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Environmental Quality Commission selects Leah Feldon as new DEQ director

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission selected Leah Feldon as the new director of the Department of Environmental Quality at a special meeting on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. The commission’s vote was unanimous. The commission’s decision came after a seven-month nationwide search and included extensive input from the public and DEQ staff.

“We had two incredibly qualified finalists,” Commission Chair Kathleen George said. “Leah Feldon stood out as the kind of leader DEQ needs right now because of her deep understanding of DEQ and her vision for taking the agency to a new level. She is committed to building a more inclusive and welcoming agency while addressing Governor Tina Kotek’s expectations for accountability in serving Oregonians.”

Feldon has served as interim director since September, following the retirement of former Director Richard Whitman. She has been DEQ Deputy Director since 2016.

“Oregon is a state of breath-taking beauty and incredible natural resources,” Feldon said. “It will require constant vigilance to protect those assets for all people of Oregon, no matter their background or where they live, as well as for future generations. I am so grateful for this opportunity to help lead that work.”

Feldon entered public service at DEQ in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in 2005 and became manager of that office in 2009. In 2016, she was appointed Special Advisor to the Director for Cleaner Air Oregon, and assembled and led a multifaceted team to deliver the new air toxics program, including legislation, rulemaking and implementation guidance. She earned her law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2004 and her Bachelor of Arts from University of Dayton in Ohio. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar and has served on several non-profit boards.

Outside of work, Leah enjoys skiing, yoga, cycling and outings with friends. She loves spending time with her family, including her husband, almost-8-year-old twin daughter and son, and 2-year-old daughter.

The EQC thanks Jamie McLeod-Skinner for her excellent application and conversations about this important work. We know that she will continue to be a champion for Oregon’s environment.

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