Kristen Hughes Evans, Executive Director
Kristen Hughes Evans founded Sustainable Chesapeake in 2012 to serve as a bridge between farmers and the environmental community. She works with stakeholders throughout the Chesapeake Bay region to bring innovative technologies and conservation practices to farms that support farm profit and production goals while reducing the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus to surface waters. In collaboration with farmers and conservation professionals around the region, she fosters collaboration and helps to bring financial and technical assistance resources to farms in the Chesapeake Bay region.
Prior to working with Sustainable Chesapeake, Ms. Evans served as a Virginia Staff Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation where she worked with partners throughout the Commonwealth to bring resources to innovative agricultural projects and cost-share programs. Prior to her work with the Bay Foundation, Ms. Evans worked as a project manager with Sustainable Conservation where she collaborated with San Joaquin Valley dairy farmers, Cooperative Extension, and other regional partners to expand the use of conservation tillage for dairy forage crop production.
Ms. Evans is a certified nutrient management planner in both Maryland and Virginia and holds an M.Eng.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the National University of Ireland, as well as an M.S. in Marine and Estuarine Environmental Science, a B.S. in Biological Resources Engineering, and a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from the University of Maryland.
Bob Monley, Board Chair
Bob Monley is a technical consultant with extensive engineering and management expertise in applying nutrient management technologies to animal feed operations. He joined Sustainable Chesapeake’s Board of Directors in May of 2016. Prior to his retirement in May 2013, Bob Monley served for nine years as the General Manager for Farm Pilot Project Coordination, Inc. (FPPC), where he was responsible for managing a federal grant program aimed at evaluating alternative nutrient management methods appropriate for the farm. During his tenure, Mr. Monley oversaw the implementation of 45 innovative, farm-scale projects located in critical watersheds across 20 different states. He also helped to guide collaborative efforts of various stakeholders in critical watersheds and provide oversight and field performance evaluation of farm-scale demonstrations sites across 26 states.
During his career, Mr. Monley built his extensive technical and management expertise by serving heavily regulated businesses in the mining, defense, and nuclear utility industries. Prior to joining FPPC in 2004, he was plant manager responsible for the operation of the nation’s largest commercial fuel fabrication facility for Westinghouse in Columbia, SC. He has a B.S. and Masters in Engineering.
Now retired, Bob continues to work closely with leaders in the Chesapeake Bay region to evaluate merits of various technologies being considered for more effective deployment of nutrients emanating from horse, dairy and poultry farms.
Stephen Versen, Treasurer
Stephen Versen is a founding director of Sustainable Chesapeake and has served on the board since 2013. Mr. Versen is the Manager for the Office of Agriculture & Forestry Development with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) where he serves as the Agency’s primary contact for economic development projects and oversees its farmland preservation efforts. His office administers the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund, an incentive grant program for attracting new and expanding agriculture- and forestry-based business to Virginia. In addition to eleven years of experience at VDACS, Stephen’s work experiences include the City of Staunton’s Department of Economic Development and the Virginia Main Street program, where he assisted communities with their downtown revitalization efforts.
Stephen graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelors of Business Administration (Economics & History Majors) and received his Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives in Richmond with his wife and three children.
Kristen Saacke-Blunk, Secretary
Kristen Saacke-Blunk joined Sustainable Chesapeake’s Board of Directors in April of 2017. She is the Principal of Headwaters LLC and focuses on project development, assessment and support for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship and Delaware River Restoration funds through support to prospective and existing grantees working on targeted watersheds strategies. Her areas of expertise include water and air resources, agriculture and pollution prevention, watershed management, stream condition/watershed- and Best Management Practice (BMP) monitoring, environmental markets, Chesapeake Bay initiatives, ecosystems services, environmental priorities, and policy development.
Prior to founding Headwaters LLC, Ms. Saacke Blunk served at the Director, Senior Extension Associate for the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center, Cooperative Extension. She fostered outreach and partnerships with state-regional-federal agencies-, university researchers and educators, nongovernmental organizations, local government and citizens to increase science delivery to policy decision-makers and others relevant to environmental problems stemming from working lands. She also developed university-wide initiatives for improving air and water quality outreach and integration of research and best practices, delivering tools to conservation practitioners, producers, and other land managers.
Her past experience also includes leadership positions in environmental non-profits focused on conservation and natural resources. As a program manager for the division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Awareness Department of Conservation and Environment in Tennessee, she managed the start-up of Tennessee’s first pollution prevention initiatives targeting businesses and industries in source control.
