Avis Richards ’80 was an education major with a passion for helping children become confident, knowledgeable and productive. More than 50 films and documentaries later, the founder and CEO of Birds Nest Foundation, a non-profit creative group that produces short videos and public service announcements for charities, is reaping the rewards of her success.
“I vividly remember one of my Maryland professors encouraging us students to develop our vision of who we could become and to continuously pursue happiness and business objectives. That encouragement has proven to be a powerful catalyst for my success over the years.” Richards has earned several high profile awards and has been nominated for three New York Emmy Awards. On April 14, the Maryland alumna returned to campus to receive the School of Education Distinguished Alumna Award, presented at the Twelfth Annual Alumni Association Awards Gala.
For Richards, accolades inspire action. “Listening to the other award recipients at the Awards Gala, I am incredibly motivated, knowing that there is much unfinished business for me as I strive to make a difference.”
She is doing just that, one lunch at a time. Richards produced the television series, “Lunch NYC,” which takes on unhealthy school lunch programs, and “Lunch: The Solutions,” which provides healthy school lunch examples. “It’s a campaign designed to educate the public, so that we can all make educated decisions for the health of our children.”
A mother of two, Richards puts her money where her mouth is. “Fortunately, they are able to navigate their nutritional choices to maintain a super-healthy lifestyle, whether it’s a salad in the lunch line or a trip to Whole Foods,” she says of her school- and college-age children.
One of Richards’ most recent initiatives plants the seeds of childhood nutrition—literally. Her “Ground Up Campaign” provided indoor academic gardens for 100 classrooms in New York to help children appreciate vegetables, proper nutrition, and to teach healthy eating habits from a young age. To learn more about Richards’ work, visit www.birdsnestfoundation.org. Alumni Spotlight Archives