October 11, 2023

Meet Lisa Jackson: The Black Woman Leading Apple Towards A Carbon-Neutral Future

Lisa Jackson

Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, is spearheading Apple’s commitment to making all its products carbon-neutral by 2030, starting with the Apple Watch.

Jackson, a chemical engineer, served as the first African American US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator before joining Apple in 2013.  

Meet Lisa Jackson

Jackson completed a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University.

Before Apple, Jackson was appointed by President Barack Obama as EPA Administrator in 2009, making her the first African American to hold the position.

During her time there, she focused on reducing greenhouse gases, protecting air and water quality, and preventing exposure to toxic contamination.

She also emphasized achieving environmental justice by expanding environmental outreach to underserved communities and communities of color.

She then joined Apple in 2013, her first tech company, helping to transform the company’s environmental footprint and reach the goal of powering its operations worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy.

Jackson has also served as chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and as commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Jackson’s Impact on Apple

When recruited, she was tasked with the environmental roadmap for Apple 2030 to make all products carbon-neutral from day one.

“I said, ‘Okay, I’m here; what do you want me to do?’ and he [Tom] said, ‘That’s what I want you to tell me. I want you to learn who we are and then tell us what, what is the roadmap to make us the leader, the ripple in the pond,” Jackson shared at TechCrunch Disrupt.

A decade of work on that roadmap has been very hands-on for Jackson. Last month, Apple announced that its new lineup of Apple Watches would be its first carbon-neutral devices.

Apple decided to end using leather across all its product lines and announced its first entirely fiber-based packaging for the new Apple Watch lineup.

The company also introduced a new tool in the Home app called Grid Forecast. It helps inform users when their power grid has cleaner energy available so they can decide when to use electricity.

“At Apple, we have a longstanding and proven commitment to leading the fight against climate change,” said Jackson in the press release.

“Our focus on renewable energy and low-carbon design has already driven industry-leading emissions reductions, and we’re not slowing down.”

Jackson has expanded to include accessibility, education, and Apple’s flagship Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) program over the last decade.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.