Staff Experts

Michael Lipford

State Director for Virginia

Since 1991, Michael Lipford has served as State Director of the Conservancy’s Virginia chapter, where in addition to his statewide duties, he is regularly called upon by the organization to help formulate and lead new conservation initiatives with regional, national, and global impacts.  Prior to coming to the Conservancy, Michael surveyed streams throughout the southeast as a field biologist, and taught biology and forest and wildlife management at Dabney Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, VA. He also served as the first Director of the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage, an organization launched by the Conservancy before being transferred to the State Department of Conservation and Recreation. A native of Portsmouth, Michael enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, drawing, beekeeping, and gardening. He lives in an historic home in Richmond with wife Elizabeth and their three daughters.

A Place Michael Loves

“How do you choose among your children? There are so many, but one that holds a special place in my heart is the Virginia Coast Reserve, a project of the Conservancy for over 40 years. On our watch we have made restoration a theme and have recovered oysters, seagrass meadows, and scallops back to the coastal bays, and restored upland forests important to migratory songbirds. Warm Springs Mountain, our largest single acquisition in Bath County, also deserves mention.”

Michael on Why His Work is Rewarding

“First and foremost, the work makes it possible to leave a lasting legacy for the next generation.  This was evident when I recently had the opportunity to play a role in securing the largest conservation easement in Virginia history – 13,350 acres in the Dragon Run and Mattaponi River watersheds in eastern Virginia.”

Program Benefits

Under Michael’s leadership, the Conservancy’s Virginia chapter has served as a model to other programs across the organization for organizing its work around landscape-scale projects.

  • Building coastal resilience and restoring fisheries at the Virginia Coast Reserve, the last and only ocean wilderness located along the Atlantic coastline
  • Working with government, business and industry to pursue conservation and restoration projects that will improve water quality in and around the Chesapeake Bay
  • Protecting a network of forests and streams jeopardized by energy development in the Central Appalachian Mountains
  • Working with colleagues in North Carolina to protect and restore floodplains and forests feeding into Ablemarle Sound, especially through improved fire and hydrology
Hopes for Next 3-5 Years

Michael feels confident that the Virginia chapter will continue to lead the organization in working at large scales – from mountain forests to offshore seascapes – to ensure that the building blocks of intact ecosystems will be restored and managed in the face of a changing climate and other pressures to these unique places, and that people will increasingly value the services of functioning systems to quality of life and the economy.

Recent Opinions, News Coverage, and Publications

Michael and his team in Virginia work with landowners, scientists in academia, government at all levels, and businesses to protect and manage lands and waters that are important to people and nature.

  • BS in Biology from Virginia Tech
  • MS in Biology from James Madison University
Awards, Recognition, and Memberships
  • Received The Nature Conservancy’s highest staff honor, the One Conservancy Award, 2003
  • Received the Virginia Environmental Leadership Award, voted on by his peers, 2010



Michael Lipford

State Director for Virginia


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