February 7, 2013, 11:09 AM

REI’s CEO is Obama’s nominee for secretary of Interior

Sally Jewell has led the outdoor apparel retailer since 2005.

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Sally Jewell

REI’s Ms. Jewell is going to Washington. The CEO and president of Recreational Equipment Inc., Sally Jewell, will take over as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, assuming the U.S. Senate confirms her. The retailer of outdoor apparel and gear, commonly known as REI, is No. 64 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

President Obama this week nominated Jewell to replace secretary Ken Salazar, who said last month that he would leave the job.  Jewell spent some two decades in the banking industry before REI hired her as chief operating officer in 2000. She took over as CEO in 2005. “During her tenure, Sally championed [REI’s] engagement in supporting volunteer stewardship of public lands, as well as the efforts to manage REI's environmental footprint,” REI says in a statement.  

Jewell’s nomination won support from several environmental groups. The Sierra Club, for instance, says that Jewell “provided critical support to the Sierra Club Inner City Outings program,” and that she has “demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans—recreation, adventure  and enjoyment.”

REI had no immediate comment on who would replace Jewell.

According to the latest edition of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, REI’s sales have increased from $226 million in 2007 to $389.9 million in 2011, a 72.5% jump.

One of the last times Obama and his people looked to the e-retailer for talent, they scooped up T-shirt retailer Threadless.com’s chief technology officer Harper Reed for a similar position in the 2012 campaign.

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