Former EPA Official Joins UChicago Energy & Environment Lab
Cynthia Giles, who led the US EPA’s enforcement and compliance office, will work to advance evidence-based environmental policy research and connect it with practitioners in government.
The Energy & Environment Lab, one of the University of Chicago Urban Labs, has hired Cynthia Giles as executive fellow and director of strategic initiatives. In this role, Giles will lead efforts to forge government partnerships through which innovative environmental policies can be designed, tested and scaled up into solutions that work.
“Too often, environmental regulatory policies don’t deliver the intended pollution reductions because they are not informed by knowledge about how companies actually behave,” says Giles. “The Energy & Environment Lab has already begun ground breaking field work to design and test innovative environmental programs. I look forward to helping the Lab become the leader in both field research and in promoting the use of that research by government to design environmental policies that are effective in the real world. It has never been more important to have research inform policy, and there is no better place to do this cutting-edge work than the University of Chicago.”
Giles has more than 30 years of service in the public, private and non-profit sectors. As the assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance throughout President Obama’s eight-year term, she was responsible for civil and criminal enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws. In this role, Giles led the EPA’s largest office, with 2,800 employees, 10 regional offices and more than 30 field offices nationwide.
"When it comes to making environmental protection more effective, Cynthia is one of the most forward leaning innovators of our time, finding ways to use research, data analytics, cutting-edge technology, and partnerships to improve the way we protect our air, water and land. This is an effort that everyone can get behind," says Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the EPA during President Obama’s second term.
Prior to her time at EPA, Giles held senior positions at the regional and state levels. As an assistant United States attorney in Philadelphia, Giles prosecuted civil violators of environmental laws. She led the water protection program for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, served as the director of enforcement coordination for EPA Region 3, and before returning to EPA, was the director of the Conservation Law Foundation's advocacy center in Rhode Island, where she advocated for laws and policies to combat climate change and promote clean energy.
“Cynthia’s leadership in launching EPA’s revolutionary Next Generation Compliance program speaks to her focus on results and commitment to driving change, not just studying it,” says Michael Greenstone, the director of the Energy & Environment Lab and the interdisciplinary Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, as well as the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics. “Her incredible insight and experience will be invaluable to the broader university energy community as we work together to identify successful energy and environmental policies and ensure that they are implemented. We are thrilled to have her leading our efforts across campus to develop effective partnerships with governments.”
Giles has a BA from Cornell University, a JD from the University of California at Berkeley and an MPA from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.