2021 Conference Sessions

Below are the breakout sessions from our last conference. We will update these images and the schedule as we near the event date.

To see an overview of the daily schedule, please click on the image below to enlarge and view or download.

OLD 2021 Breakout Session Schedule

Visual depiction of the day-by-day schedule for the 2021 Environment Virginia Schedule

Breakout by Day and Session

Join Us for Our Opening Keynote with Governor Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam - Keynote Speaker

Governor Ralph Northam Official Profile PictureBefore he was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Governor Northam was educated at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where he graduated with distinction.

After graduation, Governor Northam was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served eight years of active duty and rose to the rank of major.

He attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and then traveled to San Antonio for a pediatric residency, where he met his wife Pamela, a pediatric occupational therapist at the same hospital.  Governor Northam did his residencies at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and served as chief neurological resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As an Army doctor, he served in Germany, treating soldiers wounded in Operation Desert Storm.

When Governor Northam and Pamela returned home, they chose to build their life in Hampton Roads. He began practicing pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. He established Children’s Specialty Group, his current medical practice, to provide expert pediatric care for patients. Governor Northam also served as assistant professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he taught medicine and ethics.

Governor Northam volunteered as medical director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth, where he spent 18 years caring for terminally ill children.

Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service.  He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live.  

Governor Northam is the first native of the Eastern Shore to serve as Governor since Governor Henry A. Wise took office 1856. He is also the first VMI Keydet to serve as Governor since Governor Westmoreland Davis took office in 1918.

Governor Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam have two adult children.

Regulatory Updates with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality


  • Jeffery Steers, Director of Central Operations/ Land Protection & Restoration Division (Moderator)
  • Melanie Davenport, Director, Water Permitting Division 
  • Jutta Schneider, Director, Water Planning Division
  • Michael Dowd, Director, Air and Renewable Energy Division 
  • Tiffany Severs, Director, Enforcement Division
  • Kathryn Perszyk, Division Director, Land Protection and Restoration

Solar Farms in Virginia: Opportunity, Planning and Realities


  • Richard Street, Deputy Director of Environmental Codes, Street Development Services


  • Carrie Hearne, Renewable Energy Permitting, Associate Director, Energy Equity Programs, Division of Energy, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy  


  • Betsy Arlen, Associate Director of Development for Sun Tribe Development

Abstract: The information we will provide is the results of our research for several clients to assess the local governments preparedness for potential large scale projects like solar farms, golf courses and large scale box stores & warehouses. We will explain the results of our findings to try to help local governments and site developers some key items to keep in mind as they present potential large scale projects in the future. 

The major points of concerns are; local ordinances, traditional vs actual impacts, and how early the developer needs to start discussions with the local governments.


Broadening Partnerships and Building Capacity for Bay Restoration


  • David Blount, Executive Director, Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions 
  • James Martin, Chesapeake Bay Program Manager, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Katherine Filippino, Senior Water Resources Planner, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
  • Anne Coates, District Manager, Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District

Abstract: Panel members will share perspectives regarding the PDC provision of technical and administrative assistance to local governments in the planning and implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Phase III WIP.

The Changing PFAS Landscape: Analytical Science, Regulation and Liability


  • Peter Fontaine, Environmental Law, Cozen O'Connor
  • Chuck Neslund, Chief Science Officer at Eurofins

Abstract: The most significant emerging groundwater contaminant threat are those Per- and Poly-fluorinated carbon substances known as “PFAS.”  These compounds, including Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctylsulfonic Acid (PFOS), are used in a wide variety of commercial products due to their remarkable surfactant, water repellent, and flame retardant properties arising from their carbon-fluorine bond, one of the strongest known to science.  The carbon-fluorine bond makes these compounds extremely persistent, bioaccumulative and mobile in soil and water.  Emerging scientific research suggests exposure to PFAS contaminants, mainly through consumption of PFAS-contaminated drinking water, can be toxic.  PFAS exposure has been linked with reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Consistent health research findings include increased cholesterol levels in exposed populations, low infant birth weights, immune system effects, cancer (for PFOA), and thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS at 70 parts per trillion (PPT), while many states are moving forward with even more stringent groundwater standards as low as 13 ppt.  These extremely low levels make PFAS comparable to dioxins in terms of health-based action levels. 

