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In 2009, Lisa Perez Jackson made history by becoming the first African-American to direct the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jackson was born in February 8, 1962 in Philadelphia, Penn., but was adopted shortly after birth. She was raised in New Orleans, La., and attended college first at Tulane University where she earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1983, and in 1986, she earned a master’s in the same discipline from Princeton University. She began working with the EPA as a staff-level engineer in 1987, working with the department’s Superfund program.

After leaving the EPA, she joined the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 2002 as an assistant commissioner. Jackson the gained the top post in 2006. In 2008, she was named former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s chief of staff but she didn’t work there long as President Barack Obama tapped her to head the EPA.

She was confirmed in 2009 and quickly sought to navigate the political firestorm and endured heavy criticism from the Right, Republicans, and the mining community for her tough stances on industrial environmental impact.

Jackson stepped down from her EPA post in 2012, reportedly due to her belief that President Obama was going to support the controversial Keystone pipeline project. Today, Jackson is the Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives for Apple, Inc.

PHOTO: Public Domain