2020 WOS Election

2020 Nominees for WOS Board Positions and Proposed WOS Bylaws Change

Please see the pictures and birding biographies of our new slate of WOS Officers and Board members below as well as a letter outlining proposed changes to WOS Bylaws. And then cast your vote during the voting period September 1 – 20, 2020.

The voting period has closed. See the results in the blue panel below.

The candidates are as follows:

President – Jennifer Kauffman
Vice President – David Armstrong
Secretary – Jon Houghton
Treasurer – Grace Oliver
Board Member – Kim Thorburn
Board Member – Matt Yawney
Board Member – Jason Fidorra

Continuing Board Members Ed Pullen and Bob Flores will be starting the second year of their two- year-terms so won’t be included in this election. Faye McAdams Hands has served two terms and will leave the board. Will Brooks, just graduating from the University of Puget Sound, is leaving the board before his term is up to spend the next couple of years abroad as an ornithology field technician.

You will have a chance to either vote for the candidates listed on this page or enter another person’s name.

In addition, the WOS Board is proposing changes to WOS Bylaws pertaining to the Washington Bird Records Committee (WBRC). Vote Yes or No on the change.

Here are the 2020 WOS Election Results

A total of 121 WOS members voted in the election.
President Jennifer Kauffman: 121 votes
VP David Armstrong: 121 votes
Treasurer Grace Oliver: 121 votes
Secretary John Houghton: 118 votes (3 people submitted no vote)
Kim Thorburn board member: 119 votes (2 people submitted no vote)
Matt Yawney board member: 118 votes (3 people submitted no vote)
Jason Fiddora board member: 119 votes (2 people submitted no vote)

Note: No voters submitted write-in candidates.

Q: Proposed bylaw change: Yes: 118 votes; No: 2 votes; 1 person did not vote on this item

Jennifer Kauffman – President


Jennifer is running for WOS President for the coming year. She is looking forward to working with fellow Board members on conference planning and building membership in eastern Washington. Jennifer has served as WOS Vice President for the past two years, and has worked on the independent financial review, organizational procedures and volunteer recruitment. She has been a member of WOS for more than six years and has thoroughly enjoyed many field trips and annual conferences across the state. She appreciates the opportunity to contribute her organizational and leadership skills to the organization.

Jennifer grew up in Ohio exploring birds and nature. She studied environmental science and water resources management in college and graduate school. She was an environmental and public outreach consultant for more than 20 years, and then spent 15 years with King County managing wastewater capital projects. She retired from King County in 2016.

Jennifer completed the Seattle Audubon Master Birder class in 2017. She is a past Seattle Audubon board member, and continues to support its outreach, operations and science programs. She also served on the Vestry (board) at her church and volunteers at programs to feed the hungry. Jennifer and her husband Jerry live in Seattle.


David Armstrong – Vice President


Hello WOS membership: I am honored to be considered for a possible position as vice-president of WOS. I have a long background in natural history as fishery biologist from undergraduate days at UC Irvine to PhD at UC Davis. Since 1978, I was a tenured professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, UW, and served as Director the last 14 years until retirement in 2014. My research and teaching specialties primarily covered invertebrate taxa, which led to many projects along the Pacific coast from California into the Bering Sea.

Deep interest in birds began about 20 years ago when my wife and I began extensive sea kayaking and realized it was a fantastic way to see birds up close. Since then, we have travelled from Alaska through South America, on to Antarctica to view the amazing diversity of birds, their ecology, and habitats. I thought I was a good birder and then took Dennis Paulson’s Master Birding class last year. I learned so much from him; maybe now I am a better birder, but realize how much there is to still learn, and think WOS would be a good forum to continue my education.


Grace Oliver – Treasurer


I’ve been a member of WOS since 2001, as well as supporter of American Birding Association(ABA), Oregon Birding Association (OBA), Western Field Ornithologists (WFO), and Eastside, Seattle and National Audubons. Ollie and I love how there is always something new to learn about birds. It is a hobby we love! It gets us outdoors where we enjoy the beauty of nature. In the past, I volunteered for WOS in the Membership Chair role for 5 years. Last year, I thought I could help again in a role where I did not have to be in the Seattle area and took inspiration from Kim Thorburn’s doing the treasurer role from Spokane. This year as WOS treasurer has been very challenging. Following on the organization’s financial review in 2019, a goal to simplify the treasurer role was taken. Problem solving has always been enjoyable for me as I spent my career as a software engineer. I have found a solution and look forward to implementing this more streamlined role for another year, if the membership so approves.


Jon Houghton – Secretary


I have recently (mostly) retired after over 45 years as a consulting marine biologist in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. During this time, I had the great privilege of studying aquatic and marine life (including birds) in some of the most gorgeous places on the planet. I began birding at the age of about 3 when my mother took me on Audubon bird trips in Vermont and began my introduction to amazing naturalists and birds. (I still have my 1956 checklist of 97 birds in the state of Vermont) Since the kids went off on their own, my wife and I have spent a lot of our leisure time birding in the US and around the world. I was fortunate to be accepted to and complete the Master Birder program with the 2013 class and transitioned from being a bird watcher, to becoming a birder. Over the last 7 years I’ve enjoyed leading field trips for Seattle Audubon and working on the SAS Conservation Committee.


