This year, National Journal‘s Women in Washington list focuses on women who exercise powerful influence in five policy areas: energy, health care, technology, defense, and education.
Gina McCarthy (Chet Susslin)As EPA chief, McCarthy is helping to shape President Obama’s environmental legacy. She took the agency’s helm during the president’s second term and is working to implement regulations to curb carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants — perhaps the most substantial effort by any administration to tackle the issue of climate change. McCarthy has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and she worked as an environmental adviser to then-Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.
Jewell was the president and CEO of Recreation Equipment Inc. — and had no public-service experience — when Obama tapped her to head the Interior Department, which oversees approximately 20 percent of the nation’s lands. Before leading REI, the outdoor enthusiast worked as a commercial banker, with a focus on energy and natural resources, as well as at Mobil Oil.
Landrieu became chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in February and has used her influence to dictate a committee agenda that has so far focused heavily on the interests of Louisiana’s oil-and-gas industry. She was instrumental in securing passage of a bill that requires 80 percent of the fines collected from BP for damages wrought by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to be used for Gulf Coast restoration.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)The third-term Republican senator from Alaska has used her slot as ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to drive political battles in Washington. A defender of her home state’s oil-and-gas industry, Murkowski was an early and vocal advocate of ending the decades-old ban on U.S. crude-oil exports. She has also openly chafed at the limits of being a minority-party senator in a gridlocked Congress.
Kenderdine is a key behind-the-scenes player at the Energy Department. She has the ear of Secretary Ernest Moniz at a time when the department is grappling with policies on natural-gas exports and seeking to speed up completion of energy-efficiency standards for appliances. When Kenderdine joined DOE in May 2013, it was a reunion of sorts with Moniz: She was executive director and associate director of the MIT Energy Initiative, which Moniz led before coming to Washington. In addition to her role as counselor, Kenderdine directs the department’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.