a little bit o’ change

The big news on the work-front has been that the Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the Connecticut DEP (my employer), has been appointed to an administrator post at the US EPA. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with her on a few projects and as much as it is a huge loss for the staff of the DEP, it is a kind of confirmation that someone else agrees that she is as great as some of us think she is. If it sounds like fawning, it isn’t. What it is: The CT DEP has had some truly awful commissioners in the 16 years that I have been there, ranging from ineffective to demonstrably corrupt. With Gina we have had a true professional. She set a very high bar for performance, ethics, and public service, treated staff and management in a professional manner, and expected the same in return. Being treated as a professional is rare in the public sector, and it was nowhere to be found in the years before her appointment to our agency. Gina brought that approach to an agency that had been at a morale nadir when she arrived. There is no such thing as turning a bureaucracy on a dime, but she did alter the nature of the agency, in a huge way, for the better. When you have a focused and consistent commissioner you get a focused and consistent agency. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. The bar has been set for whoever fills that job next. The pressure will be on that person to not backslide. The Fed will be picking up a strong leader and a dynamic personality. I’m gripping the rails hoping that we get someone even half as qualified in her place.

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