The Nature Conservancy has named Bettina Ring as its next Virginia state director. Ring is a former Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry and former Virginia state forester. She was the first woman appointed to both positions. Ring has also held leadership roles in several conservation and sustainability organizations.
Her decades of leadership, proven management skills and passion for TNC's mission will propel the organization to deliver on its ambitious mission—conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.
Ring is based at the organization’s Virginia headquarters in Charlottesville.
“Working at a global scale, The Nature Conservancy is uniquely positioned to achieve conservation outcomes that address our planet’s climate and biodiversity challenges while making meaningful contributions to a society that is healthy, vibrant and equitable for all. I am excited to work with and learn from staff, partners, trustees, donors and volunteers to further TNC's mission to create a world where both people and nature can thrive,” said Ring.
Ring comes to TNC from a long and distinguished career in conservation and public service. She previously served as the chief sustainability and diversity officer with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). In this role, Ring provided leadership on strategic initiatives related to sustainability and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Ring also served for nine months as the interim chief conservation officer with SFI.
In 2018, Ring was appointed secretary of agriculture and forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, Ring 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, Ring worked closely with the Virginia Department of Forestry to advance their land conservation efforts, including the largest conservation easement in the Commonwealth of Virginia, totaling 22,856 acres, on TNC's Cumberland Forest Project in Southwest Virginia.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, we could not be more thrilled to welcome Bettina as our next Virginia state director,” said George C. Freeman III, chair of TNC's Virginia Board of Trustees. “Bettina is a passionate and experienced leader with a long and distinguished career in conservation. I look forward to working with Bettina and the rest of her incredible team to advance TNC's ambitious mission in Virginia and around the planet.”
Prior to her appointment as secretary, Ring served as state forester. A Virginia native, Ring 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.
Ring 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, Ring 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. Ring 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.
Ring 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.
Ring 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 a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.