Sally Jewell

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

"The best classrooms are the ones without walls," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, standing inside a classroom at the University of Washington, her alma mater, on Tuesday.

The former CEO of Seattle-based REI spent two days at home this week, wrapping up her visit with a roundtable discussion about the president's Climate Action Plan and the local impacts of climate change. 

To illustrate the need to reduce carbon pollution, Jewell visited Mount Rainier National Park and toured areas affected by climate change.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Sally Jewell made an emotional pledge in her first address to Indian Country as the 51st U.S. Interior secretary, saying she'll help right past wrongs against Native Americans and work with tribes "nation-to-nation" to protect their sovereignty.

Jewell fought back tears and paused to compose herself during remarks Thursday in Reno, Nev., to about 300 delegates of the National Congress of American Indians. The casino-ballroom audience gave her a standing ovation.

The Senate Energy Committee on Thursday endorsed President Barack Obama's nomination of Sally Jewell to be Interior secretary, moving her nomination to the Senate floor for an expected vote next month.

The committee's 19-3 vote in favor of Jewell came after current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar agreed to review a decision blocking construction of a gravel road through a wildlife refuge to provide access to an all-weather airport in rural Alaska.

Steve Cyr

REI may soon need a new leader if CEO Sally Jewell is confirmed as Interior Secretary. The next person to lead the outdoor gear retailer will confront a threat from another Northwest company – Amazon.com.

Northwest native Sally Jewell faced nearly three hours of questions at a hearing in Washington DC on her nomination to become the next US Secretary of the Interior. If confirmed, she said she’d take a balanced approach to protecting ecosystems while expanding energy production on public lands.

As CEO of REI, Jewell has strong credentials as an environmentalist. Some say – too strong.

REI

President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior is an unusual choice. Sally Jewell is not a politician – she’s CEO of the outdoor gear company, REI. But those who know her say she has savvy, social conscience, and a deep respect for the open spaces she’ll be managing if the Senate confirms her.