Fisheries scientist Allison Colden has been named the new Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, effective immediately.
An Annapolis resident, Colden will succeed the foundation’s previous director, Josh Kurtz, whom Gov. Wes Moore appointed to be the secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in January.
“It’s my pleasure to announce Allison Colden as the new leader of CBF’s Maryland team,” said Alison Prost, CBF’s Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration, in a statement. “Since joining CBF, Allison has proven she can use her scientific expertise to work through controversial issues with grace.”
Colden will oversee efforts by CBF’s Maryland office to decrease water pollution, educate policymakers, and reinforce environmental policy in Maryland, Prost said.
“We’re in a time of change for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup as several states in the watershed struggle to meet their pollution reduction requirements,” Colden said in a statement. “In Maryland, we must do more to address agricultural and stormwater pollution.”
In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a 2025 deadline to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
A report by CBF in 2022 concluded that Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia were not on track to reduce pollution to create a healthy Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
With that deadline fast approaching, Colden said it is time to look hard at Bay restoration efforts so far and plot a purposeful course forward.
“As we approach the 2025 deadline, there is an opportunity to reflect on what has worked, what hasn’t, and to advance proven and innovative solutions to restore the Bay’s health,” Colden said. “We must ensure the next phase of the cleanup supports communities harmed by water and air quality issues, mitigates climate change, and furthers pollution reductions. I’m excited for this opportunity and look forward to advancing the important work of the Maryland team.”
Over the past six years as CBF’s Maryland Fisheries Scientist, Colden has led advocacy efforts for environmental legislation, including a bill passed in 2019 to protect five large-scale oyster restoration sanctuaries in Maryland.
Colden also oversaw CBF’s Maryland oyster restoration program for the past two years. The program adds tens of millions of oysters to the Chesapeake Bay’s sanctuary reefs annually.
Colden serves as Maryland’s legislative representative to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and as an appointed member of Maryland’s Oyster Advisory Commission. In those roles, she has advocated for sustainable regulations, cooperative fisheries management, and the need for a cleaner Bay.
“Allison has earned the respect of partners and decision-makers alike through a cooperative approach and thoughtful policy recommendations,” Prost said. “Colden’s advocacy efforts in Maryland have helped the state begin to reverse its long-term oyster population decline.”
Colden earned a doctorate in marine sciences from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2015.
Prior to her time at CBF, she worked as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the U.S House of Representatives and senior manager of external affairs at Restore America’s Estuaries.