Yesterday in this hall, I had the good fortune to talk to hundreds of DOJ employees about what leadership means in the Department. I droned on for about 10 minutes, and what I should have said was – come back Wednesday at 3:00 because that’s where you will learn about the Department’s pre-eminent career leader.
When you look at the Environment and Natural Resources Division, you see John’s leadership everywhere. He has led in every way possible. He, of course, has had the title of Acting Assistant Attorney General multiple times for multiple years. But, whether or not he had the title, he has been, for so many, the heart and soul of the Division.
He has led by his work, unflinchingly protecting the country’s natural resources and enforcing our environmental laws in a fair and evenhanded way. From the power plant cases in the 1990s that Ben Fisherow has so ably pursued to our current efforts to redress the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you see John’s mark.
He has led by mentoring lawyers, young and old. I would venture to say that there is no lawyer in the Division who has not benefited from John’s influence. Through his personality, his approach, and his infectious enthusiasm he has mentored so many and taught them to mentor others. And this has extended beyond the Division, including to me when I worked for Attorney General Reno in the 1990s.
John has led by being a constant promoter of the Division, its work and its people. There’s no match to John’s commitment to ensuring that the Department’s leadership knows the individual and team achievements of the terrific people in the Division. When I came back to the Department in 2009, John was giddy to talk about the Division and its people. No one person deserves all of the credit for ENRD being voted the best place to work in government, but John deserves a huge amount of that credit. John has never for a moment lost sight of the fact that the Department’s greatest asset is its people and we have to continually invest in those people.
He has led by listening. Everyone from Attorneys General to new line attorneys have looked to John for candid advice on the hardest issues.
And he has led by example – by simply being John. No matter what was happening at work, at home, or anywhere else, you knew that John Cruden would have a smile on his face, love for ENRD, respect for his co-workers, and friendship for his colleagues. You cannot but feel better about the world when John is in the room. There are few people in life about whom you can say that.
For the 100th Anniversary of ENRD, the Division published a history called “Public Lands and National Treasures.” Not sure about what public lands they were talking about, but I know that the national treasure is John Cruden. John, you are one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. You have served this Department and this country with extraordinary skill, distinction, dedication, and grace. The American people and all of those whom you have touched owe you a debt that we cannot repay. We are all so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you, and I look forward so much to your friendship for decades to come.