Gina McCarthy (she/her) became the president and chief executive officer of NRDC in January 2020, leading more than 700 attorneys, scientists, advocates, and policy experts that make NRDC one of the country’s most effective environmental action organizations. McCarthy has been a leading advocate for smart, successful strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years.
McCarthy served as the 13th administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation under President Obama. Her leadership led to significant federal, state, and local actions on critical issues related to the environment, economy, energy, and transportation. McCarthy ushered in a paradigm shift in national environmental policy, which expressly linked it to global public health. She led initiatives that cut air pollution, protected water resources, strengthened chemical safety, and reduced greenhouse gases to protect more communities from negative health impacts. McCarthy signed the Clean Power Plan, which set the first national standards for reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants, underscoring the country’s commitment to domestic climate action and spurring international efforts that helped secure the Paris Agreement.
As assistant administrator, McCarthy strengthened collaborative efforts with state environmental and public health agencies and organizations across the United States to identify and reduce threats to human health from harmful air and carbon pollution by updating health- and technology-based emissions standards, establishing greenhouse gas standards for cars and trucks, promoting energy efficiency and alternative fuels, and mitigating harmful exposures to indoor air pollution.
At the state level, McCarthy served as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, deputy secretary of the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development, and undersecretary of policy for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. In Connecticut, she was instrumental in developing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state effort to reduce emissions contributing to global warming, which has spurred economic growth, improved public health, decreased energy demand, and helped mitigate electricity price increases across the region. In Massachusetts, McCarthy advised five governors on environmental affairs, worked at the state and local levels on critical environmental issues, and coordinated policies on economic growth, energy, transportation, and the environment.
At the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, McCarthy was a professor of the practice of public health in the Department of Environmental Health and currently chair of the board of advisors at the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE). She also serves as a member of the boards of the Energy Foundation and Ceres.
McCarthy holds a master's degree in environmental health engineering and planning and policy from Tufts University and a bachelor's in social anthropology from University of Massachusetts at Boston.