This panel presentation will be led by environmental lawyer, Pete Fontaine, head of the environmental practice at Cozen O’Connor, an international law firm. Pete will be joined by Charles Neslund, Chief Science Officer for Eurofins, a leading analytical laboratory with deep expertise in PFAS analysis, and Tina Bickerstaff, a professional geologist with expertise in groundwater fate, transport and remediation. Topics covered will include the rapidly changing PFAS legal and regulatory landscape, sampling, analysis, fate, transport and remediation issues. 

Creating Resilient Communities in Urban and Rural Landscapes

Karen Firehock

Abstract: Coastal communities are increasingly impacted by storm surges, temperature extremes, and development pressures, resulting in damage to critical coastal ecosystems. Rising water tables, increased exposure to flooding, and escalating temperatures increase environmental stress. Meanwhile, storm events continue to damage coastal forests, especially those in the urban interface, which are under additional stresses from the built environment. The Green Infrastructure Center has developed resiliency plans for both urban and rural landscapes. The Green Infrastructure Resiliency Plan for Norfolk evaluated both current green infrastructure (trees, water, wetlands and other habitats) and marsh- and forest-buffer migration as sea level rises. This strategy was created in conjunction with the city's Watershed Task Force and is the first of its kind plan to link current and future GI planning in the face of climate change. The plan was created using GIS- based mapping and analysis of the city's land cover, green resources, connectivity and habitats. Extensive public engagement informed the plan's priority goals. A similar process is now being implemented for a large coastal region of VA which includes both urban and rural landscapes. The methods for modeling and planning for a resilient environment will be shared and participation in the active Resilient Coastal Forests will be encouraged. 

Sunshine in Southwest Virginia: Growing a Solar Economy


  • Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development, Appalachian Voices
  • Christine Gyovai, Principal, Dialogue + Design Associates

Abstract: This engaging session will feature the efforts of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia to develop a locally-rooted solar industry in the coal-producing region of Virginia through a dynamic presentation. The Solar Workgroup is a collaborative effort comprised of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, schools, state agencies, planning district commissions and other interested citizens and businesses that are working toward four goals to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia. Started in 2016, the Workgroup is co-convened by the UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc. and Appalachian Voices, with facilitation from Dialogue + Design Associates. The Solar Workgroup has a specific focus on the initial successes to utilize previously mined lands for large-scale solar, while working to attract solar supply chain manufacturing to the region. The Workgroup has received support from Appalachian Regional Commission, GO Virginia, private foundations, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Session participants will learn about Workgroup strategies to identify and build support for solar, attract developers and grow jobs in the region, establish viable and highly visible projects, and address barriers that have kept the Southwest from enjoying the same benefits of solar already accessible throughout the Commonwealth. Session participants will learn tools to grow solar in their own communities, hear lessons learned, develop a deeper understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities around solar growth in Southwest Virginia, as well as how community members are using solar to grow economic resilience throughout the region.

Working to Embed Environmental Justice in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Working to Embed Environmental Justice in the Commonwealth of Virginia


  • Meryem Karad, Office of the Secretary of Natural Resources (Moderator)
  • Senator Ghazala Hashmi, District 10  
  • David Paylor, Director Department of Environmental Quality 
  • Rev. Dr. Faith Harris, Representative from the Governor's Council on Env Justice Council

Abstract: Over the last few years, Virginia has put policies and processes in place to start to address environmental justice within the Commonwealth's agencies and state government. This panel will dive into the various processes that are moving forward including challenges and opportunities for next steps.


Solar Energy 

Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session. 


 Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session.


Environmental Justice

Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session.

DEQ Regulatory Updates

Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session.


