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Photo by Tom Grey

Who We Are

The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society was founded in 1926, and with over 900 members, is one of the largest National Audubon Society chapters in California. Our programs and conservation activities are supported by our generous members and donors. SCVAS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your dues and donations are fully tax-deductible.

Our Mission

The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society promotes the enjoyment, understanding, and protection of birds and other wildlife by engaging people of all ages in birding, education, and conservation.


To accomplish this mission we will...

  • • Promote scientifically sound conservation strategies for the protection of native ecosystems and demonstrate the value of conservation to the community.
  • • Educate our diverse community about the benefits of preserving and enjoying nature, focusing on youth education programs, public outreach, and field trips.
  • • Support research into maintaining, restoring, and understanding native ecosystems, particularly those of birds.
  • • Collaborate with the National Audubon Society, Audubon-California, Audubon Chapters, and other organizations to accomplish our common goals.

Our Bylaws

Over the past year, the SCVAS Board has rewritten our Society's bylaws to make them simpler, shorter, and consistent with current best practice. Our new 2018 bylaws are 8 pages long in contrast to the 24 pages of our current outdated bylaws.

Click here to read the revised Bylaws of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society

Our Yearly Accomplishments

We have a long list of yearly accomplishments made possible by our many generous supporters and volunteers. Help us continue this trend through the coming years by donating to our year-end appeal!



Matthew Dodder, SCVAS Executive Director

Matthew Dodder, Executive Director, has been passionate about birds since he was 14 years old. Before joining SCVAS he worked as a senior designer at the premier graphic design and marketing agency in the Bay Area, helping Silicon Valley companies achieve their outreach goals through visually arresting designs and strategic campaigns. He has taught a popular birding class at the Palo Alto Adult School since 1999, sharing his love and curiosity about birds with scores of students. As ED he brings to SCVAS a varied skill set and an unapologetic concern for the welfare of our avifauna. At home with his wife Kelly, Matthew adores laughing, cooking, and drawing birds. His avian artwork, from initial sketches to finished portraits, can be found on his blog: Contact Matthew at (408) 252-3748 or


April Austin of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
April Austin

April Austin, Office Manager, graduated from Golden Gate University with a B.S. in Information Science. Prior to joining SCVAS, April worked in high tech and higher education managing business application software projects in IT. April enjoys learning from her co-workers who share her love of nature. She is an active hiker who frequents local baylands, parks and open space preserves, and loves spending time in her own bird-friendly backyard. Contact April at (408) 252-3747 or


Shani Kleinhaus of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Shani Kleinhaus

Shani Kleinhaus, Environmental Advocate, works to protect and promote wildlife habitats and to include avian conservation in local development plans. She represents the Chapter before local governments and decision makers, addressing issues of land use, birds, wildlife habitat, and environmental impacts. Shani (pronounced shaa-knee) works closely with our Environmental Action Committee and volunteers on a plethora of conservation issues throughout Santa Clara County and its cities. Shani earned her Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis and has contributed to conservation research, advocacy and planning in a variety of ecosystems in the US and overseas. To join our group of advocates or to alert us to ecological concerns and opportunities in your community, contact Shani at (650) 868-2114 or


Carolyn Knight of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Carolyn Knight

Carolyn Knight, Education & Outreach Specialist, graduated from UC Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology. Prior to joining SCVAS she worked with Wood Ducks in the Central Valley, where she officially became a bird nerd. Carolyn is excited to continue introducing students to local ecology and conservation. In addition to her education and outreach duties, Carolyn also runs our annual Spring Birdathon fundraiser. When she isn't working, Carolyn enjoys knitting, getting lost in the woods, and walking her dog. Contact Carolyn at for general questions, or for Birdathon inquiries.


Board of Directors

The SCVAS Board of Directors is always open to new ideas and suggestions from members. We work hard to uphold our bylaws, maintain fiscal solvency, ensure that our programs support our mission, promote local conservation, and provide fun and exciting educational experiences for both children and adults.


