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Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, Chief of Staff Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, Chief of Staff

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2013 Energy & Natural Resources / Environmental Protection Agency

Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, Chief of Staff

(Richard A. Bloom)

photo of Coral Davenport
July 15, 2013

Keyes Fleming, 44, started in June as EPA's chief of staff, where she oversees the agency's more than 17,000 employees and serves as a senior adviser to the administrator. She came to Washington from Atlanta, where she spent two years as EPA's Southeast regional administrator. While in that job, she focused on issues such as nutrient pollution in Florida's waterways and mountaintop mining in Appalachia. She also developed a reputation for expanding the conversation on environmental issues by building alliances with nontraditional entities like universities and businesses. She hadn't worked in environmental policy previously, but Obama and former EPA chief Lisa Jackson handpicked her for the job from her post as district attorney in DeKalb County, which encompasses Georgia's Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. She was the first African-American, first woman, and youngest person to hold that position. Before her election as DA, she was the county's solicitor general, the first woman and first African-American in that position, as well. Keyes Fleming credits her parents—Ursula Keyes, a retired registered nurse, and her late father, Andrew J. Keyes, a Tuskegee Airman—for her commitment to public service. Keyes Fleming went to high school in Succasunna, N.J., received a B.S. in finance from Rutgers University, and graduated from the Emory University School of Law.

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