Felicia A. Marcus has been an environmental leader, inside and outside of government, since the 1980s, co-founding Heal the Bay and working for the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. She was appointed chair of the State Water Resources Control Board in April by Governor Jerry Brown.
Marcus grew up in the San Fernando Valley suburbs of Los Angeles before heading east to attend college. She graduated from Harvard University in 1977 with a bachelor of arts in East Asian Studies. She received her juris doctorate in 1983 from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden Fellow. She also studied at Hong Kong University on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship.
After college, Marcus returned to Los Angeles and worked as a clerk for a federal judge and as an attorney for the firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson. She worked for years as a public interest lawyer and community organizer in Los Angeles—focusing on air, water, toxics and land use matters—and was a founder of Heal the Bay, an organization that successfully pressured the city to reduce its dumping of sewage into Santa Monica Bay.
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley appointed Marcus to the Environmental Quality Board in January 1989 and six months later put her on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. She was elected its president in February 1991.
Marcus left the board in 1993 to serve as regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IX in the Clinton Administration. The office oversees environmental issues in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, former trust territories in the Pacific and more than 140 Indian tribes. Marcus worked on a range of environmental issues, including air quality, Bay-Delta water, tribal and US-Mexico border issues.
She moved from EPA to the Trust for Public Land in December 2001, becoming executive vice president and chief operating officer at the national non-profit devoted to conserving land for people. Marcus managed the organization’s 450 employees in more than 40 offices across the country.
In November 2008, she was hired as western director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit environmental action group of over 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals dedicated to preserving the Earth’s natural systems. During her tenure there, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the Delta Stewardship Council in July 2010.
Governor Brown appointed her to the State Water Resources Control Board in July 2012.
She currently serves and has served in the past on many non-profit boards and Advisory Councils including the Public Policy Institute of California, Urban Habitat, Kesten Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, and the Center for Diversity and the Environment. She is also currently an Obama Administration appointee to the Commission on Environmental Cooperation-Joint Public Advisory Council (US, Mexico, Canada).