice President of the National Audubon Society working with peers across the country to shape and deliver national objectives, initiatives, and processes.
Prior to joining Audubon, Dawn worked at the Nature Conservancy as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Office of the Chief Scientist. In this role, Dawn developed and stewarded several long-term strategies to help Conservancy scientist build emotional intelligence, enhance technical capacity, and develop skills to enrich collaborations with stakeholders and increase the impact of conservation outcomes.
Before joining the Nature Conservancy, Dawn was Executive Director at the Huyck Preserve leading four critical organizational functions in the areas of Conservation, Education, Research, and Recreation for the 2,000-acre land trust. She stewarded volunteer programs, vibrant science-based nature programs, and a biological research station in addition to fostering partnerships with a regional network of preserves, academic, and governmental agencies to inform natural resource conservation through research.
Dawn holds a BA in environmental studies from Washington University and a PhD in ecology from Indiana University.