Tom Speaks (’79 B.S. in forestry and wildlife) was selected as the new forest supervisor of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, headquartered in Roanoke. Speaks, who previously served as forest supervisor for the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and North Carolina, is the first Virginia Tech alumnus to supervise Virginia’s jointly managed national forests. “I’m both honored and excited to be named to this position and to return to Virginia, where I started my career over 30 years ago,” he said.

Speaks is the deputy incident commander for the Southern Area Interagency Incident Management Team, overseeing complex wildfires and other emergencies throughout the nation. He also spent two years on Capitol Hill as a legislative staff member for the chairman of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

As forest supervisor, Speaks is responsible for the management of 1.8 million acres in 34 counties across Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. He is faced with a variety of issues, such as completing the George Washington Forest Plan revision, mitigating the impacts of invasive plants, and providing safe roads and recreation areas. “I look forward to working with the conservation community and our local, state, and federal partners on conservation issues facing the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests” Speaks said.