Reaction from the Puget Sound region to Sally Jewell’s nomination to become secretary of the Interior was near universal in its praise for her. The assessment comes from people who have worked with Jewell, competed with her in the business world and climbed with her to the top of Mount Rainier.
“Obviously, she’s very intelligent, very committed to conservation,” said Randy King, superintendent at Mount Rainier National Park.
“She has a unique mix of skills. She has a mind like an engineer, but also has a great appreciation for our public lands and their importance for people today and tomorrow,” King added.
King has met Jewell on several occasions, including last year when she met with the park’s management team. He also cited her serving on the National Park Second Century Commission in 2008-09.
“Time outdoors is important to her, so she kind of walks the talk,” he said. “She has a deep appreciation for what the outdoors means to everyone.”
Mindy Roberts, a member of the Tacoma Mountaineers, saw firsthand Jewell’s passion for the outdoors when the two were part of a team that climbed Mount Rainier in 2010.
“She’s a terrific team builder, and she doesn’t shy away from challenges. She collaborates and reaches great decisions on how to proceed,” Roberts said.
Jewell was the common thread in the group of seven women who, before the 2010 climb, had not climbed together. She had previously climbed with or worked with the other team members.
“She has an understanding of how people work and identifying a common objective and dealing with issues that come up,” Roberts said. “It comes from her business experience, that conflict resolution. Nothing is easy in the business world, and I can’t imagine it will be any different in the Interior Department.”
Jewell’s blend of professional and organizational experience is key, said Sean Smith, policy director of the National Park Conservation Association’s Seattle office.
“She’ll bring a large skill set that will serve her well over the entire department. She is well versed in the needs and mission of the Department of the Interior, from oil and gas to the conservation of wilderness,” Smith said.
As the owner of The Alpine Experience in Olympia, Joe Hyer has worked alongside and competed with Jewell.
He hopes in her new role that Jewell will be a more active advocate for the outdoors than she has been in recent years.
“The environmental issues facing our nation and the world are imminent. There are times when I think we businesses need to be advocates,” Hyer said. “I feel in the last five years, REI has backed off of that. Our largest player in the industry isn’t being very vocal as an advocate. My hope that this is Sally’s opportunity to step out and really make a change.”
Hyer said he sees Jewell’s lack of political experience as a positive.
“Not being ingrained in the bureaucracy allows you to see above all the insider stuff,” he said.
But, Hyer said, Jewell is no novice when it comes to the machinations of Washington, D.C. The two worked together when lobbying members of Congress on behalf of the Outdoor Industry Association.
“I have seen her work the Hill a lot,” he said. “I think she has the skills and savvy to bring a whole new dimension to the (National) Park Service and all the other agencies the department runs.”Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640