Mass Audubon Announces Layoffs and Other Cuts Amid Pandemic

Release Date:
June 22, 2020

LINCOLN, MA — In order to respond to dramatic revenue losses related to the global pandemic, Mass Audubon has made difficult decisions to weather the crisis and emerge stronger so that it can continue critical conservation work.  

These decisions include layoffs, furloughs, reduced hours, and hiring freezes. 

Approximately 13 percent of full-time employees (34 of 260) have been laid off. Sixty additional staff have also been impacted by lay-offs, extended furloughs, and reduced hours. This does not take into account the hundreds of program staff that Mass Audubon would have employed this summer. Almost every department of the organization was affected, while the bulk of the layoffs have taken place in the sanctuary division where the impacts of COVID-19 on education programs for adults, families, and children (including summer and vacation week camps) are felt most acutely.  

“Mass Audubon’s staff is incredibly dedicated, passionate, and focused on protecting the nature of Massachusetts. These cuts have nothing to do with the quality and capabilities of these employees or the importance of this organization to people and nature, particularly in these times when nature and the outdoors play an even more meaningful role in our lives,” Mass Audubon President David O’Neill acknowledged. “While we strongly believe that this is the best course of action for the longevity of the organization, it is heartbreaking nonetheless.”  

Like many nonprofits, Mass Audubon has seen dramatic losses in revenue via program income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The organization is projecting a $6.5 million decline in program or earned revenue for the next fiscal year.  

In the face of this looming deficit, senior staff leadership and the Board of Directors were required to look responsibly and comprehensively at what steps would be needed to ensure the 124-year-old organization would continue to have a strong conservation impact in all aspects of its work.   

This crisis has also forced a reexamination of how the wildlife sanctuaries are organized. In an effort to be more efficient and collaborative, the sanctuaries will be restructured into regional hubs. This new model will keep all of the wildlife sanctuaries open now and into the future while allowing Mass Audubon to leverage the entire system to achieve measurable conservation impact.    

Mass Audubon values its role as a 21st-century conservation leader, thus is making a strong commitment to further invest and deepen its work in Climate Change and in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

The organization also reaffirmed its foundational goal of protecting the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife by growing our land protection efforts, strengthening our grassroots advocacy, and providing world-class educational programs. 

“Through these necessary changes, and while honoring Mass Audubon’s mission to connect people with nature,” O’Neill said, “we aim to grow our collective conservation impact and become a model environmental organization that is safe and welcoming for all.” 


Mass Audubon protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.

Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at