Kim Thorburn – Returning Board Member


Kim Thorburn is a former public health physician who turned her attention to wildlife conservation after retirement. Birds are her main passion, but she also enjoys such things as the Northern Pacific Tree Frog summer chorus and was delighted by her recent discovery of a weird parasitic plant with the weirder name of Naked Broomrape in her backyard; her non-birder husband Terry called the little flower “the brown-headed cowbird of the plant world.” She volunteers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Greater Sage-Grouse and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse recovery and was rewarded in 2019 with a Great Gray Owl sighting during a Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge breeding bird point count. In 2015, Governor Inslee appointed her to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Kim is running for a second consecutive WOS board term and also served as treasurer in 2013-14. She has led conference field trips. As a Spokane resident, Kim enjoys the statewide birder camaraderie of WOS and is constantly amazed by the dedicated volunteers who keep our organization running smoothly and better all of the time.

Matt Yawney – Incoming Board Member Candidate


Sixteen years ago, I was living in Michigan and got some binoculars for Christmas, intended for star-gazing. By February I had turned my binoculars to the birds and had mostly forgotten about the stars. I wasn’t always busy at work and spent my downtime studying my field guides and then I would go birding whenever I had a chance. A few birders back in Michigan also helped me along.

In 2009 our family moved to Ephrata, WA. I remember looking at my field guides back in Michigan and noticing how many of the Washington bird’s ranges made a little circle around central Washington, and it felt like I was moving to a birding dead-zone. Thankfully, that was not the case, and Grant County has turned out to be a pretty neat place to be a birder. I’ve been in Ephrata for about 11 years now and have found some favorite spots to go birding and spend most of my time birding locally. I’m currently undertaking my third county big year for Grant County, and hoping to break my last record of 244 species (back in 2018). I do love our amazing state though and really enjoy visiting other areas and often combine birding with backpacking. I’ve made birding trips to several US states, and Canadian provinces and have also gone birding in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Thailand.


Jason Fidorra – Incoming Board Member Candidate


Jason Fidorra has been a birder and field biologist birding since 2003, when he moved to central Texas to survey Golden-cheeked Warblers. He worked on bird research and conservation in 11 states and provinces before settling in the Tri-cities, Washington in 2015. He now works in the imperiled shrubsteppe as a biologist for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

As a recreational birder, he has traveled prolifically to the tropics on independent birding excursions and as a guide for international tour companies to Central America. Jason is a strong proponent of eBird for citizen science and has offered free workshops through his local Audubon Chapter (Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society aka LCBAS) and has done “Introduction to eBird” presentations at the Othello Crane Festival. Jason has given presentations on Burrowing Owls for WOS and has been a WOS field trip leader at the annual conference in 2017 and 2018. At LCBAS he has been a board member for several years and currently is the Field Trip Coordinator.

Some of his birding highlights have included the discovery of a population of Unspotted Saw-whet Owls in Panama (www.xenornis.com), the viewing of one of the few remaining Spoon-billed Sandpipers in Thailand, documenting the first record of Bluethroat for California and the lower 48 (www.westernfieldornithologists.org), and recently viewing the long coveted Horned Guan after a grueling hike in Guatemala (ebird.org, with WOS member Kevin Black). His favorite birds are kingfishers. Jason is excited for the opportunity to contribute more to WOS as a board member and to promote WOS events and cross-Cascadian experiences for members on both east and west sides of the state!


Proposed WOS Bylaws Revisions

Letter to WOS Members About Washington Bird Records Committee (WBRC) Bylaws

June 20, 2020

Dear WOS members,

This past winter, the Washington Bird Records Committee (WBRC), a standing committee of WOS, and the WOS Board agreed to collaborate to develop operating bylaws for the WBRC. Such a document would be along the lines of those in use by bird records committees in other states (such as Texas, Arizona, California and others), and its over-arching purposes would be to 1) update and clarify the manner in which committee members will be selected and their term of service; 2) delineate and clarify the roles, functions and terms of service of the chairperson and secretary of the committee; 3) lay out transparently the way in which the committee evaluates rare bird reports and maintains the official Washington State Bird List; 4) make clear the relationships between the WBRC and WOS broadly, as well as with the WOS Board; and 5) preserve the expertise of the committee.

Having worked together over several months to develop the document, WBRC members and the WOS Board are both satisfied with it, and the WOS Board has voted its approval at the June board meeting. These WBRC Bylaws are now in effect and may be found under the WBRC tab on wos.org. Several small changes to the WOS Bylaws are needed so that document and the WBRC Bylaws will be consistent with each other. This requires a vote of the WOS membership. The vote is whether to accept the changes in the WOS Bylaws or not. Please note that the board, after very careful and extensive consideration, has approved both the WBRC Bylaws as published and the proposed changes to the WOS Bylaws, which are given below.

Eric Dudley, WOS President
Jennifer Kauffman, WOS Vice President


Proposed amendments were approved by the Board on June 6, 2020. To be voted on by WOS Membership online in September 2020.



1. Establishment:
a. The President, with approval of the Board, shall appoint committee chairs. An exception is the Washington Birds Records Committee, which shall select its own chair and forward the name to the WOS President and Board for approval. The Board shall review the performance of the committees and their chairs annually.
b. The Washington Bird Records Committee (WBRC) is a standing committee of the organization. All other committees shall be established as needed by the President, with approval of the Board.

2. Membership:
a. Committee members and chairs shall be members in good standing, but need not be officers or directors of the organization.
b. Members of the WBRC shall be selected by the members of the committee from the WOS membership with approval of the WOS President and Board and the WBRC Chair. They shall be appointed for a term of three seven years, and may be reappointed for a second three-year term, after which time they must step down for a period of at least one year before being considered for reappointment.

See the WBRC Bylaws here.

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