The man who has been the head of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) since 2014 will leave his position on Jan. 13.
Gary C. Rikard, who was an environmental lawyer before his appointment as MDEQ Executive Director in September 2014 by Gov. Phil Bryant, made the announcement in a news release from the agency on Friday, Jan. 3.
“It has been my great honor to serve as MDEQ’s Executive Director during the past five years,” Rikard, a native of Olive Branch, said. “I want to thank Governor Bryant for the opportunity and privilege to lead the agency that has meant so much to me. This is a difficult decision as it is incredibly hard to give up something you love, but my family and I decided it is time to move on to the next chapter of our lives.”
MDEQ is responsible for protecting the state’s environment and administers most of the U. S. EPA programs, including air, water and waste management activities; monitors, models, and regulates water use; and functions as the state geological survey.
Rikard came to the position to replace Trudy Fisher, who led the agency for seven years. Fisher was an appointee of former Gov. Haley Barbour.
When Rikard was named to the leadership post, he was a partner in the Butler Snow LLP law firm in Memphis. He went into private practice in 1998 after being an Environmental Engineer and a Senior Attorney in the 1990s for MDEQ.
“The past five years have been some of the most enjoyable of my life,” said Rikard. “I have such great respect and admiration for the MDEQ staff, and the friendships that I have made will be lifelong. I have truly enjoyed coming to work.”
Rikard earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Christian Brothers University, completed graduate studies in environmental engineering at the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, and holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He resides in Madison, along with his wife Karen and their daughter Laura.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.