San Diego Audubon Welcomes New Executive Director Travis Kemnitz


Feb. 11, 2020

San Diego, Calif. – The San Diego Audubon Society is pleased to announce Travis Kemnitz has been hired as the organization’s new executive director, successfully concluding a lengthy, comprehensive recruitment process. Kemnitz takes over from long-time San Diego Audubon executive director Chris Redfern, who recently relocated with his family to Boston.

ReWild Mission Bay is a project of the San Diego Audubon Society and our ReWild Coalition partners.

While Kemnitz is new to San Diego Audubon, he’s no stranger to San Diego, having served for over 17 years with the San Diego-based Ocean Discovery Institute, most recently in the position of director of talent and culture, where he not only worked as an ardent advocate for the environment, but addressed inequities in access to science, conservation education, and careers for underserved youth.

A RISE San Diego Urban Leadership Fellows alumnus with a B.A. in environmental studies from the University of San Diego (USD), Kemnitz arrives at San Diego Audubon with seasoned experience in non-profit business operations and board development, and credentials in fundraising, human resources, and program visioning.

“I’m fortunate to have spent the entirety of my professional career increasing access to immersive experiences in nature and science, and in conservation pathways for San Diego’s most deserving and underserved youth,” said Kemnitz. “There is nothing like seeing the spark of curiosity in a child’s eye, and the sense of belief rise inside them that they can make a difference in our world. I’m delighted and honored to utilize my background to make a broader impact with the San Diego Audubon Society.”

San Diego Audubon board president David Stump noted the breadth of Kemnitz’s experience in his remarks. “As San Diego Audubon looks to increase its role in addressing vital conservation issues and expand its visibility in the San Diego region, we felt Travis brought assets essential to our growth,” said Stump. “San Diego Audubon has long championed a culture of conservation. Travis brings an energy, creativity and people-oriented mindset that fits perfectly with our goals.”

Stump praised San Diego Audubon staff for taking on additional duties and disseminating leadership responsibilities during the search process, and thanked the Board of Directors for their efforts, particularly development chair Eowyn Bates, who led the board’s search committee. Blair Search Partners, a San Diego firm specializing in non-profit executive recruitment, also helped lead the search.

Stump was also effusive in his praise of outgoing executive director Chris Redfern, and noted “the many ways Chris provided a steady hand to keep San Diego Audubon moving forward with confidence and energy.”

Redfern, who assisted the San Diego Audubon board in the recruitment process, was similarly pleased with the search process. “Travis comes to us with an impressive track record of accomplishments in the non-profit sector,” he said. “He’s a great fit for San Diego Audubon, and will work well with our staff and board members to lead the organization to new heights of effectiveness and impact.”

According to Kemnitz, “The time to work together to build a broader sense of connection to San Diego’s unique wildlife and habitats, and ignite a movement to conserve and restore what remains, is now. While it is easy to get lost in the natural world so many of us enjoy regularly, significant inequities remain that may prevent otherwise budding environmentalists from developing their own deep appreciation for nature, and commitment to conservation. From the powerful Pacific to our rugged backcountry, nature needs our love, and our children need our leadership. I am thrilled and honored to work for such a critical cause leading the San Diego Audubon Society.”

Travis Kemnitz begins as executive director Monday, Feb. 17. He will be available at

The San Diego Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, committed to the protection and appreciation of birds, wildlife, and Southern California habitats through education and advocacy for a cleaner, healthier environment. San Diego Audubon seeks to shape a culture in which nature is a common interest, and our neighbors join us in appreciating and actively protecting our region’s unique biodiversity and natural world.

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ReWild Mission Bay is a project of the San Diego Audubon Society and our coalition partners to enhance and restore wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay, thereby creating new opportunities for wildlife to thrive, and for San Diegans to enjoy nature in our collective backyard.