Gina McCarthy already had a rare distinction as one of the few people ever to work for both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
But McCarthy stepped up higher on the national stage this week when she was approved by the U.S. Senate to become the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency – the top environmental job in the nation. She met with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
She has been working for Obama at the EPA since being approved on a voice vote by the U.S. Senate in June 2009 to head the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. This time, her nomination was held up before an overall compromise broke the logjam and allowed the 59 to 40 vote.
McCarthy has been on a steady rise that led her to the national stage. She was hired in Connecticut back in November 2004 by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell after a national search. Holding high-powered positions in the Massachusetts state government for the previous 15 years, McCarthy had been serving in 2004 as a deputy secretary for operations in then-Governor Romney’s office, helping to oversee policy on the environment, transportation, energy and housing.
In an interview with The Courant when she was hired for the $114,000-per-year Connecticut job, McCarthy talked about her efforts to clean up Boston Harbor, a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar job at a harbor that had gained widespread notoriety for its problems.
“Boston Harbor was a huge challenge,” McCarthy told The Courant at the time. “Boston Harbor is a clean harbor. It’s wonderful. We have dolphins back swimming.”
McCarthy started her educational career with a degree in social anthropology at the University of Massachusetts before earning a master’s degree in environmental and health planning from Tufts University.