The outdoor recreation industry is buzzing about President
and CEO of REI Sally Jewell’s recent nomination for Secretary of the Department
of the Interior. After studying engineering at the University of Washington
in Seattle, Jewell was employed by Mobil Oil Company in Oklahoma and Colorado. She
then worked as a commercial banker for close to two decades before her most
recent position as President and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI),
the Seattle-based outdoor retail giant.
As Interior Secretary, Jewell would oversee the management
of over 500 million acres of land—20 percent of the United States’ land mass. Her
responsibilities would include administration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land
Management, among other sub-agencies.
An outspoken advocate for environmental responsibility
within corporations, REI put its values into action under Jewell’s leadership. The
company is active in retrofitting existing and constructing new facilities
to the highest possible environmental standards. REI also partners with nonprofits
and operates programs with land trusts, trail associations, and conservation
While her company is on the cutting edge of corporate
environmental accountability, Jewell is also familiar with the intersection of mainstream
land management, economics, and politics. Jewell worked in the oil industry and
witnessed the economic and social implications of energy production first hand.
She is very familiar with the economic force of outdoor
recreation, an industry that generates $646 billion in consumer spending
In addition to her employment history, Jewell’s resume
boasts a lifetime of being active outdoors: her travel log entries range from
countless hikes in the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade and Olympic mountains
to a recent month-long climbing trip in Antarctica. Despite her extensive
experience with energy and industry, Jewell has no political experience—an unusual
characteristic of any cabinet-level appointee.
Beyond her de facto industry connection to NOLS, as a NOLS
parent Jewell knows the school on a more personal level. It is with great
excitement that NOLS receives the news of Sally Jewell’s nomination.
Congratulations, Sally Jewell!