EPA Announces Additional Biden-Harris Appointees
WASHINGTON (February 2, 2021) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced additional Biden-Harris administration staff appointments. The appointees will lead the agency in advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda to tackle the climate crisis, secure environmental justice and create clean energy jobs.
New appointees joining the EPA team are listed here along with their intended new role and brief biographies:
JoAnn Chase, Director, American Indian Environmental Office, Office of International and Tribal Affairs
JoAnn Chase is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Indian Nation, and was born and raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in central North Dakota. In 2010, JoAnn served as Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the EPA for Native American Affairs. Most recently, JoAnn has partnered with music icon Nona Hendryx and social justice innovator, Makani Themba, to launch SisterSMATR.org. Focused predominately on providing opportunity for young women of color, SisterSMATR (Science, Math, Art, Technology, Robotics) leverages art and community to close the gender gap in science and technology. Previously, JoAnn served as the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, this country’s oldest and largest national Indian membership organization. She was also the Director of the National Network of Grantmakers. JoAnn has a law degree from the University of New Mexico Law School and a baccalaureate in film theory and criticism from Boston University.
Nick Conger, Press Secretary, Office of Public Affairs
Nick Conger returns to EPA after previously serving under Administrator Gina McCarthy as Strategic Communications Advisor, and before that, as Communications Director in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Most recently, Nick was Communications Director for former Vice President Al Gore since the fall of 2017, working directly with the Vice President on international climate advocacy, as well as rallying grassroots activists in the U.S. on climate action. Prior to that, he was press secretary in the federal communications office at the Natural Resources Defense Council focusing on transportation and corporate engagement issues. Prior to his time in the Obama Administration, Nick was at World Wildlife Fund and Edelman Public Relations working with major companies on strategies to reduce their business impact on the environment.
Catie Diaz, Special Assistant, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
While attending the University of Iowa as a student interested in Environmental Science and Sustainability, Catie watched as current events and media headlines highlighted the threat of climate change. Instead of focusing her studies on Sciences, she decided to switch her field of study to a program that was interdisciplinary and allowed her to look at environmental issues from many perspectives, all while focusing on public health. During this time, she was also recruited by a campus organizer to register students and turn out the vote on campus by speaking to students on the issues. She fell in love with engaging her peers on how to become politically active and in expanding the electorate to a younger generation. Catie strives to continue advocating for positive change in finding clean and sustainable solutions to today’s pressing issues.
Brent Efron, Special Assistant, Office of Policy
Brent graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating he worked as an organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and then for a solar energy start-up, Solstice, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has since worked as an organizer for Warren for President in Iowa and Ohio and, most recently, as Deputy Data Director for the North Carolina Democratic Party.
Marianne Engelman Lado, Deputy General Counsel for Environmental Initiatives, Office of the General Counsel
Marianne’s career has been devoted to civil rights and environmental justice. Most recently, she directed an Environmental Justice Clinic at Vermont Law School and served as Lecturer at both the Yale University School of Public Health and the Yale School of the Environment. She previously served as senior staff attorney at Earthjustice. Her experience includes ten years as General Counsel at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), a non-profit civil rights law firm. She began her legal career as a staff attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). Marianne has lectured widely and taught graduate, law and undergraduate level courses. She holds a B.A. in government from Cornell University, a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.A. in Politics from Princeton University.
Chris Frey, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science Policy, Office of Research and Development
Prior to joining EPA, Dr. Frey served as the Glenn E. and Phyllis J. Futrell Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University. Dr. Frey served as an AAAS/EPA Environmental Science and Engineering Fellow at ORD’s National Center for Environmental Assessment in 1992 and a one year IPA assignment as exposure modeling advisor in the National Exposure Research Laboratory from 2006 to 2007. He was a member of the EPA FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (2004 to 2006), a member of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) (2008 to 2012), chair of CASAC (2012 to 2015), and a member of the EPA Science Advisory Board (2012 to 2018). He was a member of the CASAC Particulate Matter Review Panel that was dismissed in 2018: under his leadership, the panel reconvened as the Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel. He has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia, a master of engineering in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon.
