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Jacqueline Sales

Environmental engineer Jacqueline White Sales was born on May 8, 1946. She graduated from Howard University with her B.S. degree in microbiology in 1968, and her M.E. degree in environmental engineering in 1975. Upon graduation in 1968, Sales served as Chief Technician of the Georgetown University Rheumatology Laboratory at the District of Columbia General Hospital.

In 1979, Sales became the first African American woman environmental engineer hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Toxic Substances. While there, she worked at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and was assigned various scientific and public policy roles that involved writing and implementing federal regulations that protect human health, participating in congressional hearings, and chairing national and regional waste forums. Sales’ efforts at the EPA between 1979 and 1988 helped safeguard the environment from the improper disposal of toxic and infectious materials, and hazardous wastes. She led the pioneering effort in development of the Land Disposal Restriction Regulations that governs how hazardous and toxics waste can be disposed and received national recognition for her role in developing federal guidelines for management of medical wastes. Sales also served in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) where she managed and directed the development of policy guidance documents for DOE Headquarters and field offices. In addition, she worked closely with the assistant secretary of Environment, Safety, and Health where she developed strategies for regulatory compliance and environmental restoration at radioactively contaminated sites.

In 1988, Sales became the founder and president of HAZMED, Inc. While there, Sales focus was on helping clients develop and implement strategies, plans, and programs to manage their specific environmental risks and to protect the public from toxic hazards. She led the effort with EPA to conduct the first study on Environmental Justice. Sales also served as Chair of the Foundation Board of Bowie State University and a National Trustee of the Arthritis Foundation. She served on the Foundation Board of Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, Maryland, and the Prince Georges Economic Development Corporation Board, She is the owner of the Johnson Browne Business Center for new and emerging businesses.

Sales was recognized by the EPA, who honored her with both the Bronze Medal and the Women in Science and Engineering Award. She was also recognized by the United States Congress as an Outstanding Woman in Scientific and Technical Careers. In 2003, The Network Journal:

Black Professionals and Small Business News named Sales as one of the “Top Twenty Five Influential Women in Business.” Under her leadership, HAZMED was named “Maryland Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise” and U.S. Small Business Administration “Minority Small Business of the Year 2000.

Jacqueline White Sales was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 24, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.170

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/24/2013

Last Name

Sales

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Walter G. O'Connell Copiague High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Jacqueline

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SAL03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

You Pay The Cost To Be The Boss.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

5/8/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jacksonville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Health Food

Short Description

Environmental engineer Jacqueline Sales (1946 - ) was the first African American woman environmental engineer hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Toxic Substances, and the founder and president of HAZMED, Inc., an environmental engineering and information technology firm.

Employment

HAZMED, Inc.

United States Department of Energy

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Bristol Laboratories

New Life Insurance Co. Fairfax General Office,

Rheumatology Laboratory, Freedman'.s Hospital

Georgetown University at D.C. General Hospital,

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jacqueline Sales' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jacqueline Sales lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jacqueline Sales describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her mother's growing up in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jacqueline Sales describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jacqueline Sales talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her father's time in the Army during World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jacqueline Sales describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Jacqueline Sales describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Jacqueline Sales describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jacqueline Sales talks about living near military test sites

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jacqueline Sales describes her schools in Copiague, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her love for the outdoors

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her middle and high school education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jacqueline Sales talks about how entertainment played a role in her life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jacqueline Sales talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her father's key to the Playboy Club

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jacqueline Sales talks about high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her time at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jacqueline Sales talks about being on the pre-medical track at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jacqueline Sales talks about Stokely Carmichael and his assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jacqueline Sales talks about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her father's death in 1966

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jacqueline Sales describes her decision to attend Howard University for graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jacqueline Sales talks about studying environmental engineering at Howard University in graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jacqueline Sales talks about the Environmental Protection Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jacqueline Sales describes being hired at the Environmental Protection Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jacqueline Sales describes working for the Environmental Protection Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jacqueline Sales talks about changes in the Environmental Protection Agency changed under different administrations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jacqueline Sales describes writing hazardous waste regulations for the Environmental Protection Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her time at the Department of Energy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jacqueline Sales describes starting HAZMED

