Inside the Administration is a series featuring GW alumni serving across the federal government in the administration of President Joe Biden.
By Ruth Steinhardt
At the COP26 climate summit this week, President Joe Biden called the urgent threat of climate change an “existential threat to human existence as we know it”. The latest framework of the president’s “Build back better” economic and climate agenda includes $ 555 billion for clean energy incentives and climate action—An amount which, if adopted, would represent the largest legislative investment to date in the fight against climate change. And as Congress wrangles over the details, George Washington University alumni continue to work behind the scenes to make sustainability and environmental science federal priorities.
One such alumnus is Federal Director of Sustainability Andrew Mayock, JD ’95. His work helps federal agencies prepare for and respond to the impact of climate change on their operations, services and programs, including working to transition the federal government – currently the largest consumer of household electricity and fleet owner. of the United States – 100 percent carbon-free. electricity and 100% zero-emission vehicles.
“I am part of a real whole-of-government team working tirelessly and quickly to help our government, the nation and the world limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. by the Paris Agreement and as science demands, ”he said. “Working side by side with dedicated public service employees and those appointed to carry out this mission is the most rewarding job. “
Mr. Mayock came to GW Law School in the 1990s in search of a career in public service and in 1994 landed an internship at the White House at the National Economic Council.
“While I was in school in the morning, I learned law and politics from the books and teachers,” said Mr. Mayock, JD ’95. “Three blocks from GW during my internship at the White House in the afternoon and late evening, I experienced applied law and policy. It was an extraordinary and combined education.
While the threat of climate change is undeniably urgent, Mr Mayock said it was also an opportunity for innovation and improvement.
“As we all grapple with the clear and current climate danger of this year’s heat, droughts, hurricanes and floods alone, President Biden also sees this crisis as an economic opportunity, where we can create jobs in our transition to a clean energy economy, ”said Mayock.
Sonal Larsen, now a senior climate advisor at the US General Services Administration (GSA), recalled how, as a student at GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, she also saw the effects concrete policies of his education in real time.
“As a student at GW, down the street from the White House, I feel like I had a unique insight into the power of technical knowledge in public policy sooner than most other students in engineering, ”said Ms. Larsen, BS ’05.
This understanding serves him well at GSA, which provides the products, services and facilities that all federal agencies need to do their jobs. As the very first Senior Climate Advisor, she helps guide the agency’s vision for sustainability, working “to make electricity carbon-free, from decarbonizing buildings, from vehicles to vehicles. zero emissions and climate resilience a reality across the federal footprint ”.
Like Mr. Mayock, Ms. Larsen sees the timing as crucial and the federal government as a key player. “We have an exciting opportunity to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas pollution and advance environmental justice,” she said. “The GSA can really help catalyze new and innovative clean energy technologies and equity through federal sustainability. “
Ms Larsen also said that GW helped lay the groundwork for the administration’s “highly collaborative whole-of-government approach to tackling climate change”.
“Climate policy involves collaboration with experts from various technical fields,” she said. “GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences gave me the foundation I needed to be able to dissect and understand technical information. I can now use this foundational knowledge in my current role to advise on public policy.
Other GW alumni working in the fields of sustainability, energy and the environment under Mr. Biden’s guidance include:
Environmental Protection Agency
- Lindsay C. Hamilton, BA ’04, associate administrator for public affairs
- Michael S. Regan, MPA ’04, EPA Administrator
- Elizabeth Klein, BA ’97, senior adviser to the secretary of the interior
Ministry of Energy
- Hernan Cortes, MBA ’94, MS ’95, Director of Portfolio Management, Office of Loan Programs
- Jennifer Garson, MPP ’10, Acting Director, Office of Water Power Technologies
- Dong Kim, MEM ’91, MS ’95, senior advisor
- Bhavya Lal, Ph.D. ’12, Senior Advisor to the NASA Administrator for Budget and Finance
- Susie Perez Quinn, MA ’04, leader
- Megan E. Healy, MA ’08, Deputy Director of NEPA, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Kei Koizumi, MA ’95, Chief of Staff, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Jeff Marootian, BA ’01, MPA ’03, special assistant to the president for the staff of the climate and science agency
- Charissee Ridgeway, MPS ’15, press officer, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Matthew Sidler, MA ’20, CERT ’21, Special Assistant to the National Climate Advisor, White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy