With wealth of knowledge about CT, LeClair joins CTSG, LIS Study

Jessica LeClair
Jessica LeClair

Story and photo by Judy Benson

Jessica LeClair knows Connecticut both as a native and a public servant, and now she’s bringing that personal and professional expertise to Connecticut Sea Grant and the Long Island Sound Study.

After growing up in the north-central town of Windsor Locks, where her father instilled in her a love and respect for the outdoors, LeClair headed to the state’s southeastern corner to major in environmental studies and international relations at Connecticut College. There, she took up rowing with the crew team on the Thames River, and experienced Long Island Sound on local beaches.

“I loved the region,” she said. “Long Island Sound is a real treasure.”

After college she held positions in the Office of Climate Change at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, earned a master’s degree in climate science and policy from Bard College, moved on to the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation and then to Sustainable CT. There, she became knowledgeable about the more than 120 member cities and towns, helping them on projects focused on sustainable initiatives.

“I’m certain I’ve been to every single one of the towns in Sustainable CT,” said LeClair, who worked at that organization for the past six years until her recent move.

This month, LeClair, 35, joined Connecticut Sea Grant and its partner organization, the Long Island Sound Study, as the Long Island Sound outreach coordinator. She fills the position held by Judy Preston until her recent retirement. The Long Island Sound Study is a partnership of the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant Programs and the Environmental Protection Agency that focuses on issues common to the estuary shared by both states.

“While we have been blessed with Judy’s experience and enthusiasm for the last 12 years, and she will be hard to replace, we are lucky to have recruited Jess in this position,” said Sylvain De Guise, director for Connecticut Sea Grant. “I had the chance to work with Jess in the past, and the combination of her skills, knowledge, professionalism and work ethics are unparalleled, and I am confident she will be a tremendous asset for Connecticut Sea Grant and the Long Island Sound Study in serving Connecticut coastal and watershed communities.”

LeClair said her varied work experiences since college have given her a good understanding of Connecticut’s state and local governments and its communities that she hopes will enable her to be effective in her new role. Volunteer positions on the Inland Wetlands and Conservation commissions in Montville, where she lives, further enhance her perspective.

“I have an understanding of where municipalities are coming from, and how they work,” she said.

As the Long Island Sound Outreach coordinator, LeClair looks forward to developing new ways to communicate with local officials and the public about the Sound, to enhance both the appreciation of its assets and protection from the threats it faces.

“I’m excited to think creatively about how people get information that’s helpful to them,” she said. “I’m very grateful to be part of Sea Grant and the Long Island Sound Study.”

Jessica LeClair can be reached at: jessica.leclair@uconn.edu.

Judy Benson is the communications coordinator at Connecticut Sea Grant.