The Piedmont Environmental Council announces new board officers

Contact: Chris Miller, President
The Piedmont Environmental Council; 540-347-2334, x7100

WARRENTON, VA. (Mar. 6, 2024)After 10 successful years at the helm of The Piedmont Environmental Council Board of Directors, former board co-chairs Jean Perin and George Ohrstrom II,  have turned the reins over to a new board chair, David Aldrich, and new board officers: Leslie Cockburn, vice chair; Margrete Stevens, secretary; and Chris McLean, treasurer. Founded in 1972, PEC works to protect and conserve the lands and waters of the Virginia Piedmont while building stronger, more sustainable communities.

“Jean and George have led the organization with great humility, passion, courage, and care, and have strengthened the organization and the board as a whole. Collectively, our new board officers exemplify the depth of the board as a whole. Each brings a range of experiences as landowners, community leaders and professionals in their fields, all of which will capably advance PEC’s mission and vision,” said PEC President Chris Miller. 

David Aldrich. Photo credit: Jennifer Aldrich

PEC’s new board chair is David Aldrich, who lives in Rappahannock County with his wife Jennifer, and their two children. The Virginia countryside first drew them from New York City back in the mid-1990s, where Aldrich left behind a career in investment banking and accounting to join a government contracting firm. Almost as soon as they arrived in the Virginia Piedmont, the Aldrich’s heard about PEC and became involved in supporting the organization. He joined the PEC board in 2010 at the invitation of Jean Perin and became board treasurer in 2014, serving in that role for the next nine years, under board leadership of Jean and George. The Aldrich’s have permanently protected 450 acres in Rappahannock County, where they’ve also invested in native plantings to support bird and wildlife habitat, installation of trees and shrubs along waterways to improve water quality, and invasive plant species removal.

“Begun with a focus on protecting and preserving land in the Piedmont, PEC has evolved into an organization capable of, and willing to, take on major regional, national, and even international environmental issues such as data center development. More than any other time, the need for PEC is high, and this organization is uniquely suited to address challenges that will not go away any time soon, and may in fact increase in magnitude and complexity. I hope I continue to facilitate the growth of PEC, with a particular focus on development of its staff of expert performers, for as long as the organization is interested in my participation,” Aldrich said. (Downloadable image of David Aldrich. Photo credit: Jennifer Aldrich)

Chris McLean. Photo credit Ashley Shilling.

Chris McLean, of Charlottesville, follows Aldrich’s tenure as board treasurer for a three-year term. Outside of his robust career in finance as a wealth management advisor, McLean has a passion for the preservation of Virginia’s natural landscapes. In addition to serving PEC’s board of directors since 2015, he is also a board member of the Piedmont Foundation since 2020, the Samuel Miller Agricultural Trust, and Wildrock Nature Play and Discovery Center, and former chair of the James River Association. A native of Charlottesville, McLean graduated from University of Virginia and University of Richmond Law School, and is deeply engaged with the PEC programs in Charlottesville and Albemarle. (Downloadable image of Chris McLean. Photo credit Ashley Shilling.)

Leslie Cockburn. Photo credit Scott Willis

PEC’s new vice-chair is Leslie Cockburn, multi-award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker, world-renowned for her many documentaries, films and other works on the effects of international conflict and foreign policy in the U.S. and abroad. The avid sailor, skier, swimmer, and hiker served on PEC’s board from 2007-2017 and again in 2021 through today. She raises Red Devon cattle and produces organic hay with husband Andrew on their farm in Castleton, and has also created an ornamental garden dedicated to butterflies and bees. In 2022, Cockburn was appointed by the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates to the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Board of Trustees and currently serves on the board of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti. (Downloadable image of Leslie Cockburn. Photo credit Scott Willis.)

Margrete Stevens. Credit Hugh Kenny/PEC

Stepping in the role of board secretary is Margrete Stevens, of Fauquier County. A PEC supporter for more than 30 years, Stevens joined the board in 2023 and has also served on PEC’s Julian Scheer Fauquier Land Conservation Fund Advisory Committee. Stevens and her husband Mike have hosted PEC’s annual Bluebell Walk along Cedar Run at their Catlett property for 21 years, and permanently conserved Bonny Brook Farm in 2010. Recently the Stevens have begun land management practices there to reintroduce native grasses and restore the wetlands to better protect Cedar Run — work that’s become a community demonstration component of the annual bluebell walk. Stevens is also a member of the Fauquier County Architectural Review Board and the board of the Clifton Institute. Her distinguished career as an international law attorney involved disputes with various environmental implications all over the world. (Downloadable photo of Margrete Stevens leading PEC’s annual bluebell walk. Photo credit Hugh Kenny).

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The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) works to protect and restore the lands and waters of the Virginia Piedmont, while building stronger, more sustainable communities. Founded in 1972, PEC is a locally based, community-supported 501(c)3 nonprofit and accredited land trust. At the core of PEC’s approach is a focus on educating, engaging and empowering people to effect positive change in their communities.