Profiles of Hispanics at EPA: Matthew Tejada
Matthew Tejada, Director,
Office of Environmental Justice,
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Question: Where were you born?
Matthew Tejada: Ft. Worth, Texas.
Question: Where did you go to college? What was your major?
Matthew Tejada: I have a bachelor’s in English from the University of Texas at Austin; a master’s degree in Russian and East European studies from St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford; and a doctorate in modern history from St. Antony’s College.
Question: What brought you to EPA?
Matthew Tejada: I spent the six years prior to my arrival at EPA running an environmental advocacy non-profit organization that focused on air quality, public health and environmental justice in the Houston region. That took me from policy and advocacy to an appreciation of the central importance of community engagement, outreach and education, as well as the need to approach communities from a holistic perspective.
Question: What kind of work do you do at EPA?
Matthew Tejada: I am the director of the Office of Environmental Justice, where I am responsible for all of the managerial aspects: personnel, budget, strategic planning, collaboration with other EPA offices, and grants. OEJ also has external aspects, such as direct community engagement, and we work closely with the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. We also encourage external partnerships with other federal, state, local and tribal agencies in support of community initiatives. In essence, we seek to expand the conversation on environmental justice throughout the United States.
We also work closely with the senior advisor for environmental justice here at the Agency. For example, we support efforts through the Environmental Justice Plan 2014 and the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group, which is co-chaired with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Question: What message would you like to send young Latinos who are considering going to college?
Matthew Tejada: A college education is an incredibly important step in their lives, but it’s not the “end all, be all” of their life paths and should be enjoyed for all that it has to offer. College is not just about gaining an education that determines your long term career path. It also gives you a perspective on your country, the world, your friends and family and most of all yourself. Take full advantage of all the opportunities that college offers, such as traveling, meeting new people, and trying new things. And don't forget to have fun!