COMMISSIONER MARTIN UNVEILS VISION PLAN TO PROTECT NEW JERSEY’S
ENVIRONMENT, NAMES NEW LEADERSHIP TEAM
(10/P28) TRENTON -Department of Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin today launched a series of bold steps designed to re-energize the DEP and transform it into an efficient and consumer-friendly agency that cuts bureaucratic red tape, while strongly ensuring the environmental health of the state. The DEP will be led by a dynamic new leadership team which will create a more responsive agency in line with Commissioner Martin’s vision and mission, including what he believes are its six initial guiding priorities:
- Protecting drinking water, ocean quality and natural resources;
- Improving the regulatory process, including making regulations less complex, partly by expanded use of new technology;
- Aggressively remediating more than 20,000 contaminated sites in New Jersey through a Licensed Site Remediation Professional program;
- Expanding opportunities for Green Energy, especially accelerating wind and solar energy projects;
- Changing the culture at DEP, including making decisions based on science, data, facts and cost/benefit analyses, while treating all persons who come to the DEP as customers;
- Preserving and protecting parks and wildlife areas across the state.
Commissioner Martin intends to instill, through cultural change within the organization, a customer service focus in which DEP is no longer viewed as an obstacle, but rather a driver for economic growth that does not compromise environmental protection.
Toward that end, for example, the DEP is creating a new Office of One Stop Permitting to streamline the permit process, and a new Office of Economic Analysis that will consider potential economic effects of actions taken by the DEP.
Also the agency will now have an Assistant Commissioner for Economic Growth and Green Energy, who will have two separate focus areas: green energy development and economic growth coordination.
The Commissioner stressed, however, that protection of the environment remains the agency’s top priority. Toward that goal, for example, a separate Division of Water Resource Management had been created, with a commitment and emphasis on improving the state's water quality.
“The message should be loud and clear: DEP’s core mission is and will continue to be to protect the air, water, land and natural resources of our state,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “We will not compromise the environmental laws of New Jersey.’’
“At the same time, however, we need to play a key role in the economic growth of the state. We will work hard at restructuring the permit process, work to get responses out the door to individuals and businesses as fast as possible. We want to treat people and businesses coming to the DEP as valued customers.’’
To achieve his vision, Commissioner Martin has put together a new executive management team that joins the agency starting today and over the next few weeks.
The top staff includes Deputy Commissioner Irene Kropp, Chief of Staff Magdelena Padilla, and Chief Counselor to the Commissioner Ray Cantor. The team also includes Assistant Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources Amy Cradic, Assistant Commissioner of Land Use Management Marilyn Lennon, Assistant Commissioner of Climate and Environmental Management Environmental Regulation Nancy Wittenberg, Assistant Commissioner of Water Resource Management John Plonski, Assistant Commissioner of Compliance and Enforcement Wolf Skacel, and Director of the DEP One-Stop Office Scott Brubaker.
Also part of the team are Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Liaison Dave Glass, Deputy Counselor to the Commissioner Cathy Tormey, Administrator of Green Acres Richard Boornazian, Director of Press Office Lawrence Ragonese, Director of the Office of Local Government Assistance Cindy Randazzo and Director of Economic Analysis Benjamin Witherell. They will help guide the agency through a host of operational changes designed to streamline and modernize the DEP, to make it more efficient and responsive to the public, while addressing new environmental areas and keeping costs down.
Commissioner Martin provided a list of short-term priorities to be addressed by the new team:
- Start the stakeholder process and establish a solution to address the cooling systems at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant;
- Start the internal and external stakeholder process to review and strengthen the C1 streams program, to protect New Jersey's most important waters;
- Make Environmental Justice a priority, recognizing the impacts upon communities already overburdened by pollution;
- Determine the best approach and implement a program to accelerate the retrofit of diesel engines across the state;
- Determine the best approach to clean up Barnegat Bay with stronger laws and rules to address the nitrogen and phosphorus that is going into the bay.