The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society is seeking Board members and welcomes expressions of interest from anyone who supports our mission. While your enthusiastic contribution of time and energy is the major qualification, the Board particularly needs expertise and experience in fund-raising, environmental education, and social media. Contact us if you are interested in joining our Board.


Meetings are typically held the second Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM.


Diane Hart of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Diane Hart

Diane Hart, President, describes herself as an adult-onset birder who makes up with enthusiasm for what she lacks in expertise. She has served on the SCVAS Board since 2011, becoming its President in 2017. She sits on most Board’s committees and is active on SCVAS’s Education Committee. Diane is a nationally recognized education author and assessment consultant. She has written 20 textbooks on U.S. history, world history, geography, American government, and economics, most of which are still used in schools across the country. She has also consulted widely on social studies curriculum, instructional design, and standards-based assessments. Her most recent project has been the development of cross-cultural competency tools to prepare government personnel heading overseas to work effectively with people from cultures different from their own. Diane embraces being out-of-doors, whether birding, gardening, cycling, or leading tours at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve where she volunteers as a docent. What she loves most about birding is that she can do it anywhere, from the ends of the Earth to the Safeway parking lot.


Vivek Khanzode of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Vivek Khanzodé

Vivek Khanzodé, Vice President, Vivek’s interest in birds and nature blossomed after a trip to Costa Rica in 2009. The Resplendent Quetzal mesmerized him, and since then he has been traveling the US and the neotropics in Central and South America annually on nature themed vacations to capture the beauty of birds. Vivek has been a member of the SCVAS Board since 2011 and currently serves on the Executive, Membership & Development, and Nominating Committees. He brings to the Board the perspectives of both a committed birder and an engineering manager in the Semiconductor industry in the Silicon Valley. He is a strong supporter and active presenter in the Bay Area Bird Photographers group of SCVAS. In his spare time, Vivek photographs birds in the Bay Area and beyond. His bird photos have been published by the National Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservancy, and several other conservation related organizations. His bird and nature photographs can be enjoyed at


Joan Leighton of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Joan Leighton

Joan Leighton, Secretary, has been on the SCVAS Board since 2004 and has acted as its Secretary for most of that time. She also serves on the Executive, Nominating, and Personnel committees. A professional librarian, Joan started her career at Harvard's East Asian Library, went on to manage the several libraries of a national accounting firm, and then came to Stanford where she oversaw many of the programs and services of Stanford's main and undergraduate libraries. Retirement was followed by three years with San Francisco's Koret Foundation directing a national book award program. Joan’s time is now spent birding while traveling, hosting emerging string quartets, collecting fruit stickers (one of the largest such collections in the world), and playing with family and friends up and down the California coast.


Michael Armer of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Michael Armer

Michael Armer joined the SCVAS board in 2016. He is a founding member of the Outreach Committee, and also sits on the Membership & Development and Personnel Committees. Michael graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Linguistics. He then worked in the IT field for about ten years, managing networks for a few dozen small companies. About ten years ago Michael decided on a major career change and went to UC Davis to study Veterinary Medicine. He is now a small animal veterinarian in Campbell, CA. From a young age, Michael has been a birder and bird photographer. His passion for birds has taken him to six continents – and he hopes to travel to Antarctica to complete the set! For the last fifteen years he has also been a raptor bander with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory in Marin County. 



Gabrielle Feldman of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Gabrielle Feldman

Gabrielle Feldman joined the Board of Directors in March 2015 and has served on the Outreach and Environmental Action Committees. Gabrielle has over 20 years of experience working with natural resource managers, NGOs, governments, and businesses on a variety of wildlife conservation projects throughout the Bay Area and beyond. She combines her passion for wildlife conservation and sustainable development with an expert knowledge of local, national and international law. By utilizing a holistic approach, she has led complicated planning and implementation processes designed to conserve natural resources while promoting sustainable development. In her free time, Gabrielle enjoys spending time with her husband and their twin children and cooking and baking for a crowd. If she isn’t hanging out with her family, she spends her time outdoors hiking and exploring nature.


