Allyson Gibson is passionate about clean and clear water

As Executive Director of Lancaster Clean Water Partners, Allyson is working to improve local water quality in Lancaster County.

For Allyson Gibson, who grew up playing in the creeks of Lancaster County, the outdoors have played a pivotal role in her life for as long as she can remember. Perhaps one of the most formative of these outdoor experiences was in high school, when a teacher took her class out to the creeks to measure water quality as part of a course on freshwater ecology.

That class set her on a path, taking her to the University of Richmond to study Environmental Studies. Her and just five fellow undergraduates were the first alums of the University with that degree, and Allyson also completed a degree in Leadership Studies while there. An internship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation turned into a full-time job shortly after graduation, where she worked on an island in the bay introducing students, administrators, and adult professionals to the fishing community on the island, which she found had a serendipitous tie to Lancaster.

“There were these amazing connections between that community and Lancaster County—from the entrepreneurial spirit to the use of natural resources. If you’re a waterman there, you depend on the healthy waters that come to you, and that in part depends on how we use the land here in Lancaster,” Allyson shared.

During her time with the Foundation, Allyson hosted events to take farmers from upstream areas down to the Chesapeake and waterman of the Chesapeake up to farming areas for cultural and conversation swaps. 

“In my line of work, we talk a lot about the idea that everyone lives downstream from someone else.”

Allyson Gibson, Executive Director of Lancaster Clean Water Partners

A few years after relocating back to Lancaster in 2015, she was able to bring all of her passions together at Lancaster Clean Water Partners where she began as Coordinator before being promoted to Executive Director in 2022. In this position, she facilitates collaboration between a unique set of multi-sector partners in the County who are working to improve local water quality.

The network’s shared vision of clean and clear water by 2040 is largely dependent on their mission to expand and accelerate each partner’s capacity to do clean water work while ensuring that work isn’t being duplicated.

“As the Executive Director, I lead a lot of efforts behind the scenes so everyone is able to do their very best,” she explained. “My approach is to make people feel like they are on the right path, that their work matters, and that their impact is big and important. The positive results of this work are something we’re going to see in a short amount of time.”

This is article is part of our Reach High series that introduces business and nonprofit leaders who are thoughtfully innovating with a spirit of servant leadership.

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