Anna Killius, advocacy director for the James River Association, will become director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission on Jan. 25.

James River Advocate, “Champion” for the Bay to Lead Chesapeake Bay Commission

By Karl Blankenship with Timothy B. Wheeler, Bay Journal News Service

The Chesapeake Bay Commission, a panel that represents state legislators from across the Bay region, has named Anna Killius as its new executive director.

Killius, who has experience working with lawmakers at both the state and federal levels, succeeds Ann Pesiri Swanson, who retired last November after holding the post since 1988. The commission, which includes legislators from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, plays a critical role in passing Bay-related legislation in state general assemblies and works with Congress to advance Chesapeake initiatives.

Killius, the advocacy director for the James River Association, works with Virginia lawmakers to advance conservation policy and legislation. She previously worked in Washington, D.C., on the staff of U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), handling environmental and resource issues, including those related to the Bay.

“Anna’s breadth of experience at the state and federal level working with policymakers to find common sense and bipartisan solutions for protecting the Bay, combined with a keen vision for the future of this work, will continue the legacy of accomplishment that has defined CBC,” said Democratic Maryland Sen. Sarah Elfreth, chair of the Bay Commission, in making the announcement Jan. 6.

Killius is a 2013 graduate of the William & Mary School of Law. While in law school, she was a legal intern with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Richmond Office.

After graduation, she was selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a 2014 Knauss Sea Grant Legislative Fellow to work on Capitol Hill in Washington, after which she joined Sarbanes’ staff.

For nearly five years, she has held several positions with the nonprofit James River Association, working with lawmakers, conservation groups, industry stakeholders and others to advance programs, policies and legislation related to the James River. In those roles, she served on the Virginia Conservation Network’s Legislative Committee and as a representative on various state advisory committees.

“Anna just has tremendous knowledge and skills and sound judgment beyond her years,” said Bill Street, president and CEO of the James River Association. “She’ll do a fantastic job and I’m delighted that she’ll continue to work to help the whole Chesapeake and not just the James River. I’m really sad to lose her from our team.

“She has been our point person on policy with the General Assembly,” Street added, “so she is well-versed in both the process and the substance of all the policy work, and she has served on many commissions and boards, so she’ll hit the ground running.”

Killius also serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the state-federal Chesapeake Bay Program and has represented the James River Association within the Choose Clean Water Coalition, an organization that advocates for more than 275 local, state, regional and national groups within the Bay watershed.

Killius was named a “Champion of the Chesapeake: Next Generation” by the Chesapeake Conservancy in 2020.

The announcement drew praise from Bay advocates.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Hilary Falk called Killius “a terrific person for this position. Anna is a skillful, knowledgeable and respected partner of CBF and other environmental organizations. She has broad experience with the federal and state legislative processes and will be a tremendous asset leading the commission’s important work. We look forward to working with Anna.”

Choose Clean Water Coalition Director Kristin Reilly said Killius “represents the next generation of leadership within the Chesapeake community and her knowledge and expertise will help us accelerate our efforts to meet our clean water goals.”

Reilly called Killius a “stalwart advocate for clean water” who has a thorough understanding of issues impacting both local waterways and the Bay, and works effectively with legislators. “Whether in Richmond or on Capitol Hill in DC, we could always count on Anna as an effective advocate for key policies and investments that protect and restore our rivers and streams,” Reilly said.

Killius starts with the commission Jan. 25.