Closing 2023: President’s Letter

Dear Friends,

2023 has been an exciting year of reflecting on and restating the mission, priorities and programs of PEC with the rollout of a new strategic plan. Now more than ever, we feel the call to protect and restore the lands and waters of the Virginia Piedmont, while building stronger, more sustainable communities.

PEC is a central catalyst for shaping positive change in our region. We take a comprehensive, high-level view of trends in policy, economics, and social change, while working in our communities at the most granular level. We work as a land trust on conservation and as an advocate on local land use planning and policy. We are present and active in the many local and state decisions that affect the Virginia Piedmont region, and relentless in the pursuit of a sustainable and resilient future.

What characterizes our work more than anything else, is showing up, being present. Today, I’m honored to shine a light on our current, and outgoing, Board Co-Chairs, Jean Perin and George Ohrstrom II, who have shown up for PEC and been ever-present in our work for the communities we serve over the past decade. They embody the values of this organization in so many ways and in so many forums.

  • Leading by example.
  • Participating.
  • Stepping in when others cannot or will not.
  • Taking a holistic perspective, while also focusing on implementation and details.
  • Caring, not only about the projects and the policies, but also about the people and communities.
PEC Board Co-Chairs George Ohrstrom II and Jean Perin. Photo by Missy Janes

Jeannie and George have, with great humility, made possible some of the most significant conservation and restoration work in the world by PEC and many partners — 90,000 acres in the past 10 years in the Piedmont and nearly a million acres in Virginia. Over those 10 years, PEC strengthened and defended the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit and advocated for related policies for conservation, best management practices, and restoration, which have become models for the rest of the United States. Under their leadership, PEC has been recognized by three different governors for conservation excellence, most recently as a partner with Fauquier County and other organizations working to expand public access to the Upper Rappahannock River. In 2018, PEC won a Dugdale Conservation Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia Garden Club. With courage to back our efforts as a staff in the face of reluctance, skepticism, and often Goliath-sized challenges, Jeannie and George have shaped PEC’s vision and provided the support we’ve needed to bring good ideas to fruition.

Both Jeannie and George support not only PEC, but also partner organizations, civic groups and public bodies. From the very local Clarke County Planning Commission and Friends of the Shenandoah to regional and statewide organizations like Virginia League of Conservation Voters and others, they repeatedly commit their time and personal resources to advancing the broader goal of a sustainable future.

They also lead by example. Both are active in the granular work of their neighborhoods, from ensuring trash and signs are removed from scenic byways to leading local eff orts to conserve and restore streams and rivers like Spout Run and Goose Creek. Both have conserved and restored their own properties, modeling preservation of historic values and adoption of land management practices to improve habitat and long-term sustainability. Both are active in advocating directly with government officials. And both make an effort to attend the hundreds of events and activities that PEC and our partners organize.

Please join me in thanking Jeannie and George for their years of dedicated service. I hope all who believe in our mission will follow their lead with the same spirit of active participation, partnership, and kindness for the communities we serve.


Chris Miller, President

This letter appeared in the 2024 winter edition of The Piedmont Environmental Council’s member newsletter, The Piedmont View. If you’d like to become a PEC member or renew your membership, please visit