Virginia Governor-Elect Ralph Northam announced December 14 his appointments for two key members of his cabinet: Secretary of Natural Resources and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry:
Matt Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources – Matt Strickler serves as Senior Policy Advisor to the House Committee on Natural Resources under Democratic Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3). His portfolio includes fisheries, oceans, wildlife, and coastal policy, as well as related energy and public lands issues. He also handles matters related to The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Originally from Lexington, Va., Matt graduated from Washington and Lee University and holds master’s degrees in public policy and marine science from the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He was a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in NOAA’s Office of International Affairs in 2007, and worked on U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s successful 2008 campaign. Immediately prior to joining the Committee in 2012, Matt worked in the Virginia General Assembly as a legislative assistant to then-state Senator Ralph Northam.
Bettina Ring, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry – Bettina Ring was appointed State Forester by Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2014. Prior to that, Ms. Ring served as Senior Vice President of Family Forests at the American Forest Foundation where she was responsible for overseeing the American Tree Farm System®, the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in America, supporting more than 80,000 family forest owners collectively managing 27 million acres of certified woodlands. Ms. Ring has a long history in the conservation and forestry sectors, having spent 14 years at the Virginia Department of Forestry, departing the agency in 2001 as Deputy State Forester. In her role, Ms. Ring was responsible for operations, and helped to develop and implement a new mission, vision and strategic plan for the department. In the years following her Department of Forestry service, Ms. Ring held various leadership positions within nonprofit organizations focusing on natural resources management and conservation, including the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, The Wilderness Land Trust and the Bay Area Open Space Council. Ring holds a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Wildlife from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from James Madison University.