Drue Banta Winters joined AFS as the new policy director in May 2017. She shares the role with Tom Bigford until his retirement later this year. Together they lead the organization’s policy advocacy efforts, through thoughtful engagement with decision makers on issues that impact aquatic resources. The policy team capitalizes on the expertise of AFS’ members to influence policy outcomes to benefit aquatic resources by sharing management knowledge and the best available science with decision makers.
Drue is a seasoned policy and strategic communications advisor. She served in a key leadership role for the State of Louisiana on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and served as a federal policy advisor on the long-term recovery on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina with a focus on flood protection and ecosystem restoration. Most recently, Drue served as legal and policy counsel for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries where she worked on a range of fisheries management issues. She graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University in 1997 with a B.A. in political science and later from LSU's Paul M. Hebert Law School.
Tom Bigford has served AFS’ Policy Director since 2014. He was Chief of the Habitat Protection Division at the Office of Habitat Conservation at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for 18years. At the Office of Habitat Conservation, Bigford directed programs related to wetlands, watersheds, fishery management, and special areas such as corals. Previously, he worked at the NOAA Office of Policy and Planning, NMFS Northeast and Northwest Regions, National Ocean Service (NOS) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, and the NOAA General Counsel for Natural Resources. Bigford is also a docent at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Ocean Hall, a member of the Board of Directors of The Coastal Society, and president-elect of the AFS Fish Habitat Section.