Sally Jewell admits being inspired by the conservationism of President Teddy Roosevelt. She says that she, like Roosevelt, understands that the most precious gift the United States has to offer is its ecologically diverse public lands. An avid hiker and accomplished businesswoman, Jewell was an unconventional but splendid choice for her recent appointment as Secretary of the Interior.
An accomplished mountaineer, she has climbed mountains in the Alps, the Cascades, and the Andes. She has summited Mount Kilimanjaro. In 2009, she was awarded the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award for Women in Conservation. If anything, she was almost too environmentally friendly for government office. Her appointment marks great confidence in President Obama’s commitment to combatting climate change.
Jewell was born in England but raised in the Pacific Northwest. She earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington, and went on to be a petroleum scientist for Exxon Mobil. After three years, she moved on to a career in banking. In 2005, the board of REI named her chief executive officer of a hometown company that her father was one of the first customers of. She had been a board member of the company for nine years. He role at REI lead to recognition of her leadership in environmentalism, although she was working with volunteer groups prior to that. She says she grew up camping and kayaking all over Washington State, and she chose to take her newest role because she say it was one of the few ways she could really make a difference in the world.
As Interior Secretary, Jewell is responsible for overseeing 20% of land mass within the United States. The job also entails acting as liaison of the federal government with Native American Tribes, as well as managing oil drilling and mining on public lands. The department of the interior has an $11 billion budget and 70,000 employees. Jewell says she is not intimidated and knows when to trust knowledgeable advisors to help her transition smoothly into the job.