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jacqueline Sales talks about the difficulties of running a STEM-oriented business

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jacqueline Sales describes the early years of HAZMED

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jacqueline Sales talks about the Anne Burford scandal during the Reagan administration

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jacqueline Sales talks about some of HAZMED's consulting projects

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jacqueline Sales talks about the 1993 National Security Seminar

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jacqueline Sales talks about past HAZMED projects

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jacqueline Sales describes HAZMED's expansion into national defense

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jacqueline Sales describes HAZMED's records management service

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jacqueline Sales talks about being on the board of Bowie State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her favorite HAZMED project

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jacqueline Sales talks about HAZMED's facilities

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jacqueline Sales talks about HAZMED's partnerships

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jacqueline Sales describes her volunteer activities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jacqueline Sales describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jacqueline Sales reflects on her life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jacqueline Sales offers advice to people interested in STEM fields

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jacqueline Sales reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jacqueline Sales describes her management philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Jacqueline Sales talks about her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Jacqueline Sales describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Jacqueline Sales describes working for the Environmental Protection Agency
Jacqueline Sales describes starting HAZMED
Transcript
As an environmental engineer with EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], 1979, what projects were you working on in--$$Well, let's fast forward a little bit to 1980 'cause I have a better sense of that 'cause '79 [1979], I was in a group in the Office of Toxic Substances and they weren't quite sure where they were going. It was very clear to me. And so I transferred over to the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. And I was working in the hazardous waste. It was called RCRA, the RCRA division. And we were writing regulations for the management of hazardous waste. And hazardous wastes are basically wastes that come from industry, that are industry generated. So your manufacturing paint--and at that time, paint had solvents in it. Now, paints are water based, thanks to our regulations. But paints had solvents in it, and then they were taking paint, the unused paint, the waste paint and throwing it out in the landfills, just throwing it anywhere. And all those chemicals were leaking into the ground and contaminating groundwater. And then the plants, the plants that manufactured the paints, you know, you can imagine the byproducts from that production and the chemicals, the waste chemicals were being disposed of the best way they knew how, but not in a way that would protect the environment. So I wrote a reg [regulation] that addressed the disposal of solvents, and I had to do all these studies. I had to go out to all these facilities--I did a lot of traveling, a lot, and go out to these facilities and do studies. And you can't regulate something you don't know anything about. And then we had to come up with concentrations that weren't gonna be safe, and then we had, you know, contractors doing studies for us. And so the result was, we wrote--I wrote a listing that said these chemicals are listed and they have to be disposed of according to the hazardous waste regulations. And the regulations lay out how you manage it. So you just can't take it and just throw it in a landfill. You have to put it in a certain pack, and it has to go to a hazardous waste facility, and then we worked on how that facility has to be designed, right, so that the waste can be contained. So that's the land disposal restrictions, and I also worked on that. So, it was, I mean it was extremely interesting. I learned so much, and I had so much autonomy. I mean I could just do, go in and do stuff, you know, and it was--I don't know that people get that kind of autonomy anymore. But I was like a GS-9, and [GS-]11 [General Schedules, government job levels], you know, meeting with attorneys from major corporations 'cause all the major corporations, the DuPont's, Dow's, they all came to EPA and walked the halls because they wanted to make sure that we knew what we were doing. We were writing these regs, so they wanted to have input. And there was no formal process for them to have input in those days. Now, there is, but back then, there wasn't. They just walked the halls. They'd walk into our--$$They could come over to EPA and just haunt EPA?