Some changes are taking place in the top ranks of Blue Water Baltimore, the local nonprofit devoted to restoring Baltimore’s waterways.
The day after executive director Halle Van der Gaag resigned last week, Blue Water Baltimore’s board of directors appointed director of programs Carl Simon to fill her shoes as interim executive director. Van der Gaag had been working for the organization since 2010 and served as its executive director since 2011.
Speaking by phone today, Simon said Van der Gaag’s resignation on Dec. 22 was “for personal reasons.” He had nothing but praise to offer for the group’s former leader. “She really built a tremendous legacy here at Blue Water Baltimore. We’re in a very strong position to carry forward,” he said.
The Baltimore Sun’s Scott Dance first reported her departure.
Simon has been working for the nonprofit for nearly two years now. Before coming to Blue Water Baltimore, he spent two years as the division manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service. He’s worked in the bay restoration field for eight years in total, he said.
The organization also recently got a new Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, a position dedicated to managing and executing all regulatory and advocacy projects and monitoring water quality in streams and the harbor. Angela Haren began working in that role three weeks ago, Simon said. She replaced David Flores, who left his position during the first week of October to take a job as a policy analyst with the Center for Progressive Reform in Washington D.C.
Haren is an attorney with 12 years of experience working with environmental nonprofits. She has “direct waterkeeper experience” from her time working with the California Coastkeeper Alliance, Simon said. She also previously worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-founded the environmental law firm Clear Resource Law.
“We really are very excited for her to move the mission of the Waterkeeper and Blue Water Baltimore forward,” Simon said.
He noted that she already met with Flores to discuss her responsibilities.
Looking ahead to 2017, Simon said the nonprofit’s primary goals are to find a permanent replacement for Van der Gaag, keep offering its current programs and “continue our strong work when it comes to investing in Baltimore’s communities.” There’s also talk of a developing partnership between Blue Water Baltimore and city hospitals to study the human health impacts of local water pollution.
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