In Memoriam: Margaret “Peggy” Richardson

Peggy Richardson

After a long life of leadership, public service, and caring for others, Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, Piedmont Environmental Council board member and chair of PEC’s Nominations and Governance Committee, passed away July 13 at her Scuffleburg farm in Fauquier County. Peggy is survived by her husband John, a daughter and son-in-law, and three beloved grandchildren. 

Peggy was a strong supporter of PEC, of conservation, and of good government and good governance. As Chair of PEC’s Nominations and Governance Committee, she continually worked to strengthen our board of directors and provide a structure of committees that encouraged board engagement and participation. She provided needed counsel through a series of policy, litigation, and conservation challenges ranging from transmission line proposals to federal policy on tax incentives for conservation to the enforcement of conservation easements.  

What endeared Peggy to staff and board members, though, was her wise, calm, and friendly engagement with all. Her needlepoint in the midst of PEC board meetings created a sense of intimacy and humanity that she extended to each of us as colleagues, family, and friends. 

As an attorney, Peggy brought great experience in governance and tax law, including serving as the commissioner of Internal Revenue in the Clinton Administration from 1993-1997. Until June 2003, she was a tax partner at Ernst & Young, where she was the National Director of IRS Practice & Procedure and an adviser to the Foreign Investment Advisory Council in Russia. Prior to her service as IRS commissioner, she was a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan.   

Peggy graduated from Vassar College with a degree in political science and received her J.D. with honors from The George Washington University Law School, where she was an editor of the Law Review. After law school, she clerked at the U.S. Court of Claims (now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) and then joined the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, where she became the first woman promoted to executive rank.  

 She was a member of the District of Columbia and Virginia bars, the Washington Women’s Forum, the International Women’s Forum, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She served on the Boards of Legg Mason, Inc., WETA, the Eurasia Foundation and the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Taxpayers Against Fraud, and the Piedmont Environmental Council. She previously served on the Boards of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation (2007-2015), US-Russia Business Council, USA for UNHCR (the UN refugee agency), which she chaired, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Women’s Campaign Fund, The Fishing School (an after school program for at-risk children), and the National Cathedral School for Girls, where she also served as President of the Parents’ Association.

A full obituary has been published by The Washington Post: