RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced Matthew Wells as the next director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The DCR is Virginia’s lead natural resource conservation agency, overseeing the commonwealth’s natural habitat, parks, clean water, dams and access to the outdoors.
“Matt Wells is a talented leader who understands what Virginians care about,” said Senior Advisor to the Governor Andrew Wheeler. “His extensive background in the public, private and non-profit sectors, along with his proven ability to build broad coalitions, qualify him to guide the next phase of the agency’s work to protect our environment and make the commonwealth a great place to live and work.”
Wells comes to DCR with two decades of experience in positions related to politics, policy and advocacy. Most recently, he was Senior Regional Manager for State Government Relations for WestRock, a global leader in sustainable fiber-based packaging solutions. In this role, he oversaw the company’s legislative interests in environmental stewardship and sustainability, forestry, economic development and other issues across multiple states.
He also brings substantial experience in state government. Before joining WestRock in 2016, Wells held senior analyst and special advisory positions with Virginia’s departments of Motor Vehicles and Alcoholic Beverage Control.
A strong proponent of water quality improvements and land conservation, Wells is currently chair of Virginiaforever, a coalition that brings the business and environmental communities together to advocate for shared natural resources funding priorities. There, he spearheads a diverse group of environmental advocates and business leaders working to encourage greater spending on the environment by the Virginia General Assembly.
He also serves on the board of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and provides policy leadership for a wide array of groups and trade associations.
At DCR, Wells is taking over for Frank Stovall, deputy director for operations, who has served as the agency’s acting director since January.
“We owe Frank a great debt of gratitude for his excellent leadership of DCR during this transition,” Wheeler said. “Early in his tenure with the agency, he was tapped for this crucial interim role. Thanks to his management expertise, DCR thrived during this period.”
“Matt is a dynamic leader who brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to this role,” Wheeler continued. “I know that Frank and Matt will make an incredible team. I look forward to seeing what they accomplish in this next chapter.”
Wells is ready to take on the opportunities and challenges that await.
“I’m honored and humbled by this appointment,” Wells said. “DCR’s mission encompasses so much of what makes Virginia great: our best-in-class parks, natural habitats and open spaces form the backbone of the commonwealth’s quality of life. At the same time, we have an important role to play in tackling some of the most pressing environmental challenges of the day, from ensuring that we meet our Chesapeake Bay obligations, to dealing with issues surrounding flooding and resiliency. I look forward to working with Governor Youngkin, Senior Advisor Wheeler, Acting Secretary Voyles and the fantastic team at DCR to make sure that we fulfill our mission to the people of Virginia, and that we meet these challenges head-on.”
Wells holds a degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a Certificate in Sustainability from Virginia Commonwealth University. A 30-year resident of Virginia, he currently lives in Henrico with his wife, Sara Rose Wells, and their five-year-old son.