Senior Director, Food Portfolio
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Erik D. Olson is the director of food programs. He oversees work aimed at improving food safety, strengthening safety and nutrition standards for foods served in the nation’s schools, and reviewing the adequacy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s programs regulating chemicals added to food. In all, he has more than 25 years of experience in consumer, public health, and environmental policy and advocacy.
Until November 2008, Erik was deputy staff director and general counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. During his tenure at the Senate, he worked on health threats from toxic chemicals -- playing a key role in major legislation -- and staffed hearings on global warming, clean water, children’s environmental health, clean air, and environmental justice, among other issues. He also helped to negotiate the key provisions enacted in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the green buildings and green schools provisions of the Energy Independent Security Act of 2007.
Prior to his work with the Senate, Olson spent 15 years at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he held various positions, including advocacy center director, public health program director, and senior attorney. At NRDC, he worked extensively on the Food Quality Protection Act, toxic chemicals, pesticides, drinking water, hazardous waste, and many other environmental and health issues. He also served as counsel for the National Wildlife Federation’s environmental quality program and as an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel where he worked on hazardous waste and water issues.
Olson graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif legal honor society and served as an editor of the environmental law journal. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia College of Columbia University, with an independent major in environmental biology and policy that he created.