ELIZABETHTOWN — The Adirondack Council has tapped Megan Phillips, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's former senior policy advisor for energy and the environment, as its vice president for conservation.
"(Phillips) will fit perfectly into our growing organization," Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway says in a Tuesday news release. "Her skills and experience will complement those of our existing staff.
"Her work in New York government and her familiarity with the Adirondack Park gives us great confidence in her leadership qualities."
Janeway said the council would be announcing several additional new staff positions in coming months.
Through research, education, advocacy and legal action, the Adirondack Council aims to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.
The council says Phillips will "fill a leadership void" left by the departure of Deputy Director Raul "Rocci" Aguirre, who served as the conservation director for a decade. Aguirre is the new executive director of Scenic Hudson in Poughkeepsie.
Phillips will direct an expanded four-person conservation team that will also include other hires and interns.
She will start the role Monday, March 15 and will be moving to the Adirondack Park to work from the council’s Elizabethtown office.
"I'm thrilled to join the team at the Adirondack Council as the vice president for conservation," Phillips says in the release. "My goal from the outset will be to ensure that the council's policy and program recommendations are guided by the best available science.
"I'm looking forward to working closely with the council's partners to explore strategies that will have an enduring positive impact on the park's world class natural resources, while supporting the sustainable growth and vitality of its communities."
On her team will be Associate Conservation Director Jackie Bowen and former Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew Leader Charlotte Staats.
Bowen will become the associate conservation director, a step up from the conservation assistant role she held under Aguirre, allowing her to assume more responsibility. Staats, who has been the council’s executive and program assistant, will assume Bowen's previous role.
"I am excited to be a part of this dynamic expansion of the council’s conservation efforts," Bowen says in the release. "The depth and breadth of the conservation team will allow for broader engagement on important conservation issues.
"In particular, I am looking forward to placing more emphasis on climate change and its impacts on the park, as well as overseeing our engagement with state agencies."
Janeway said the council would be announcing several additional new staff positions in the coming months.
Phillips earned bachelor’s (2009) and master’s (2013) degrees in conservation biology and water resources management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Women in Leadership certificate from Cornell University in 2018.
During her undergraduate studies, she worked for four years as a field biologist and lab technician for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later became executive director of the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association. Upon moving to New York in 2014, she worked as Ocean and Great Lakes Educator for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and later as the Invasive Species Outreach Coordinator with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Since November of 2018, she has held her position serving Gov. Cuomo, overseeing 12 state agencies and authorities and implementing the administration’s policy initiatives.
Prior to her service with the Governor’s Office, she also worked for the Department of State in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.
Julie Goren, director of the council's Vision 2050 Project, said she was thrilled that Phillips was joining to the team and that Bowen had been promoted.
"Together, they will lead this experience, skilled and dynamic conservation team," she says.
Phillips, Bowen and Staats will work closely with Goren, who oversees long-range planning for the organization, along with her consulting associate Thomas Woodman, retired publisher of the Adirondack Explorer Magazine, as well as Ryan Nerp, the Council’s Clarence Petty Intern in Elizabethtown, the release says.
"On behalf of the board, I am truly delighted that (Phillips) is joining the council team to head our crucial conservation work," Adirondack Council Board of Director Chairman Michael Bettmann says. "She is extraordinarily qualified and experienced.
"Additionally, as a woman in conservation, she adds even more in our efforts to maintain and improve this wonderful, precious resource."