Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday announced two leaders to run the dual responsibilities of the state’s attractions and cultural resources agency.
Rep. Susi Hamilton, a Wilmington Democrat, will be serve as secretary of the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Reid Wilson, a longtime conservationist, will be chief deputy secretary.
Hamilton, 44, has represented parts of Brunswick and New Hanover counties since 2011. A commercial real estate agent, she owns a consulting firm that offers business development services. Previously, she led downtown development efforts in Wilmington.
Wilson, 56, is currently the executive director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. He was the chief of staff for the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration.
Naming a chief deputy secretary along with a new secretary at a news conference underscores the division in an agency that was patched together in 2015 by Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly. They moved attractions from the state’s environmental agency to the cultural resources department, saying it would be more efficient.
Now the combined department oversees parks, aquariums and the zoo, as well as museums, the state symphony and state historical sites and resources.
“You can debate whether that was a good idea or not, but we plan to make it work,” Cooper said. “Today I’m taking pretty much an unusual step in naming both a secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources and a deputy secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources. I think it’s important that we have broad experience in both areas.”
Cooper’s introduction of the pair at the Executive Mansion emphasized Hamilton’s background in planning, economic development and the arts.
Wilson’s experience is in land conservation and in environmental politics, including political director of The Sierra Club’s national political action committee. He is married to Karen Rindge, executive director of WakeUP, a nonpartisan smart-growth group.
Two of the 10 Cabinet positions remain to be announced: for the departments of revenue and information technology. The Cooper administration says those hires will be named in coming days.
Secretary Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
▪ State representative from Wilmington in the House of Representatives.
▪ Licensed commercial real estate agent and owner of an urban planning, marketing and government relations firm.
▪ Bachelor’s degree in history, minor in art history from UNC-Chapel Hill. Masters in public administration from UNC-Wilmington.
Chief deputy secretary Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
D. Reid Wilson
▪ Executive director Conservation Trust for North Carolina.
▪ Previously, chief of staff for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other positions with the EPA from 1993 to 2000. Political director national Sierra Club PAC. Lobbyist for U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
▪ Bachelor’s degree in political science and biology, Grinnell College in Iowa.