Shawn LaTourette will lead NJDEP as it’s first LGBT Commissioner

Shawn LaTourette
Shawn LaTourette at New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Governor’s selection makes La Tourette the second LGBT Department head

Governor Phil Murphy nominated Shawn LaTourette as the next Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). LaTourette is the Acting Commissioner of the DEP since Catherine R. McCabe announced her retirement in January 2021.

“To serve the people of New Jersey as Commissioner of Environmental Protection is an honor beyond any I could have imagined,” said La Tourette. “I am grateful to Governor Murphy for his outstanding environmental leadership, and his confidence in mine.”

“New Jersey DEP is charting a new course for the future in our great state, with a stronger, more just environment at its center,” said LaTourette. “I am eager to lead the Department in supporting Governor Murphy in his vision to make New Jersey a national model for its commitment to a more resilient, fairer, greener future for everyone.”

“At a time when the New Jersey legislature is empty from any representation for the LGBTQ community, this appointment is welcomed and appreciated,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. It speaks to Governor Murphy’s commitment to diverse inclusion in our government and also positions New Jersey as the only state in the nation with more than one LGBTQ cabinet member. Highly qualified LGBTQ people like Shawn are ready to step up and serve in leadership positions in the Garden State. We are confident that Shawn will lead with professionalism based on his impressive record while at DEP.”

“The decisions made by the Department of Environmental Protection are not just important for today, but will have far reaching impacts across generations,” said Governor Murphy. “The work we do now for cleaner air and water, to meaningfully combat climate change, to ensure that every community is treated with dignity and respect and that the principles of environmental justice serve us every day, will far outlive us all.

LaTourette began his career partnering with the Erin Brockovich law firm

“Shawn’s passion for environmental protection, coupled with his extensive knowledge on climate, energy, and infrastructure, will help build an environmental legacy that exemplifies these principles,” said Murphy. “I am confident that with Shawn’s leadership, we will create a cleaner, more sustainable New Jersey that we are proud to leave for future generations.”

With 20 years of environmental experience, LaTourette began his career partnering with the Erin Brockovich law firm to organize and defend New Jersey communities whose drinking water was contaminated by petrochemicals. Born and raised in New Jersey, LaTourette graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University and earned his law degree summa cum laude from Rutgers Law School. He was the class salutatorian and the recipient of multiple environmental and governance awards, and published scholarship on environmental law, natural resource damage, and climate issues.

Before entering public service, LaTourette specialized in protecting the rights of victims of toxic injuries while also advising infrastructure, transportation, energy, and other industries on compliance with state and federal environmental laws and policies. Prior to joining the Murphy Administration, he was a Director of the Environmental Law Department at Gibbons PC, where he focused on brownfields redevelopment projects and litigated environmental cases in state and federal court.

LaTourette first joined DEP as chief legal and regulatory policy advisor to Commissioner McCabe in 2018. He became DEP’s Chief of Staff in 2019 and, in 2020, the Deputy Commissioner responsible for running the operations of DEP.

LaTourette was elected to serve as Chair of the LGBTQ Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, completing his term in 2020, and will be the first openly gay Commissioner of Environmental Protection in the nation. LaTourette resides in Highland Park with his partner and twin daughters.

“New Jersey has taken a leading role in the legal fight for environmental justice, and that’s because of the close working relationship between our office and Shawn’s team at DEP,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “We share a total commitment to holding polluters accountable and making them pay for the destruction they caused. As we continue this fight for clean air and clean water, I couldn’t ask for a better partner than Shawn.”