by Kellee Terrell
Lisa Jackson may have the most important job in the world. The air we breathe and earth we live on will be affected for years to come based on what she does. Jackson, 50, has been running the Environmental Protection Agency since 2009 (she was tapped by President Obama in 2008), and has led the outfit in a completely different direction, especially as it concerns climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and how we dispose of our chemicals.
Her job—fighting for our right to have clean air, water, and land—is no easy task. But this tenacious New Orleans native comes with more than 25 years of serious science cred. She studied chemical engineering at Tulane and Princeton Universities, and worked at the EPA for 15 years before becoming New Jersey’s environmental commissioner in 2006.
Yet, despite her impressive résumé, Jackson approaches this huge role with little ego. In her eyes, it’s about helping others. “This job is my highest calling. It’s a combination of public service, the environment, and the ability for me to focus and give communities across the country a seat at the table when it comes to their health.”
MY FAMILY’S GUMBO RECIPE IS… heavily guarded. My mother would kill me if I told anyone. That recipe goes back generations.
ONE OF THE PRESIDENT’S BEST CHARACTERISTICS IS… that he won’t accept the excuse of, “Well, this is the way that we have always done things.” He is constantly pushing us to think about the best solution and how to do it more efficiently.
WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING… I turn on Prince and dance. Prince is still the man.
SPOTIFY VS. ITUNES… It used to be iTunes, but now I’m into Rhapsody.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS… a health issue. Heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illnesses are three of the top four most fatal health issues in this country. And they have all been linked to pollution.