Surabhi Shah | Senior Advisor, EPA

The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. To accomplish this mission, the EPA strives to develop and enforce regulations, provide grants, study environmental issues, sponsor partnerships, teach people about the environment, and publish information to keep the public informed.

Surabhi Shah has been working at the intersection of environmental protection and community work for three decades. At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she has led programs in community revitalization, environmental justice and water quality. Surabhi’s leadership in building partnerships with communities, government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector was recognized by the Partnership for Public Service with the Service to America medal for “most admirable contribution to the American people”.

Prior to joining EPA, Surabhi held leadership positions at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality in their hazardous waste and drinking water programs.

Show Notes:

[1:14] - Surabhi shares her background and a bit about her work at the EPA.
[3:01] - People are trying to make change happen and that’s what Surabhi was attracted to at the start of her career.
[5:38] - Surabhi shares some of the things she did and had to remember that helped her through working in the government and moving up at the EPA.
[8:45] - You can study government, but when you find yourself in an organization, you have to learn the culture.
[9:55] - Mentorship is very important and can make the biggest difference.
[12:01] - Something that can be tricky is when government policy changes. Surabhi describes some of the different focuses through different administrations.
[14:54] - If you want change to last, you have to consider culture.
[15:58] - Surabhi demonstrates how we think about change. Can we change the structures and systems that we don’t even think about?
[20:56] - Grants would also be in the community action roadmap system.
[24:54] - Surabhi explains how a roadmap can help advance an agenda based on the current administration.
[28:01] - There is a balance that needs to be found to advance an agenda and guide political leadership.
[30:03] - Not long ago, we really couldn’t talk about climate change. But now there’s a huge body of work and a report can quickly change things.
[32:31] - How do we make sure that something is an impactful investment when things are constantly changing?
[34:38] - You can do exactly what you want to do, career-wise, and keep the climate crisis in mind.
[38:29] - Surabhi demonstrates how every career field impacts the climate crisis.

Links and Resources:

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