Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) president and CEO Sally Jewell may soon be filling the void left by departing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. President Obama formally announced her nomination on Wednesday afternoon and if confirmed by the Senate, Jewell would be the first female nominee to take a cabinet post since Obama’s re-election.
“As the CEO of a major outdoors company, we think she has a unique appreciation for public lands,” said League of Conservation Voters Vice President Tiernan Sittenfeld. Jewell has had extensive experience in conservation and previously worked as an engineer in the energy industry. According to the Seattle Times, the REI executive is the recipient of multiple awards for her conservation work and helped to organize America’s Great Outdoors, an initiative to preserve the nation’s natural resources in the interests of all Americans. Jewell does not possess any political experience, but that may endear her even more to outdoorsmen and women.
Jewell joined REI’s board in 1996 and since then has grown the company into a $2 billion powerhouse while consistently ranking on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. The outdoors company donates millions of dollars annually to support environmental groups an agencies. Still not satisfied, REI often organizes employee volunteer teams to help clean up oil spills, build trails, and participate in habitat restoration efforts.
When she’s not working professionally, Jewell is a vocal advocate for land conservation, especially so in her native state of Washington. Her hard work and earnestness have garnered Jewell the support of many conservation organizations, such as the Wyss Foundation, which have backed President Obama’s decision.
The wife and mother of two also enjoys mountain climbing. Jewell spent five weeks hiking though the treacherously beautiful mountains and ravines of Antarctica back in 2011, perhaps in preparation for a political career.