CEQ: About Us

About Us

The Council on Environmental Quality was created in 1971 to do three jobs:

1. Assess the condition of Connecticut's environment and report its findings annually to the Governor, and recommend actions to improve state environmental programs.

2. Advise other state agencies on the environmental impacts of proposed construction projects.

3. Investigate citizens' complaints and allegations of violations of environmental laws.

In addition, under the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality reviews Environmental Impact Evaluations that state agencies develop for major projects. The Council also publishes the Environmental Monitor, the official website for state project information under CEPA and for notices of proposed sale or transfer of state-owned lands.

The primary duties of the Council on Environmental Quality are described more fully in Sections 22a-11 through 22a-13 of the Connecticut General Statutes.

The Council is a nine-member board that works independently of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (except for purely administrative functions). The Chairman and four other members are appointed by the Governor, two members by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and two by the Speaker of the House. Members donate their time and expertise. They work closely with staff to shape the Council's priorities and recommendations.


Susan D. Merrow (Chair)

Resident and former First Selectman of East Haddam. Member, East Haddam Conservation Commission. Board Member, Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Coordinating Committee; Former President, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Former President, National Board of Directors, Sierra Club. Author, One for the Earth: Journal of a Sierra Club President. Board Member, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. Former Trustee, Connecticut River Watershed Council.


Keith R. Ainsworth, Esq., Managing Member, The Law Offices of Keith R. Ainsworth, Esq., LLC. 
Keith Ainsworth has been an environmental and land use litigator of the New Haven Bar for nearly three decades. He has a broad conservation-based practice representing land trusts, non-profits, land owners and businesses in transactions and litigation throughout Connecticut before administrative agencies and state and federal courts. As a former chair of the CT Bar Association Environmental Law section and a municipal first selectman (Haddam), Keith has a perspective from several sides of the table. A graduate of Tufts with a B.S. in biology, environmental studies and English literature, Keith brings a scientific and analytical background to the law. Keith is a life member of the Madison Land Conservation Trust and served on the national leadership council of Trout Unlimited. Keith also serves as General Counsel to Vista Life Inovations, Inc., a private educational institute for adults with intellectual disabilities. Keith is also an avid outdoorsman and the author of several volumes of poetry.
Alicea Charamut
Resident of Newington. Lower River Steward at the Connecticut River Conservancy. Long-time grassroots advocate for Connecticut's water resources. Board of Directors, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut. President, Farmington Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Secretary, Connecticut Council of Trout Unlimited. Secretary, Fisheries Advisory Council. 
Lee E. Dunbar
Resident of Mansfield. Retired. Previously, Assistant Director, Bureau of Water Management and Land Re-Use, Planning and Standards Division, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Responsible for developing scientifically defensible water quality standards and criteria to protect human health and aquatic life. Developed and implemented environmental monitoring and assessment methods. Participated in the development of regulations to better manage stream flow in Connecticut streams affected by water withdrawals and diversions. Oversaw the development of regulatory programs including the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program, Nitrogen Trading Program, and Water Quality-based Discharge Permitting Program. Awarded Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award by the U.S. EPA in 2010 for significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving. Board Member, Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners Association. Board Member, Wolf Den Land Trust.
Alison Hilding
Resident of Mansfield. Long-time advocate for the environment and children, viewing the protection of clean water and air as important dimensions of child advocacy, President, Mansfield Environmental Trust. Commissioner and Executive Board Member, Connecticut Commission on Children, 2003 to 2016. Founding member, Mansfield's Citizens for Responsible Growth. Background in financial management; worked for NYNEX Corporation on the capital budget with responsibility for growth and modernization; currently engaged on the grassroots level in promoting streambelt protective zoning and sustainable land use practices in Mansfield and the northeast corner of CT. Member of various CT environmental organizations.
David Kalafa
Resident of Middletown. Over thirty years working for the State of Connecticut developing and implementing policy for energy and conservation at the Office of Policy and Management and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retired as Undersecretary for Comprehensive Planning and Intergovernmental Policy at the Office of Policy Management. Served on the State Water Planning Council and Governor's Climate Change Commission. Holds a Master of Public Administration from the State University of New York and a Bachelorís degree in Economics from Skidmore College. 
Kip Kolesinskas
Resident of Manchester. Consulting Conservation Scientist. Current projects include assisting agencies, NGOís, and private individuals with farmland protection, land access and affordability for new and beginning farmers, farmland restoration, and climate change adaptation strategies. Member of the Working Lands Alliance Steering Committee, and has contributed to numerous publications and initiatives including Conservation Options for Connecticut Farmland, Planning for Agriculture-A Guide for Connecticut Municipalities, and the award-winning training videos for CT DEEPís Municipal Inland Wetlandís Agency Training Program. Formerly USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State Soil Scientist for Connecticut and Rhode Island, where he worked extensively with farmers, educators, government and nonprofits to help them protect farmland and wetlands, and use soils information to make better informed land use decisions. He is a recognized regional and national speaker on soils and land use planning, farmland protection, climate change adaptation, farmland access, and wetlands.

Matthew Reiser

Resident of Avon. Environmental, health and safety consultant with over 20 years of experience performing regulatory compliance auditing, planning, training and reporting; air, water and waste discharge permitting; and air, water and waste sampling for industrial, commercial, municipal and institutional facilities. Member, Connecticut Chapter of the Academy of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers. Member, Connecticut Marine Trades Association Environment Committee.


Charles Vidich

Resident of Ashford. Environmental and land use consultant concerned with energy efficient and sustainable patterns of development.  Served as manager of the United States Postal Service Corporate Sustainability Initiatives program with responsibility for sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental management systems for the nationís 32,000 domestic and overseas Post Offices.  Previously served as the principal planner for the Central Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments where he developed solar conscious land use ordinances and the nationís first comprehensive regional plan of development. Appointed to the Connecticut Land Use Education Council with the mission to improve the skills and resources available to local planning and zoning commissions. Received the Lifetime Achievement Award from EPAís National Sustainable Materials Management program. Appointed a visiting scientist to the Harvard School of Public Health as well as the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative where he lectured on scientific approaches to the use of quarantine and the environmental control of communicable disease. He served as the pivotal expert witness in a celebrated Connecticut Supreme Court case that successfully overturned restrictive zoning regulations and in a federal district court case that successfully overturned discriminatory land use practices.


Peter B. Hearn, Executive Director

Content Last Modified on 5/3/2019 12:35:26 PM