REI Chief Exec Nominated to Lead Interior Department

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2/7/13 - On Wednesday, February 6, President Barack Obama nominated Sally Jewell, REI Chief Executive, to be the 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) secretary. The DOI manages the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and about a fifth of the country's land mass and offshore oil fields.

Obama's hopes are that Jewell could help bring about a more appealing compromise in the partisan fight over the balance between conservation and energy. Although Jewell has no formal political experience, she has spent the past decade with REI, as a board member and then CEO. Before that, Jewell was an engineer for Mobil Oil, giving her insight into both the fields of conservation/outdoor recreation and of energy, and a commercial banker. “She knows the link between conservation and good jobs,” said Obama. “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.”

Jewell, 56, is a longtime advocate for conservation and outdoor recreation. "Sally is a remarkable leader, an excellent businessperson, and a thoughtful steward of our public lands and resources," REI said in a press release. "We believe she will do a superb job in this very important role."

Jewell is originally from England, but moved to Washington state as a young child. She spent most of her life in the Seattle area and climbs and hikes often; she has summitted Mt. Rainier several times, and she has also climbed Antarctica's highest peak, Vinson Massif (16,050'). She also enjoys kayaking and snowboarding.

Sources:,, REI