Secretary Shawn M. Garvin announced changes May 17 to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s leadership structure, selecting Steven Smailer as new director of DNREC’s Division of Water and naming Kim Siegel as chief of staff within DNREC’s Office of the Secretary.
Smailer succeeds environmental scientist and wetland and stream restoration expert Virgil Holmes, who retired from DNREC after two stints with the department totaling 15 years, including the last seven years leading the Division of Water. Smailer, a hydrogeologist, worked as an environmental program administrator in the division. He originally came into the department and the then-Division of Water Resources in the early 1990s, then worked as a hydrogeologist for an extended period in the private sector before returning to DNREC in 2015 as manager of the Division of Water’s Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section.
“Steve’s breadth of knowledge covering water resources top to bottom is unmatched,” said Garvin. “He has long been seen by peers as having a most versatile player role for overseeing many aspects of Delaware’s most precious natural resource, our water. As the department begins to implement Gov. Carney’s Clean Water for Delaware Initiative, there couldn’t be a better choice to lead our Division of Water.”
Smailer is a Delaware-licensed professional geologist, serves as Delaware Board of Geologists secretary and a Groundwater Protection Council national board member, and has chaired the state’s Water Supply Coordinating Council since 2017.
He is a Pennsylvania State University graduate with degrees in earth science/geology and marine science. Smailer lives in Rehoboth Beach with his wife Laurie and their three children.
As chief of staff, Siegel succeeds Gregory Patterson, who earlier this year moved to the Office of the Governor as the state’s infrastructure implementation coordinator to manage funding received by the State of Delaware through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“We’re excited to add Kim to the team whose knowledge of the legislative process and public policy experience will help us tackle Delaware’s environmental priorities across a range of issues, including air quality, clean water, climate change, wildlife protections and more,” said Garvin.
Siegel arrives at DNREC with 20 years of experience in state government and nonprofits. She most recently was the assistant director of government relations and advocacy at Mental Health Partnerships in Philadelphia, overseeing workforce development and individual advocacy programs, and monitoring state legislative activity.
Prior to that, she was the Freedom of Information Act coordinator and legislative affairs manager at the Delaware Department of Justice, and research director to Lt. Gov. Matt Denn during his time in office.
Until 2014, Siegel served in several roles at Autism Delaware, where she led a successful campaign to get insurance coverage for autism therapies and launched the Walk for Autism fundraisers in Bellevue and Cape Henlopen state parks. She has also worked for NAMI Delaware and was a legislative fellow in the General Assembly.
Siegel received her master of public administration and bachelor of arts degrees from the University of Delaware with a service term in the AmeriCorps program Public Allies between them. She currently resides in the city of Wilmington.