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John NicholsonChief Deputy Secretary

John Nicholson serves as the chief deputy secretary for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. 

Nicholson provides direct support to the Secretary and coordinates the efforts of the department and the senior staff in executing the department’s mission and associated goals and objectives.  

Nicholson joined DEQ in his current role in February of 2017. He is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served on active duty for 28 years. He is a skilled executive with international leadership experience in solving critical and complex challenges.

He was also the military affairs advisor to two North Carolina governors. Nicholson has experience in advanced strategic planning, policy development and work force analysis while leading high performance teams. He has also advanced programs in energy efficiency and environmental conservation while serving his country. 

Nicholson earned a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College, a master’s degree in military studies from the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University.