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Photo courtesy Harvard Kennedy School

Former U.S. National Climate Advisor; Former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Richard von Weizsäcker Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2023

Gina McCarthy served as the first-ever White House National Climate Advisor, leading the Climate Policy Office created by President Biden from 2021-2022. During her tenure, the Biden Administration passed transformational investments in infrastructure and the most consequential climate and clean energy legislation in U.S. history.


McCarthy also served as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Obama Administration from 2013-2017, where she was instrumental in enacting the Climate Action Plan; her efforts led to the United States’ adoption of the Paris Agreement. In 2009, President Obama appointed McCarthy to serve as assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.


Prior to her appointment as White House National Climate Advisor, McCarthy was president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She was also a professor of the practice of public health in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she served as the director of the school’s newly created Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. McCarthy was also a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she engaged students, faculty, professionals, and climate leaders on actions to promote sustainability and justice.


Before her work in the federal government, McCarthy served as the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, where she was the chair of the Governor’s Climate Advisory Council and developed and implemented the first regional emissions trading policy for power plants. She also held senior positions in the administration of five Massachusetts governors.


McCarthy received a BA in social anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a joint MS in environmental health engineering, planning, and policy from Tufts University.

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