 Virginia's Clean Economy Act: One Year In


  • Will Cleveland, Southern Environmental Law Center 
  • Harry Godfrey, Advanced Energy Economy 
  • Katherine Bond, Dominion Energy 
  • Jennifer Palestrant, Chief Deputy, Commonwealth of Virginia – Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy

Abstract: March will mark approximately one year since the Virginia Clean Economy Act was signed by the Governor. This panel will take a deep dive from various perspectives into how Virginia is doing on the path to zero carbon from the utility sector one year after the VCEA passed the General Assembly. 

  Collaboration in Forestry Conservation: A Story of Success

  • Mark Miller, Executive Director, Virginia Wilderness Committee
  • Lynn Cameron, Co-Chair Friends of Shenandoah Mountain
  • Al Bourgeois, Member, Ruffed Grouse Society
  • Jean Lorber, Conservation Scientist The Nature Conservancy
  • John Hancock, WestRock, Operations Manager – Forest Resources, Covington
Abstract: Vision: We envision a well-connected network of core, relatively un-fragmented, forested areas embedded within a landscape of diverse age and structural character that supports a variety of wildlife species, builds ecological resilience, and provides essential ecological, social, economic, and recreational benefits for people. Goal Our goal is to preclude the typical conflicts that arise during project development and avoid project appeals and litigation. Each organization within the group would also determine what they could contribute (e.g., financially, in-kind, analysis, monitoring, congressional advocacy, or simply verbal support) and as a group, determine and help seek funding opportunities available and pertinent to the project concept. Tiers of Management Limited management intervention in core areas will serve to restore ecological processes, mimic natural disturbances, and maintain existing access through controlled burns, invasive species control, and trail construction and maintenance. Outside of core areas, management activities such as timber harvest, firewood harvest, wildlife openings, waterholes, controlled burns, and other applicable habitat management techniques will primarily serve to promote ecological restoration by: 1) promoting oak reproduction, 2) enhancing habitat conditions for declining early succession species and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Virginia/West Virginia, and 3) restoring low diversity stands and systems severely altered from their historic range of variability (e.g., stands <40 years old, systems converted to white pine plantations, fire-dependent systems).

Chesapeake Bay Restoration - Where Do We Stand? Where Are We Headed?


  • Ann Swanson, Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Commission 
  • Ann Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for the Chesapeake Bay
  • Nathan Burrell, Deputy Director with the Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Carin Bisland, Branch Chief, Partnerships and Accountability Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  

Abstract: The restoration of the Chesapeake Bay is an international model of intergovernmental cooperation towards the goal of ecosystem recovery. Nevertheless, the restoration has found itself at a crossroads with the COVID-19 pandemic, the looming 2025 deadline, and varying degrees of progress across the watershed. Where does Virginia stand now and what needs to be done to meet our goals? With Governor Northam serving as Chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, how does he intend to lead the Partnership towards success? How is the Chesapeake Bay community embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice? What more needs to be done?  

Decarbonizing Virginia's Transportation Sector


  • Chris Bast, Chief Deputy of VA Department of Environmental Quality (moderator)

  • Louise Lockett Gordon, Director of Bike Walk RVA (active transportation)

  • Andrew Linhardt, EV Policy Manager, Electrification Coalition (electrification)

  • Kendra Norrell, Board President, RVA Rapid Transit (public transportation) 

Abstract: Virginia has shown that it is committed to climate action. It is on the cusp of putting in place standards for zero-emissions vehicles, just a year after passing a plan to decarbonize the electricity sector by 2050. But what does it really mean to truly decarbonize our transportation sector? What's beyond a clean cars standard? This panel will explore the current and potential future policy solutions for Virginia to decarbonize how we get around.

Erchul Environmental Leadership Award

This award recognizes a Virginian who has made significant individual efforts to improve our environment.  Members of Virginia’s environmental community nominate candidates, who are judged on the basis of their vision, expertise, commitment, integrity, communication skills, accomplishments, and diplomacy.  The award is named for the late VMI professor Ronald A. Erchul, Ph.D., the founder of the Environment Virginia Symposium. 

