Inez Moore Tenenbaum was nominated by President Barack Obama on June 9, 2009, to serve as the ninth Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Ms. Tenenbaum was confirmed by the Senate on June 19, 2009, and sworn into office on June 23, 2009, to a term that expires in October 2013.
Chairman Tenenbaum has transformed CPSC into one of the leading product safety agencies in the world. Starting in July 2009, Chairman Tenenbaum established a leadership philosophy aimed at making the agency more accessible and transparent; making education and advocacy a priority; and being firm, but fair, in enforcing safety laws and working to keep unsafe products out of the hands of consumers. In October 2010, Chairman Tenenbaum announced a new five-year Strategic Plan (2011-2016), which set forth a twenty-first century mission and vision for CPSC. The Strategic Plan has made CPSC more proactive, more focused on injury prevention, and moved the agency closer to being the recognized global leader in consumer product safety.
To achieve her regulatory philosophy and vision for the Strategic Plan, Chairman Tenenbaum reestablished public Commission meetings to shine a light on the agency’s decision making processes; launched SaferProducts.gov, home to the publicly accessible consumer product safety incident database; and launched CPSC 2.0, the agency’s social media initiative. The Chairman also created a new Office of Education, Global Outreach, and Small Business Ombudsman; a Safe Sleep for Babies team; and a Minority Outreach team. Additionally, Chairman Tenenbaum expanded CPSC’s marketplace surveillance program, revamped and increased the staffing level of the Office of Import Surveillance, and strengthened the partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in order to detect and detain a greater number of potentially dangerous products before they reach consumers.
Chairman Tenenbaum has travelled across the United States and to China, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Brazil, and Mexico, to meet with regulators and take safety to the source of domestically and foreign made consumer products. In 2009 and 2011, Chairman Tenenbaum participated in Bilateral U.S.-China Safety Summits in Beijing and Washington, D.C., respectively, with her counterpart at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). The CPSC-AQSIQ Summits have advanced the Chairman’s goal of encouraging Chinese manufacturers to use best manufacturing practices, adhere to U.S. safety standards, and build safety into product designs.
Chairman Tenenbaum fulfilled a key promise to the Congress and consumers by working closely with agency staff to complete all of the major safety rules required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), a law that reformed and empowered CPSC. In implementing the CPSIA, Chairman Tenenbaum advocated for and the Commission supported:
- the establishment of the strongest crib safety standards in the world;
- the lowest lead limits for children’s products in the world;
- limits on the use of certain phthalates in toys and child care articles;
- mandatory standards for toys, toxic metals, and juvenile products; and
- continuous testing of children’s products by independent, third-party laboratories.
The Chairman has also served as the lead spokesperson for the largest media and education campaign in the agency’s history related to pool drowning and drain entrapment prevention.
During her tenure, Chairman Tenenbaum has appeared on The TODAY Show, CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Bloomberg TV, CNBC Asia, and C-Span; in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Associated Press, and Reuters; and on network radio stations to inform the public about product recalls, seasonal safety warnings, and emerging hazards.
Additionally, the Chairman has testified before several Congressional committees and spoken to the European Parliament regarding consumer protection and product safety issues.
The leadership of the Chairman has been vital in ongoing efforts to prevent deaths and injuries from window coverings, youth sports, button batteries, high powered magnets, recreational off-highway vehicles, gel fuels, and table saws.
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Ms. Tenenbaum was elected South Carolina's State Superintendent of Education in 1998 and completed her second term in 2007. Throughout her career, Ms. Tenenbaum has been an energetic and determined advocate for children and families and has extensive experience in administrative and regulatory matters.
During her tenure as South Carolina's State Superintendent of Education, student achievement in South Carolina improved at the fastest rate in the nation, with scores increasing on every state, national, and international tests administered. At the end of Ms. Tenenbaum's tenure, the prestigious journal Education Week ranked South Carolina number one in the country for the quality of its academic standards, assessment, and accountability systems.
She previously practiced health, environmental, and public interest law with the firm Sinkler & Boyd, P.A. from 1986-1991. She served as chairman of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee of the South Carolina Bar Association. Before attending law school, Ms. Tenenbaum served as the director of research for the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee of the South Carolina House of Representatives. She carried out the Committee's responsibilities for all legislation relating to public health, the environment, child welfare, social services, adult and juvenile corrections, state military affairs, and local government.
She has also served on numerous task forces that provide oversight on children and family services in the state.
Ms. Tenenbaum received her Bachelor of Science in 1972 and Master of Education degrees in 1974 from the University of Georgia and her law degree in 1986 from the University of South Carolina. She is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and has been recognized by several state and community organizations for her civic work on behalf of children and families.
Ms. Tenenbaum is married to Samuel J. Tenenbaum.
Photos of CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum from June 2009 to present.