Ms. Saacke Blunk holds a B.S. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Biology, and a M.F.R from Pennsylvania State University in Forest Resources- Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences.
Robin Jones, Founding Director
Robin Jones is a Richmond, Virginia area native who specializes in efforts to promote energy efficiency and energy education such as high-performance buildings, energy analyst training, and biomass to energy initiatives.with over thirty years of experience in project management. Currently employed with Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and a strong business management background, Ms. Jones brings over thirty years of experience in federal grant management and oversight to Sustainable Chesapeake.
Ms. Jones also brings experience with stakeholder collaboration, including serving as a founding member of the Virginia Waste Solutions Forum. Founded in 2002, the Virginia Waste Solutions Forum brought together stakeholders from agriculture and environmental organizations along with researchers and federal, state and local government agencies to focus on identifying solutions for water quality in the Shenandoah Valley that also supported the long-term viability of animal agriculture in the region.
Ms. Jones graduated with a Bachelor in Economics from Southern Methodist University and was subsequently awarded a Master of Urban Planning by the University of Virginia and an MBA from the College of William and Mary.
Dale Gardener, Founding Director
Dale Gardner served as a founding member of Sustainable Chesapeake’s Board of Directors from 2013 to 2016. Professionally, he served as the Chesapeake Agricultural Program Coordinator for Water Stewardship Inc. where he worked with farmers develop individualized continuous environmental improvement plans that make sense for the farm and improve water quality.Prior to joining Water Stewardship Inc. in March 2009, Mr. Gardner was the Executive Secretary of the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association. During his tenure as Executive Secretary, Mr. Gardner was actively engaged in environmental issues. He helped to found the Virginia Waste Solutions Forum, a collaborative group of producer, state agency representatives and environmental groups all working to reduce the nutrient impact on the Chesapeake Bay. He also served on the advisory group for the Mid-Atlantic Water Program. Mr. Gardner is a graduate of Virginia Tech. He was a partner in his family’s purebred Holstein farm in Bridgewater, Virginia for 25 years.
Michael Gerel, Director
Mike has been the Program Director of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program since February 2019. He oversees all program operations and fosters partnerships, scientific inquiry, and community-driven actions to restore and protect the watersheds of the Bay region in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Mike has more than twenty-five years’ experience in water science and policy, collaborative governance, large landscape restoration, and conservation advocacy. Through positions with nonprofits, government, and consultants, Mike has advanced the study and recovery of diverse watersheds across the U.S., including the iconic Chesapeake, Columbia, and Klamath systems. He brings patience and empathy to his work with the people whose quality of life is tied to the land and water of their place.
Mike holds a Master’s in Environmental Sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Richmond. He is a graduate of Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute at the University of Virginia’s Institute of Environmental Negotiation.
A native of Syracuse, NY, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and indoorsman, enjoying hiking, baseball, independent music, animal rescue, and adventures with his chocolate lab, Moka.
Virginia Morris, Grant and Program Administrator
Virginia Morris joined Sustainable Chesapeake in June of 2020 and is currently serving as the Grant and Program Administrator. She assists in project management, administrative duties, as well as assists the current National Fish and Wildlife Foundations Chesapeake Bay Region Field Liaisons in their efforts to serve as the bridge between the environmental and agricultural communities.
Ms. Morris graduated Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in May 2020 cum laude with a B.S. in Agribusiness Management specializing in animal and poultry sciences, as well as global food security and health and plans to continue her education in graduate school. She traveled abroad to both Brazil and South Africa studying global sustainability and natural resources in varying classifications of development. Interning with South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, MD, she was responsible for social media marketing and agri-tourism. Ms. Morris was raised on a dairy farm converted to a beef cattle and hay farm in Frederick County, MD, giving her first-hand knowledge of the challenges of small-scale farming, and inspiring her interest in agricultural sustainability.
Former Board Members:
Sustainable Chesapeake would also like to acknowledge and thank our founding Board Members for their service:
Roy A. Hoagland, Esq., Founding Board Chair
Roy A. Hoagland served as Sustainable Chesapeake’s founding Board Chair from 2013 through March of 2018. He brought extensive experience in nonprofit advocacy including his work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that ranged from directing the legal and litigation efforts of the Virginia office to serving as the Foundation’s Vice President for its multi-state and federal advocacy programs. Through his career, Mr. Hoagland has partnered with non-profits, foundations, and governmental agencies on complex issues facing Chesapeake Bay restoration. He has served as a visiting professor of practice and director of the William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic, and more recently, as a Senior Program Officer for the Virginia Environmental Endowment.
