Dr. Kandis Boyd will lead the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program beginning this week. Facebook photo.

Federal Scientist, Meteorology Trailblazer to Lead Chesapeake Bay Program

By Timothy B. Wheeler, Bay Journal News Service

Dr. Kandis Boyd, a former federal scientist and agency senior manager who most recently advised the National Science Foundation on diversity, equity and inclusion, has been hired to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, the agency announced Thursday.

Boyd assumes leadership of the Bay Program on June 6. The program office staff in Annapolis helps coordinate the efforts of federal agencies, the six Bay states and the District of Columbia to restore the estuary’s water quality and fulfill the goals of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.

“I’m extremely humbled and excited to work with a forward-focused team of specialists and experts to advance the ongoing work of EPA and the Chesapeake Bay partners,” Boyd said.  “I’m ready to dive in and get to work on the most pressing matters before us.”

Boyd takes over as the Chesapeake watershed jurisdictions are struggling to meet a 2025 deadline for reducing nutrient and sediment pollution in the Bay. The federal-state effort also is lagging in achieving a variety of other goals, including enhancing the Bay’s resiliency to climate change and increasing the diversity of the people leading and participating in the Chesapeake restoration.

“I’m thrilled to have Kandis join our leadership team as we are stepping up restoration efforts for the Bay in the face of emerging challenges,” Adam Ortiz, the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional director, said. “Her experience as a strategic leader in the sciences and success engaging diverse communities and youth will help take the Bay effort to a new level as we focus on climate change and vulnerable communities.” 

Boyd, who lives in Maryland, previously served as strategic advisor for the Office of Equity and Civil Rights at the National Science Foundation, where according to the EPA press release she championed initiatives to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering and math careers. Before that, she was deputy director of the foundation’s Division of Grants and Agreements, helping to manage 35 individuals, a $5 billion budget and more than 12,000 new grants annually.

She began her career as a forecaster with the National Weather Service after becoming the first African American female to receive an undergraduate degree in meteorology in 1996 from Iowa State University.  In more than 20 years with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she spearheaded the “Turn Around Don’t Drown” flash flood safety campaign, provided expert advice on NOAA’s $2 billion satellite portfolio and rose to become deputy director and acting director of NOAA’s weather program office.

Boyd has a Ph.D. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University in Florida and master’s degrees in meteorology, water resources engineering and project management from Iowa State and George Washington universities, according to her LinkedIn page.

She has mentored more than 50 students, authored three books, written more than 100 articles and hosted more than 30 podcasts, the EPA release said.  She also is an American Meteorological Society Fellow and the 2021 recipient of the society’s Charles E. Anderson Award for her work to advance diversity and inclusion. 

Environmental advocates welcomed Boyd and said they looked forward to working with her. The Bay Program director’s position has been filled on an acting basis for more than a year by Michelle Price-Fay, former water branch chief in the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional office.  She will stay on to support Boyd and the office until July, an EPA spokesman said.

Kristin Reilly, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, said Boyd “has an established record of leadership with an unquestioned commitment to science.”

Hilary Falk, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, not only cited Boyd’s leadership skills but also said she has “the knowledge to ensure we are guided by the best science and the personal commitment to ensure that vulnerable communities are not left behind.”