Mathy Stanislaus, 53
Assistant Administrator, USEPA Office of Land and Emergency Management
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
How did you get here?
I was born in Sri Lanka immigrated to the US as a child. My parents fled the increased discrimination of the Tamil minority in all aspects of life. They fled to seek freedom and opportunity from the discrimination particularly regarding equal opportunities for education. While pursing my chemical engineering degree here in the U.S., Sri Lanka became increasingly violent with the persistent human rights abuses of the Tamil minority. I led advocacy campaigns including of Congress. This advocacy work led me to pursue a law degree with a focus on environmental protection. During my career I have focused on integrating human rights concerns and community participation into all of my activities.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?
Community leaders have had the greatest influence on my career. These leaders have engaged along a long and arduous path seeking to improve the conditions of their communities. These leaders who have influenced me not only bring their passion to their work but also tremendous tactical and political strategies to translate their causes to actions.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama administration?
Making a meaningful difference in communities by successfully integrating the substantive role of community voices and circumstances into the decisions of my office. One specific accomplishment was initiating a new program to provide tools for revitalization to economically distressed communities, known as the Brownfields Area Wide Planning Program. Through this program, communities conduct inclusive planning with local residents to achieve redevelopment that advances public health and environmental protection and economic vibrancy that is reflective of each the community’s unique vision. Another accomplishment was finalizing the Definition of Solid Waste Rule, one of the first rules to be based on addressing the environmental justice impacts to communities from hazardous materials.
Can you describe your time working for the Obama administration in 10 words?
Executing on the opportunity to revitalize the most challenged communities
Complete the sentence: “When I’m not working, I…”
I am achieving a balance with the universe by listening to Jazz, gardening, biking, cooking and laughing with friends and family.