Biography of John R. Griffin

Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Photo of DNR Secretary John R. Griffin

John R. Griffin was appointed Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by Governor Martin O’Malley in January 2007. Griffin held the same position under Governor Parris N. Glendening from 1995 to 1999, after having served as the department's deputy secretary for 11 years.


As Maryland’s top natural resources official, Griffin leads a State cabinet agency with a $500 million annual budget and 1,400 employees charged with the management, restoration and protection of Maryland’s vast natural resources -- including the Chesapeake Bay, 17,000 miles of waterways, nearly 450,000 acres of parks, forests and other public lands, and the state’s diverse fishery and wildlife species.


Under Griffin’s direction, the DNR team is also responsible for conservation and maritime law enforcement, oversight of commercial and recreational fishing, hunting and boating, management of multiple regulatory programs and administration of the state’s premiere public land acquisition program.


During his first term at the agency, Griffin led the development and implementation of numerous ground-breaking programs including Rural Legacy, a $500 million program to preserve Maryland’s natural and working landscapes from development; Green Infrastructure, an integrated natural resources assessment tool to guide statewide land acquisition and preservation efforts; an interdisciplinary program to advance adventure — based recreation, tourism and environmental learning on public lands and waterways; and a conservation corps to engage urban youth in natural resources stewardship by working to improve state and local public lands.


Under his tenure the agency forged strong relationships with its public and private partners to better serve Maryland’s citizens and visitors through innovative agreements among stakeholders to restore significant fishery resources, and establishment of the Outdoor Caucus, a group of business and conservation leaders who consult with departmental leadership on critical conservation issues. The agency also received awards for establishing a performance-based, outcome-measured system of departmental and employee objectives and for exceeding minority business enterprise goals.


A veteran public servant, from 1974 to 1984 Griffin served as a senior advisor to Governor Harry Hughes on policy development and program implementation in the areas of environment and natural resources, economic development and state-local relations. In this role he initiated reforms to Maryland's hazardous, low-level nuclear and solid waste programs; established new financing programs to aid in the retention and expansion of existing business; and developed a comprehensive state response to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.


Griffin served as Committee Staff Director for the Prince George's County Council from 1972 to 1978, where he directed legislative and budgetary affairs for the standing committee of an 11-member legislative body in one of Maryland's largest suburban counties; his efforts lead to enactment of county laws addressing civil service, labor relations, prevailing wage, human relations and landlord/tenant affairs.


During eight years in the private sector Griffin served as General Manager of Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (1999-2004) where he was responsible for leadership and management of a 1,500-employee regional water and wastewater utility with a $650 million budget and 440,000 customers in a 1,000-square mile urban center. From 2005 to 2007, Griffin was an Associate Vice President at Buchart Horn, Inc., where he was responsible for oversight and management of Maryland and Virginia operations for a 350-person private engineering, architectural and planning firm with 23 offices throughout the Eastern United States and Western Europe.


Griffin was most recently honored with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ 2012 John V. Kabler Memorial Award for his many years of work as a powerful leader and dedicated advocate of Maryland’s environment. Also the recipient of the Distinguished Service Awards from both the Maryland Municipal League and the National Governor's Association, he was named the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 1998 Conservationist of the Year. He received his BA from New York's Niagara University and his MA from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.


John Griffin is the father of five children — Jessie, Maggie, Alex, Aidan and Colin — and resides in Annapolis with his wife, Michele, and their two sons.