Audubon announced hat it has appointed Elsa Lopez, the former head of Mothers of East L.A. - Santa Isabel as the first Director of the Audubon Center at Debs Park, scheduled to open November 2003. The Audubon Center will provide innovative, hands-on, outdoor science programs to children and families in some of Los Angeles' most underserved neighborhoods. Lopez, who has served as executive director of Mothers of East L.A. since 1992, will begin her duties at Audubon immediately.
"We are delighted to have Elsa lead our new Audubon Center," said Gerald Secundy, Executive Director of Audubon California. "As California grows and changes, Audubon is investing in underserved communities, like Northeast and East Los Angeles, to make sure we are all part of the environmental dialogue. Elsa Lopez is the kind of community leader who can help make that vision a reality. As director she will be a model for tens of thousands of local young people who we hope will grow up to pursue careers in science, conservation, and environmental advocacy."
Lopez grew up in Boyle Heights, a few miles from Highland Park where the Audubon Center is being built. Her mother, Juana Gutierrez, founded Mothers of East Los Angeles - Santa Isabel in 1987 to fight a prison proposed for their neighborhood. The group became involved in a variety of environmental advocacy efforts and Elsa joined the staff in 1992 to develop an innovative water conservation program. The initiative called for helping low-income communities reduce energy consumption and water bills by replacing high-flow toilets with new, low-flow models. Over the past ten years, she has developed and led a range of outreach, advocacy and environmental education efforts aimed at youth and families in the urban core.
As a key community leader, Lopez collaborated with the Audubon staff over the past five years on plans for the Audubon Center. She helped write the official Framework Plan for Debs Park and served on the Center's Capital Campaign Advisory Committee. She also served on Audubon California's Board of Directors from 1998-2000. Her responsibilities will include day-to-day operation of the new facility and maintaining strong community outreach to ensure that the Center's programming reaches all ages and ethnic communities. Lopez will also be responsible for building a stewardship committee to grow the Center's long-term program and operations endowment.
Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.