John Laird ('72, Stevenson, politics) is the new secretary of the California Resources Agency, appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, a key position overseeing the state's environment.
Laird is a former three-term member of the state Assembly, where he served as chair of the Budget Committee. The Alumni Associations of UC named him Legislator of the Year in the Assembly for 2008. He is also a former Santa Cruz mayor, city councilmember, and member of the Cabrillo College board of trustees.
Last winter, Laird taught a senior seminar in environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz, "Methods in Environmental Policy Analysis," and he wrote an article in the spring UCSC Review outlining the steps he believes are necessary to deal with California's budget crisis
The Natural Resources Agency is charged with protecting the state’s natural, historical, and cultural resources.
Laird's appointment had been widely predicted. He told the Sacramento Bee that he waited in his Sacramento condo continually hitting refresh on his computer until the appointment was officially announced last week. Then he walked over to his new office and got to work.
"I remember the first paper I turned in as a student," Laird has said of his UCSC days. "The professor wrote on it 'If there is a point here, I'm missing it.' I went from that to writing an honors thesis and to being elected to public office. That's what a UC education did for me."