Press Releases

Adirondack Council Hires Leader for New Conservation TeamĀ 

Megan Phillips was Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Energy, Environment 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today announced it had hired Megan Phillips of Albany to be its Vice President for Conservation. 

Phillips has more than a decade of experience in conservation, serving in state government roles in New York and with a private organization in Wisconsin. Since November of 2018, she has been Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Senior Policy Advisor for Energy and the Environment, overseeing 12 state agencies and authorities and implementing the administration’s policy initiatives. 

At the Adirondack Council, she will fill a leadership void left by the departure of Deputy Director Raul “Rocci” Aguirre, who had served a decade as the Council’s Conservation Director. 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.   

“I'm thrilled to join the team at the Adirondack Council as the Vice President for Conservation,” Phillips said. “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." 

“Megan will fit perfectly into our growing organization,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “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.” 

On her team will be Associate Conservation Director Jackie Bowen, who is stepping up from a conservation assistant role under Aguirre to assume more responsibility, especially in liaising with state agencies. Former Adirondack Mountain Club professional trail crew leader Charlotte Staats who has been the Council’s Executive and Program Assistant moves up into the role that Jackie previously held. 

“I am thrilled that Megan is joining us to direct and that Jackie has been promoted to a management-level position. Together, they will lead this experienced, skilled, and dynamic conservation team,” said Julia Goren, director of the Council’s Vision 2050 Project. 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. 

“I am excited to be a part of this dynamic expansion of the Council’s conservation efforts,” said Associate Conservation Director Bowen. “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.” 

Board Bids Phillips Welcome  

“On behalf of the Board, I am truly delighted that Megan is joining the Council team to head our crucial conservation work,” said Michael Bettmann, Chairman of the Council’s board of directors. “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.” 

The Council’s first female chair was Frances Beinecke (1980 through 1985), who recently retired after a long career as executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Its second female chair was Barbara Glaser of Saratoga Springs and Raquette Lake, from 1988 to 1991. 

Phillips earned bachelor’s (2009) and master’s degrees (2013) in conservation biology and water resources management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Women in Leadership certificate from Cornell University (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 & Historic Preservation and later as the Invasive Species Outreach Coordinator with the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.   

Prior to her service with the Governor’s office, she also worked for the Dept. of State in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. 

Phillips will be moving to the Adirondack Park and working from the Council’s Elizabethtown office. She starts on March 15. 

Janeway said the Council would be announcing several additional new staff positions in the coming months. 

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities. 

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

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