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Profiles of Women of EPA: Lisa Donahue

Profiles of Women of EPA

Lisa Donahue

Lisa Donahue, Environmental Scientist
Water Protection Division
EPA Region III, Philadelphia, PA

Where were you born?

Philadelphia, PA.

What brought you to EPA?

I was inspired to pursue environmental protection as a career after reading about global pollution while in college. I saw EPA as the best place to combine my passion for environmental and health protection, while pursuing a career in public service. I first spent a summer at EPA as an intern, then was hired full time after I graduated. I've worked in air protection, pesticides, environmental education, planning and analysis, and drinking water protection.

What type of work do you do at EPA? 

I work on enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act, the federal law that keeps our water safe to drink. I work with state environmental and health agencies to ensure that drinking water systems are providing water to the public that meets EPA's health and technology standards. We, EPA and the states, make sure the water is tested regularly to confirm that it meets the standards.

One of the most challenging situations that I was involved in was in the District of Columbia. Elevated levels of lead were showing up in drinking water samples collected from homes around the city.  I negotiated an enforcement agreement with the water system to have them address short term health risks by providing water filters to at-risk homes and conduct a lead pipe removal program to more permanently reduce sources of lead contamination. 

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

I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in environmental education.

What message would you like to send other women who are considering college or a career in environmental protection?

Environmental protection is a balance of science and policy. Know your science and know how to communicate it. Good scientific arguments can and should significantly affect policy decisions.

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