Verna Harrison Joins Chesapeake Conservancy Board

Joel Dunn Named President & CEO

Jody Couser Hired as Director of Communications

Annapolis, MD – Chesapeake Conservancy today announced that Verna Harrison (pictured right), public policy consultant and widely recognized conservation leader in the Chesapeake Bay region, has joined the Conservancy’s board of directors.

Harrison is the Principal of Verna Harrison Associates, LLC, providing consulting services in public policy development and implementation, coalition building, facilitation, strategic planning, and board development. Previously, Harrison served as Executive Director for The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment from its inception in 2003 to 2014. During that period the Foundation granted over $52 million dollars throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, she helped focus and leverage foundation activity in the region.

“I think the Chesapeake Conservancy is a breath of fresh air in its forward thinking approaches to conservation,” Chesapeake Conservancy Board Member Verna Harrison said. “I am particularly excited about the new technology aspects under development and how they can be used with traditional approaches to conservation.”

“Verna is an outstanding leader in the conservation movement, and we are thrilled to welcome her to Chesapeake Conservancy’s board of directors,” Joel Dunn, president & CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy, said. “We believe her strong experience, especially in public policy, will help advance the Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission and goals throughout the watershed.”

Previously, Harrison was Assistant Secretary of the MD Department of Natural Resources: managing water quality monitoring, geologic, power plant, and coastal zone programs (1995-2003); directing Bay policy for the MD Governor’s Office (1988-1995); managing the forest, park, wildlife, tidal and freshwater fishery, police, and environmental trust units (1983-1987.)  She served as Governor Hughes’s Assistant Legislative Officer, lobbyist for the MD DOT, and staff of the MD Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  

Additionally, Don Baugh, Blaine Phillips, and Skip Wieder have recently rotated off of the board. Scott Beatty replaces Nicholas Dilks as Treasurer.  The Board changed the title of Joel Dunn (pictured left) from executive director to president & CEO to reflect his responsibilities and leadership.

The Chesapeake Conservancy recently hired Jody Hedeman Couser (pictured below) as the organization’s first director of communications. Couser will oversee public and media relations. 

Couser, previously principal of River Bay Communications, LLC, was the press secretary for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Douglas Duncan.  She served on the cabinet for Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens as director of communications; as public information officer for the American Medical Association (AMA); director of communications and development for the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) and as production manager at The Kamber Group.