WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Ann Mills as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. In this position, Mills will have responsibility for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the federal agency with primary responsibility for working with private landowners in conserving, maintaining and improving their natural resources.

The NRE mission area includes NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of National Forest System lands and provides assistance to the more than 10 million family-forest landowners in this country.

"Ann Mills brings 20 years of policy and management experience with government and nonprofit conservation advocacy that will be an asset at USDA," said Vilsack. "Her expertise will advance science-based policy solutions that balance the needs of human and natural communities."

Most recently, as a senior executive at American Rivers - the nation's leading river conservation organization - Mills directed day-to-day operations, led the expansion of regional offices and directed a team of senior policy staff. She led the implementation of programs to develop sustainable solutions for flood and drought mitigation and water quality improvement across the country including urban and rural watersheds in Northern California's Sierras and Bay Delta; the Columbia, Missouri and Mississippi river basins; the Great Lakes; and the Chesapeake Bay.

As a senior staff person for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, Mills directed the Senate office and was closely involved with the senator's work on behalf of South Dakotans to address myriad state priorities including agricultural and natural resource management issues. Mills also worked on agricultural and conservation issues for California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy and then-Congressman Richard Durbin, for whom she was the lead legislative staffer on bio-fuels.

Mills holds a Masters Degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in Political Science from Tufts University. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, has lived in France, Colombia and Haiti, and has traveled widely in Europe, Central America and Asia. She currently resides in Silver Spring, Md.