Bettina Ring assumed her role as state director of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia in April 2023. Based at the chapter's headquarters in Charlottesville, she comes to TNC from a long and distinguished career in conservation and public service. Her decades of leadership, proven management skills and passion for TNC's mission will propel the organization to deliver on its ambitious goals for people and nature.
Bettina previously served as the chief sustainability and diversity officer with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), providing leadership on strategic initiatives related to sustainability and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, as well as leveraging SFI’s scale to drive meaningful change in the forest and conservation sector through collaboration and nature-based solutions. Bettina also served for nine months as SFI's interim chief conservation officer.
Bettina is a former Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry and former Virginia state forester. She was the first woman appointed to both positions.
In 2018, she was appointed to serve as the fourth secretary of agriculture and forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, Bettina worked to build a strong Virginia economy in agriculture and forestry—two of Virginia’s largest private industries—while also protecting the environment and strengthening local communities.
While serving as the secretary of agriculture and forestry, Bettina worked closely with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) to advance their land conservation efforts, including recording the largest conservation easement in the Commonwealth of Virginia, totaling 22,856 acres, in partnership with TNC.
Prior to her appointment as secretary, Bettina served as state forester. The Virginia native began her career with the Virginia Department of Forestry and held numerous leadership positions in addition to state forester—including deputy forester and the agency’s first chief of urban and community forestry—during her 18 years with the agency.
Bettina also served as the senior vice president of family forests at the American Forest Foundation, a position responsible for overseeing the American Tree Farm System—the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in America. In addition, Bettina served as executive director of the Bay Area Open Space Council in the San Francisco Bay Region, where she helped complete the Conservation Lands Network, a science-based study by more than 100 organizations that identified lands essential to the protection of the region’s natural infrastructure. Bettina also served as executive director of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, where she advanced land and water conservation in partnership with public, private and nonprofit partners.
Bettina was awarded the Gerald P. McCarthy Award for Leadership in Environmental Conflict Resolution and the Captain Ronald A. Erchul Environmental Leadership Award in 2022 and SFI President’s Award for Encouraging Diversity in the Forest Sector and Advancing Sustainability in 2019.
Bettina enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, kayaking, gardening, cooking and reading. She resides with her family in Charlottesville, VA.
Bettina holds a bachelor of science degree in forestry and wildlife from Virginia Tech and a master of business administration from James Madison University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.