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Historical Biography

Sue Ellen Wooldridge

Sue Ellen Wooldridge
31st Assistant Attorney General, ENRD, -

Early History/Schooling:  Sue Ellen Wooldridge was born in Carpenteria, California on February 15, 1961.  Early in her life, her family relocated to the rural town of Artois, California, where she graduated from high school in 1979.  Wooldridge received a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of California-Davis in 1983 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1987.

Tenure as AAG: Wooldridge was nominated to be AAG by President George W. Bush on June 20, 2005, and was confirmed on November 10, 2005.  During her tenure, the Division lodged a landmark consent decree in U.S. v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), in which PRASA agreed to perform more than $1.7 billion in injunctive relief to resolve several violations at water treatment plants throughout Puerto Rico.  In Western Shoshone National Council v. U.S., another case litigated during her tenure, the Division helped clear the way for the development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository.  Wooldridge resigned in January 2007.
Career:  After completing law school, Wooldridge joined Diepenbrock, Wuff, Plant & Hannegan, where she was a civil litigator in California state and federal courts.  In 1994, she became a Special Assistant Attorney General to then-California Attorney General Dan Lungren, where she played a primary role in negotiating a tobacco settlement that generated significant revenue for California.  After Lungren lost a 1998 gubernatorial bid, Wooldridge returned to private practice as one of the founding partners of Riegels, Campos & Kenyon LLP, where she remained until January 2001.  She joined Secretary Gale Norton at the Department of the Interior in early 2001 as the Secretary’s Deputy Chief of Staff.  During this time, she played a key role in the Department’s involvement with the Klamath Basin water dispute.  In 2004, she became the Solicitor of the Interior Department, serving in this position until her appointment as AAG. 

Personal:  Wooldridge married former Deputy Secretary of the Interior J. Steven Griles in 2007.  She was captain of the UC Davis women’s basketball team, and also plays tennis and golf.  She was an avid horseback rider, an activity she learned while living on her childhood farm.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

Updated June 8, 2023