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Gina  McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

First-Ever White House Climate Advisor, Former EPA Administrator, Harvard Professor & Environmental Thought Leader


The first-ever White House National Climate Advisor and former EPA Administrator under President Obama, Gina McCarthy is one of the nation’s most respected voices on the environment and public health. During 35 years of public service in both Republican and Democratic administrations, McCarthy dedicated herself to environmental protection and public health. Her leadership and perseverance led to federal, state, and local actions on critical environmental issues. McCarthy’s significant accomplishments include action to advance environmental, clean energy, public transportation and public health goals consistent with a growing economy in New England and across the United States. Read More >

Her most recent role was leading the White House’s newly formed Climate Policy Office under President Joe Biden. In this role, McCarthy was tasked with creating a strategy to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions cuts and help re-establish the country as a global climate champion. Under McCarthy, that office was instrumental in the number-crunching to arrive at Biden’s ambitious target for the U.S. to slash its emissions of planet-warming gases — a 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. McCarthy left the Biden administration with many accomplishments, including $369 billion in climate incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act amounting to the largest-ever U.S. commitment to fighting climate change.

Before returning to Government, McCarthy served as the President/CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, she was also a Harvard professor leading strategies and actions at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and in the corporate and non-profit sectors. At Harvard TH Chan, she was Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health and the Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE). In this capacity, McCarthy led the development of the school’s strategy to turn climate and health science into actions that promoted a more sustainable and just world. At the Kennedy School, she engaged climate science leaders across the university and beyond. McCarthy also served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Foundation and Ceres. McCarthy is a former operating advisor at Pegasus Capital.

From 2013 – 2017, McCarthy served as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama. As Administrator, McCarthy was the nation’s leading advocate for common-sense strategies to protect public health and the environment. Willing to take bold action, Administrator McCarthy achieved notable success by finalizing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) which set the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for fossil-fuel fired power plants. The CPP demonstrated the United States strong commitment to climate action, sparking broad international support for adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement. Under her leadership, EPA also finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect rivers and streams that 117 million American s rely on for their source of drinking water.

Prior to her role as EPA Administrator, McCarthy held the position of Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Previously, McCarthy served as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, where she began an initiative called “No Child Left Inside” to introduce families to the natural world by visiting state parks, and she helped design and implement the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for power plants. She has also held senior positions in Massachusetts, serving five governors, including Deputy Secretary of the Office of Commonwealth Development and Undersecretary for Policy for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. 

McCarthy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and a joint Master of Science in Environmental Health Engineering, Planning and Policy from Tuft’s University. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Reaction to Trump's Executive Orders

Crisis Management

Environment as a Fundamental Factor of Growing the Economy

Climate Change & Environmental Protection with Bill Maher

Embracing Change

Inspiring Industries to Want Clean Energy: The Auto Industry

The Future of the EPA and the Environment

Environmental Justice

University of Rhode Island Commencement Speech 2018

Climate Change is Not a Political or Partisan Issue

Speech Topics

The Future of the Planet: Climate Change & Environmental Protection

With the current administration, citizens, businesses, NGOs and industries ranging from energy to investment face uncertainty about the direction of environmental progress in the U.S. and around the world. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy brings invaluable perspective gained during more than thirty years at the intersection of politics, science, government and private industry. In this wide-ranging talk, which can tailored to the interests of specific audiences, she provides an overview of the current landscape and critical future. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • Efforts underway by the current administration to dismantle protections on the environment, public health, science and democracy, and their potential for success.
  • Where the U.S. stands in relation to the rest of the world, and what we must do to maintain leadership.
  • Standing up for science—its importance in defining challenges and designing solutions.

ESG, Environmental Corporate Responsibility & Purpose-Driven Investment

Impact investing. Socially responsible investing. Sustainable investing. It’s a concept with many names but it boils down into an enormous challenge and an enormous opportunity for businesses today. The private sector is being driven from all sides, including investors, CEOs, consumers, non-profits and community leaders, city mayors and states to go beyond regulatory compliance and reduce their carbon footprint across their supply chain. They are being further challenged to invest in social issues, get active in their communities, invest in their employees, and establish and publicly report progress to achieve measures of success beyond stakeholder profits. And with the federal government divesting of climate commitments – domestic and international - the private sector is beginning to play a leadership role in encouraging and investing in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and other efforts that establish private sector commitment and encourage continued investment. Combining 35 years as a public sector environmental leader and policymaker with a new focus on the increasing role of private investment in achieving sustainability and wellness, Gina McCarthy examines the challenges and opportunities of the current landscape. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • Where are government policy and international discussions heading?
  • How can business stay ahead of government, community and consumer demands?
  • How are businesses Investing in ways that advance a culture of health and display their social consciousness?
  • How are young people and others using social media to advance purposeful investment and to encourage business to more environmentally and socially conscious?
  • What is the long-term view of corporate responsibility and purpose-driven investment?

Impact Investing for a Sustainable Future

Today, companies want to look beyond their greenhouse gas footprint to investments and practices that showcase their social consciousness. After all, in today’s instantaneous, social media world, one negative story or public reaction can do enormous damage. Businesses and the investment community need to get in front—acting and investing in ways that will lead to a more sustainable future. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy takes on the “E” in “ESG” to provide an invaluable overview of what companies and investors are doing now to impact both their bottom line and the future of the planet. Read More >

Subject Areas Include: Read Less ^

  • Where are government policy and international discussions heading?
  • How can business stay ahead of government, community and consumer demands?
  • How are businesses Investing in ways that advance a culture of health and display their social consciousness?
  • How are young people and others using social media to advance purposeful investment and to encourage business to more environmentally and socially conscious?
  • What is the long-term view of corporate responsibility and purpose-driven investment?

Health Equity & Environmental Justice

It is little wonder that after more than 35 years in environmental leadership roles, Gina McCarthy took charge during her time at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Throughout her career, which began in local public health, McCarthy has viewed public health and environmental protection as indivisibly interconnected and interdependent. As the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, she saw the agency’s primary mission through this lens, championing a mission to safeguard clean air, water and protect Americans—especially the most vulnerable ones—from the dangers of harmful chemicals and pollutants. In this thought-provoking talk, McCarthy explores the interconnection of health conditions such as asthma and cancer in underserved communities with environmental quality and chemical safety. She also explores how climate change impacts our local communities and those around the world. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • The common outcomes of health inequity and environmental injustice.
  • Community organization and its role in advocating for public health and the environment.
  • How poor air and water quality, contamination and chemical safety have greater health impacts on vulnerable populations and low income communities.
  • Global environmental health—a look at these issues on an international level.

The Business Case for Sustainability

During more than 30 years in government service, Gina McCarthy earned the respect of the business community with her pragmatic approaches and thorough understanding of their concerns and positions. Known for framing her environmental victories as much for their ROI as environmental outcome, McCarthy is known for making a strong case for investing in green technology, renewable energy and sustainable practices. In this data-driven keynote, Gina McCarthy makes the business case for sustainability—proving that doing the right thing is actually good for business. Read More >

Subject areas include: Read Less ^

  • How auto makers and energy companies became more profitable because of regulation.
  • Sustainability as a driver of the U.S. economy and jobs creation.
  • Leading the industries of the future. Will the U.S. fall behind China as a leader in renewable energy?
  • How corporate America and the world is investing.
  • Climate change and your business. Which industries and geographic areas will be most affected? How could it impact your business model and investments?