California Loses a Champion—A Model for Women Leaders

NRDC mourns the loss of Nancy McFadden

NRDC mourns the loss of Nancy McFadden

Nancy McFadden’s passing marks a sad day for California and for pragmatic progress in the public arena.  Since returning to California from Washington, DC nearly 20 years ago, Nancy has been a problem solver, with grace. My colleagues and I here at NRDC had the chance to work with her over the years on many issues—from clean energy to water conservation infrastructure funding, to climate policy, public health and more, Nancy was able to see a path forward, by listening, identifying common threads and pushing everyone’s bottom lines. Just last spring we laughed about needing to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” to figure out how to secure a 2/3 vote to extend part of California’s climate program, not knowing quite how that could be achieved. But not more than 8 weeks later, the votes came together and she was gracious in thanking people for “always being constructive and honest and never giving up.” Nancy never gave up. I’m going to think of today and the much-needed rain that California is enjoying this week as a sign of the sky smiling on Nancy. Our hearts go out to her friends and family. Many of my NRDC colleagues welcomed the chance to know and work with Nancy. Here are just a few thoughts, I’m sure more will be added as the news sinks in:

Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Program Co-Director:

“Nancy McFadden had an unmatched understanding of how to make government work in the public interest. She shone as a talented leader, a powerful model for women in the public sphere, contributing mightily to California’s environmental leadership, in all its invaluable dimensions. We are devastated by her loss but comforted by the enduring power of a remarkable legacy.”

Amanda Eaken, Climate and Transportation Director:

“Nancy was just such a powerhouse and so full of life. Her remarkable effectiveness serves as a powerful reminder of the need for more women in top leadership positions. I’m grateful for her leadership and appreciate her taking the time to meet with and mentor so many up and coming advocates.”

David Pettit, Senior Air Attorney:

“Nancy and I worked together in private practice when we were young lawyers. Her judgment, legal skills and integrity were impressive than and only grew over time. After leaving private practice, she devoted her career to public service and we are all better off because of her work.”

Kate Poole, Senior Water Attorney:

“Nancy was a tough negotiator, but she listened, and working with her and Legislative leadership, we were able to pass Prop 1 in 2014, which is funding smart water projects around the state, making California more drought resilient.”

Carl Zichella, Senior Policy Advocate:

“Nancy was a gracious and generous colleague, always seeking common ground on issues of mutual concern.”