McCarthy served as the 13th administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation under President Obama. Her leadership led to significant federal, state, and local actions on critical issues related to the environment, economy, energy, and transportation. McCarthy ushered in a paradigm shift in national environmental policy, which expressly linked it to global public health. She led initiatives that cut air pollution, protected water resources, strengthened chemical safety, and reduced greenhouse gases to protect more communities from negative health impacts. McCarthy signed the Clean Power Plan, which set the first national standards for reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants, underscoring the country’s commitment to domestic climate action and spurring international efforts that helped secure the Paris Agreement.
At the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, McCarthy was a professor of the practice of public health in the Department of Environmental Health and currently chair of the board of advisors at the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE). She also serves as a member of the boards of the Energy Foundation and Ceres.
McCarthy holds a master’s degree in environmental health engineering and planning and policy from Tufts University and a bachelor’s in social anthropology from University of Massachusetts at Boston.