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Lisa Perez Jackson (born February 8, 1962) is an Americanmarker chemical engineer and politician currently serving as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Previously, she worked at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for 6 years, first as an assistant commissioner and later as commissioner. Prior to that, she was employed by the EPA for 16 years.

Family life and education

Lisa Jackson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker and was adopted weeks after her birth. She grew up in the Lower Ninth Wardmarker of New Orleans, Louisianamarker and in 1979 graduated as valedictorian at Saint Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans. She graduated summa cum laude from the School of Chemical Engineering at Tulane Universitymarker. Jackson then earned a master's degree in chemical engineering from Princeton Universitymarker. Her adoptive mother was living in New Orleans at the time Hurricane Katrina flooded the city in 2005. Jackson is married to Kenneth Jackson and is the mother of two children.


Early career

Jackson began her career circa 1986 with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.marker She then moved to its regional office in New York Citymarker. During her tenure at EPA, Jackson worked in the federal Superfund site remediation program, developing numerous hazardous waste cleanup regulations, overseeing hazardous waste cleanup projects throughout central New Jerseymarker, and directing multimillion-dollar cleanup operations. She later served as deputy director and acting director of the region’s enforcement division.

After 16 years with EPA, Jackson joined the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in March 2002 as assistant commissioner of compliance and enforcement. She served as the assistant commissioner for land use management during 2005. Jackson headed numerous programs, including land use regulation, water supply, geological survey, water monitoring and standards, and watershed management. She focused on developing a system of incentives for stimulating what was in her opinion the right growth in the right places. Under her leadership, the state Department of Environmental Protection developed regulatory standards for implementing the landmark Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act.

New Jersey Commissioner of Environmental Protection

Jon S. Corzine, Governor of New Jersey, nominated her for Commissioner of Environmental Protection. Serving in that position, Jackson led a staff of 2,990 professionals responsible for protecting, sustaining, and enhancing water, air, and land of New Jersey and preserving the state's wealth of natural and historic resources. In addition to overseeing environmental programs for the state, as Commissioner, Jackson oversaw state parks and beaches, fish and wildlife programs and historic preservation. As commissioner in July 2006, she had to shut down all state parks and beaches due to the state governmental shutdown in relation to the state budget delay.

As the state's chief environmental enforcer, Jackson led compliance sweeps in Camdenmarker and Patersonmarker, communities in which the effects of pollution on public health had long been neglected. She launched the environmental initiative following multicultural outreach efforts to inform and involve community residents and businesses. Working with county officials, New Jersey State Police and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection then mobilized more than 70 inspectors to conduct upward of 1,000 compliance investigations in the two cities, the first of a series of enforcement sweeps.

The environmental magazine Grist interviewed several New Jersey environmental activists and reported that opinion about Jackson was divided: "The split seems to be between those who work on energy and climate policy in the state's capital [who were supportive of Jackson] and those who work on toxic cleanups at the local level [who were critical of her]."

Chief of staff to the Governor of New Jersey

On October 24, 2008, Corzine announced that Jackson would take over as his Chief of Staff, effective December 1, 2008, succeeding Bradley Abelow. As Chief of Staff Jackson would have served as Corzine's top advisor and chief political liaison to the State Legislature. However, Jackson was tapped by Obama to become Administrator of the EPA just days after she became Corzine's chief of staff and resigned on December 15, 2008.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

On December 15, 2008, President-Elect Barack Obama officially designated Jackson as the nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was confirmed through unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate on January 23, 2009. Jackson is the first person of African American descent to serve as EPA Administrator, along with being the fourth woman and second New Jerseyan to hold the position.


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