“Queen of Green” Mary D. Nichols to Speak at Harvey Mudd Commencement

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California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols will address some of the nation’s most gifted engineering, science and mathematics graduates when she delivers the keynote address at Harvey Mudd College’s 57th Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 17.

Harvey Mudd senior Priya Donti recommended her to classmates as someone they should consider for commencement speaker. “Mary Nichols is a role model in spurring social change at the state and national levels,” said Donti. “I think we, as scientists and technologists, can learn a lot from her about using our work to improve society.”

A 2012 Dan Rather Reports story, which dubbed Nichols the “Queen of Green,” said, “When it comes to the environment, Mary Nichols, the director of the California Air Resources Board, is the most important person you’ve probably never heard of.”

Nichols has held the ARB post since 2007. She has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to advocating for the environment and public health. In addition to her work at the Air Board, she has served as assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air and Radiation program under President Clinton, Secretary for California’s Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003 and director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her priorities as chairman include moving ahead on the state’s landmark climate change program (AB 32), steering the Board through numerous efforts to curb diesel pollution at ports and continuing to pass regulations aimed at providing cleaner air for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. She values innovation, partnerships and common-sense approaches to addressing the state’s air issues.

The California Air Resources Board is a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, an organization that reports directly to the Governor’s Office in the Executive Branch of California State Government. ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants, while recognizing and considering the effects on the state’s economy. A 12-member board appointed by the governor governs the ARB. Six of the members are experts in fields such as medicine, chemistry, physics, meteorology, engineering, business and law. Five others are elected officials who represent regional air pollution control agencies—one each from the Los Angeles region, the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego, the San Joaquin Valley and another to represent other, more rural areas of the state. The ARB also oversees the activities of 35 local and regional air pollution control districts, which regulate industrial pollution sources.

The Harvey Mudd Commencement ceremony will be held on the Harvey S. Mudd Quadrangle at 1:30 p.m.