Former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Shares How She Became a Top Environmentalist

Lisa Jackson at the premiere of 'Dr. Suess' The Lorax' at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2012. (Photo: Phil Stafford/

As an avowed lover of podcasts (check out my faves here), I especially love those that give a unique perspective on something I think I already know. While learning something wholly new is always a joy, learning something fresh about a topic, event or person you thought you already had covered is a special surprise.

So it was with the Moth's podcast of Lisa P. Jackson, who is the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since stepping down from that post, she now works at Apple computers, overseeing the company's environmental efforts. Her podcast shares her unique voyage from New Orleans childhood, through her training as a chemical engineer, and up through the ranks at the EPA and finally back to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Jackson points out in the story that although her mother wanted her math-and-science-talented kid to be a doctor, Jackson thought she could help more people be healthier by becoming an expert in cleaning up Superfund messes and the like.)

It's always interesting to hear where other's life paths take them, and Jackson's story is a great one for understanding how our public servants come to office. (Jackson was inspired to eschew the larger paycheck for public service because her dad was a postman, and she saw his job as important, bringing people something they needed every day.)

As Frances Beineke, head of the Natural Resources Defense Council said of Jackson, "There has been no fiercer champion of our health and our environment than Lisa Jackson, and every American is better off today than when she took office nearly four years ago. For that, we are deeply grateful to Lisa for her service, and to President Obama for having appointed her to this vital position."