CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (March 4, 2014) — The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today named Kenneth L. Kimmell its new president. Kimmell, who has spent much of his career practicing environmental law, will leave his post as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to take the job starting in early May. Kimmell will be working out of the organization’s Cambridge headquarters. The group also has offices in Berkeley, Calif., Chicago and Washington, D.C.
“During our search for a new president of UCS we endeavored to find a dynamic and innovative leader with vision, strategic agility, and deep passion for addressing some of the most critical and complex challenges of our time,” said UCS Board Chairman James J. McCarthy, the Alexander Agassiz professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University and past director of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. “Ken convinced us that he is the ideal person to take the helm of UCS. His experience in the private and public sector, his proven management skills, and his experience in using science in the formulation of policy are terrific assets. We are confident that Ken will enhance UCS’s efficacy as we work toward a healthy, safe and sustainable future.”
For the past seven years, Kimmell has worked in Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, first as general counsel at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and then as MassDEP commissioner. As general counsel, he worked on major legislative initiatives ranging from global warming to ocean protection to wind farm siting. In January 2011, he was appointed to head MassDEP, an agency with a $100 million budget and 800 employees, including a large staff of scientists and engineers. During his tenure, Kimmell oversaw all aspects of the agency, including policy development, strategic planning, budget, and management. He also served as chairman of the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), helping to prod the nine member states to lower the cap on power plant carbon emissions by 45 percent, which will cut the states’ power plant carbon emissions by some 90 million tons through 2020.
“Becoming the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Kimmell said. “UCS is a nationally recognized, mission-oriented group with a stellar staff and the credibility and resources to make a difference on the defining issues of our generation. It’s an honor and a privilege to join such a prestigious organization, and I look forward to working with the UCS board, staff and members to be even more visible and effective in addressing the difficult challenges ahead.”
Originally from New York, Kimmell earned his bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University and his law degree at UCLA. He got the environmental bug while clerking for the U.S. District Court in San Francisco when he assisted a judge in an Agent Orange case. He then moved back to the East Coast, where for nearly 17 years he served as the director and senior attorney at a Boston-based law firm that specialized in environmental, energy and land use issues. He went from private practice to the Patrick administration in 2007.
“We are pleased and excited to have Ken Kimmell on our team,” said Kathleen Rest, UCS’s executive director. “He brings a wealth of experience, a deep passion for our issues, and a strong commitment to science-based policy and decisionmaking. He is a strong, strategic and energetic leader, and we couldn’t be happier with this appointment.”