President Obama plans to nominate Sally Jewell as secretary of the interior to replace the outgoing Ken Salazar, the White House announced today. Jewell is the first woman Obama has nominated in his second term cabinet, and is the president and CEO of the outdoor sports retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). Based on Jewell’s business expertise and her reputation as an outdoor enthusiast, she is a viable candidate for the job. Obama may also be responding to criticism that his cabinet lacks a significant female presence.
Jewell has had an interesting career in that she started out as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corp. She then joined REI in 1996 as a board member, and then became COO in 2000. Jewell now serves as the company’s CEO, and the Washington state native participates in the “National Parks Second Century Commission” (NPCA). While Jewell is a virtual political outsider, her insight may be beneficial to Obama in dealing with green energy agenda.
Obama has come under fire for not having a diverse cabinet. With the departure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Obama has appointed Sen. John Kerry to replace her. Obama has been criticized for favoring a cabinet of predominately white males, as he announced his nomination of Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon and Jack Lew for Treasury secretary. In spite of the recent criticism, Obama has defended and praised his first term cabinet.
"I'm very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, White House and a Cabinet than any in history," Obama said at a news conference. "I intended to continue that, because it turns out when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you're going to end up with a diverse staff” Obama said in a White House news conference.
Sally Jewell’s appointment is of course contingent on the Senate confirmation. If approved, Jewell will join other females in the Obama cabinet such as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. In addition, Obama also made two female appointments to the Supreme Court with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Jewell’s nomination may be Obama’s shot at redemption from critics.
For now it appears Obama is making a step in the right direction, but all of his cabinet positions have not been fully accounted for yet. In regards to Jewell she may provide valuable expertise on the environmental issues that Obama will need to address moving forward in his second term.