In May of 2014, Mayor Ed Lee appointed Debbie Raphael as the Director
of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, a city agency that
creates visionary policies and programs to ensure a sustainable future
for San Francisco. Raphael returns to San Francisco after three years
leading the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, where
she worked to balance stakeholder interests in protecting the public and
environment from toxic harm.
Raphael believes that cities like San Francisco are incubators for bold
action that results in meaningful change. Her approach to
environmental decision-making focuses on using the best available
science and robust stakeholder interaction to ensure that all voices are
honored. This perspective has allowed her to succeed in addressing
some of the most challenging environmental problems, including the
rollout of California’s landmark Green Chemistry Initiative.
In 20 years of public service at city, county, and state levels, Raphael has
crafted and implemented groundbreaking policies around toxics
reduction, green building, business engagement, integrated pest
management, and environmentally preferable purchasing. She
graduated with honors in biology from the University of California,
Berkeley, was a Smithsonian and National Science Foundation fellow,
and has a Master’s degree in Physiological Plant Ecology from UCLA.