WOONSOCKET – Former director of the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, Jan Reitsma, has been named executive director of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission and the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence.
Reitsma is stepping in for Acting Executive Director Thomas E. Ross, who is returning to his position as deputy superintendent for the two entities. The change is effective Sept. 2.
“My work in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and with the Heritage Corridor has made it clear to me that ... the commission, the National Park Service staff and corridor partners have been the catalyst for considerable collaboration, vision, and tangible results in preserving the resources and heritage of this region,” Reitsma said in a news release. “I look forward to continuing the tradition of bi-state collaboration and partnerships.”
Reitsma had served as director of DEM from 1999 into 2005, and in that role, was an active commissioner for the Blackstone Valley commission.
More recently, he has worked as a consultant on environmental issues involving government, industry, academia and grass roots organizations. He also has served as an adjunct lecturer at Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies.
The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor was designated by Congress in 1986 to commemorate the region’s place in history as the birthplace of the American industrial revolution. It encompasses 24 communities between Worcester and Providence along the 46-mile Blackstone River.
“The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is a model for heritage corridor development,” John Latschar, acting regional director for the National Park Service Northeast Region, said in a news release. “We sought a director with strong skills in partnership development and strategic planning. Jan also understands the Corridor’s tradition of success.”