Participant in Outdoor Asian bird walk at Union Bay Natural Area (photo by Glenn Nelson)

Birds Connect Seattle. Three simple words that represent eight months of focused work through a transparent and inclusive process. 

In July 2022, immediately following the announcement that we would remove “Audubon” from our name, we hosted a listening session on Zoom to hear reactions from the community.  That event attracted 147 attendees. Happily, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. There was also significant national media attention around our announcement. 

During the months of August and September, 2022, our staff conducted eight in-person and remote focus-group sessions with internal stakeholders. In all, the focus groups had 50 participants, including 26 committee members, 9 staff, 9 board members, and 8 other volunteers.  

In October. 2022, we launched a public online survey that attracted more than 625 responses. We also shared a similar survey with external partners that received 50 responses and resulted in numerous one-on-one conversations.  

Throughout each stage of the process, we logged and detailed at least 265 semi-solicited emails and phone calls. In all, we received input from more than 1,000 people. 

In January 2023, we convened a Name Selection Committee. The committee was comprised of both internal and external stakeholders, including: 

  • Two staff members: Executive Director Claire Catania and Community Director Glenn Nelson, 
  • One board member: Board President Andrew Schepers, 
  • Three members of the Communications Committee: Susan MacLaren, Stuart Gordon, and Jeremy Schwartz, 
  • NextGen Advisory Council member Suzannah Yu, 
  • Conservation Committee member Martha Baskin, 
  • Four representatives from BIPOC-led community groups: David Garcia (Latino Outdoors), Chris Liu (Outdoor Asian, The Bird Rolls), Chevon Powell (Golden Bricks Events), and Denice Rochelle (The Bronze Chapter), 
  • DC Chapter President Tykee James, and 
  • Former Seattle Audubon employee Melissa Melloy. 

The Name Selection Committee began its process with a review of the feedback compiled over the preceding months. The group discussed the overall variability and personal nature of the majority of the feedback. In general, recurring themes of birds, community, conservation, and education were identified. 

The committee pulled every name suggestion we received, in addition to new suggestions from the committee members themselves, to compile an initial list of 263 possible names. The committee then established a framework for decision making to winnow the list of available suggestions.  

The committee immediately ruled out any new eponymous names, e.g. The Rachel Carson Club. Furthermore, the committee also reaffirmed the organization’s existing practice of dropping “Society” from our name and would not accept new suggestions that included it, e.g. The Nature Society, or any other term that might imply a lack of inclusion. In a similar vein, the committee universally agreed that the new name should reflect our focus on birds, and be accessible and use plain language. This eliminated the use of more academic terms like “avian” or “ornithology.” 

Using this framework and stakeholder feedback, the initial list was trimmed from 263 names to 50. From those 50 the Name Selection Committee discussed the relative merits and challenges posed by each name and further reduced the list to a short list of 11 names.  

The list of 11 was divided amongst the committee members for a two-week period of stress testing. The committee searched for the availability of URLs associated with each name, and searched the web for any potential conflicts and/or negative connotations associated. Acronyms for the names were also researched and considered for any offensive abbreviations. Stress testing eliminated a handful of names from consideration before the committee reduced the final list to three names, which the committee then ranked for presentation to the board. 

The staff reviewed and also ranked the final three name selections for the board’s review. Both staff and the Name Selection Committee shared the same first choice, Birds Connect Seattle™, which was ultimately adopted by a unanimous vote of the board.  

Read more about what our new name means to us here.

Birds Connect Seattle™ was specifically chosen for its potential to be used as part of a broader naming convention. For more information on behalf of a sibling chapter, please complete our interest form.