Join us as we announce and celebrate this year's recipient.


Interview with Secretaries Strickler and Ring

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring join moderator Joe Maroon for a far-ranging discussion of Virginia's environmental concerns. There will be time for Q&A at the end.

Matt Strickler

Moderator: Joe Maroon, Executive Director, Virginia Environmental Endowment

Matthew J. Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources

Matthew Strickler is the Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Prior to joining the Administration, he served as Senior Policy Advisor to Democratic members of the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. Originally from Lexington, Va., Matthew graduated from Washington and Lee University and holds master’s degrees in public policy and marine science from the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He was a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in NOAA’s Office of International Affairs in 2007, and worked on U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s successful 2008 campaign. Immediately prior to his time on Capitol Hill, Matthew worked in the Virginia General Assembly as a legislative assistant to then-state Senator Ralph Northam. 



Bettina Ring Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry

Governor Ralph S. Northam appointed Bettina Ring in 2018 to serve as the fourth Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, she supports the Governor’s mission of building a strong Virginia economy in agriculture and forestry, two of Virginia’s largest private industries, while also protecting the environment.

Prior to her appointment as Secretary, Ring was appointed by former Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve as the seventh State Forester of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). During her term leading the agency, Ring secured $27 million in funding for emergency response equipment used to fight forest fires and to assist localities and other state agencies. A Virginia native, Ring began her career with VDOF and held a number of leadership positions, including deputy state forester, during her 18 years with the agency.

Prior to VDOF, Bettina was the senior vice president of family forests at the American Forest Foundation, a position responsible for overseeing the American Tree Farm System – the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in America. She served on the federal Forest Resource Coordinating Committee, which provides direction within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and with the private sector to effectively address national priorities for private forest management.

Bettina has also served as executive director of the Bay Area Open Space Council in San Francisco and was the executive director of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts.   She holds a B.S. Degree in Forestry and Wildlife from Virginia Tech and a Masters of Business Administration from James Madison University.

Community-Driven Climate Resilience Strategies


  • Sarah Malpass, Skeo Solutions, Inc., DEI Lead, Planner and Facilitator
  • Jennifer Li, Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown Law Center, Staff Attorney


The Ward 7 Equity Advisory Group, formed in 2017 by the District Department of Energy and the Environment and composed of a racially, socioeconomically, and generationally representative group of community leaders, provided community-driven recommendations for implementing climate readiness plans at the neighborhood scale. This session will examine this climate change-impacted community and the equitable engagement process piloted that centered the voices of diverse community leaders. Project outcomes included:

  • Community-driven recommendations for climate equity that align District resources with community priorities.
  • A new model for equitable community engagement in District policies and programs, including equity supports to increase effective engagement.
  • Expanded dialogue within the local government around institutional racism and opportunities to address and dismantle it.

Session attendees will gain new tools and strategies for engaging diverse and underserved communities in local resiliency planning while rebuilding trust between them and the local government. After this session, attendees will be able to (1) reach beyond the usual suspects to engage under-represented voices; (2) structure community forums to build positive relationships and foster productive two-way conversation around climate resilience in communities of color; (3) use equity supports such as stipends, childcare, community-driven charters, etc. to grow equity in community engagement; and (4) talk about race and institutional racism in a climate readiness context.

PFAS: Sources, Investigation, and Treatment


  • Rosa Gwinn, PhD PG, Global PFAS Technical Lead, AECOM, Germantown, MD.