Jane Corson-Lassiter, Founding Treasurer
Jane Corson-Lassiter was a founding member of Sustainable Chesapeake’s Board, and served as the organization’s Treasurer from 2013 to 2016. She currently works as the District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in the Virginia Eastern Shore office. Prior to her role as District Conservationist, she worked on detail from USDA with Farm Pilot Project Coordination, Inc. to identify, demonstrate, and evaluate the performance of farm-scale thermal manure-to-energy systems. Ms. Corson-Lassiter also previously served as Coordinator for the Eastern Shore Resource Conservation and Development Council. Her 20 years’ experience also includes promotion of conservation practices in agriculture with the Eastern Shore, VA Soil and Water Conservation District and wetlands protection and outdoor facility site planning and design with the Army Corps of Engineers in Florida and Pennsylvania. Ms. Corson-Lassiter has been recognized for her conservation efforts in agriculture by the Association of Virginia Potato and Vegetable Growers, and for environmental education programs by the Eastern Shore Ground Water Committee and the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Society. Ms. Corson-Lassiter holds a B.S. in biology from Brandeis University, an M.L.A in landscape architecture from the University of Virginia, and an M.S. in agriculture and life sciences from Virginia Tech.
Dr. Ingo May, Director
Dr. May is a founding Director of Sustainable Chesapeake and served on the Board since the organization’s inception. He has 33 years of leadership experience in the U.S. Army, as both a Captain and as a member of the Senior Executive Service. He served as the head of the Army Research Laboratory’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. In this position, he directed over 400 scientists and engineers and actively supported environmental stewardship programs.
Dr. May has also served in numerous leadership positions associated with data exchange agreements, technical committees, special review groups such as the DoD/DoE Joint Munitions programs, and executive committees for University Research Initiatives. Dr. May has authored or co-authored over 70 reports and publications and has presented over 100 technical papers to national and international scientific organizations.
After his retirement from the Army, Dr. May spent ten years as a consultant to multiple organizations and agencies including SAIC, the Office of the DDR&E (OSD), the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition and Logistics, Army R&D organizations, the Institute for Defense Analysis, as well as other defense industries. He served as Vice-President of Hicks and Associates, Inc., a SAIC subsidiary.
Dr. May is an accomplished racing and blue water cruising sailor who won the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association’s Northern Bay High-Point Award six times, as well as the Maryland Governor’s Cup, the Atlantic City Race Week Overall, and Annapolis Race Week. Now actively retired, he and his wife Jeri spend time sailing the Chesapeake Bay and the East Coast from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean.
Dr. May graduated with honors from Gannon University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. He received a Master’s Degree from Western Reserve University, and in 1967 he received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University.
Ann Jennings, Director
Ann Jennings joined Sustainable Chesapeake’s Board of Directors in the spring of 2017. In the winter of 2018, she was appointed by Governor Northam to serve as Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources. Prior to this appointment, she served as the Virginia Director for the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative commission created in 1980 to advise the members of the General Assemblies of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania on matters of Bay-wide concern.
Before joining the Commission, Ms. Jennings served as the Virginia Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for 11 years. In that capacity, Ann oversaw the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s environmental and legislative policy, advocacy, and resource protection programs in the Commonwealth. She also provided leadership for approximately twenty staff primarily located in CBF’s Richmond and Hampton Roads offices and an oyster restoration center. She facilitated collaborative solutions to agricultural nonpoint source pollution and was a founding member and co-chair of the Virginia Waste Solutions Forum, a multi-stakeholder group founded to support the long-term viability of animal agriculture and water quality goals in the Shenandoah Valley. Ms. Jennings is also an active member of Virginia Forever, a membership-based organization supported by business and conservation groups that advocates for funding conservation and land preservation in Virginia.
Ms. Jennings has also previously worked as a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as serving on the following Boards: the Virginia Association of Wetland Professionals, the Virginia Board for Professional Soil Scientists and Professional Wetland Delineators, Governor Kaine’s Commission on Climate Change and Governor McAuliffe’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission. Ms. Jennings earned a B.S. in science from Virginia Tech and an M.S. from Texas A&M University.