New North Carolina Secretary Eyes Improved Water Infrastructure & Equity
What was your childhood dream job?
I wanted to be a schoolteacher and a mom, then later I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.
What sparked your interest in environmental protection?
When I was in high school in 1987, there was a Sherwin Williams warehouse fire in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. This sparked my interest in environmental issues. It was close to my home so we could see it burning, and I was fascinated by the choice to continue to let it burn for several days in order to protect our groundwater aquifer, which was the sole source of drinking water in the city at the time.
What are your top priorities?
- Finding a way to successfully manage the challenges associated with emerging compounds.
- Providing support (technical and financial) for the challenges our communities face related to aging infrastructure, specifically of the water utilities in our state.
- Ensuring that equity is considered in all agency decisions.
How would you describe your management style?
I seek to be a combination of a servant leader and a democratic leader, always striving to find a balanced and collaborative approach.
What leader do you most admire?
As the first woman in this role, I’ve been looking to strong female leaders lately. I’m currently inspired by Stacy Abrams, Gwen Keyes-Flemming (former EPA Region 4 Administrator and EPA Chief of Staff), and Sara Blakely (CEO of Spanx).
Where’s the first place you’ll travel when the pandemic is over?
San Diego, California. My best friend from junior high has a milestone birthday this year, and I look forward to celebrating in the sunshine on the beach.