Yana Garcia, Secretary for Environmental Protection
Yana Garcia was appointed California Secretary for Environmental Protection by Governor Gavin Newsom in August 2022. As Secretary, Yana oversees the state’s efforts to fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice. As a member of the Governor’s cabinet, she advises the Governor on environmental policy.
Garcia is nationally recognized as a groundbreaking environmental leader who has worked hard to uplift the voices of those from disadvantaged communities.
Since 2021, Garcia has served as Special Assistant Attorney General advising California Attorney General Rob Bonta on the California Department of Justice’s legal and policy matters pertaining to the environment, land law and natural resources including climate, transportation, energy, and housing.
She was Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations at CalEPA from 2019 to 2021 and had been CalEPA’s Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs from 2017 to 2019. During her tenure at CalEPA, Garcia led three Environmental Justice Task Force Initiatives in the communities of Pomona, Imperial County and Stockton. She also led the program that delivered more than $1 million in Environmental Justice Small Grants to 28 organizations to combat pollution, improve health outcomes and increase public engagement in some of California’s most pollution-burdened communities.
Prior to her state service, Garcia litigated environmental cases on behalf of several client groups across the state and across the country, as an attorney at Earthjustice in the California regional office in San Francisco. Garcia was also a staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment, serving in Huntington Park and Oakland. Her legal practice areas have focused on environmental justice issues, civil rights, land use, toxics and chemical disclosure, oil and gas extraction, and crude transport. Between 2011 and 2012, Garcia served as a legal research attorney at the San Francisco Superior Court’s Civil Division, Office of the Presiding Judge.
Prior to practicing law, Yana worked on various environmental justice and civil rights projects aimed at achieving equitable access to clean air, clean water, and sustainable food and energy systems in the states of Texas, New Mexico and Massachusetts.
Garcia holds a degree in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
“Yana’s deep connection to communities, her strong track record as an environmental attorney in holding polluters accountable, and her commitment to bringing diverse interests together make her uniquely matched to the challenges facing California.
“She is a strategic and compassionate leader who played a central role in helping communities gain access to safe and affordable drinking water. Yana is known nationally as a groundbreaking environmentalist who has lifted up the voices of tribal nations, U.S.-Mexico border communities, and those struggling on the frontlines of the battle for environmental justice. I look forward to working with Yana to implement our ambitious environmental agenda with the knowledge that she is resolute in her commitment to ensuring a California for all.”