Gov. Baker Names New Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today, April 29, announced the departure of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton, and introduced current Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary of Climate Change, Kathleen Theoharides, as incoming Secretary.

Secretary Beaton will be the Senior Vice President of Renewable Energy and Emerging Technology at TRC Companies, Inc.

Secretary Theoharides will officially be sworn in May 3, 2019.

“Matt hit the ground running on day one, and his tenacious approach to solving difficult problems helped our administration usher in major energy and environmental milestones that will benefit the Commonwealth’s residents, businesses and communities for years to come,” said Governor Baker. “His leadership on the record-setting procurement of offshore wind and hydropower will allow Massachusetts to achieve carbon reduction goals and is making Massachusetts a hub for the wind industry. Matt’s dedication to conserving and protecting of our environmental resources will go a long way to ensuring future generations have access to pristine open spaces to hunt, fish and enjoy for years to come. We are incredibly grateful to Matt for his hands-on approach to public service, and we look forward to welcoming an experienced and thoughtful leader in Katie Theoharides to the cabinet.” 

“Leading by example has been a hallmark of Matt’s career, and we feel fortunate to have had him at the helm of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs since the beginning of our administration,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “His passion for the outdoors and commitment to future generations guided Matt’s tireless work to prepare Massachusetts for the impact of climate change, promote the Commonwealth’s invaluable natural resources and ensure all residents had access to renewable energy and open spaces. Governor Baker and I wish Matt well in his future endeavors and are excited about working with Katie going forward.” 

“Words cannot express my gratitude to Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito for entrusting me with the tremendous opportunity to serve as Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,” said Secretary Beaton. “Working closely with the team at EEA, members of the Legislature, community leaders, and passionate residents around the Commonwealth, I am proud of our collaborative approach that led to historic selections of projects to bring clean and renewable energy to the Commonwealth, nation-leading work on climate change, and providing wonderful opportunities for all residents to enjoy the outdoors. Katie is an experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate leader, and I am eager to watch her continue the Baker-Polio Administration’s commitment to developing new ideas and solutions to make the Commonwealth an even better place to live, raise a family, grow a business, and enjoy the great outdoors.”

“It has been a privilege to serve the Baker-Polito Administration and the Commonwealth as the Undersecretary of Climate Change under Secretary Beaton’s leadership, and I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as Secretary,” said incoming Secretary Theoharides. “Secretary Beaton leaves a strong legacy, and I look forward to working with residents, stakeholders, and communities to continue the Commonwealth’s national leadership on climate change and clean energy, building upon efforts to protect our most valuable environmental resources and expand access to open space, and sharing my lifelong passion for nature and the great outdoors.” 

Under Secretary Beaton’s leadership, the Commonwealth achieved major milestones in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies, and upheld a strong commitment to environmental protection and preservation.

Key accomplishments include: 

•   Diversified the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio and stabilized electric rates through comprehensive energy diversification legislation, leading to the largest renewable energy procurements of hydropower and offshore wind in state history.

•   Led the country as the most energy efficient state, including nation-leading goals for energy savings, investing over $220 million in grid modernization technologies, and over $60 million in funding through the Green Communities program.

•   Crafted Executive Order 569 which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. 

•   Launched the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program to provide funding to cities and towns to complete a community-driven process to identify hazards and develop strategies to improve resilience, and enrolled over half of Massachusetts’ communities in the initiative.

•   Created the first ever State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan, a blueprint for Massachusetts’ efforts to prepare for natural hazards and adapt to the impacts of climate change over the next five years.

•  Invested over $609 million across Massachusetts to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.

•  Authored a $2.4 billion Environmental Bond Bill which authorized capital investments to safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protect environmental resources, and improve recreational opportunities.

•  Ensured continued access to outdoor recreational opportunities through new programs like Summer Nights Initiative, allotting $488 million in funding for capital projects in state parks, and renovating numerous playgrounds, spray decks, and campgrounds.

•  Protected and restored nearly 17,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat and conservation land across the Commonwealth.

•   Coordinated the Commonwealth’s response to the natural gas explosions in Merrimack Valley, and ensured the timely and safe restoration of utility services to residents and businesses.

In 2016, Katie Theoharides joined the Baker-Polito Administration as Director of Climate and Global Warming Solutions in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

As Director and later Assistant Secretary, Theoharides guided the development and implementation of the Administration’s efforts to safeguard Massachusetts from the impacts of climate change, support cities and towns, and coordinate efforts across state government to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

She worked to implement Executive Order 569, led the development of the State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan and created the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, working to grow the program to reach 50 percent of cities and towns in the Commonwealth in less than 3 years.

Theoharides was promoted to Undersecretary in 2019, and continued to lead the Commonwealth’s efforts on climate change, including working to strengthen regional and national coalitions focused on bipartisan state climate leadership including the United States Climate Alliance and the Transportation Climate Initiative. Trained as a field biologist, Theoharides began her policy career working in Washington, D.C. at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Defenders of Wildlife.

During her time in DC, Theoharides worked on the federal farm bill and conservation policy, and helped establish a national program that partnered with federal and state agencies to incorporate climate change adaptation into policy, budgets, and planning.

After returning to Massachusetts, Theoharides served as the Executive Director of the Hilltown Land Trust, and founded Theoharides Consulting which provided climate and environmental policy analysis, strategic planning, and facilitation to universities, government agencies and non-profits. 

Theoharides received a B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth College and Masters of Science in Ecology and Environmental Biology from University of Massachusetts-Boston. 

Originally from western Massachusetts, Theoharides lives with her husband, three young children, and dog in Arlington.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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