Currently serving as the Interim Acting Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), Jessica Shirley plays a pivotal role in the guidance of the department in its mission to protect and preserve Pennsylvania's environment while fostering sustainable and equitable practices. Jessica arrives to the role of Acting Secretary with extensive experience within the agency. Most recently, Jessica served as the Executive Deputy Secretary overseeing all programs.
As the first appointed Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator at the PA DEP, Jessica oversaw the influx of federal funding supported by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). She ensured that the Department used all available funds for the betterment of Pennsylvania's environment, economy, residents, and communities. In this role, she also placed strong emphasis on consideration of the impact of programs in historically underinvested communities.
Jessica's previous role as Policy Director from May 2016 to April 2022 was marked by her dedication to shaping the environmental and energy policy agenda. In this position, Jessica helped to develop groundbreaking executive orders related to PFAS, climate change, energy conservation and sustainability in Commonwealth operations, and environmental justice. These executive orders established the first greenhouse gas reduction goal for the Commonwealth, set performance goals for state agencies, established the PFAS Action Team to remove silos and address emerging contaminants, and memorialized various processes and opportunities to meaningfully engage and address underserved communities in Pennsylvania. She coordinated the DEP Policy Office's efforts, while overseeing the finalization of numerous rulemakings and promoting meaningful dialogue with stakeholders. Jessica and her counterpart at PennDOT lead the effort to develop Pennsylvania’s first ever Litter Action Plan which received several awards and national recognition. Jessica also served on the agency steering committee of DiversEP, the agency’s DEI committee with a mission of actively cultivating a culture of equity and inclusion and establishing a more diverse workforce representative of the population we serve.
In her earlier role as Executive Policy Specialist, Jessica was a trusted advisor in various policy areas, including oil and gas development, air quality, climate change, energy, waste, clean water, and environmental cleanup. She also demonstrated leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and her representation of the Administration in discussions with key organizations showcased her influence and expertise. She built extensive relationships by serving as the Policy Office liaison to the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board, Air Quality Technical Advisory Board, Climate Change Advisory Committee, Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee, Cleanup Standards Scientific Advisory Board, Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, Recycling Fund Advisory Committee, Radiation Protection Advisory Committee, Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Sewage Advisory Committee and Storage Tank Advisory Committee.
Jessica's educational background includes a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Political Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.