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Jana DavisJana Davis Ph.D.

Executive director
Chesapeake Bay Trust

When Jana Davis came to the Chesapeake Bay Trust 13 years ago, the team had only five staff members, with Davis herself being the only scientist on board.

“I brought my scientific approach to our grant-making, and since then, we have become known for approaching topics analytically,” said Davis, Ph.D, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Under her direction, the staff has grown more than three-fold, while revenue is up 374 percent at the nonprofit that aims to increase stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It receives about $4 million in annual contributions and maintains a variety of grant programs, special initiatives, education, restoration and community engagement activities.

Davis has set about methodically advancing the trust in four distinct areas, bolstered in part by her own academic research. The term “living shorelines” is commonplace these days, but the concept of using natural habitats to protect shorelines from erosion was still in its infancy when Davis began addressing it. She hosted a summit on the topic, published seminal work in the field and has boosted other living shoreline projects with funding. Being a part of this cutting-edge research and advocacy has helped attract new revenue streams to the trust, she said.

Davis has also focused on building out small-scale green infrastructure — rain gardens, bioswales, bioretention cells and the like — to mitigate the environmental impact of stormwater on the bay. She helped establish the trust as a leader in stormwater management, forging a “Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns” partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

And as any great leader must, Davis has been working to smooth differences and forge a working consensus among staff and stakeholders. She’s developed a program called “Pooled Monitoring” to bring together restoration and regulatory workers as the debate of the merits of regulatory discharge permits needed to undertake restoration work.

“I am incredibly fortunate to be the lead of an organization with such a wonderful mission,” Davis said.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record’s 2018 Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs awards. Some information for this profile was sourced from the honoree’s application for the award.