News | December 21, 2022

Chesapeake Conservancy Announces 2022 'Champions Of The Chesapeake'

Rappahannock Tribe Chief Anne Richardson & Blacks of the Chesapeake President Vince Leggett Honored for Their Inclusive Leadership and Dedication to the Chesapeake Bay

Today, Chesapeake Conservancy announced the 2022 Champions of the Chesapeake, the organization’s highest honor recognizing extraordinary leaders from across the Chesapeake for their significant and exemplary accomplishments that protect and restore our natural systems and cultural resources. Rappahannock Tribe Chief Anne Richardson and Vince Leggett, founder and president of Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation, were named Champions of the Chesapeake for demonstrating that tireless work leads to notable achievements in conservation.

In announcing the awards, Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn stated: “Chief Richardson and Vince Leggett were the driving forces and incredible partners behind two of the most significant conservation achievements in the Chesapeake this year.”

Chief Anne Richardson has been instrumental in the return to the Rappahannock Tribe of a 465-acre sacred site at Fones Cliffs on the eastern side of the Rappahannock River. The site, known as Pissacoack, will be permanently protected by a conservation easement and used for recreation and education. Fones Cliffs is also home to bald eagle nests and has been designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area with global significance.

Vince Leggett is recognized for his efforts to preserve Black history and culture on the Chesapeake Bay. For 15 years, Leggett worked tirelessly to preserve Elktonia beach, a five-acre waterfront parcel on the Chesapeake Bay that is the last remnant of the original 180-acre property purchased by Fred Carr in 1902. Carr’s and Sparrow’s Beaches were privately owned and operated by Fred Carr’s daughters, Elizabeth Carr Smith and Florence Carr Sparrow. “The Beaches” (1930s-1970s), as they were called, represented the heart of entertainment throughout the mid-Atlantic region and welcomed Blacks during a time of segregation.

“Now, more than ever, we need leaders and officials who will stand up for conservation in the Chesapeake Bay region,” continued Dunn. “Chief Richardson and Vince Leggett both exemplify what it means to be a Champion of the Chesapeake through inclusivity, dedication, partnership and collaboration. They are both role models for today’s environmental leaders and for future conservation wins.”

Previous award winners include Jonathan Doherty, National Park Service Chesapeake Office; Jason Fellon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Marcus Kohl, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Dennis Chestnut, Mariah Davis, Choose Clean Water Coalition; Anna Killius, James River Association; River Rock Outfitter; Maryland Senator Guy Guzzone; Pennsylvania Senator Gene Yaw; Virginia Delegate David Bulova; Ann P. Swanson, Chesapeake Bay Commission; U.S. Senator Barbara S. Mikulski of Maryland; U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland; U.S. Senator John W. Warner of Virginia; Maryland Governor Larry Hogan; Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe; former National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis; Keith Campbell, The Keith Campbell Foundation; Esri; Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; Microsoft Corporation; Mt. Cuba Center; Dr. Mamie Parker, US Fish & Wildlife Service; REI; Kim Hernandez, NOAA Fellow; and Skyline Technology Solutions, Inc.

About Chesapeake Conservancy
Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to conserve and restore the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. We partnered to help create 206 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Fort Monroe National Monument, Elktonia Beach and Pissacoack along Fones Cliffs on the Rappahannock River. For more information, visit

Source: Chesapeake Conservancy