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President Obama has tapped Sally Jewell, president and CEO of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), to replace Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior.

The president joined Jewell and Salazar on Wednesday afternoon at the White House for the formal announcement of Jewell’s nomination.

“Sally has helped turn a stalling outdoor retailer into one of America’s most successful and environmentally conscious companies,” Obama said of the first female cabinet pick of his second term. “She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows there is no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress. That in fact those two things need to go hand-in-hand.”

The president also took the opportunity to thank Salazar for his service, reminding the audience of their friendship since 2005, when they were the only two incoming Democrats in the Senate. He praised Salazar for his work in establishing seven new national parks, 10 new national wildlife refuges, doubling domestic renewable energy generation, and putting America on the path to energy independence.

The British-born, 56-year-old Jewell’s background includes a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Washington, careers in the energy and banking sectors, and CEO of REI since 2005. She has been a leader in the environmental and conservation movements, drawing praise from environmental groups. In a statement, the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “Sally Jewell has the mind of an engineer, the heart of an environmentalist and the know-how of a businesswoman.”

In brief remarks, Jewell said, “I have a great job at REI today, but there’s no role that compares with the call to serve my country as Secretary of the Interior. I’m humbled and I’m energized by this opportunity.”

Photo credit: Daniels at University of Denver via Flickr

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