This news release is from the previous Governor's administration.
For Immediate Release: March 31, 2017
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, 804-225-4260,

Governor McAuliffe Announces Secretary Molly Ward and Deputy Secretary Russ Baxter Receive Environmental Achievement Awards for State Public Service

~National Association of Clean Water Agencies Recognizes Two Administration Officials for Leadership in Water Quality~


RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced that two administration officials have received the National Environmental Achievement Award for State Public Service. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies selected Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and her deputy, Russ Baxter, in recognition of their leadership and advocacy for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Throughout their careers, Molly and Russ have distinguished themselves as devoted stewards of the Commonwealth’s waters. As Governor, I’ve seen firsthand the enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and pragmatism they bring to these important issues,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I can imagine no one more deserving of national recognition for their hard work on water quality issues and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration.”

For more than four decades, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies has represented public wastewater and stormwater agencies from across the country. Its National Environmental Achievement Award Program recognizes individuals and agencies that have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection and the clean water community. Secretary Ward and Deputy Secretary Baxter, this year’s only state-level recipients, were both unanimously selected for honors by the Association’s Awards Committee.

“Secretary Ward and Deputy Secretary Baxter were recognized with NACWA National Environmental Achievement Awards for their efforts to advance the cause of clean water throughout their public service careers and find creative ways to support a strong Virginia economy while protecting our treasured waterways,” said Ted Henifin, chair of the NACWA Awards Committee and General Manager of the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

Secretary Molly Ward previously served as Treasurer and subsequently Mayor of the City of Hampton. At the regional level, she represented the city at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission on issues relating to water quality, the Chesapeake Bay, and historic sea level rise. Ward also led the bipartisan delegation that persuaded President Obama to make Fort Monroe a National Monument, the President's first Antiquities Act designation. She later served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama White House before joining the McAuliffe administration.

“Since I was a little girl, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers have been a constant source of joy and a frequent source of concern,” said Secretary Molly Ward. “It’s an honor and a privilege to work every day to improve the health of Virginia’s waters and the communities that rely on them.”

Russ Baxter currently serves as the Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for the Chesapeake Bay. Previously, he has worked as the Chesapeake Bay Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality as well as the Acting Director and Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. From 2002 until 2005, he served as Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources in the office of Governor Mark Warner, where he was primarily responsible for the Commonwealth’s commitments under the multi-state Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. Earlier in his career, Baxter was the Virginia Director and Senior Policy Analyst for the tri-state Chesapeake Bay Commission. He also held positions with the Virginia Conservation Network and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“The restoration of Chesapeake Bay has been my life’s work,” said Deputy Secretary Russ Baxter. “Thank you to NACWA for this honor and their partnership in the ongoing progress toward safe and clean water throughout Virginia and the nation.”