Mountains to Sound Greenway, REI leader is choice for Cabinet

February 6, 2013

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 2 p.m. Feb. 6, 2013

REI leader Sally Jewell, a leader in the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, is President Barack Obama’s choice for U.S. interior secretary.

Jewell is Kent-based REI’s president and CEO, in addition to serving as a board member for the nonprofit organization underpinning the greenway — a 100-mile greenbelt stretched along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Central Washington.

Obama announced Jewell’s appointment Wednesday at a White House ceremony. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she is poised to succeed outgoing Department of the Interior chief Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado.

“Sally Jewell is a respected leader and passionate advocate for conservation, recreation and outdoor education,” Cynthia Welti, greenway trust executive director, said in a statement. “We are delighted with this news. Sally will serve our country well.”

Jewell started as CEO at REI in 2005 after earlier stints in the banking and energy industries. Throughout Jewell’s tenure, REI increased sales from $1 billion to almost $2 billion, and added 71 stores, including a store at the Issaquah Commons in 2007.

“As the leader of an iconic outdoor recreation business, Sally has worked to preserve our natural lands as a board member for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “Her proven business success, and respect for the natural world, give her the background to successfully meet the many challenges of managing our public lands. My congratulations to Sally.”

Washington’s U.S. senators, Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, applauded Obama’s decision to appoint Jewell.

“I have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Sally Jewell, who has proven to be an effective CEO in the business community, and will bring that skill set to the Cabinet,” Murray said in a statement. “She understands the tremendous asset that our public lands are, particularly to the multibillion dollar outdoor recreation based economy.”

“Today marks a new day, with a leader who uniquely understands the tremendous economic value of our outdoor economy,” Cantwell said in a statement. “With her business background, Sally Jewell is well-qualified to follow in the tremendous footsteps of Secretary Ken Salazar.”

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