John Reeder, 30-year top EPA veteran, joins EWG’s policy shop

WASHINGTON – John Reeder, who spent more than three decades at the Environmental Protection Agency in several top roles, including 17 years as a senior executive, has joined the Environmental Working Group as vice president for federal affairs.

“We are thrilled John has agreed to join the team,” said EWG President and Co-Founder Ken Cook. “John’s decades of experience at the EPA will provide invaluable counsel and guidance as we push to protect drinking water, improve conservation programs and fight for clean energy investments.”

Cook added, “I’ve known John for more than 30 years and have seen firsthand his dedication to improving public health and environmental protections. I am grateful he’s agreed to come on board at this critical moment to work on those priorities.”

Reeder’s key roles at the EPA included being deputy chief of staff to Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, now President Joe Biden’s domestic climate advisor. His other roles at the agency, spanning both Democratic and Republican administrations, included directing the Congressional Affairs office and overseeing federal Superfund site cleanups.

“I’ve followed the work of EWG since it was founded in 1993 and am excited for the chance to do what I can to advance important initiatives to safeguard communities from pollution, whether it be contaminated tap water, toxic chemicals or carbon emissions,” Reeder said.

He added, “There is a renewed commitment by the federal government to adopt policy prescriptions to address all of these challenges and EWG has, and will continue to play, a leading role in assisting our colleagues in government to help make the best decisions possible to protect the public.”

For the last four years, Reeder has been an Executive-in-Residence at American University’s School of Public Affairs, teaching U.S. government and environmental policy and leading several research projects on environmental challenges of the future.

In the early 1990s, Reeder was detailed from the EPA to Capitol Hill, assisting Senate agriculture committee staff members with negotiations on two critical agricultural and environmental legislative reforms: the 1990 Farm Bill and the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. His work on the latter was recognized with the EPA Administrator’s Gold Medal.

It was during the 1990 Farm Bill debate that Reeder and Cook first worked together, successfully advocating for a substantial increase in funding for the Department of Agriculture’s conservation programs.

Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs, welcomed the addition of Reeder to his team. “The EPA has a big role to play in the PFAS contamination crisis, and no one is better able to help the agency meet this challenge than John Reeder,” Faber said.

Reeder has a B.S. in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. from the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Before college, he served in the U.S. Army, including active duty overseas, and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for exceptionally meritorious service. 

Reeder lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Carol Leonnig, an author and investigative reporter for The Washington Post.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. Visit for more information.

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