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Gina McCarthy

EPA Administrator under President Obama
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Biography

A career public servant in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Gina McCarthy has been a leading advocate for common sense strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than thirty years. As the head of EPA under President Obama, she led historic progress to achieve the administration’s public health and environmental protection goals and Climate Action Plan. In 2015, McCarthy signed the Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever national standards for reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants, underscoring the country’s commitment to domestic climate action and spurring international efforts that helped secure the Paris Climate Agreement. During her tenure, EPA initiatives cut air pollution, protected water resources, reduced greenhouse gases and strengthened chemical safety to better protect more Americans, especially the most vulnerable, from negative health impacts. Internationally, McCarthy worked with the UN and WHO on a variety of efforts and represented the U.S. on global initiatives to reduce high risk sources of pollution. Known for her pragmatic approaches and disarming, plain-speaking style, McCarthy has earned the respect of the environmental, public health and business communities with her thorough understanding of all sides of climate, air quality, chemical safety, environmental justice and health equity, and water, land and natural resource protection and restoration discussions. A gifted communicator and strategist with a talent for making environmental issues nonpartisan, highly personal, and solidly backed by science and the law, McCarthy is consistently credited with finding common ground and forging sustainable, common sense solutions.

Gina McCarthy is currently serving as a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard and as a Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, emphasizing her career-long position that public health and the environment are critically interconnected. Before joining EPA, she served five Massachusetts Democratic and Republican administrations and was Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. She joined EPA in 2009 as Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. In 2013, she was chosen by President Obama to spearhead his climate efforts at the federal level as EPA Administrator. According to McCarthy, “Most of the rules now being questioned as too costly, out of touch with science or agency overreach were done on my watch. I’m very proud of the public health benefits they bring to American families, the natural resources protections they provide, and the way they have allowed the economy to thrive and jobs to grow.”

Combining a contagious passion for democracy with an urgency to take action, Gina McCarthy has spoken to audiences around the world about the dangers, challenges and opportunities that face our planet and its people. As equally in her element with business audiences and environmental groups, Gina McCarthy leaves audiences informed, energized and inspired that they can—and must—make a difference.

Topics

The Future of the Planet: Climate Change & Environmental Protection

With a new administration, citizens, businesses, NGOs and industries ranging from energy to investment face uncertainty about the direction of environmental progress in the U.S. and around the world. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy brings invaluable perspective gained during more than thirty years at the intersection of politics, science, government and private industry. In this wide-ranging talk, which can tailored to the interests of specific audiences, she provides an overview of the current landscape and critical future.

Subject areas include:

  • How the new administration can impact the environment for years to come.
  • Where the U.S. stands in relation to the rest of the world, and what we must do to maintain leadership.
  • Standing up for science—its importance in environmental policy making.

Health Equity & Environmental Justice

It is little wonder that after more than 30 years in environmental leadership roles, Gina McCarthy is now a Senior Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Throughout her career, which began in local public health, McCarthy has viewed public health and environmental protection as indivisibly interconnected and interdependent. As the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, she saw the agency’s primary mission through this lens, championing a mission to safeguard clean air, water and protect Americans—especially the most vulnerable ones—from the dangers of harmful chemicals and pollutants. In this thought-provoking talk, McCarthy explores the interconnection of health conditions such as asthma and cancer in underserved communities with environmental quality and chemical safety. She also explores how climate change impacts our local communities and those around the world.

Subject areas include:

  • The common outcomes of health inequity and environmental injustice.
  • Community organization and its role in advocating for public health and the environment.
  • How poor air and water quality, contamination and chemical safety have greater health impacts on vulnerable populations and low income communities.
  • Global environmental health—a look at these issues on an international level.

The Business Case for Sustainability

During more than 30 years in government service, Gina McCarthy earned the respect of the business community with her pragmatic approaches and thorough understanding of their concerns and positions. Known for framing her environmental victories as much for their ROI as environmental outcome, McCarthy is known for making a strong case for investing in green technology, renewable energy and sustainable practices. In this data-driven keynote, Gina McCarthy makes the business case for sustainability—proving that doing the right thing is actually good for business.

Subject areas include:

  • How auto makers and energy companies became more profitable because of regulation.
  • Sustainability as a driver of the U.S. economy and jobs creation.
  • Leading the industries of the future. Will the U.S. fall behind China as a leader in renewable energy?
  • How corporate America and the world is investing.
  • Climate change and your business. Which industries and geographic areas will be most affected? How could it impact your business model and investments?

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