The progress CBF has made is the result of
countless individuals who have pitched in,
learned about the issues, and taken steps to
help save the Bay. As we approach our 50th
anniversary, we begin a series that seeks to
share the stories of a few individuals whose
talent, vision, and generosity have had a lasting impact on the organization. The first in this
series: Tom Stoner.
Tom Stoner spent his career in communica- tions, building a single Des Moines radio
station into the Stoner Broadcasting System
(which eventually became part of CBS). In
the early 1980s, as Tom looked to relocate
his company to the Washington, D.C.,
region, he selected Annapolis due to its
proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.
“The media business is a very high-stress
business. There’s something about being
near water that has a calming effect on the
spirit,” he says.
Although Tom was drawn to the Bay, he
wasn’t aware of its polluted condition until
the mid-1980s when his daughter, Alden,
participated in CBF’s environmental education program, spending a few days at
Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
“I was shaving and she walked into my
bathroom and said, ‘Why are you letting the water run? Turn it off if you’re
not using it!’ She was in third or fourth
grade—I wasn’t used to getting orders
from her!” says Stoner. She went on to
share what she had learned during her
experience with CBF. “It was a real wake
up call,” he says.
Within a few years, Tom had become
a strong advocate, friend, and donor to
the organization. He joined CBF’s Board
of Trustees in the early 1990s, serving
as Chairman from 1994 to 1998. His
position as a civic and business leader in
the community helped CBF to gain audi-
ences with key political leaders, while his
background in media gave him insight
into the best ways to communicate CBF’s
mission to the public. He pushed the
organization to think of newsletters, press
releases, and other communications as
strategic tools to get our message across.
In the mid-1990s, Tom and his wife,
Kitty, made a generous gift that enabled
CBF to establish a professionally staffed
Tom also played a pivotal role in estab-
lishing the metrics CBF uses to gauge
the Bay’s health. It started with a simple
question that he asked CBF President,
Will Baker, while carpooling to a board
meeting: “How do we know that we’re
winning?” he asked. A few months later,
Tom found himself heading up a task force
that would establish a set of indicators
to evaluate the health of the Bay system.
These indicators would evolve into CBF’s
State of the Bay report, a first of its kind. He
considers this his greatest contribution to
While Stoner is remembered for his leadership, he is also remembered for his kindness, curiosity, and warmth. “He’s one of
the finest people I know—a business man
with a big heart,” says Elizabeth Buckman,
Vice President for Communications.
“I’ve never met a more thoughtful person
in my life. I’ve learned so much from being
in his shadow,” says Chuck Foster, CBF
Chief of Staff.
When asked if he’s optimistic about the
Bay’s future, Tom is unreserved. “We’ve
come such a long way….The number of
people who are aware [of the issues] is
exponentially greater. If you understand
the problem, you are more likely to figure
If you understand
the problem, you are
more likely to figure out
A Business Man with a Big Heart
By Melanie McCarty
Former Chairman of CBF’s Board of Trustees, Tom Stoner, seen here with his wife Kitty,
used his background in broadcasting to help shape CBF’s use of public communications.