Peter Hart of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Peter Hart

Peter Hart has served on the SCVAS Board since 2011. He is a member of the Nominating, Personnel, and Membership & Development Committees. He also serves on the Board of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. During his professional career, from which he is now largely retired, Peter founded or led half a dozen companies and international research centers and invented or developed the theory of several widely used computer algorithms. He is the world’s most-cited author in the field of Robotics and among the ten most-cited authors in the field of Computer Science (according to Google Scholar). He holds over 125 patents covering a wide range of artificial intelligence and software inventions and is a Fellow of four professional associations. Nowadays, Peter is a bird photographer, cyclist, furniture maker, pianist, community volunteer and traveler. His technical interests are now focused on how information technology can contribute to conservation science.


Bob Hirt of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Bob Hirt

Bob Hirt has been on the Board since 2003 and as Past President serves on its Executive Committee. He is also active on the Birdathon, Finance & Investment, and Membership & Development committees. Bob has been involved in Bay Area Audubon activities since 1977 and has served on the Boards of Golden Gate Audubon (President), Farallon Island Foundation (Treasurer), and Friends of Richardson Bay (Controller) and Audubon Canyon Ranch. In his view, SCVAS is the leader in the South Bay in birding activities, wildlife education and environmental action. He sees SCVAS as assertive and collaborative in protecting bird and wildlife habitats. Bob earned an MBA in Finance at Western Michigan University and a CPA certificate while at KPMG in San Francisco. His business career was in Corporate Finance specializing in Corporate Tax and Treasury with Bank of America, Lucky Stores, Measurex, Solectron and ending at SanDisk. After retiring from his international tax consulting practice, he is devoting his time to SCVAS, birding and his four grandchildren.


Barry Langdon-Lassagne of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Barry Langdon-Lassagne

Barry Langdon-Lassagne grew up at the foot of Mount Diablo in the East Bay where he would frequently hike and camp. He started actively birding in the 1980s in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He banded birds for SFBBO in the early 1990s and he's been participating in SCVAS's annual Spring Birdathon since 2005. Barry recently retired from a software engineering career at Apple after nearly a quarter century and now has more time to devote to his love of nature and conservation. He is excited for the opportunity to contribute more substantially by joining the SCVAS board and committees. He still enjoys programming, managing to combine it with birding by writing a bird check-listing app for the iPhone. His other interests include bird and wildflower photography, astronomy and astrophotography, and baking bread.


John Richardson of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
John Richardson

John Richardson joined the Board in 2017 saying he was ready to “commit quality time and energy to such an energetic, creative, and inspiring organization.” Good to his word, he now chairs the Membership & Development Committee. After finishing a degree in Biology in Omaha, John made a calculated decision to move west and live out his dream of being nearer to the mountains. He added a History degree at a Washington university and then worked for six years with the US Forest Service in fire control in six western states. For the past 35 years, he has had a successful and rewarding career in industrial sales, mostly in executive level capital spending projects with Bay Area public schools, public and private universities, cities and counties, and large corporate firms. Now retired, John is pleased to have more time to commit to birding, worldwide nature photography, cycling, swimming, hiking, woodworking, and reading. You can see some of his work at


Bill Walker of Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Bill Walker

Bill Walker has been birding in California since 1996 and photographing wild birds and their environment since 2003. He teaches bird photography at Google, Point Reyes Birding Festival, and the Coastside Land Trust. His photos are published on Instagram and at Bill joined the board in 2019 after years of participating in Spring Birdathon and Christmas Bird Counts. He serves on the Field Trip Committee. He credits the SCVAS 2012 trip to Costa Rica with opening a door to birding travel, which has been very rewarding. Bill has worked in software engineering at Apple, Cisco, Mozilla, and most recently, Google. Bill holds a PhD in Computer Science from University of Illinois, where he studied object-oriented software, jazz piano, and electronic music. Bill currently directs the choir at University Lutheran Church in Palo Alto.