Alabama Women of Conservation Award

The Nature Conservancy names longtime Cahaba River Society Executive Director Beth Stewart as recipient of the Alabama Women of Conservation Award.

River waters flow rapidly past a forest.
Cahaba River The Cahaba River rushes through a green forest. © Carlton Ward Jr.

Media Contacts

A candid portrait of Beth Stewart.
Beth Stewart Beth Stewart is Executive Director of the Cahaba River Society and the recipient of TNC's 2nd Annual Alabama Women of Conservation Award. © Courtesy/Beth Stewart

The Nature Conservancy announced that it has named longtime Cahaba River Society Executive Director Beth Stewart as recipient of its 2nd Annual Alabama Women of Conservation Award. Stewart was honored at a morning event on Thursday, October 19 at the campus of Birmingham Southern College.

“We are excited to present the 2023 award to an individual who has committed her professional talents to Alabama river stewardship and to the ongoing preservation of our state’s biodiverse freshwater resources,” said TNC Alabama State Director Mitch Reid. “Her countless contributions and their direct impact here are respected by her peers, community members and regulatory bodies alike.”

Stewart was nominated by TNC's Women in Conservation Award selection committee, which includes renowned Alabama-based conservationist and environmental activist Cameron Vowell; Judith Crittenden, founder of the Crittenden Law Firm and current trustee of TNC Alabama; and Cindy Lowry, executive director of Alabama Rivers Alliance.

“I am honored to be selected as only the second recipient of this award, which fosters and encourages the many powerful women in conservation here in Alabama,” said Stewart. “Improving our environment takes dedication and persistence over time, and it’s so meaningful and supportive to have the accomplishments of our efforts recognized and appreciated. We can only make important conservation progress together.”

Added Stewart, “Alabama’s environmental and conservation movement has been a professional realm in which women leaders thrive; the number of young women coming into the field gives us so much hope for the future.”

Prior to joining Cahaba River Society in 1995, Stewart spent 15 years working for local governments in urban planning, development review and conservation in Birmingham, New Orleans and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in the Bluegrass area of Kentucky. During these years, she served as the founding executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance and as a board member with the national non-profit River Network, Inc., where she co-led equity, diversity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

Stewart was in the 2002 class of Leadership Birmingham and helped lead collaboration training by the Collaborative Environmental Network of Alabama. She was previously named a River Hero by the Alabama Rivers Alliance and a National River Hero by River Network and Tom’s of Maine. She holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture with a focus in urban and environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

“We have supported TNC since our earliest days, finding multiple ways to work together and increase the impact of both our organizations for the good of the Cahaba,” added Stewart. “TNC is a collaborative partner who is willing to think big in developing transformative strategies that will move the needle for the Cahaba River.”

“Our state is lucky to have women like Beth who work tirelessly to protect Alabama’s river systems and to improve the environmental quality of state waterways,” added Reid. “The efforts of the Cahaba River Society are pivotal to Alabama’s success and serve as a reminder of what makes her leadership so deserving of this award.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.