October 22, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story


Ryan Brown, 39 

Executive Director of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

click to enlarge ryanbrown.jpg

Scott Elmquist

Raised on a family farm in rural Fork Union, Brown spent most of the time outdoors, so he’s always had a close relationship to nature. As a lawyer, he has built a career around representing Virginia’s natural resources.

Before his current job he was counsel for many of the state’s natural resources agencies and subsequently left to be in a private law practice, which was more lucrative but didn’t last. “Really the financial rewards pale in comparison to leaving a legacy behind of working on issues that I’m passionate about,” he says. “And there’s nothing I’m more passionate about than conserving Virginia’s wildlife resources.”

In Virginia, there are about 400,000 hunters, 800,000 anglers and 2.5 million wildlife watchers. Brown became executive director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries last July, the youngest to take the helm of the agency many people think of for hunting and fishing (boating safety, too). But they also provide a comprehensive wildlife management agency, including threatened and endangered species.

“I’m most proud of enabling the other 450 staff members to do their job,” he says. “Key topics for me are increasing our outreach efforts to expose the greater public to recreation experiences and wildlife, as well as bringing the agency into the future.”

One study recently found Virginia to be the 12th most diverse state in the country in terms of population and Brown already has a big push underway to diversify his staff and have outreach efforts reach all Virginians, he says. He’s currently in the process of hiring a diversity inclusion officer.

“Our job is to open people’s eyes to the opportunities right in front of them, that they may not even realize,” he says.

Back to the 2019 Top 40 Under 40


Latest in Cover Story


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Palms on the Potomac

    Palms on the Potomac

    Our day trip series heads to charming Colonial Beach, a relaxed small town featuring the second-longest beach in Virginia.
    • Sep 7, 2021
  • Co-working Co-conspirators

    Co-working Co-conspirators

    Richmond’s first Black- and queer-owned co-working space is open for business.
    • Aug 31, 2021
  • Deciding Factors

    Deciding Factors

    A close governor’s race between two wealthy Virginia businessmen could set the tone for broader national elections, but this time it’s not business as usual.
    • Aug 24, 2021
  • Fall Arts Preview

    Fall Arts Preview

    • Aug 31, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation