Jennie Romer is passionate about protecting the environment

Inspired by her mom’s commitment to recycling, even as a little kid, Jennie Romer ’00 knew caring for the environment was a top priority. Romer went on to become a triple major — environmental studies, zoology and Black studies — at UC Santa Barbara before going to law school.

In 2010, she founded, a campaign resource for limiting the use of plastic bags. Nine years later, Romer became the legal associate at the Surfrider Foundation in New York. With her extensive background in environmental studies and public policy, she led Surfrider’s plastic pollution initiative, helping to reduce single-use plastic bags and foodware from winding up on the coastline.

“At the Surfrider Foundation, I was the point person for plastic pollution reduction legislation,” Romer says. “Surfrider was a leader on bills at the state and local level for almost a decade, but during my tenure, federal plastic legislation really got rolling as well.”

Now an appointee of the Biden-Harris Administration, Romer is a key figure at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She serves as a deputy assistant administrator for pollution prevention in the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“In December 2020, I received an email from the Biden-Harris transition team asking whether I was interested in potentially being appointed to the administration,” Romer says. “I felt so honored and I almost didn’t believe it was real. It turned out to be very real and almost a year later I was sworn in. Now I’m commuting back and forth between Washington, D.C., and New York City. I feel so lucky to get to work on so many exciting projects, including implementing part of the bipartisan infrastructure law that addresses pollution prevention and sustainable procurement.”

Jennie Romer ’00 / Courtesy photo