I’m Lisa Feldt, the new Director of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. I have been at my post for a little more than a month now and I wanted to introduce myself to the residents of the County that I have the honor of serving. It is a great privilege to lead the agency tasked with protecting the air, the water and the land in a county that must continue to thrive economically.
About a year and a 1/2 ago while I was still at the Environmental Protection Agency, my family moved to Anne Arundel County to live along the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. We were extremely sad to leave behind Montgomery County – the place I called home for 22 years and raised both of my children – but my husband and I decided to start a new adventure. I love the water and kayaking, and my new house is right along an inlet where I can watch migratory birds, the sunrise and put in my kayak at a moments notice. Little did I know that fate, and a call from the County Executive’s office, would bring me right back to Montgomery County.
I saw the posting for an available position of Director of DEP last fall and I was initially hesitant to apply. Was local government the right place for me? Was I ready to return to Montgomery County so quickly?
Local government is pretty new for me, as my work history is intertwined with the federal government. My first professional position was with the EPA in the mid-80’s where I worked an an environmental engineer on Superfund sites and in the Office of Radiation Programs. Following those roles, I then served in the Department of Energy on safety, health and environmental management for 11 years. I left the Department of Energy in 2000 to start my own consulting firm and then returned right back to where I started at EPA in 2009. Over the last five years, I had the amazing experience of being appointed by President Obama to serve as associate deputy administrator of the EPA and then as acting deputy administrator from August to October of this past year.
I took the plunge on applying for the position of the Director of DEP after talking to my family and realizing that working for the people of Montgomery County was the next natural step in my career and personal growth. It would bring together all the pieces of my work history – from water and air issues to hazardous and solid waste issues – and apply them on the ground to make real world differences. Plus Montgomery County is known at the regional and federal level as a leader in environmental protection and economic growth. The County is willing to tackle the hard environmental challenges in a well-thought out and efficient way that serves as a model to other jurisdictions. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.
The decision was further solidified after meeting with the Chief Administrative Officer and the County Executive, and talking to my predecessor, Bob Hoyt. They talked about the amazing the people who made up the staff at DEP and how dedicated they were to improving the quality of life in the County. When I received the call from the County Executive’s office inviting me to join the DEP family, it was a no-brainer.
I have not given up on my Chesapeake Bay home – I return every weekend. However, I realized that the next adventure in my life would not be tied to a house on a river, but to building upon a legacy in the place I called home for more than 2 decades. It would involve figuring out how to move Montgomery County further into the forefront of sustainability and economic growth for the betterment of all County residents. For this goal, my kayak will just have to stay on dry land until the weekend.
– Lisa Feldt
If you want to learn more about sustainability in Montgomery County and what you can do to help the environment, attend the 1st annual Montgomery County GreenFest on March 28th.