American Birding Podcast



Please Welcome Our Two Newest ABA Team Members: George Armistead and Nancy Hawley!


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George Armistead and Nancy Hawley photos ©Jeffrey A. Gordon


In late February, I posted a help wanted ad here seeking an ABA Events Coordinator. I'm delighted to report that we got even more help than we had hoped for!

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to present you with the 2 newest members of the ABA team: George Armistead, Events Coordinator, and Nancy Hawley, Membership Experience Coordinator.

Before going any further, I want to give my sincere thanks to the many absolutely stellar applicants who threw their hats into the ring for the events position. It was heartwarming to see so many talented people wanting to work with the ABA and more than a little hearbreaking to have to tell nearly all of them that it wouldn't happen this time. I sincerely thank them all for their efforts and wish them the very best.

Back to George and Nancy.

George Armistead is a name that will be familiar to many of the ABA community. Before taking his position with the ABA, he was a full time bird tour leader at Field Guides, Inc., guiding trips on all seven continents over the last decade. He is especially fond of pelagic birding, but don't expect all future ABA events to necessarily feature boat trips!

Prior to his time tour leading, George worked for seven years in the ornithology department of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and remains a research associate there. George is still a proud resident of Philly, where he lives with his wife, Laura. He spends his free time photographing and birding along the coast between Cape May, NJ, and Cape Hatteras, NC.

Beyond his broad and deep experience of birding and his by now instinctive grasp of what makes for a superlative birding event, George has quite an ABA legacy. He says that he was weaned on the ABA, especially North American Birds. His well-known father, Harry, was Birding's first book review editor and a regional editor for North American Birds for 14 years, so it's no surprise that George has had a lifelong love for this organization. 

I can't wait to see how George will revitalize and grow the ABA's events program. If you'd like to get in touch with him and send your well wishes and/or your event ideas, drop him an e-mail at

If George's is a well-known name in the ABA community, Nancy Hawley's is perhaps even more so. 

I remember Nancy well from the several ABA events where she was the registrar and I was a field trip leader. She was always a ray of sunshine, maintaining unflappable good cheer under pressure and always radiating care and concern for the welfare of ABA members.

Though Nancy has been away from the ABA for a few years, she's maintained her membership in it and affection for it. She's also continued to live close by our offices in Colorado Springs.

When Nancy came in expressing interest in the events job, I was pleased to see that all that optimism and energy I remembered was undimmed. Nancy was obviously brimming over with enthusiasm to help rebuild the ABA and take it to a new plane of effectiveness as a community.

I asked her if she might be willing to take on a different but complementary position in the organization, one that I have long been wanting to hire and for which her resume and personality suited her perfectly. Luckily for all of us, she agreed.

We're calling that position Membership Experience Coordinator and it takes in all manner of duties, all with the goal of making ABA membership more satisfying, meaningful, and seamless. She will provide a much needed and welcome boost toward our goal of providing truly outstanding member services. Simply put, there have been too few staff trying to care for too many members. And since we're clearly looking to increase the number of members, adding to the membership staff is mandatory.

And of course, Nancy's history in ABA events will come in very useful. She and George will certainly be working together closely. After all, events are a crucial component of the ABA membership experience.

A bit about Nancy for those who don't know her: she started in 1997 as the Registrar for ABA Conventions and Conferences, with the Chatham, Ontario, conference only a few short weeks away. She found learning the language and culture of birding to be both fun and exciting, and the beginning of an incredible journey.

Traveling around the country, attending birding events, and meeting many of the ABA members became memorable highlights of her career. At the end of 2005, Nancy made a decision to leave the ABA to help her daughter with a small start-up business. Unfortunately, the economy didn’t hold, and the business was closed after two years.

Nancy went on to become a financial representative with USA Fencing Association, one of the national governing bodies for the US Olympic Committee. She also achieved her certification as an IRS tax preparer, and applied her tax knowledge seasonally with a national tax service as well as a local CPA firm.

Nancy has maintained a friendship with many ABA staff and members, consistently expressing her deep affection for the organization and its members. We welcome the expertise and historical knowledge that Nancy brings to our endeavors.

If you'd like to welcome Nancy, or welcome her back, or just talk about how we can make ABA membership better, drop her a line at

George and Nancy have already made great progress in their new positions in just a few days. I'm so pleased to be working with them both. Look for great things from them and the whole ABA team in the coming weeks and months.