Yigal Gelb grew up in Israel, where he served three years as a paratrooper in the Israeli army. He holds a BA degree in economics from the University of Rochester and an MPA degree in environmental science and policy from Columbia University. His professional experience includes three years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where he worked as an assistant economist at the Bank’s Domestic Research division.


As Program Director at New York City Audubon, Mr. Gelb directed the following programs while also serving as the principal fundraiser for these programs. His work on the Harbor Herons Project – a program designed to protect NYC’s wading bird populations – included aerial monitoring from the Fujifilm blimp to chart the main flight lines of egrets. Other projects included the drafting of a conservation plan dedicated to the protection of these birds and the creation of the GIS-based Harbor Herons Habitat Database. In his work on Project Safe Flight – a program dedicated to the protection of migratory birds – Mr. Gelb designed and carried out various research projects focused on urban bird collisions, publishing his findings in a peer-reviewed journal. He chaired the Science Committee of the Bird Safe Glass Working Group, and led the effort to make several well-known buildings in NYC safer for birds, including the Freedom Tower and Postal Service’s Morgan Mail. In 2007, Mr. Gelb put in place two webcams that sent live images via the internet – the HeronCam was situated in the center of a small island-colony; and the HawkCam documented the nesting cycle of two urban hawks. Mr. Gelb also directed the Natural Areas Initiative, which inventoried and protected over 150 natural areas in the NYC. He expanded NYC Audubon’s Education Program to include over 100 annual trips and classes, including boat trips and regional bus trips to view wildlife in the NYC region and beyond. He was a member of NYC Audubon’s Conservation Committee and the co-chair of NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Program’s (HEP) Harbor Herons Subcommittee.


In his role as Program Director, Mr. Gelb collaborated with a vast array of people in order to realize the mission of protecting natural areas for the benefit of both humans and wildlife. These include legislators, reporters, donors, grantors, community representatives, educators, government officials, scientists, project consultants, private sector partners, volunteers, students, tour operators, naturalists, staff, and colleagues from other non-profit organizations.


An avid naturalist and student, Mr. Gelb traveled to many countries around the world to explore their flora and fauna while also learning about the local people’s culture and history. In New York City, Mr. Gelb led National Audubon’s Central Park Christmas Bird Count as well as other local trips. He assisted the New York Botanical Garden with a research program to study forest regeneration rates and New York City’s Dept. of Parks & Recreation with mapping of vegetation using GIS technology.


Ultimately, he believes, our ability to live in harmony with nature will not only greatly enhance our own quality of life, but also determine the duration of our existence on this planet.