We are heartbroken at the loss of Sarah Taylor-Rogers, who passed away Wednesday, June 23.
Sarah truly was exceptional. Her cousin recently described Sarah’s personality as one of grace and grit. She had an ability to engage diverse stakeholders and find common ground on which to build progress. She was a people person and could always be counted on for positivity and sage advice. Determination drove her to be discerning on details and to see projects to completion. Her commitment to the work of the Hughes Center was beyond reproach, and she wasn’t afraid to think outside of the box to find solutions to issues and take risks. And you could tell that she enjoyed her work because she had fun while doing it and found humor in circumstances that many would find difficult.
Sarah dedicated herself to protecting our natural resources and the environment and fulfilled that duty in public service positions throughout her career. She has served in multiple roles over the years at the Hughes Center. She came to the Center as a research assistant after serving as Maryland’s first woman secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) until 2001. She later became the assistant director of the Hughes Center and held that title until becoming acting director in 2015. She retired in 2017 but was asked to come back briefly as the acting director in 2019.
“Sarah was committed to protecting Maryland’s natural resources and improving the lives of the state’s citizens. She played a key role with Dr. Russ Brinsfield in shaping the Hughes Center’s work and we are grateful to them for their vision. Personally, I will remember Sarah as a wonderful mentor, colleague and friend.” said Nancy Nunn, assistant director of the Hughes Center.
Sarah graduated from Thiel College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She then earned her master’s degree in hydrology and water resources science and Ph.D. in water resources management from Syracuse University. She was director of DNR’s Coastal Zone Management Program from 1979-84, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission from 1984-94, and then assistant secretary for DNR’s Resource Management Service until she was appointed DNR secretary in 1999.
“She was my first ‘boss’ when I became a consultant to the Coastal Zone Management Program at DNR ages ago. She was the program director. After that, our paths continued to cross, and I always admired the passion she brought to her work. I considered her a friend,” said Fran Flanigan, a former Hughes Center Board member.
Our thoughts go to her family during this difficult time. Funeral services are private. A celebration of Sarah’s life will occur at a later time. In lieu of flowers, The family has requested that memorial contributions be sent to The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, 124 Wye Narrows Drive, Queenstown, Maryland 21658.