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Wednesday, Oct. 01, 2014

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Video: Lisa Jackson: Engineering after Princeton


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Lisa Jackson says problem-solving skills she learned at Princeton are crucial to her work as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. View more alumni videos.


Video Closed Captions

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Lisa Jackson:
My name is Lisa Jackson. I was at Princeton from '83 to '86. I got my Master's in chemical engineering,

Lisa Jackson:
and now I serve as the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Lisa Jackson:
My engineering background is extremely important to the job I do every day.

Lisa Jackson:
It gives me a different perspective from others.

Lisa Jackson:
Engineering is about problem solving. A lot of the issues we deal with here at EPA are technical in nature.

Lisa Jackson:
And one of the things I said from day one is that our entire work has to be based on the best science

Lisa Jackson:
we can muster from the American people. Probably the biggest adjustment has been

Lisa Jackson:
the mood and the pace of work here in Washington. It's great because there's a huge expectation that we're going to bring

Lisa Jackson:
this agency back. That we're going to restore EPA to its place as the protector of air,

Lisa Jackson:
water and land. But that means a huge agenda. And so we're working awful hard here.

Lisa Jackson:
You know, a little bit later today I'll be speaking to students -- high school students

Lisa Jackson:
in an organization called Jack and Jill. They are African American kids and they're coming

Lisa Jackson:
to D.C. as part of a leadership program. It's so important for us at EPA to build and continue

Lisa Jackson:
to build our recognition of our mission with youth. The youth have always cared about environment

Lisa Jackson:
and pushed our issues, and this generation is all about being green, and we want to encourage them.

Lisa Jackson:
I speak about the devastation for America in Katrina often. My mom lost her home.

Lisa Jackson:
She's actually sold what's left of it back to the state of Louisiana and moved up to Ocean City.

Lisa Jackson:
Katrina was not only a tragedy; it was an environmental catastrophe as well.

Lisa Jackson:
And I remind people that when those wetlands were being torn up, the people who suffered most from the damage

Lisa Jackson:
in the low-lying areas of the city, who happened to be people of color, had nothing to do

Lisa Jackson:
with the decisions made on those wetlands. So making gumbo and making Washington policy...

Lisa Jackson:
Gumbo, of course, even the word is all about a mixture, and bringing together these ingredients

Lisa Jackson:
and letting them simmer, and coming out with something really good. And obviously policy

Lisa Jackson:
and politics is very much the same thing. If we're going to be successful in environmental

Lisa Jackson:
policy, it's about bringing all the people who care about it, all the stakeholders we

Lisa Jackson:
call, together and coming out with the best solution. You know my time at Princeton in

Lisa Jackson:
the Engineering School certainly influenced where I am today. At that point, I worked

Lisa Jackson:
on environmental issues. And Princeton had a history of being involved in some of the

Lisa Jackson:
first environmental studies that were done up in Woburn, Mass. on groundwater. And I

Lisa Jackson:
worked with folks who did that research. It certainly influenced and enhanced my interest in the environmental field.

Lisa Jackson:
My name is Lisa Jackson, and I'm a Princeton engineer.

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