The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) announced that its current president, Davitt Woodwell, will be retiring at the end of December, following over 30 years with the organization.

“Davitt’s retirement is a bittersweet moment for PEC,”  said PEC’s board chair, Carol McCabe, in announcing the transition. “Davitt’s accomplishments over the last nine years, not to mention his full tenure with PEC, have been incredible. Davitt will be leaving PEC in arguably its strongest fiscal, programmatic, and policy position in our entire 53-year history.”

Woodwell has been associated with PEC since 1991, including roles as staff attorney, director of the western PA office, and as a vice president, before becoming president in 2014.

“This is a great time to make a change at the top, and I have been working toward it for a couple of years,” Woodwell said. “PEC is on strong fiscal footing; our strategic plan is in place and being implemented, we have great projects, [and] a marvelous staff.” With respect to the coming months, he said, “My main focus between now and the end of the year is working with the board and staff to ensure a smooth transition.”

During his tenure with PEC, and during a two-year leave of absence from PEC in 2000-2001 to serve as the first executive director of the Riverlife Task Force (now Riverlife), Woodwell has had the opportunity to participate in and advance a wide variety of projects and efforts including former Governor Tom Ridge’s Greenways Commission; creation of A Vision Plan for Pittsburghs Riverfronts; pushing the design of Pennsylvania barriers for the Fort Pitt Bridge; attracting the Bassmaster Classic to Pittsburgh; establishing standards and practices for unconventional shale gas development (through the University of Pittsburgh’s Shale Gas Roundtable and the DCNR Natural Gas Advisory Committee, as a board member of the Center for Responsible Shale Development, and as a member of Governor Tom Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force); development of PEC’s groundbreaking work on deep decarbonization; formation of the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition; creation and implementation of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape; and development of the nationwide Collaboration of Regional Trail Initiatives. Under Woodwell’s leadership, PEC’s work has touched almost every environmental and conservation issue and spanned the entire geographic reach of the Commonwealth.

Woodwell currently serves on DCNR’s Ecosystem Management Advisory Committee, as a Pennsylvania Commissioner to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), as Chair of the Advisory Board to the West Penn/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund, on the Advisory Board to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and on the board of the independent news organization National Parks Traveler.

Moving forward, the PEC board will work with the executive search firm Nonprofit Talent to undertake the search for the next president of PEC.



The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) protects and restores the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy. PEC believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. Learn more about our program and policy work at


This post adapted from a release from PEC.