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September 18, 2005|By Tom Pelton

Halle Van der Gaag

Occupation: Executive director of the Jones Falls Watershed Association, a nonprofit environmental group that focuses on improving the landscape surrounding the Jones Falls in Baltimore.

In the news: This morning she's organizing the eighth annual Jones Falls Valley Celebration, which closes northbound Interstate 83 in the city to allow people to bike, run and play games on the roadway through Jones Falls Valley. Last week, the association released a comprehensive study of the Jones Falls watershed that identified areas of improvement and of concern.

Career highlights: Before joining the organization three weeks ago, she was program manager at the Trust for Public Land, another environmental group, helping to create the Gwynns Falls Trail across West Baltimore. She previously worked for the Parks and People Foundation.

Personal: Van der Gaag, 35, lives in Charles Village with her husband, Andrew Thomas, a chef, their 10-year-old son, Zachary Thomas, and 7-year-old daughter, Mackenzie Thomas. She graduated in 1993 from Goucher College and grew up in Pennington, N.J.

Philosophy: "Our cities need to be greener, healthier places so more people want to stay and raise their children here, so we don't keep moving out into the county and taking up land that would be better off as farmland or forests."

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