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Adirondack Council hires governor’s advisor for energy, environment

Megan Phillips (Photo provided)

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Adirondack Council has hired Megan Phillips of Albany to be the environmental advocacy group’s vice president for conservation.

Since November 2018, Phillips 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. She has more than a decade of experience in conservation, serving in state government roles in New York and with a private organization in Wisconsin.

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. He 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.

“My goal from the outset will be to ensure that the Council’s policy and program recommendations are guided by the best available science,” Phillips said in a press release.

“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 Bowen previously held.

Phillips, Bowen and Staats will work closely with Julia Goren, director of the Council’s Vision 2050 Project 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.

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 state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and later as the invasive species outreach coordinator with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Prior to her service with the governor’s office, she also worked for the Department 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 will announce several additional new staff positions in the coming months.

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