Melissa Pitkin

Chief of Staff

As Point Blue’s first Chief of Staff, I help drive the leadership work of Point Blue which enables us to care for our staff and achieve our mission. In my role, I help identify strategies to improve coordination across the organization and strengthen operational effectiveness, especially during times of growth. My 25+year history with Point Blue and my experience managing teams to growth and success, combined with my vision for building an inclusive Point Blue leave me very excited about this role.

For the past 25+ years I have worked with staff from across Point Blue to share our science and conservation recommendations to inspire conservation. I initiated and grew our current Education Program, served as the Communications Director, and have been on the leadership team for over 20 years. I have a passion for supporting all our staff, and particularly growing and developing our early career training efforts to create career pathways into conservation science, especially for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

I have an M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University and a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from UC Davis. I first came to Point Blue (then PRBO) as a third grader on a field trip to observe bird banding at the Palomarin Field Station. I distinctly remember walking the mist-netting trail in hopes of finding birds! My educational career brought me back to Palomarin with my college ornithology class. In 1997 I became an intern studying songbirds at the Cosumnes River Preserve, then elephant seals on the Farallones, and then back to Palomarin where I began teaching and expanding our educational programs. Today, the education program has grown to reach over 4,000 people of all ages each year, through programs in the field and in classrooms, including the award winning program called STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed).

During my graduate studies I focused on the opportunity to teach science to students through mist-netting demonstrations at bird research stations. Drawing from my experiences at Palomarin and from surveying over 30 research organizations in North America, I produced the guide “Mist-netting with the public: A guide for communicating science through bird banding” which is now available for purchase through Environment for the Americas.

I work primarily from my home office in Healdsburg, CA and also from our headquarters in Petaluma.