It’s hard to believe it has been almost half a year since I came onboard with the James River Association as Lead Policy Advocate, and time has certainly flown. In these first few months, I have had the pleasure (in no particular order) of getting out on the river with our educational and restoration teams, meeting JRA funders, interfacing with legislators and governmental officials, and participating in meetings with a variety of key stakeholders. Throughout this introductory phase, I have been so impressed by the work that is being undertaken each and every day at JRA, where team members are serious about their work and the conservation of the river, but never take themselves too seriously.

In the Advocacy shop, we have spent these past months focusing on getting me up to speed on key regulations and JRA history, sharing our policy agenda with decision-makers, and generating our advocacy priorities for 2023 and beyond. Highlights of the last 5 months include hosting Rep. Rob Wittman at JRA’s Williamsburg Office (including a paddle on Powhatan Creek), advocating for the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Acceleration Act on Capitol Hill, representing the Association at DEQ’s Solar RAP, meeting with Virginia lawmakers in the new General Assembly building, and visiting the State Farm Work Center in Goochland.

As we look ahead toward the new year, it is my focus to continue to build upon JRA’s sterling reputation in the advocacy community by furthering our relationships with elected officials, state administrators, coalition members, and our awesome citizen advocates. As part of my responsibilities, I will be heading up JRA’s RiverReps program, which seeks to educate and provide energized citizens with the tools necessary to positively impact the legislative process. At this time, I am reviewing how the program has worked in the past, areas where it can be utilized in the future, and potential dates for training sessions. Be on the lookout for a post-election webinar to discuss how changes in the body’s makeup will impact policy in 2024 and make sure to sign up for our Action Network so you never miss an update!

Thank you for your time and attention, and don’t forget to get out and enjoy all our amazing river has to offer!