Meet CEO And Mountain-Climber Sally Jewell, America’s Next Top Interior Secretary

photo819Yesterday, President Obama nominated a woman named Sally Jewell to replace outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Jewell is a former oil company engineer, and also a conservation advocate; she’s the CEO of a major company, and now, an aspiring public servant. In short, she’s kinda fascinating! Here are three things to know about her.

1. She loves the outdoors. Jewell grew up in the Pacific Northwest, sailing on the Puget Sound in an 8-foot dinghy with her family, and camping “everywhere we went.” She has climbed Mount Rainier, and Mount Vinson in Antarctica. “She’s getting around and doing a lot of pretty intrepid mountaineering,” one of her climbing partners told the New York Times. “I don’t think we’ve had, at least in recent times, a secretary of the interior that has walked the talk to that extent.” She currently serves as CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc., aka REI, the chain of outdoor-supply megastores.

2. She has a background in two male-dominated industries: technology and banking. Jewell has a degree in mechanical engineering, and her first job was working for Mobil Oil in Oklahoma. (She married an engineer, too.) She then became a petroleum engineer for a bank, eventually overseeing commercial banking for Washington Mutual. She became REI’s COO in 1996.

3. If confirmed, she’d be one of just a few female Cabinet members. President Obama has come under some criticism this year for his overwhelmingly male cabinet: When Hillary Clinton departed, John Kerry replaced her, for example. Jewell’s appointment, which is broadly supported by both environmentalist groups and the energy industry — and it’s tough to please them both! — would help shift that perception.

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