It is with profound sadness that I share with you the news that our beloved colleague, Margaret Davidson, has passed away following a long illness.
Margaret was the greatest visionary I ever had the pleasure to meet—and she was a visionary who took action. When she spoke of "now," she meant two to three years down the road because she was always thinking that far ahead of the rest of us. She was a mentor, confidant, and a friend to me and to many others in the global coastal community.
Margaret Davidson had been an active participant in coastal resource management issues since 1978, when she earned her juris doctorate from Louisiana State University. She later earned a master's degree in marine policy and resource economics from the University of Rhode Island.
She also served as special counsel and assistant attorney general for the Louisiana Department of Justice and later as the executive director of the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.
Margaret joined NOAA as the founding director of NOAA's Coastal Services Center (CSC), where she created a customer-driven organization that accelerated the use of technology, tools and skills required to make informed coastal economic development and ecosystem management decisions at all levels of government. She then served as acting director of the Office for Ocean and Coastal Resources Management when that office and CSC merged to form the new Office for Coastal Management. As the reorganization received official approval, Ms. Davidson took on the challenge of establishing a newly created position as the NOAA Senior Leader for Coastal Inundation and Resilience.
Margaret served on numerous local, state, and federal committees and provided leadership for national professional societies. She focused her professional work on environmentally sustainable coastal development practices, the reduction of risk associated with extreme events, and climate adaptation.
During her illustrious career, she was was a Fulbright Fellow, American Meteorological Society Fellow, Gilbert White Fellow, and Zurich Fellow for Climate Adaptation. Davidson also served as the acting assistant administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service from 2000 to 2002.
Margaret was the consummate networker, with a mind that served as an encyclopedia of existing and potential partnerships. She was gifted in recognizing and capitalizing upon common goals, and she never took her eyes off of the importance of community engagement in protecting coastal resources around the nation. Her life and career will cast a long shadow for those who follow the trail she blazed in coastal zone management.
There will never be another person like Margaret Davidson. We can only honor her memory by carrying on the legacy she established.
W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service