Chandra Taylor Smith

For the past three years, Dr. Chandra Taylor Smith has managed the national operational support and program development for Audubon’s unparalleled nationwide network of 42 nature Centers and more than 460 local Chapters as well as Audubon’s education department and flagship corporate partnership, Toyota TogetherGreen. With a background in education policy and an academic concentration in ecological theology, Chandra brings to Audubon’s extensive network of environmental learning opportunities her passion and commitment to education and her life-long interest in the intersections of the cultural, spiritual, and physical health dimensions of human connections with nature.

Chandra is driven by the urgent need to make practical connections between environmental justice and the conservation movement, particularly in light of the climate crisis. Her goals are to make bird conservation a relevant concern and conservation actions second nature, especially for people from diverse racial/ethnic, social, economic, political and religious backgrounds. She believes that Audubon’s greatest asset that puts the 110 year old conservation organization on the cutting-edge of diversifying the conservation movement is the outreach and engagement of its grassroots network in diverse neighborhoods throughout the hemisphere.

Before joining Audubon, Chandra was Vice President for Research at the Council for Opportunity in Education and Director of The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, where she led Pell’s mission to encourage policy makers, educators, and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled college students. Prior to her tenure at the Pell Institute, she was the first Executive Director of College Summit Chicago (opening the first regional office of the national non-profit College Summit) and then served as Deputy Director of the Postsecondary Education and Student Development Department and District Director for AVID at Chicago Public Schools under then CEO, Arne Duncan.

Chandra earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (HDS). An ordained Christian minister, she provided pastoral leadership in local churches for several years before working as a Development Officer and Assistant Director of Ministerial Studies at HDS. Chandra completed a doctorate of philosophy degree at Vanderbilt and the title of her dissertation is “Earth Blood and Earthling Existence: A Methodological Study of Black Women’s Writings and their Implication for a Womanist Ecological Theology.” During her doctoral studies, Chandra also lectured or served on the faculties of several universities, including: Harvard Divinity School, University of Vermont, Fisk University, Vanderbilt University, and North Park University. She is a gardener and an avid camper and hiker.


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