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Profiles of Members of EPA's LGBT Community: Javier Laureano

Profiles of Members of EPA's LGBT Community

Javier LaureanoJavier Laureano, Division Director
Clean Water Division, Region 2
New York City

Where were you born?

I was born in Puerto Rico to a Cuban family.

What brought you to EPA?

For 21 years I worked in Puerto Rico for grassroots nonprofit environmental organizations. There I enjoyed organizing a wide range of initiatives ranging from cellular phone recycling campaigns and Red Mangrove plantings to producing large citizen science events and restoring coral reefs. I always worked collaboratively with government agencies, the private sector, and community groups -especially environmental justice communities. Thanks in part to these professional experiences, I served for eleven years as the Executive Director of the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, part of EPA’s National Estuary Program. The San Juan Bay Estuary was a remarkable place to work. After more than a decade there, however, I decided it was time to explore environmental leadership in the federal government and EPA provided this unique opportunity.

Describe the type of work you do at EPA.

In Region 2’s Clean Water Division I lead a wonderful and talented team of nearly 80 professionals who work, among others, with: 60,000 miles of rivers and streams, including waterways of major importance such as the Hudson and Passaic Rivers, the ports of San Juan and New York/New Jersey Harbor, Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls and the St. Lawrence Seaway; 685 miles of ocean coastline, and regulating the delivery of clean and safe water essential to the health and livelihood of the region's 31 million residents. The Clean Water Division covers a very wide range of issues – including drinking water protection, watershed protection, water infrastructure, permitting, coastal and ocean water protection, and surface and groundwater protection.

I am also part of the Senior Executive Service (SES). According to OPM, out of 7,794 members of the SES, 344 (4.43%) identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

I’m currently doing research on the history of AIDS in Puerto Rico, from 1981 to 1996, to be published as my second book on LGBTQ+ issues.  My target is to publish the book on 2021 for the 40th year of the AIDS epidemic. 

Recently, I incorporated the first LGBT+ Community Archive of Puerto Rico.  Our main project—for now--is to publish an online archive that will provide access to hundreds of publications, including newsletters from the 1970s, pictures, and other historical and ethnographic materials of the LGBT+ communities of Puerto Rico and its diaspora.

What is your highest level of education? What was your major?

I proudly completed all my degrees at a public university, the University of Puerto Rico, and I strongly support public education. I did a B.A. in European history, then a Master in Public Administration with a major in administrative programming (management/organizational theory) and a thesis on corporate philanthropy, and on December, 2011 I completed my PhD in Caribbean history with a doctoral dissertation about the creation of a modern gay urban culture in San Juan, from 1948 to 1991. My dissertation was published as the first book of Puerto Rican gay history under the title Gay San Juan: creación de un espacio urbano de 1948 a 1991.

What message would you like to send other members of the LGBT community who are considering college or a career in environmental protection?

You have to work on something you really enjoy to be passionate about your career, and, as Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

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