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List of State Officials - Robert (Bob) L. Ehrlich Jr, Governor; Michael S. Steele, Lt. Governor; Kendl P. Philbrick, MDE Secretary 

Volume II, Number 9

 February 2007

eMDE is a monthly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state. 

A Fond Farewell to Our Leader and Team Player

By Marti Davis, Office of Communications

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Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick helping a woman put on a life jacket 

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The four years of Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick’s term of service at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has seen accomplishments that few previous administrations have experienced in such a short time. Secretary Philbrick, who insists that we all call him “Ken,” has enjoyed popularity with MDE employees based on a culture of mutual respect, and he makes no bones about his complete support and admiration for the talented people employed at MDE.

“In one of the first meetings WMA staff had with Secretary Philbrick, he asked us what we thought was the right thing to do. It was very empowering, and immediately built a sense of trust, teamwork and consensus,” Virginia Kearney, Deputy Secretary, Water Management Administration.

Ken’s no-nonsense, honest business approach and collaborative management style has fostered unprecedented cooperation among MDE’s administrations. Only through his diplomacy and fortitude was MDE able to take such aggressive measures to craft and implement Governor Ehrlich’s policies to protect and restore Maryland’s environment.

“I believe Ken considered himself a citizen of Maryland first and foremost, which caused him to approach air and many other issues from the perspective of their impact on the average citizen; and one can ask for no better perspective from a Secretary,” said Angelo Bianca, Deputy Director, Air and Radiation Administration.

Our MDE secretary carried out the Ehrlich/Steele administration’s goals to actively protect the Bay through the Bay Restoration Act, revitalize our land resources with Brownfield’s reform, and work for cleaner air through the Healthy Air Act. His dedication to public service clearly shows that he has the best interests of the Maryland and our environment at heart.

“Ken always listened to what we, as staff, had to say,” said Dr. Richard Eskin, Director, Technical and Regulatory Administration (TARSA). “He listened, asked questions, guided and supported us - and never made decisions in advance and then expect us to provide a rationale. It was a collaborative decision-making process. Working with Ken, and he with us, enabled us to do our jobs and to protect public health and the environment.”

“The strength in reaching this administration’s goals lies in the talents of our employees. MDE’s employees approach work with a positive attitude and solid teamwork,” said Ken. “I’m proud of the collaborative culture we’ve created among our employees – to communicate with MDE’s constituents in an honest and professional way.”

Ken was appointed by the Governor to bring aboard his strong business and management experience, which he applied to accomplish several milestones. He’s been known to often deal with controversial issues with appropriate authority and diplomacy among multiple stakeholders and representatives with varied agendas. He believes in top-down, bottom-up communication within organizations and political structure, but mostly, his strengths shined in encouraging the business and commercial community to take responsibility to do their share in cleaning up the air, land and water.

“I have learned a lot from Ken about how to manage people,” said Dr. Bob Summers, Director, Water Management Administration. “He really respects his staff and their expertise, but he asks the key questions that need to be answered to keep us on target – ‘Trust but verify.’ He is well respected by the staff in return.”

While all MDE employees come to work to serve our state, some face risking their lives and safety daily to protect the citizens of Maryland. Ken recognizes the efforts of each group and applauds the courage of Emergency Response, Radiation Professionals and our employees in the field.

“Ken's involvement during the gasoline releases in Jacksonville and Fallston provided great support to me and my staff during these emergency situations," said Horacio Tablada, Director of MDE's Waste Management Administration. “He took a hands-on approach.”

Brownfields Reform – The Voluntary Cleanup Program

Passionate about cleaning up vacant and underutilized industrial and commercial properties to curtail urban sprawl in our major cities, Ken rallied for the Governor’s Brownfields Reform Act. As part of the Voluntary Cleanup Program to revitalize existing land resources, Ken’s efforts shortened application process and review of the response action plan to expedite the process.

Bay Restoration

The Ehrlich/Steele administration, with the help of Ken’s leadership at MDE, has enjoyed an outstanding environmental record with passed legislation such as the Bay Restoration Act, through which we administer the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF). MDE has garnered the endorsement of many environmental groups

Of 66 major wastewater treatment facilities providing 95% of the total sewage flow to the Chesapeake Bay, the Act has currently provided financial assistance to 27 plants, representing 25 jurisdictions to plan or complete Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) technology to prevent excessive nutrient discharge to the Bay.

Healthy Air for All Marylanders

With ozone levels dropping drastically in the last few years, the Governor’s initiative to clean up Maryland’s air was culminated by signed legislation to implement air pollution controls for the fossil fuel power plant industry. This places our state at the forefront of helping meet our commitment to the Chesapeake Bay 2000 agreement.

Cooperation and Participation

Under Ken’s guidance, MDE has been extremely successful in bringing about a level of cooperation among other state and local agencies. A partnership, if you will. “We are all in this together,” said Ken. “Protecting Maryland’s environment involves cooperation among citizens, local, state and federal governments”

MDE has established a reputation for cooperating with sister state agencies such as planning, agriculture, transportation, natural resources, and, budget and management, to set the bar higher for a certain standard of performance and conduct. Ken’s leadership has not only made marked improvements for Marylanders, but raised the level of employee morale to permeate throughout the agency and recognize the talents of our human resources.

Ken took an active role in the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) as well as the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) to help bring about policies that improve both water quality and air quality for all Marylanders.

Customer Service

Ken’s influence does not stop within the organization. Applying good business practices has enhanced MDE’s perception within the community and by stakeholders, including active environmentalists.

“Applying a customer service approach to MDE’s Environmental Permit Services refocused our priorities, said Gary Kelman, Director, Office of Special Programs. “It helps the regulated community understand the process.” MDE’s experienced staff of professionals help businesses small and large stay in compliance to protect the environment.


©2007 Copyright MDE

Editorial Board
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230