Chesapeake Bay Commission Executive Director Ann Swanson, second from left, during a 2016 Bay Commission meeting in Annapolis. Photo: Dave Harp

Chesapeake Bay Commission Director Retires

By Timothy B. Wheeler, Bay Journal News Service

Ann Swanson, the longtime executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, is retiring in November after more than 34 years managing the tri-state legislative advisory body.

Swanson said in an email that she’s leaving “with mixed emotions,” looking forward to the freedom to spend more time gardening, traveling and visiting with friends and family but finding it tough to leave what she called a “dream job.” 

Under her guidance, the commission has championed legislation and budget decisions in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia to help restore the Bay and its 64,000-square-mile watershed. Just this month, Pennsylvania lawmakers acted after years of hesitation on a pair of commission priorities: passing legislation to regulate lawn fertilizer application and establishing a Clean Streams Fund with $220 million in federal COVID-relief money to help bolster Chesapeake pollution reduction efforts.

“Her ability to bring legislators, administrations, and grassroots advocates together on the most controversial issues — and build meaningful consensus and execute legislative and budget progress — over the last 35 years is unparalleled,” said Maryland Sen. Sarah Elfreth, the commission’s chair.

A trained wildlife biologist and forest ecologist, Swanson graduated with honors from the University of Vermont and Yale University. She has been repeatedly honored for her work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chesapeake Conservancy and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Vermont.

Her last day will be Nov. 21.  The commission said it would advertise for a new director.