John NicholsonChief Deputy Secretary

John Nicholson has served as the chief deputy secretary for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality since 2017. 

Nicholson leads and coordinates the efforts of the department and the senior staff in executing the department’s mission and associated goals and objectives.  

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 workforce 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.