Chesapeake Conservancy Honors 2020 “Champions of the Chesapeake”

Dennis Chestnut, Mariah Davis, Anna Killius, and River Rock Outfitter awarded for their dedication to the Chesapeake Bay

Today, Chesapeake Conservancy announced the 2020 Champions of the Chesapeake. Following a call for nominations from the general public and the conservation community, the honorees were selected by public vote to represent four categories: Lifetime Champion, Everyday Hero, Next Generation, and Small Business.

Lifetime Champion

Dennis Chestnut, a native Washingtonian and a lifetime resident of the Hillbrook neighborhood of Ward 7 in Southeast DC, was awarded the Lifetime Champion award due to his commitment towards restoring the health of the Anacostia River, improving the natural resources located in his community and throughout Washington, and connecting the residents, schools, businesses, and civic and community organizations to the many outdoor resources and natural environment.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a magnificent deep estuary that provides enormous benefits for all that inhabit this region and watershed. I am honored to be recognized by the Conservancy as part of the legacy of the Bay, that includes the wildlife, fish, birds, blue crabs, the Nacotchtank, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. We are all inextricably connected upstream and downstream,” said Chestnut.

Everyday Hero

Mariah Davis, the policy and campaigns manager at the Choose Clean Water Coalition (CCWC), was awarded the Everyday Hero award. Mariah supports an incredible amount of work on environmental justice initiatives in the watershed. She is an advocate for community voices and authentic engagement with communities. Mariah’s dedication to her work has made and continues to make the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s restoration efforts more equitable, inclusive, and just.

“I am honored by this recognition from my colleagues in the Chesapeake Bay community. This award sets the high standard to lead by example and with integrity every day. I will strive to meet that mark in the years to come as I continue fighting for clean water and a more diverse and inclusive community throughout the Bay watershed,” said Davis.

Next Generation

Anna Killius, a policy analyst at the James River Association (JRA) received the Next Generation award due to her continued stewardship & protection of the James River. Anna has helped to secure bipartisan legislation that keeps coal ash out of rivers and cattle out of streams. She has also successfully advocated for bills that promote the implementation of living shorelines and against bills that would loosen Virginia’s oversight of water use and extraction.

“My sincere thanks to Chesapeake Conservancy, to everyone who took time to vote, and to all the nominees for their phenomenal work to bring about a cleaner, healthier, more accessible Chesapeake Bay. I am so honored to be named among the next generation of champions for the Chesapeake and will strive to live up to the charge,” said Killius.

Small Business

Located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, River Rock Outfitter was selected for the Small Business award. River Rock Outfitter is committed not only to the community, but also to protecting water resources along the Rappahannock River. Owner, April Peterson, has hosted and supported countless events to educate and take action to protect waterways. River Rock Outfitter has sponsored and participated in many litter clean-ups, hosted and sponsored educational movie events, and even developed an annual music festival called “Rock the River” to build public awareness of the importance of protecting the Rappahannock River.

“We are so happy to be recognized as the Small Business Champion of the Chesapeake. It is our responsibility as business owners, outdoor lovers, and just good humans to take care of our natural resources. Our team will continue to work hard to live up to this title,” said Peterson.


“On behalf of the Chesapeake Conservancy, I would like to congratulate the 2020 Champions of the Chesapeake,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn. “As our nation and the world are dealing with the effects of the global pandemic, it is so important that we celebrate the heroes in our own communities. Here we can all find inspiration during these difficult times.”

Previous award winners include: Senator Guy Guzzone of Maryland, Senator Gene Yaw of Pennsylvania, and Delegate David Bulova of Virginia from the Chesapeake Bay Commission; Ann P. Swanson, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission; U.S. Senator Barbara S. Mikulski of Maryland (retired); U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland (retired); U.S. Senator John W. Warner of Virginia (retired); Maryland Governor Larry Hogan; former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe; former National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis (ret); Keith Campbell, The Keith Campbell Foundation; Esri; Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; Microsoft Corporation; Mt. Cuba Center; Dr. Mamie Parker, (retired) US Fish & Wildlife Service; REI; Kim Hernandez, NOAA Fellow; and Skyline Technology Solutions, Inc.