The Wilson Lecture: A Conversation with Lisa Perez Jackson, Former EPA Administrator and Current VP of Apple

March 30, 2016
Lisa Perez Jackson, Former EPA Administrator and Current VP of Apple

As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson was named one of Newsweek's "Most Important People in 2010," one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" (twice), and one of Essence magazine's "40 Women Who Have Influenced the World." Tonight she will join President H. Kim Bottomly for the Wilson Lecture to discuss her work with the EPA and her current position as Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives for Apple Inc.

Jackson is a native of New Orleans (word has it, she cooks a mean gumbo). Although she did not grow up in an area of the city most fraught with environmental issues, her mother told the Associated Press that Jackson knew their impact: "She always realized that neighborhoods were different, she realized as she got older…waterways and our pollution and our canals and the oil refineries and the drilling…[are] detrimental to people."

Jackson attended Tulane University, in her hometown, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, then earned her master's at Princeton. She began her career with Clean Sites, Inc., a nonprofit that manages environmental cleanups. Through that company, she worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on several Superfund projects, then joined New Jersey' Department of Environmental Protection as an assistant commissioner.

She was serving as commissioner of the state's DEP when Governor Jon Corzine appointed her his chief of staff in 2009, citing her "leadership, work ethic, and skills at handling complex issues." She served in that position for only two weeks before President Barack Obama named her as administrator of the EPA, making her the first African American to lead in that post.

Those familiar with her work at the EPA may see her current position with Apple as a natural segue. As Jackson once said, "At the EPA, science is the backbone of everything we do, and technology is essential to how we get it done." She oversees Apple's efforts to minimize its impact on the environment by addressing climate change through renewable energy and energy efficiency, using greener materials, and inventing new ways to conserve precious resources. She is also responsible for Apple's education policy programs, such as ConnectED, its product accessibility work, and its worldwide government-affairs function.

President Bottomly will host "A Conversation with Lisa Perez Jackson" at 7:30pm in the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Auditorium. The Wilson Lecture is Wellesley’s premiere lecture of the academic year, and is generously funded by an endowment from Carolyn Ann Wilson, Class of 1910. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees may submit questions via Twitter using #WilsonLecture.