Lisa Plevin, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region II office, will become the new executive director of the Highlands Council.
The council voted unanimously to appoint Plevin, who’s expected to take up the post in August. She replaces Margaret Nordstrom, who held the job since 2014.
The appointment of Plevin, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), is the latest move by Gov. Phil Murphy to reshape the council, which oversees the Highlands region, a sprawling area of more than 800,000 acres of woodland, lakes and hills that provides drinking water to 6 million people.
A resident of Parsippany, Plevin has worked on Highlands issues for more than two decades. While working for Lautenberg, she was involved in the development of a 1992 study that provided the framework for the state law creating the Highlands.
“It was during that time that I first came to appreciate how unique and special the Highlands region is,’’ Plevin said. She also was involved in the campaign to preserve 22,000 acres in Sterling Forest, which straddles the New Jersey-New York border.
Her appointment drew plaudits from conservation groups. “With Lisa as the executive director, the New Jersey Highlands Coalition looks forward to an unprecedented opportunity to work together with the council in implementing the goals and objectives of the Highlands Act,’’ said Julia Somers, executive director of the council.
Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, noted that past administrations too often have appointed members with no specialized knowledge of the Highlands. “It is so important for the council to have a leader that will uphold the intent of the 2004 Highlands Act — Lisa Plevin is that leader,’’ he said.