WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama’s choice for interior secretary is a lifelong outdoors enthusiast who likes to bike, ski and climb mountains.
As president and chief executive at Recreational Equipment Inc., Sally Jewell has applied her passion to her job, helping push REI to nearly $2 billion in annual revenues and a place on Fortune Magazine’s list of “Best Places to Work.”
Now Obama hopes to take advantage of Jewell’s love for the outdoors and her business sense as she takes over at Interior, the federal department responsible for national parks and other public lands.
In announcing the nomination, Obama said Jewell has earned national recognition for her environmental stewardship at REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor enthusiasts.
He also noted her experience as an engineer in oil fields and her fondness for mountain climbing.
The toughest part of Jewell’s new job “will probably be sitting behind a desk,” Obama said.
At a White House ceremony Wednesday, Obama said Jewell “knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress — that, in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.”
At REI, Jewell “has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet,” Obama said. Last year, REI donated nearly $4 million to protect trails and parks, and 20 percent of the electricity used in the company’s stores comes from renewable sources.
If confirmed by the Senate, Jewell, 56, would replace current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has announced he will step down in March.
Jewell said she was “humbled and energized” at the prospect of leading Interior, which manages more than 500 million acres in national parks and other public lands, as well as more than 1 billion acres offshore.