Chris Daggett has devoted his life to making New Jersey a better place to live and work through his extensive experience in the environment, education, government, and business.
Born in Orange, Chris spent his boyhood in Linwood, close to the beach in Ocean City, where he returns almost every summer to vacation and where he has attended several reunions of Mainland Regional High School. He moved to Bernards Township in the 7th grade, attended Ridge High School and was elected student body president. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, where his grandfather had been a professor of electrical engineering a half-century before and earned a doctorate in education at the University of Massachusetts when it was a nationally recognized program for effective school reform.
After earning his doctorate, Daggett returned to his hometown of Bernards Township and worked on Senator Ray Bateman’s 1977 campaign for governor. He spent three years as a public affairs consultant before joining Tom Kean’s campaign for governor. After Kean’s election as Governor in 1981, Chris served as his deputy chief of staff, where among other issues, he specialized in education and higher education policy for New Jersey’s “Education Governor.”
In 1982, Chris married Bea Horvath, a Vassar graduate and New Jersey businesswoman.
In 1984, Chris was appointed Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the top federal environmental position for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. At the EPA, Chris showed his independence by rejecting the controversial Westway project — intended to fill over 250 acres of the Hudson River to build a massive amount of retail and commercial space — even though it had the support of most of New York City and New York State’s power structure.
In 1988, Daggett rejoined to the Kean administration as Commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, where he stopped garbage and medical waste from washing up on New Jersey’s beaches and took on numerous battles against those who polluted our land and waterways and fouled our air.
After leaving public service at the end of 1989, Daggett became a partner in William E. Simon & Sons, an investment firm in Morristown, where he focused on identifying environmental industry investment opportunities. In that capacity, he first got involved in brownfields redevelopment and today has his own firm dedicated to buying, remediating and redeveloping contaminated properties. He also works at J.M. Sorge Inc., an environmental consulting firm, helping cities and suburbs clean up and redevelop their own polluted industrial sites.
Since leaving public service, he has worked extensively with several Democratic and Republican governors. Recently, on behalf of Governor Corzine, he was appointed as chairman of the New Jersey DEP Permit Efficiency Task Force, in which capacity he secured unanimous approval from business, environmental and governmental leaders on recommendations to streamline permitting for businesses without sacrificing environmental protection.
Daggett has also been a respected leader in New Jersey’s nonprofit world for nearly 20 years. He serves on the board of the Schumann Fund for New Jersey, whose accomplishments included the establishment of the New Jersey Institute for School Innovation; as the New Jersey co-chairman of Regional Plan Association, one of the oldest land use planning organizations in the United States and a leading advocate for expanded mass transit; as a New Jersey advisory board co-chair of the Trust for Public Land, which has preserved thousands of acres of open space; as a member of the advisory board of the Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center; and as a past chairman of his local YMCA board during its expansion campaign.