Northam appoints first cabinet member to focus on coastal protection

A retired Navy admiral will serve as the state’s first special assistant to the governor for coastal adaptation and protection.

Ann C. Phillips of Norfolk is tasked with finding a way to address the effects of sea-level rise and land subsidence along Virginia’s coast across state departments. Lawmakers in the eastern part of the state have long pushed for the creation of the position and were successful in this year’s General Assembly session.

“Ann Phillips is a recognized leader in the field of sea level rise resilience advocacy and climate impact on national security at the regional, national and international level,” Northam’s office said in a statement

From 2014 to 2016, Phillips chaired a working group as part of the Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise Preparedness and Resilience Intergovernmental Pilot Planning Project.

She is a certified Level 2 Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional, which means she has received training on how best stormwater mitigation and environmental practices, and coordinates a wetlands restoration project in her Norfolk neighborhood.