Presentation Title: PFAS Environmental Investigation in Practice

Abstract: While contaminant investigation is a mature professional practice, investigation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) presents new challenges because of the uncertainties associated with PFAS releases, evolving PFAS regulations, and unique PFAS behaviors. PFAS site owners must adapt the decades of practical experience developed on ‘conventional contaminants’ and modern investigation approaches to develop PFAS-focused data quality objectives that manage uncertainty. Acknowledging often tenuous information about historical PFAS releases, we will present several investigative tools such as statistical design, soil and groundwater sampling strategies, and available field technologies for managing uncertainty in PFAS investigations. As regulations, toxicology, and site knowledge are playing catch-up to the health concern presented by PFAS in drinking water, certain environmental science tools can help communicate and explain the uncertainties in findings. Acknowledging that PFAS regulations continue to evolve, technical approaches must focus on protecting human health and the environment in the context of what we currently understand about individual PFAS and anticipate what might be coming. Lessons are being learned continually.

  • John Shaffer

Presentation Title: PFAS Water Treatment Technologies: Pros and Cons of GAC and IX

Abstract: So you have PFAS in your water at levels that require treatment. Do you choose granular activated carbon (GAC) or ion exchange (IX)? Which technology will treat your specific PFAS compounds to a low enough level? Which has the lowest O&M cost, will take up the most space, or result in a disposal challenge? How do I test on a bench or pilot scale before making a big decision?  

This presentation will provide a brief overview of these two PFAS treatment options, and the pros and cons of each, focusing primarily on the recent results of extensive rapid small scale column tests (RSSCTs) and pilot tests being conducted in Orange County, California.

  • Emily Vavrika, Project Scientist ,EEC Environmental

Presentation Title: PFAS Hiding in Plain Sight: The Unexpected Sources of PFAS

Abstract: PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a large class of fluorinated manmade compounds, that do not occur naturally in the environment. They were first introduced in the early 1940’s and were manufactured for thermal stability and resistance to water and oil. PFAS have been used in various industries and can be found in numerous products including some fire-fighting foams, stain- and water-repellant textiles and carpets, non-stick products (e.g., Teflon™), food packaging, cable and wiring, electronics, and fume suppressants in metal plating operations. PFAS are also present in wide array of common consumer products, such as plastic bags and bottles, waterproof clothing, detergents, waterproof pens and paper, cosmetics/personal care products, among a host of other not so obvious sources. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has approximated that there are about 5,000 to 10,000 different PFAS chemicals, with some uses not readily known. With such a vast array of applications and sources, PFAS present significant challenges in the environment due to their persistence in the environment, high mobility in groundwater and the subsurface, limited analytical methods and extremely low detection limits, and widespread contamination at various sites, including manufacturing facilities, military installation, airports, fire-fighting training facilities, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. In addition, during environmental site assessments, there is the potential of cross-contamination since some of these PFAS containing products could be present and/or are typically used during a routine sampling event.

This presentation will provide a brief overview of PFAS and focus on the numerous uses and sources of PFAS and the importance of identifying these sources when conducting environmental site assessments. Source identification is important not only to evaluate the potential environmental release, but to also avoid cross-contamination during environmental sampling.

 Pollinator - Friendly Landscapes for Solar Facilities and Beyond 


  • Doug DeBerry-VHB Senior Environmental Scientist and William & Mary Research Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy
  • Rene' Hypes-Department of Conservation and Recreation-Division of Natural Heritage Environmental Review Coordinator
  • Mary Major-Department of Environmental Quality Renewable Energy Program Manager

Abstract: With the coming of age of the solar industry in Virginia, momentum is building nationwide to combine green renewable energy with other environmental benefits including reduced soil and water runoff, the capture of atmospheric carbon, and establishment of pollinator habitat on these solar sites. To encourage solar developers and operators to consider an ecologically responsible approach, the Virginia Pollinator Smart Program was developed. Learn about the available tools for planning, designing, installing, and maintaining a Pollinator-Smart habitat at a solar facility.  In addition, the Small Solar Renewable Energy Projects Permit Regulation is currently being amended.  A quick overview of the proposed changes will be provided along with instructions on how to provide public comment.



Chesapeake Bay

Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session. 

Climate Change

 Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session.


Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session.


Join in the discussion with presenters from earlier in the day for Q&A and sharing of your own experiences and expertise in this moderated networking session.


Breakouts by Day and Session

Women in the Environment (WINE) Networking Session

Life After COVID:  What Will the New Normal Look Like?


  • Ann Regn, Manager, Communications Division, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Mary Rafferty, Executive Director, Virginia Conservation Network
  • Ann Marie Gathright, Account Executive, Environmental Standards, Inc./Vitale Scientific Associates, LLC

Please join us for a discussion of how public participation, meetings, funding and marketing changed during the pandemic.  We will discuss lessons learned, return-to-work considerations, and what works and what doesn’t work in the virtual world. 

Plenary Speaker Ann Phillips: The Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework

Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips (retired) is the Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection for the State of Virginia. Prior to joining the administration, she worked to address sea-level rise and climate impact on national security at the regional, national, and international level, and chaired the Infrastructure Working Group for the Old Dominion University-convened Hampton Roads Sea-Level Perparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Pilot Planning Project.

Preceding her work on climate impact and sea level rise, Ann served nearly 31 years on active duty. She had the honor to commission and command USS MUSTIN (DDG 89) and to command Destroyer Squadron 28.  Her final Flag command was as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO, including all the Amphibious Expeditionary Forces on the East Coast of the United States. 

Ann earned a Master of Business Administration, with distinction, from The College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business, in 2016.  She is a 1983 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In addition, she is a certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional, Level 2.



 Introducing Equitable Collaboration for Environmental Justice


  • Tanya Denckla Cobb, UVa Institute for Engagement and Negotiation
  • Frank Dukes,  UVa Institute for Engagement and Negotiation
  • Nancy Gill, Health Equity & Access in Rural Regions (HEARR)
  • Diane Brown Townes, Brown Townes Education Productions

Abstract: In this session, participants will be introduced to the six principles for Equitable Collaboration, which are essential for all community engagement that strives to avoid creating harm and that seeks environmentally just outcomes. Following August 2017 in Charlottesville, the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation found the nationally accepted best practices for collaboration to be necessary but no longer sufficient. Through three specific cases involving health, transportation/community historic resources, and a memorial in acknowledgment of past harms, this session will explore how legacies of harm exert influence throughout environmental work, how the six principles for Equitable Collaboration were (or were not) manifested, and how this impacted the success of the engagement process and ultimate outcome. Situations that have exploded in Virginia over the last few years demonstrate that the absence of attention to these histories and elements of Equitable Collaboration risk inflaming and perpetuating these legacies of harm, rendering the project even more costly in both dollars, reputation, and social capital. 


Conserve Virginia and Cumberland Forest: A SW Virginia Success Story


  • Joseph Weber, Natural Heritage Information Manager, Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage Program

Presentation Title: Managing Virginia's Lands

Abstract: Launched in April 2018, ConserveVirginia provides a data driven approach to prioritizing land conservation efforts in Virginia, building on data developed and provided by an array of state and federal agencies, universities and conservation non-profits in Virginia. This strategy meets the Governor's directive to prioritize the most important lands from a statewide perspective, focus limited resources toward those areas, and measure the progress we make toward achieving multiple conservation goals. Developed to identify how and where to achieve the best conservation outcomes, ConserveVirginia has already shown success in steering land conservation actions, and has been refined since its first release. This presentation will provide an overview of ConserveVirginia implementation; successes to date; access to current maps; as well as revisions and updates.

  • Brad Kreps, Clinch Valley Program Director, The Nature Conservancy

Presentation Title: Cumberland Forest -- Establishing Virginia's Largest Open Space Easement

Abstract: The presentation will discuss the overall goals of the 250,000-acre Cumberland Forest project and how The Nature Conservancy worked with two state agencies (DEQ and DOF) to implement a public-private partnership to establish Virginia's largest open space easement on 22,000 acres in the headwaters of the Clinch River.

Key words: Open Space Easement, Virginia Clean Water Financing and Assistance Program, Clinch Valley and Central Appalachians. 



