Susan Shingledecker has joined the Chesapeake Conservancy as vice president and director of programs. She brings more than 15 years of professional experience in consulting, public policy, state government and nonprofit management.
In her new position, Shingledecker will manage the partnership with the National Park Service and oversees Chesapeake Conservancy’s programs, which include community-based conservation initiatives throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. She also provides leadership to the organization as a whole, working with the Annapolis-based nonprofit’s president and board of directors to determine and administer the organization’s strategic direction in accomplishing its mission.
Shingledecker has worked in a number of positions for BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water since 2005. Most recently, Shingledecker served as vice president, where she oversaw day-to-day operation of the nonprofit and led environmental efforts at BoatU.S. and GEICO Marine Insurance. She also supervised the Foundation’s boating safety and clean boating programs including the development of interactive online learning courses, boater outreach and fundraising.
She has also worked on renewable energy at the Maryland Energy Administration as the assistant director and the challenge of climate change policy for the National Governors’ Association.
Shingledecker also serves as a panel member on the NOAA Hydrographic Services Review Panel and Federal Advisory Committee. She is the chair of the American Boat and Yacht Council’s Technical Committee for Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species Through Boat Design She has been an avid sailor since the age of 10 on the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay and is a member of Severn Sailing Association.
Moved to the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the first time in 1993 for college at American University where I studied international development and environmental policy. Later, I earned a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.
What do you see as the No. 1 issue facing the Chesapeake Bay?
I believe where you stand depends on where you sit when it comes to defining your No. 1 Bay issue. For people living in low lying areas like Dorchester County or downtown Annapolis who experience nuisance flooding on a regular basis, climate change is the No. 1 issue impacting the Bay. For commercial waterman and recreational anglers fisheries health is the No. 1 issue. For people in urban areas wastewater treatment and stormwater management is the No. 1 issue.
To me the sheer size of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the amount of development in the watershed and the population growth pose enormous challenges for the health of the Chesapeake. The reality is that everything we do on land impacts Bay water quality. It is my belief that the more we can do to connect people with the Bay, the more successful we will be at getting buy-in for conservation actions at all levels. Perhaps it is because I spent a dozen years, in the boating industry, I believe when a person has an opportunity to experience, explore and enjoy the Chesapeake they then will have a greater drive to help take the steps needed to protect and restore the Bay.
If you had not chosen your current profession, what profession would you choose and why?
I always say if I went back to school for a doctorate it would be in transboundary water management/conflict resolution. In college, I was fascinated by a class called Beyond Sovereignty. It looked at how we solve problems that cross political boundaries. I enjoy solving problems and taking on a challenge!
In early August we went with some friends on a sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands. Unlike past charter trips, this time we brought along our kids, ages 9 and 5. We had a great time sailing around the islands, exploring new places, taking long naps on the boat, and sharing it all with the kids. It was such a break to spend a week outside with no TV, limited electronics and a lot of fresh air! I actually wrote an article about chartering with kids that will be featured in a future issue of BoatU.S. Magazine. It has been heartbreaking to see the devastation that occurred shortly after we left from the hurricanes. These islands saw incredible devastation. Their economy depends on tourism. It is great to see the charter businesses are getting back up and running, but life on the islands is still very challenging for those who live there.
When I want to relax, I … :
When time allows I love to go for a morning sunrise paddleboard yoga class. It is the best way to start a day. I also enjoy rafting up with friends on our 28-foot sailboat in various creeks in the bay. Ending the day sitting in the cockpit watching the sunset with friends while the kids paddle in kayaks or play down below is a pretty great way to unwind.
Favorites to binge watch:
Favorite Netflix series to binge are “Handmaids Tale” or “The Crown.”
I stumbled upon a new favorite quote recently from Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: “I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend too much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.
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