Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia
Governor Ralph S. Northam appointed Bettina Ring in 2018 to serve as the fourth Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, she supports the Governor’s mission of building a strong Virginia economy in agriculture and forestry, two of Virginia’s largest private industries, while also protecting the environment.
Prior to her appointment as Secretary, Ring was appointed by former Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve as the seventh State Forester of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). During her term leading the agency, Ring secured $27 million in funding for emergency response equipment used to fight forest fires and to assist localities and other state agencies. A Virginia native, Ring began her career with VDOF and held a number of leadership positions, including deputy state forester, during her 18 years with the agency.
Prior to VDOF, Bettina was the senior vice president of family forests at the American Forest Foundation, a position responsible for overseeing the American Tree Farm System – the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in America. She served on the federal Forest Resource Coordinating Committee, which provides direction within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and with the private sector to effectively address national priorities for private forest management.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
Brad Copenhaver was appointed in May 2018 by Governor Ralph Northam as the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Brad grew up on his family’s beef cattle and burley tobacco farm in Washington County. After working on Capitol Hill as a legislative correspondent for Congressman H. Morgan Griffith (VA-9), he was the Director of Government Affairs at the Virginia Agribusiness Council, where he worked closely with the General Assembly and Virginia congressional delegation on a variety of issues including animal welfare, food safety and labeling, the environment and water quality, and international trade.
Brad was a Pamplin Scholar at Virginia Tech and graduated with degrees in political science and agricultural economics, and he received his MBA from the University of Washington. During his education career, Brad served as a National Beef Ambassador, Virginia 4-H President, and treasurer of the UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and he spent summers working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Tokyo, and Bryant Christie, Inc., an agricultural exports consulting firm in Seattle.
Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry
Heidi Hertz serves as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for Governor Northam. Prior to her appointment, Heidi held roles in the Office of the First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, and for the Virginia Department of Health.
Heidi serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for Shalom Farms and is active on the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Board. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a Master of Science degree from James Madison University. She is a native of Lunenburg County and a resident of the City of Richmond.
Executive Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry
Brandon Hatcher serves as the Executive Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Prior to his appointment, Brandon worked as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. He is a native of Buckingham, Virginia, and served as a Governor’s Fellow in the McAuliffe administration in the Health and Human Resources secretariat. He earned an undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice, Psychology, a post-baccalaureate certificate in Public Management, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). A former deputy sheriff for Henrico County, he is also a graduate of the VCU Student Basic Jailor Academy.