Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Joe Koncelik '93 Appointed Ohio EPA Director

Joe and Amy Koncelik

Joseph Koncelik is energized by the mix of science, law and politics woven into his new job. As is often the case, the most exciting aspects of the job are also the most challenging. He thrives on the tremendous variety-the opportunity to practice law, and work with the legislature and business community-but he must ensure that the agency strikes the appropriate balance between business and environment in a way that protects the state's natural resources while allowing business to thrive. Criticism comes from all directions: environmentalists accuse the agency of not doing enough, while some businesses blame the EPA for what they consider costly, stifling overregulation.

Joe takes it in stride. "Ohio EPA's mission is to protect Ohio's environment and the health of our citizens, which means holding businesses accountable for their environmental impact. But I believe it is possible to protect the environment and have a strong economy at the same time. It's a challenge, but that's one of the things that appeals to me about this job."

A member of the agency's senior management team for six years, Joe knows well the challenges of overseeing the agency's nearly 1300 employees and $165 million budget. His demonstrated ability to streamline operations and increase efficiency keeps the agency effective and viable during lean economic times. His first steps as director involved clearly defining and communicating focus areas such as restoring the Great Lakes, safeguarding wetlands, improving air quality, and helping small businesses comply with state regulations.

Upon graduation from Moritz College of Law, Joe explored different areas of law as an associate with a small, general practice firm in Lorain, Ohio . He wasn't sure whether a legal career was the right choice until two years later when he returned to Columbus and joined the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Ohio Attorney General's Office. It was his first foray into environmental law, and he quickly discovered his affinity for environmental law as well as his knack for public policy administration. Four years later he joined Ohio EPA as director of legal affairs.

Joe offers sound advice for law students who are unsure about their career path: "Don't give up on it early; don't be afraid to try something totally different before saying 'I don't want to be a lawyer.'"

Joe treasures the lifelong friendships he established at Ohio State, both as an undergrad (he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1990) and in his law school years. He considers himself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from a "founding father" of Ohio environmental law, Professor Earl Finbar Murphy. Professor Doug Whaley's ability to engage and inform his contract law students also left a lasting impression.

Joe's wife, Amy (Litkovitz), is also a Moritz College of Law graduate, class of 1995. A former corporate lawyer with Columbia Gas, she is now a stay-at-home mom caring for their three boys, ages six, three and one. When he finds the time, Joe enjoys fly fishing Ohio streams and rivers, taking advantage of the rich environmental resources he serves to protect.

Friends can contact Joe at joe.koncelik@epa.state.oh.us.