In July 2012, Suzanne became the first Executive Director of Birmingham Audubon, a staffed chapter of the National Audubon Society that has worked to conserve birds and their habitats since 1946. Her work with bird conservation and Audubon began more than ten years ago, and has included projects in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, where she was also part of a landowners’ cooperative to manage and restore warm-season grasses and prairie habitat. As a leader in the Audubon network, Suzanne represented 463 chapters from across the country during National Audubon’s recent strategic-planning process. Her previous career included building a strategic communications firm, serving as crisis- and issue-management counsel, and serving as an in-house senior consultant for a Forbes 400 company.
Program & Science Director
Andy Coleman, Ph.D.
Andy joined Birmingham Audubon as the organization’s first Program Director in February 2015. A native of Greenville, Alabama, he holds degrees from the University of Alabama, Appalachian State University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where his research focused on salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, diamondback terrapins on the Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coasts, and sea turtles in the Mississippi Sound. While he continues to collaborate with scientists studying diamondback terrapin conservation in Alabama and sea turtle conservation in Mexico, Andy also maintains an active research program at Birmingham Audubon, with current projects examining the ecologies of Bald Eagle and Eastern Bluebird populations in Alabama.
Ansel Payne, Ph.D.
Ansel is a native of West Virginia and a former high school science teacher. A lifelong naturalist, he holds degrees from Harvard and Tufts, as well as a Ph.D. in Comparative Biology from the American Museum of Natural History. While in New York, his work on the evolutionary history of digger wasps led to field expeditions in Central America and the Middle East, as well as to extended trips in the American West. It was there that his only copy of Wallace Stegner’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian was destroyed in a desert rainstorm, an irony he thinks John Wesley Powell would’ve appreciated. In addition to his efforts on behalf of birds and their habitats, Ansel has also written for a diverse set of publications, including The Appendix, TIME, and Nautilus. He lives in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood, a few blocks from the Birmingham Audubon office.
Partnership & Policy Director
Chris came to Birmingham Audubon in December 2016 as the organization’s first Partnership & Policy Director. Born and raised in South Africa, he earned a Master’s degree in Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University, and has lived in and explored Alabama for the last thirty years. Before coming to Birmingham Audubon, Chris worked for almost twenty-five years at The Nature Conservancy in Alabama—most recently as that organization’s Alabama State Director—and played a pivotal role in the 2012 renewal of Alabama’s popular Forever Wild public-land program. An avid hunter, birder, and stamp collector, he lives in Hoover with his wife, Suzanne Oberholster, and their three children.
Membership & Volunteer Manager
A native of Paris, Tennessee, Chris comes to Birmingham Audubon from the United States Marine Corps—where he served for six years as a corporal, with extended stays in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy), the Middle East (Jordan), and Africa (Djibouti)—and from UAB, where he recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Chris has also worked in administrative and managerial positions at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Erwin and Associates, Inc., respectively. He currently lives in Homewood.