...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
CRMC Council appoints new executive director
September 23, 2020, WAKEFIELD – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) unanimously appointed former CRMC Deputy Director and longtime CRMC staffer Jeffrey Willis as the agency’s new executive director. His appointment is effective immediately.
Willis began his tenure at the CRMC 32 years ago as a research associate and intern, working on harbor management planning and the Pawcatuck River Special Area Management Plan. For eight years, Willis served as a marine resources specialist at CRMC, managing aquaculture program development and other regulations. He was then an environmental planner for another four years, supervising the agency’s policy and program development section, developed the CRMC’s Clean Marina Program with the RI Marine Trades Association, served as Rhode Island’s state lead for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Providence River and Harbor dredging project, and worked on CRMC state and federal budgets.
As deputy director beginning in 2002, Willis created the CRMC’s Marine Resources Development Plan (MRDP) which aimed at steering the Council to more efficiently fulfill the roles it was appointed for in 1971, but with a more current context. The vision of the MRDP includes properly functioning bay and lagoon systems; abundant and sustainable fishing and fisheries resources; successful coastal places; and marine-based economic development. It outlined strategies for improving the health and function of the state’s marine ecosystem, in addition to growth. The plan also redefined Council program leadership and coordination roles, responsibilities and capabilities.
Willis continued to manage the Clean Marina Program, and served as co-chair of the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, which coordinates ocean planning, coastal hazards, ocean and ecosystem health for the region’s coastal programs. He also served as a member of the State Planning Council and Technical Committee, as well as on the Bays, Rivers & Watersheds Coordination Team.
A lifelong Rhode Islander, Willis graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1990 with a degree in spatial development in the urban environment.
“We congratulate Jeff on this well-deserved appointment to executive director,” said CRMC Chair Jennifer Cervenka. “Jeff’s intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the CRMC – its regulatory framework, its programs, its staff, its impacts on the state and beyond – will serve him well in this next phase of the CRMC’s growth, and the Council looks forward to continuing the positive working relationship we have with him.”