Maya K. van Rossum is a veteran environmentalist who joined the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in 1994 as executive director and since 1996 has served as the Delaware Riverkeeper, championing the rights of people to a free-flowing, clean, and healthy Delaware River and its tributary streams.

In her role as the Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya has dedicated her life to being the “voice of the Delaware River.” She has taken on industry, government, and even the U.S. Army, preventing harm to the River, communities, and environments she bravely champions. Now, Maya is working to empower individuals across the nation to stand up for their environmental rights by pioneering the Green Amendment Movement. Follow Maya’s blog to read news about her work and her analysis of current environmental events.

In 2013, Maya and her organization achieved a major victory in the landmark case, Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et. al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The case, decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, revived the state’s long-ignored Constitutional Environmental Rights Amendment, empowering it to protect the people’s right to pure water, clean air, and a healthy environment. The Green Amendment movement is inspiring communities across the nation to secure their own constitutional right to a healthy environment by pursuing Green Amendments in every state constitution and ultimately at the federal level.

She is a licensed attorney in three states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. Since 2002, Maya has served as an adjunct professor and director of the Environmental Law Clinic, which she founded, at Temple Beasley School of Law.

In 2013, Maya testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee opposing a bill that would make it easier to approve fracked gas pipeline projects cutting through creeks, rivers, communities, wetlands, forests, and farmlands. In 2000, she testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources regarding wild and scenic designation for the lower Delaware River.

In addition to her own book, The Green Amendment, Maya has authored forewords for Damming the Delaware: The Rise and Fall of Tocks Island Dam by Richard Albert, and A Paddler’s Guide to the Delaware River by Gary Letcher.

To her own surprise, Maya has inspired environmental advocates and musicians alike. In 2005, The Donuts wrote a song in her name, titled “Maya van Rossum’s Blues,” about an oil spill that spewed 165,000 gallons of heavy crude into the Delaware.

Maya grew up in the Delaware River watershed, playing in Ithan Creek, a tributary to the Darby, which is a tributary to the Delaware. After law school she returned to the Delaware River watershed to take on the role of fighting to protect it, along with each and every tributary stream including her beloved Ithan Creek.

She has received a number of honors for her work, including:

  • SNL Energy’s 10 most influential people, 2015
  • Certificate of Appreciation for Environmental Commitment to Our Region, South Jersey Land & Water Trust, March 2010
  • Radnor’s Hall of Fame, 2008
  • Giraffe Hero, “Because you’ve stuck your neck out to speak the truth no matter how unpopular that truth is,” June 2008
  • Inaugural Recipient, The Nicholas A. Robinson Environmental Award, 2005, Pace Law School
  • Women’s Environmental Advocacy Leadership Award, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, March 2005
  • Touchstone Award, Society of Women Environmental Professionals, 2001
  • Water Bearer Award for Environmental Excellence, Clean Water Fund, 2001
  • The Robert P. Doherty Ribbon of Green Award, Darby Creek Valley Association, 2000
  • Advocacy Award, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, October, 1999
  • Outstanding Service Award, Widener University School of Law, 1998