David Yarnold is an accomplished enterprise executive with a blended career in the for-profit and non-profit sectors leading organizations through significant transformation and growth.
From his most recent success steering the turnaround of the 112-year-old National Audubon Society to positioning the Environmental Defense Fund as the top conservation partner for global corporations to transforming The San Jose Mercury News into one of the best and boldest newspapers, David has delivered excellence and results.
A visionary, agile leader with an unconventional career arc, David has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to adapt, respond to new challenges, solve complex problems and navigate crisis situations during pivotal points of an organization’s evolution. David excels at assembling high-caliber, cross-disciplinary leadership teams, developing efficient, innovative organizations, raising funds — and communicating a compelling brand story, a defining strength cultivated early in his career at The Mercury News where he earned a Pulitzer Prize and progressed up the leadership ranks to Executive Editor. Throughout his career, David has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and has proven himself to be an influential civic leader.
In David’s current role as President and CEO of Audubon, he unified a vast, fragmented and distributed network with a shared vision and strategy — the first in more than two decades — and repositioned the brand for modern relevance. David has grown revenue from $73M to $105M, delivered the first balanced budget in 14 years, advanced the organization from a 2-star to 4-star, top charity rating and fueled the member/customer base from 350,000 to 1M+. Through best-in-class communications, digital and social marketing advancements, and cutting-edge technology, David transformed the brand for the modern age while leveraging Audubon’s centrist role to secure a lead market position on climate change, ecosystem restoration, conservation, policy and youth leadership development through STEM and nature-based experience.
Among David’s most notable accomplishments at Audubon is the strengthened governance structure. He upgraded the executive team with many for-profit leaders, implementing best-in-class business and talent management practices and instilling requisite operating discipline. David reshaped the Board of Directors and its committees, recruiting diverse leaders from across the country to elevate the Board’s profile and risk orientation and achieve well-balanced regional representation. He also assembled a new Investment Committee with top private equity and Wall Street leaders, overhauling the organization’s investment strategy and delivering increased returns.
Prior to Audubon, David served as Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund and Founding President of the organization’s political arm, ED Action Fund and its first PAC. He championed growth of corporate partnerships, including Carlyle Group, Cisco and Walmart, to influence adoption of sustainable business practices, spearheaded operational expansion to Walmart’s HQ city in Arkansas as well as the West Coast, and served as Executive Sponsor for the MBA recruitment program launch. In 5.5 years under David’s leadership, membership increased by 200%, revenue doubled and the organization delivered its $600M campaign ahead of its 5-year plan.
Earlier at The Mercury News, David served in an integral leadership role to build editorial operations and transform an under-the-radar regional newspaper into one of the country’s finest and the first online news publication, with revenue nearly tripling from $120M to $330M.
David’s passion for community building and diversity form the through-line of his career. During his tenure at The Mercury News, he was a driving force behind the transformation of Silicon Valley into a livable, prosperous and just community, leveraging the newspaper as a platform to advance smart growth, sustainable practices and policies. He has also served on numerous boards and association committees. He was the Founding Board Member at ecoAmerica, a member of the Executive Committee and Board at the American Leadership Forum in Silicon Valley, and President and Diversity Committee Chair of two publishing organizations. David currently serves on the Board for the Broadway Training Center, a local theatre company in Hastings on Hudson, NY. David earned his B.A. degree from San Jose University, graduating with honors.