GW Alumnus Confirmed as Head of the EPA

Former GW student Michael S. Regan will be the first Black man to lead the agency.

March 12, 2021

Michael Regan

Former GW student Michael S. Regan will lead the EPA. (Courtesy photo)

Michael S. Regan, M.P.A. ‘04, was confirmed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate by a bipartisan vote of 66-34 to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making him the first Black man and second person of color to lead the agency in its 50-year history. 

Mr. Regan, an alumnus of the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, returns to the EPA after starting his career at the agency.

"I'm grateful to President Biden for entrusting me to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at this critical moment in our country's history," Mr. Regan said. "EPA's career officials are the backbone of this agency, and I am humbled to work alongside them as we confront climate change, stand up for justice and equity, and ensure science is at the heart of our decision-making. We will prove that environmental protection and economic prosperity go hand in hand, and we will seize this opportunity to create a healthier, more just future for all."

Most recently, Mr. Regan served as the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

As secretary, he spearheaded the development and implementation of North Carolina's seminal plan to address climate change and transition the state to a clean energy economy. Under his leadership, the state secured the largest coal ash clean-up in U.S. history and led complex negotiations regarding the clean-up of the Cape Fear River, which had been contaminated for years by toxic chemicals.

Additionally, Mr. Regan established North Carolina's first-of-its-kind Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board to better align social inequities, environmental protection and community empowerment.

He also is a former national program manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, where he worked to design strategic solutions with industry and corporate stakeholders to reduce air pollution, improve energy efficiency and address climate change.

A native of Goldsboro, N.C., Mr. Regan developed a passion for the environment while hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather and exploring the vast lands, waters and inner coastal plain of North Carolina.

Before earning his master’s in public administration at GW, Mr. Regan was a graduate of the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, making him the first EPA administrator to graduate from a historically Black college and university.

He and his wife Melvina have a son, Matthew.