LaTourette of New Jersey Sets Sights on Climate Resilience and Environmental Equity
What was your childhood dream job?
Growing up, I would create a makeshift radio studio in my bedroom and tape record my own radio show, hosting repeat plays of Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth album, among others.
What sparked your interest in environmental protection?
At 19, I had the opportunity to help communities whose drinking water was contaminated by petrochemicals to organize and defend their rights to clean water. That experience helped shape the course of my career.
What are your top priorities?
Among my top priorities are:
- Modernizing New Jersey’s environmental regulatory structure to reduce emissions of climate pollutants and help communities become more resilient to the adverse effects of climate change the state is and will continue experiencing, most notably sea-level rise, flooding, and chronic inundation.
- Weaving principles of environmental justice and equity throughout the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s planning, grant-making, and regulatory structures — because environmental justice is not simply another program the agency runs, it is an imperative that should guide all of our work.
How would you describe your management style?
I would describe my style as democratic or participatory, with a measure of pacesetting. I deeply value the perspectives and experiences of others and expect inclusion and collaboration at all levels. While I can also have high expectations, I will always serve the team, roll up my sleeves, and help carry work across the line. Our Administration has great ambitions for environmental progress, which we can only achieve together.
What leader do you most admire?
There is not one single person I view as the epitome of good leadership. I have had opportunities to work with incredible lawyers, community leaders, executives, and government agency officials, and I think I have adopted elements of their styles in building my own — which is naturally evolving.
Where’s the first place you’ll travel when the pandemic is over?
It’s a tie so I will try for both! Acadia National Park in Maine, then Venice, Italy.