$$Yeah, they walked, they would come in my office, and they would say, what are you working on? And what are you doing? And then, you know, tell them, and they would say, okay, well, we have some data. We'll send this data. So most of our data came from industry, like it or not. That's the way--who had the data. Same thing with the pharmaceutical companies.$$Did EPA do any of its own research to provide its own data?$$Some, some, yeah. We had a research arm, but they couldn't do the research like the industry was doing. So, because the research arm had to do research for the entirety of EPA where, you know, the big Dow's and DuPont's and all that, I mean they had the resources.$But medical wastes, which I was doing at EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], I was the medical waste person for EPA, and I put together the 'EPA Guide for Infectious Waste Management.' And that was my project. And when I went over to DOE [Department of Energy], I kind of took medical waste with me because I was still the person everybody was calling. So I was kind of working it out of my hip pocket. Well, what happened, medical waste washed up on the shores of New Jersey, and they were start--$$And those are the stories where bags of syringes and--$$I have all the newspaper articles where I'm--$$--pills.$$--I'm cited and quoted, and they're in the information I gave you.$$I remember that scare.$$Everybody was coming to me, you know, "What do we do? What do we do?" And I think one of the articles even says that I was at DOE, and I was, had left EPA, but they still come to me for advice. Well, when the big consulting firms realized that they were gonna be able to make money now off of medical wastes. It was no longer gonna be my hip pocket project, they started coming to me at DOE and asking me to come to work for them. And I shook hands with a lady from SAIC [Science Applications International Corporation], and I said, I will work for you but under my own company name. And I shook hands with her over a cocktail and quit my good GS-15 [General Schedule level 15] government job and started HAZMED.$$Now, this is 1988?$$As a subcontractor to SAIC.$$Okay, HAZMED originally stood for, I think--$$Hazardous and Medical Waste Services. And I saw where the medical waste part of it would be about a two-year ride. I figured I could get two years out of that. And then everybody would know what they needed to do. And then I would just go right into what I knew best, the hazardous waste regulations and help, you know, industry and other federal agencies 'cause, believe it or not, the government is the biggest polluter, still is. So that's how I started HAZMED.$$Okay, now, I read out in the lobby that you started with five thousand dollars of your own money because you couldn't get any backing from the banks.$$Oh, there was no bank, money from any bank. No, that was, that was pre-banks. I got an American Express Gold card 'cause it had a ten thousand dollars line of credit on it. Also, I needed some money to, for whatever I needed it for, for business. I went to Household Finance, and I borrowed some money to go on vacation.$$And I read that you couldn't get money to start a business, but you could get ten grand to go on vacation?$$Go on vacation. Yeah. I knew if I would--'cause I always had good credit. I knew if I went in there and told that lady that I wanted some money to put in some company, that lady was gonna look at me and say, "Ms., you have lost your mind." But I know that folks understand about going on vacation. And I knew I had good credit. So I said, "I need some money to go on vacation, going to Hawaii." And she said, "Well, we'll check and you come back tomorrow." And I came back tomorrow, and she gave me the money, and I paid my little loan off.$$Did this have anything to do with racism at all or just bank policy as a--$$Ah--$$--or a loan company (simultaneous)--$$I think there might have been some people who could have gotten money for their business, but I didn't expect that I was gonna be able to get money for my business. And I want to tell you that when I did get money for my business, it was through my husband's Republican connections 'cause, you know, it's all who you know.$$And I've heard it said, you know, that you can get a bank to loan you--if you're black, you can get a bank to loan you enough money to buy a Cadillac, but if you try to buy a truck with the same money, to do some work, you would, you know, they would really scrutinize you a lot harder.$$Oh, yeah, yeah, 'cause I now, people understand vacations. See, when I was at EPA, they were--EPA was a young agency, it had a lot of young people working there. And they were single, and they were all into the environment. And they would tell me, oh, you know, we're going--they would go on these big vacations for two weeks. And they'd go trekking around the mountains and stuff like that, and they would borrow money. And that's when I found out, I said, these kids are borrowing money to go on vacation. And that's when I knew that the banks understood that. And this was Household Finance.