Special Guest Speaker

Christian Cooper

Christian Cooper is the Host and a Consulting Producer for the upcoming National Geographic series Extraordinary Birder. Practically born with a pair of binoculars in his hands, he took up birding at an early age thanks to his father, a biology teacher, and inherited an activist streak from both his parents, African Americans who had marched for justice and equality in the Civil Rights era.

Christian served as president of the Harvard Ornithological Club in his college days and co-chair of the board of directors of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in both his and that organization’s youth. In defiance of all the lofty professional expectations of a Harvard graduate, Christian chose to embark on a career as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics for the sheer joy of it. Only his volunteer work spreading “the gospel of birding” to New York City public school children rivaled that joy, first as a teacher with Audubon New York's "For The Birds!” program and then with New York City Audubon’s “Feathered Friends,” an after-school club he founded to give bird nerds like he was in his childhood a place to keep spreading their wings. Currently as New York City Audubon he advocates for greater, safer access to green spaces for all, with a focus on outreach to youth in underserved communities. Continuing his activism on issues of LGBTQ equality and racial justice in the tradition of his parents, Christian combined his passions in the Black Lives Matter graphic short story "It’s a Bird” from DC Comics. He continues to seek synergy at the intersections of storytelling, progressivism, and environmentalism, and he has had the privilege of traveling the globe to find birds and to meet some of the scientists and conservationists--truly extraordinary birders--who are working to help them thrive. He looks forward to bringing the gospel of birding to ever wider audiences through Extraordinary Birder and his memoir, Better Living Through Birding, forthcoming from Random House.