Ruby Goldberg, Special Assistant, Office of Land and Emergency Management
Ruby Goldberg comes to EPA after having most recently a part of the Biden-Harris campaign as a Regional Organizing Director in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She previously worked for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in Iowa, and Tom Steyer’s nationwide effort to take back the house in 2018. Ruby is a native New Yorker, and graduated from Brown University with a dual degree in Computer Science and Latin American Studies.
Eunjung Kim, Special Assistant, Office of Air and Radiation
Eunjung began her career as a Materials Engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working on projects such as hazardous chemical detection and explosives remediation. After 5 years in a technical role, Kim joined the Elizabeth Warren campaign in Iowa and Minnesota and continued on with the 2020 election cycle as a Deputy Data Director in Nevada for the Biden-Harris campaign, before finishing off with the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff team. Kim is an immigrant from South Korea and a graduate of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Max Levy, Special Assistant, Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education
Max joins the EPA after helping set grassroots fundraising records as an Email Fundraising Strategist on the Biden for President campaign. Prior to that, he held a similar role on the Warren primary campaign and was the first Digital Communications Manager for Democracy Forward, a non-profit oversight group founded in 2017. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Max graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Communication and Public Service.
Maria Michalos, Speechwriter, Office of Public Affairs
Maria comes to EPA from the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she was Senior Manager for Executive Communications, serving on former President & CEO Gina McCarthy’s communications team. Prior to that, she oversaw U.S. Eastern communications for NRDC. Previously, she spent several years working for New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, where she led the development of the governor’s keynote presentations. Maria earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from New York University. She holds a master’s degree from Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. She is originally from Long Island, New York.
Alejandra Nunez, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Mobile Sources, Office of Air and Radiation
Alejandra joins EPA from the Sierra Club, where she served as a senior attorney at the Environmental Law Program. Her work focused on litigation and regulatory advocacy on federal greenhouse gas and corporate average fuel economy standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, carbon dioxide standards for new and existing power plants, state transportation and clean energy policies, and the integration of environmental justice in climate policy. Before Sierra Club, Ale worked as associate counsel at the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency, where she advised on public-private partnerships in the energy and water infrastructure sectors, and was also an associate at Morrison & Foerster, where she represented clients on public trust issues, carbon sequestration projects, and conservation easements. Ale holds Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) and Masters of Law (LL.M.) degrees from Harvard Law School, and a law degree (LL.B.) from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.
Grant O’Brien, Advance Specialist, Office of the Administrator
Grant joins the EPA from the Biden-Harris campaign where he served as a member of the organization’s national advance staff, coordinating political events featuring President Biden and Vice President Harris across the country. He began his career as a White House advance associate for the Office of the Vice President in 2009 and has supported a number of presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial campaigns and administrations. Grant’s commitment to public service is inspired by his late grandmother, a labor union trailblazer who fought for opportunity and equality. He holds a B.A. in political science from Loyola University New Orleans, an M.B.A. from DePaul University, and an M.P.A. from Cornell University. He is originally from Chicago, Illinois.
Juan Sabater, Special Assistant, Office of Water
Juan is an organizer and policy advocate from Miami, FL. Juan graduated from Florida International University in 2019, where he earned his BA in Political Science. In between semesters, Juan worked on various political campaigns for climate centered candidates in his home state. Most recently, on the Biden for Florida campaign, he was known for building coalitions of voters both in-person and online through creative avenues. Outside of campaign organizing, Juan is an advocate for innovative and intersectional climate policy, hoping to capitalize on the state's potential for a green economy and workforce. His passions include exploring Florida's natural landscape, social media management/digital content creation, and cooking for his loved ones.
Carlton Waterhouse, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Land and Emergency Management, Office of Land and Emergency Management
Professor Carlton Waterhouse is an international expert on environmental law and environmental justice, as well as reparations and redress for historic injustices. He lectures globally on climate justice and group-based inequality. After completing law school at Howard University, Professor Waterhouse began his career as an attorney with the EPA, where he served in the Office of Regional Counsel in Atlanta, Georgia and the Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C. At the EPA, he served as the chief counsel for the agency in several significant cases and as a national and regional expert on environmental justice, earning three of the Agency’s prestigious national awards. Professor Waterhouse graduated with honors from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University with a Master of Theological Studies degree and from the Emory University Graduate School with a Ph.D. in Social Ethics.