The Crusader


For someone who spends his days documenting the nefarious activities of some of the world’s most notorious environmental criminals, Jeff McAtee sure seems to have a chipper outlook on things. “There are some bad people out there doing some bad things to our planet, but I really feel like the work I’m doing is making a difference,” the communications director for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Criminal Enforcement says with typical good cheer. “How can that not make you smile?”

Once dubbed “the nicest man in news” during his 34-year broadcasting career, McAtee’s endearing geniality and aw shucks selflessness seem atypical of someone whose job it is to doggedly pursue those who have run afoul of federal environmental laws, and help bring them to justice.

However, closer investigation reveals McAtee to be more pit bull than pacifist when it comes to bringing the truth about environmental negligence to light, and he’ll leave no stone unturned in his attempt to inform and educate his audience — as the five Emmy awards he’s won for excellence in television journalism can attest.

“It’s really important that people know what the criminal enforcement division of the EPA is all about, and that’s what I was brought here to do, to help get the word out,” McAtee explains. “People think we’re just tree huggers — which we are — but our division is focused on going out and getting the bad guys. Trust me, there are plenty of them out there.”

Among his many talents — rumor has it he’s a wizard with a ukulele and possesses a singing voice that earned him an invitation to study with the nationally acclaimed Lyric Opera of Chicago — McAtee seems to have an innate ability to understand when he’s arrived at a crossroads in his career. He actively seeks out “new and interesting ways to better myself, which, in part, was what led me to the MSGL program at USD back in 2002.”

The Master of Science in Global Leadership program is an intensive and challenging educational experience at the best of times, but trying to balance a demanding course load with a full-time television anchor job in Seattle was bordering on impossible. And if that wasn’t enough, there was also his side gig as a commanding officer in the Naval reserve, a position he stepped away from last November after 23 years of service.

To say it was a frenetically paced existence would be an understatement, but, always the optimist, McAtee sees his USD experience as an essential part of his current career path.

“It had to be one of the toughest times in my life, but I’ll tell you what, it was also one of the best decisions of my life. I know my MSGL degree appealed to my employers in the Navy, and it led to me working on one of the Navy’s most important environmental projects of the last decade, which was called the Naples Public Health Evaluation. It also helped me land my current job with the EPA, and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out.” — Mike Sauer

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