Obama to Tap REI CEO as Interior Secretary

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President Obama will nominate Sally Jewell to be the next secretary of the interior, a senior White House official told ABC News.

Jewell is an interesting and unconventional pick: She is the CEO of REI, the outdoor recreational equipment retailer. She has no political experience, but according to the Denver Post, she did spend five weeks hiking in Antarctica in 2011, climbing some of the continent's most treacherous peaks.

Jewell would replace Ken Salazar, who has announced he would not stay for Obama's second term. She is the first woman Obama has announced for his second-term cabinet.

She should bring a different perspective than many of her predecessors: Most of them have been career politicians from the western states.

The president will make the announcement this afternoon.

One senior official said this of the nomination: "It's a cool idea."

Another offered this background: "Sally Jewell is uniquely qualified to be secretary of the interior. With years of experience managing a nearly $2 billion a year company, she will bring to the position integrity, keen management skills, as well as dedication to the department's mission of managing our nation's lands. Trained as an engineer, Jewell has broad private sector experience in energy and finance, as well as a commitment to conservation.

"Conservation has been a central principal of Sally's life, both personally and professionally. She believes deeply in the American tradition of preserving our nation's wild places, while also understanding firsthand the inextricable link between conservation and the economy. She also believes we must be good stewards of our nation's natural resources, underscoring the administration's ongoing priority of expanding safe and responsible energy production, beginning her career as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation.

"Beyond being a successful, nationally regarded CEO, Sally is involved with national conservation organizations. She also was a key contributor to the establishment and implementation of the President's America's Great Outdoors program. In 2011, Sally introduced President Obama at the White House conference on "America's Great Outdoor Initiative," noting that the $289 billion outdoor-recreation industry is the source of 6.5 million jobs.

"Sally has received numerous awards for her community service, including the 2009 Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Conservation from the Audubon Society; the 2008 Non-Profit Director of the Year award from the National Association of Corporate Directors, and The Green Globe - Environmental Catalyst Award from King County, Washington, among others.

"Under her leadership, REI has been named by Fortune Magazine to the "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the last 16 years, ranked at number 17 in 2013."