By June 1, Commissioner Martin expects the new leadership team to help him adopt a Vision Document, or short strategic plan, to guide the agency’s efforts. By July 15, he expects to complete a Transformation Plan, which will be published on the DEP’s Web site and serve as a road map for achieving that vision.
The following are members of the new DEP leadership team chosen by Commissioner Bob Martin to lead a more efficient and consumer-friendly DEP:
Deputy Commissioner - Irene Kropp: Twenty-eight year DEP veteran has held key management posts, including Assistant Commissioner of the Site Remediation Program and Assistant Commissioner of Management & Budget and Chief Information Officer.
Chief of Staff - Magdalena Padilla, Esq: Joins DEP after distinguished service in the public and private sector, including Director of Business and Economic Policies with the New Jersey Commerce & Economic Growth Commission. She will replace Gary Sondermeyer who is retiring after 30 years of distinguished service effective July 1.
Counselor to the Commissioner - Ray Cantor: Accomplished manager, lawyer and public policy expert, he previously served as Senior Counsel/Committee Aide to the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services in the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resource Section.
Assistant Commissioner of Natural & Historic Resources - Amy Cradic: Eighteen-year DEP employee will remain in current post, responsible for Natural and Historic Resource programs: Parks & Forestry, Fish & Wildlife, Green Acres, Engineering & Construction and Historic Preservation. She also will establish Office of Ecological Restoration.
Assistant Commissioner of Land Use Management - Marilyn Lennon: Brings 30 years environmental consulting, corporate and government experience to DEP. Previously was Vice President of Environmental Engineering and Operations for KeySpan Corp.; Senior Vice President with PS&S, a NJ-based environmental and engineering consulting firm; and most recently Director of Strategic Policy and Planning for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Assistant Commissioner of Environmental Regulation - Nancy Wittenberg: Stays on to lead Air Quality, Environmental Safety and Health and Solid and Hazardous Waste Programs and will manage the Office of Climate Change and Energy. She was formerly DEP Director of the Division of Environmental Quality and Director of the Office of Energy.
Assistant Commissioner of Water Resource Management - John Plonski: Brings 30 years public service experience to the DEP, including Chief Operating Officer of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources from 1995-2004; and previous positions as Chief Executive Officer for the Philadelphia Water Department and City Manager of Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Assistant Commissioner of Compliance & Enforcement - Wolf Skacel: Twenty-six-year DEP veteran will continue to lead compliance and enforcement efforts with concentration on compliance assistance, enforcement and stewardship.
Director of the DEP One-Stop Office - Scott Brubaker: Twenty-three-year DEP veteran will lead new pro-active approach to DEP One-Stop permitting. Previously was Chief of the Bureau of Inspections and Investigations of Division of Solid Waste Management, Chief of the Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement and most recently has been Acting Assistant Commissioner for Land Use Management.
Deputy Counselor to the Commissioner - Cathy Tormey: A 25-year veteran of public service in New Jersey, she was DEP Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement from 1999 - 2002 and has been more recently Counselor to the Commissioner.
Deputy Chief of Staff & Legislative Liaison - Dave Glass: Former Director of Legislative Affairs for Assemblywoman Carline Casagrande and most recently Director of Community Relations for Rep. Leonard Lance in the 7th Congressional District.
Director, Press Office - Lawrence Ragonese: Comes to the Department with more than 30 years experience as a communications professional. For the past 26 years he has served as a reporter and Assistant Bureau Chief/Columnist with The Star-Ledger.
Administrator, Green Acres Program - Richard Boornazian: Brings 28 years of diverse leadership experience in the fields of information technology, real estate, finance and private consulting. He is former Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. and Vice President of Industry Relations for FIRETRAP Communications, Inc.
Director, Office of Local Government Assistance - Cindy Randazzo: Has 28 years of diverse professional experience in business and finance in the private sector. She is former Princeton Township Committee candidate and Mercer County Freeholder candidate.
Director of Economic Analysis - Benjamin Witherell: Joins DEP with 20 years of environmental experience, most recently as a Catherine McMullen-Blake Fellow at Montclair State University conducting research on socio-economic drivers of land use change and resulting impact on watershed characteristics.