 Improving Community Resilience Through Research, Policy, and Education: Hampton Roads Planning District Commission


  • Benjamin McFarlane


As one of the nation’s most vulnerable regions to long-term sea level rise, localities in Hampton Roads are on the front lines of attempts to adapt to changing climatic conditions. Sea level rise, land subsidence, and more frequent and intense rainfall events are all posing challenges to communities, including impacts to public infrastructure, damage to private property, and financial and political difficulties in identifying and implementing solutions. A consensus has grown among the region’s localities that a multiple-scales, multiple-stakeholders approach is necessary to improve community resilience. This approach often involves localities collaborating with each other through the Hampton Roads PDC. Research and technical work by the Hampton Roads PDC and its localities is now being applied to the development of new local and regional policies and the creation of new ways to communicate information to decision-makers, locality staff, and residents. This presentation will highlight new policies such as design flood elevations and design storm standards, which are being developed to address both current and future risks. It will also describe methods that the HRPDC is using to convey information to different audiences, including the Hampton Roads Resiliency Project Dashboard and This is a regional website designed to educate Hampton Roads residents about the risk of flooding, inform them about flood insurance costs and benefits, and encourage them to purchase flood insurance.


The Intersection of Race and the Environment


  • BeKura Shabazz, CEO, First Alliance Consulting and Community Activist
  • Jerome Brooks, Director of Water Compliance, Department of Environmental Quality   
  • Kendyl Crawford, Co-Director, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (Moderator)
  • Duron Chavis, Founder, Happily Natural Day, Farmer and Community Activist

Abstract: Amidst a modern day civil rights movement, this panel will discuss both the historic and current intersection of race and the environment through story and example. They will highlight why it is critical for businesses, government agencies and the non-profit environmental community to recognize the connection and discuss their hope for the future.  


Chesapeake Bay: BMP Challenges and Innovations 


  • David Wood, Chesapeake Stormwater Network 
  • Darryl Glover, Department of Conservation and Recreation 
  • Joe Wood, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Abstract: Best Management Practices are the backbone of water quality restoration. The practices themselves are constantly evolving, as are the approaches that governments take towards verification. This session will not only provide a glimpse into what is happening in BMP innovations, but also provide important discussion regarding the ongoing initiatives for verification and maintenance of both urban and agricultural practices. 


Energy - Future Technologies in a Zero Carbon Future


  • Robin Lanier, Southern Company
  • Chris Colbert, NuScale
  • Greg Geller, Enel

Abstract: Learning about future carbon-free technologies and what it will take / how long it will take to get them online.

Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards Presentations

The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards recognize successful and innovative efforts that improve Virginia’s environment. The awards program is run annually by DEQ in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation. There are four broad categories of awards: Sustainability, Environmental Project, Land Conservation and implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan.

Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award Categories:

Sustainability Program: DEQ considers environmental sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the environmental resource needs of future generations. This category is intended to provide recognition to organizations or facilities that can document the success of their sustainability program by providing evidence of:

  • A culture of environmental sustainability;
  • Recent accomplishments related to reducing their environmental footprint; and
  • A commitment to future sustainability-oriented actions.

Environmental Project: This category is intended to recognize activities or processes implemented by a facility or organization within the past five years that are directed at a single goal to improve the environment beyond what is required by regulation. Examples include, but are not limited to, projects aimed at reducing waste generation, water consumption or pollutant releases, increasing water reuse, green infrastructure, or use and access to clean energy; and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate.

Land Conservation: This category is intended to recognize exemplary land conservation work within the Commonwealth. Examples include outstanding land conservation easement or fee simple acquisition projects that permanently protected lands with high conservation values to the development of an integrated prioritized land conservation plan for an organization or agency region of coverage.

Virginia Outdoors Plan Implementation: This category is intended to recognize outdoor recreation accomplishments meeting the 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan goals and objectives.  Awards will be directed in three categories: trail development, public access to waterways including water trails, and other recreational uses and scenic resource recognition.