The policy board for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership has named Dr. Kirk Havens of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science as chair of its new leadership team for the next two years.
Havens, vice-chair of the board since 2015, assumed the chair position at the board’s recent meeting. Holly White, the principal planner for Nags Head, was elected to fill Havens’ position as vice chair. Board members also welcomed Mary Penny Kelley of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality as DEQ Secretary Michael Regan’s appointee. Kelley is the department’s senior advisor for Policy and Innovation.
The board advises the partnership, which implements a citizen-driven watershed approach to protecting and restoring the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary. The estuary is an ecologically rich waterbody that covers large portions of northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.
“Protection of the estuary, which serves as a key nursery area for coastal fish and shellfish, has been vital to the fishing and tourism industries in both Virginia and North Carolina,” says Havens. “I look forward to pursuing opportunities for collaboration in the shared waterways between the two states.”
Havens serves as the assistant director of the Center for Coastal Resources Management, and director of the Coastal Watersheds Program at VIMS. His expertise is in wetlands ecology, environmental law, public policy, adaptive management, marine debris, and watershed issues. Havens has personal ties to the area, having spent his college summers running crab pots in Roanoke Sound and busing tables at Owens Restaurant in Nags Head. His family continues to own a home in Manteo.
Havens replaces Tom Allen, associate professor of political science and geography at Old Dominion University. Allen will remain an at-large member of the policy board.
The policy board guides the partnership in advancing its mission and strategic plan. Through unique regional collaborations, APNEP and its partners pursue actions to identify, protect, and restore the significant resources of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system. The partnership is hosted by DEQ and is funded with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.