Obama picks REI executive Sally Jewell to lead Interior Department

Sally Jewell
(Scott Cohen / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON -- President Obama will nominate Recreational Equipment Inc. Chief Executive Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department in his second term, a White House official said.

The president will make the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the White House, the official said.

Jewell has served as the outdoor retailer’s CEO since 2005. She started her career as a petroleum engineer working in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Colorado for Mobil Oil Corp. She then moved to the banking industry, before joining the REI board in 1996 and becoming chief operations officer four years later.

She has been credited with expanding the Washington state-based retailer’s Internet operations and contributing company resources to environmental stewardship.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will replace current Secretary Ken Salazar, who plans to step down to return to Colorado.

Jewell is the first woman to be asked to join Obama’s second-term Cabinet. After naming a handful of white men to top jobs earlier this year, the White House has hinted that its next round of nominees would include more women and be more racially diverse.

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