The next time you enjoy clean air and water, think of the University of Massachusetts Boston alumna who works to keep it that way. Gina McCarthy ’76 cleaned up the Long Island Sound, took on hazardous waste, and now she’s working for President Barack Obama as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
McCarthy credits UMass Boston for her success.
“I will tell you that I am here for one reason only and that is because I owe the University of Massachusetts Boston big time,” she said during a keynote speak at a university gala.
Advocate for Change
McCarthy has been a results-oriented advocate for change and the legislative process ever since she graduated from the university.
“That is what this university is all about,” McCarthy said. “It’s to strive for excellence but to understand the way in which excellence happens is to bring people from where they are – to grab them in their own communities and to enhance our communities on the way forward, and I think that’s what has always appealed to me at this university. It has a sense of academia, but it doesn’t lose its roots.”
McCarthy credits her social anthropology major for teaching her to “relish diversity,” a skill that served her well in Massachusetts government over the past 25 years. The Boston native worked for five Massachusetts governors before President Obama named her assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. She was confirmed as the EPA administrator in July 2013.
“This university taught me that you don’t need to think alike, that you don’t need to be alike, that you all don’t need to be rich to make a difference,” McCarthy says.
In 1984, McCarthy became Stoughton, Massachusetts’ first environmental officer. By 2003 she had developed and implemented Massachusetts’ first Climate Protection Action Plan. McCarthy made a name for herself when she cleaned up the Long Island Sound and reduced air pollution as the administrator of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Never Forgetting her Roots
Throughout it all, McCarthy hasn’t forgotten her UMass Boston roots. As a state environmental official, McCarthy worked closely with UMass Boston to promote green technology and research. In 1994, as director of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, she helped found a program called the Strategic Envirotechnology Partnership (STEP), a business incubator for green technology that draws heavily on the expertise of the UMass Boston community.
“This university gave me everything I needed to know about attitude, and that is what has taken me everywhere I’ve ever gone," she says.
Inside UMass Boston
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection
- Clean Air Act