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Deborah Raphael

Director, San Francisco Department of the Environment

Debbie Raphael is the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment and believes that cities can take bold action to address environmental harm. A scientist by training and public servant by profession, Debbie has spent most of her career working in government to ensure that everyone has an equal right to a safe and healthy environment.  

At the City of Santa Monica and City of San Francisco, Debbie crafted first-in-the-nation policies on toxics reduction, green building, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), healthy nail salons, and the precautionary principle -- a decision-making framework that protects the public from exposure to harm even in the face of scientific uncertainty. In 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown appointed Debbie as the Director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). In her tenure with DTSC, Debbie implemented the state’s groundbreaking Safer Consumer Products Law to better regulate which chemicals can be used in products sold or manufactured in California.

As Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Debbie sees herself as both a leader and a collaborator around environmental issues. She works in close partnership with other City agencies and community stakeholders to implement San Francisco’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals while advancing policies and programs that are inclusive of diverse communities and build on the city’s innovative and pioneering spirit.

Debbie was appointed by the Honorable Mayor Edwin M. Lee in 2014 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Physiological Plant Ecology from UCLA.

Moderator of Session: Sustainability - Create Sustainable and Healthy Places: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies