News and Notes

Watch “Places and Voices of America the Beautiful: Chesapeake Bay”

The Half-Earth Project® presented the second in a new discussion series, “Places and Voices of America the Beautiful: Chesapeake Bay.” The online discussions are focused on areas of great biodiversity in the United States and the pathways and people essential to protecting them. The discussions are free and open to the public with registration. The Chesapeake Bay was held on February 28th, at 12 pm on Zoom and live-streamed from the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation on Facebook.

Water, forests, natural species and people are woven together in an intricate system, rising out of the Appalachians of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and flowing east and south to the largest estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay bounded by the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey. This is a place of transitions: freshwater meets saltwater, wilderness meets rural farmland meets urban communities. These transitions also are rich in human connections, implications and issues, including thousands of years of Indigenous history and byways that formed the escape routes of the Underground Railroad. This made for fertile ground and water for the this installment in the Places and Voices discussion series.

Against the backdrop of the current push for 30×30, in a conversation moderated by Joel R. Johnson, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation convened ambassadors of the natural and cultural beauty of the region for a conversation on opportunities and challenges as we seek to preserve the Chesapeake. 


  • Mamie Parker, Ph.D., Trustee of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Darius Johnson, Executive Director, Kent Attainable Housing
  • Joel Dunn, President & CEO, Chesapeake Conservancy
  • Crystal Jordan, Chesapeake Bay waterwoman

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 Joel Dunn, President & CEO, Chesapeake Conservancy

Joel Dunn is president and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Dunn spearheaded government relations and project management in the Chesapeake region for The Conservation Fund. His work helped establish protection for National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and National Trails, including the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Dunn has also worked on Capitol Hill and in conservation science.

Dunn earned a Master of Public Policy from the Terry Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and a Master of Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences from Duke University, where he was a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow. He holds a Bachelor of Science from The Evergreen State College. In 2010, Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment gave him their Rising Star Award for his work in conservation. Dunn lives in Annapolis with his wife, and two daughters.

Mamie Parker, Ph.D., Trustee of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

An executive coach, facilitator, and inspirational public speaker, Mamie Parker is a retired fish and wildlife biologist who rose to the rank of Assistant Director for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Washington, DC. She made history when appointed the first African American USFWS Northeast Regional Director in the Senior Executive Service.  She also served as Chief of Staff and Chief of Fisheries. Mamie has vast experience in water resources planning, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, wetland protection, and restoration.

As the USFWS Assistant Director, she served as the facilitator at the White House Conference on the Environment. Dr. Parker played a major role in implementing the Coastal Barrier Resources Act system mapping and flood insurance, Coastal Program, and protecting our nation’s waters from pollutants and invasive species such as listing the snakehead fish as an injurious wildlife species. She helped create the National Fish Habitat Action Plan in partnership, for which the President of the United States presented her with the Presidential Rank Award, the highest award given to government employees. She also received the Department of Interior’s Silver Award presented by the Secretary of the USFWS.

Dr. Parker is a leader in various organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Duke University School of the Environment Visitors Board, Northland College, Student Conservation Association, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Brown Advisory Sustainable Investment, Marstel-Day Consulting Company, Defenders of Wildlife, the Potomac Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Conservancy.

The Governor of Virginia recently appointed her to the Board of Directors of the Game and Inland Fisheries. The Council of World Women Leaders awarded her with an Aspen Institute Fellowship where she worked in the Kingdom of Lesotho and in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a 2018 winner of the prestigious William K. Reilly Award from American University School of Public Affairs’ Center for Environmental Policy, and a 2015 Champion of the Chesapeake from Chesapeake Conservancy. Born and raised in Arkansas, she was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame by the Governor.

Dr. Parker holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), a Master of Science in fish and wildlife management, and a doctoral degree in limnology from the University of Wisconsin. She also received executive leadership training at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. When she is not working, Mamie enjoys watching movies, hiking and mentoring young ladies.

Darius Johnson, Executive Director, Kent Attainable Housing

A Kent County High School graduate, Johnson received the Washington College Vincent Hynson Scholarship in 2011 and graduated from there in 2015 with a degree in Business Management. For the past three years he has worked for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy as Communications Manager and previously as their Community Revitalization Project Manager. Prior to that, he was with the Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation. He has had extensive public speaking, fund-raising, and event planning experience.  He currently serves on the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area Board of Directors and the Washington College Alumni Board.

Crystal Jordan, Chesapeake Bay waterwoman

Crystal Jordan (née Curry), 36 years old, grew up in the small, waterfront town of Mayo, Maryland. As a kid, she was either on the neighborhood beach in Selby Bay or in the woods next door building small forts and playing tag. “Without a doubt, my love for the outdoors has guided me to where I am today.”

At 13, Crystal started working with her father, also a Waterman, working on the Chesapeake Bay. She graduated from South River High School in 2004 and after High Schoolbecame a full-time crabber, working for her father. 

“We had two full seasons before he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, passing away shortly thereafter. My father was the heart of our family. This event turned the page of my life to a new chapter and I knew it was time to step up so I could try my best at filling his shoes. 

Since then, I’ve worked to keep my fathers legacy going. I am now a mother to an amazing son and proudly employ my niece in her summers out of school. As of today, I’ve captained my father’s boat throughout the numerous struggles, hardships, ups, and downs in the industry. Along the way, I’ve learned hard lessons about the do’s and don’ts’. I can proudly say, with the help and support of my family, friends, and fellow watermen and women, I am a successful “waterwoman” and mother to my son!”

Crystal is also a member of the Maryland Watermen’s Association and Calvert County Watermen’s Association. 

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