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US Energy: DOE Welcomes New Biden-Harris Administration Appointees

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced seven new Biden-Harris Administration appointees joining the Department to work with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm to pursue President Biden’s ambitious clean energy goals and transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. With these new hires and recent promotions, DOE appointees continue making up an historically diverse team, with 58% women, 57% people of color, and 15% of staff identifying as LGBTQ+.

“We’re thrilled to welcome to the Department of Energy an amazing array of talented individuals, who bring their experience at all levels — from industry and academia, and from city halls to the White House,” said DOE Chief of Staff Christopher Davis. “These appointees understand the importance of this moment and will tackle the increasingly critical work of carrying out President Biden’s bold goals for climate action.”

New appointees are listed below:

Christopher Castro, Chief of Staff, Office of State and Community Energy Programs
Christopher Castro previously served as the Senior Advisor to Mayor Buddy Dyer and Director of Sustainability & Resilience at the City of Orlando, Florida. Castro is well known for his entrepreneurial efforts prior to his work in Orlando, including being the co-founder and president of several companies and organizations, including the global sustainability nonprofit IDEAS For Us, the clean energy consulting firm Citizen Energy, and the urban farming social enterprise Fleet Farming. In 2020, Castro was also a founding director of Climate First Bank, the first B Corp community bank in Florida working to advance environmental, social, and governance principles and local investing in sustainability and decarbonization solutions. Originally from Miami, Florida, Castro holds a B.S. in environmental science and policy from the University of Central Florida.

Danisha Craig, Senate Legislative Affairs Advisor, Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
Danisha Craig previously served as U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Legislative Assistant working on energy, environment, banking, and economic policy. She worked on environmental issues related to land and water conservation, as well as financial services policy aimed at solving socioeconomic inequality. Craig holds a B.A. in political science from Marist College, where she was an NCAA Division I track and field athlete. She is from Bristol, Connecticut, and enjoys regularly visiting to see friends and family.

Amanda Finney, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Office of Public Affairs
Amanda Finney most recently served as the Chief of Staff for the White House Press Office and Special Assistant to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Finney was formerly the Associate Director of Policy and Communications for Sidewalk Labs. Prior to joining Sidewalk, she served as the National Deputy Women’s Outreach Director for the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign. She served as the Louisiana State Director and then joined the digital correspondence team for Hillary for America. Finney served as an organizer for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and a fellow for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Previously, she worked in marketing and communications at Microsoft. Born in South Carolina, Finney is a graduate of Wake Forest University and holds an M.A. from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.

Isabel Munilla, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Market Development, Climate, and Multilateral Engagement, Office of International Affairs
Isabel Munilla most recently served as Director of U.S. Financial Regulation of the Ceres Capital Markets Accelerator, an initiative of the sustainability nonprofit Ceres. She led legal and regulatory strategy for engagement with U.S. financial regulators to address climate financial risk, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve. She worked closely with investors, companies, and civil society groups to enable shared understanding of the market’s evolving expectations of corporate performance around physical and transition risks, including greenhouse-gas exposure. Prior to Ceres, she led transparency policy for humanitarian organization Oxfam in its global oil, gas, and mining program. She led advocacy and research on norms and standards related to contract, tax and payment transparency, as well as research initiatives on mining, oil and gas project economics, and oil and gas methane. She focused on geographies such as the United States, Canada, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and west, east and southern Africa and led engagement with oil and mining majors and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Previously, she was director of the U.S. chapter of the global coalition Publish What You Pay, working for best practice in extractives transparency norms and regulations. Prior to that, Munilla worked for nearly a decade at the World Resources Institute on global environmental norms and standards around extractive and forestry projects, including indigenous rights, land tenure, and related systems of private finance and public development finance. She holds degrees in journalism and French from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Maria Duaime Robinson, Director, Grid Deployment Office
Maria Duaime Robinson was the first Korean-American elected to the Massachusetts General Court, where she served in the House of Representatives from 2019 to 2022. While in office, Robinson led the bicameral Clean Energy Caucus; was the Massachusetts state lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, where she also served on the board; and was the only state legislator on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. She also served on the faculty at Tufts University’s School of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, bringing her expertise in energy policy to graduate students. Prior to her election in 2018, Robinson led Advanced Energy Economy’s (AEE) Wholesale Markets Program, including engagement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the regional transmission organizations. Previously, she focused on regulatory issues relating to energy and air, including a 27-state campaign with governors’ offices, legislatures, and energy and environmental regulators. She also managed AEE’s report development and data-driven analysis at both the state and national level. She workedfor Navigant Consulting in the renewable energy practice, supporting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in analyzing and procuring contractors for statewide renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Robinson is a proud lifetimeGirl Scout. She holds an S.B. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Jurisprudence in energy law from the University of Tulsa.

Sonja Thrasher, Special Assistant for Advance, Office of Management
Sonja Thrasher most recently served as a White House advance associate supporting official domestic and international visits for the Biden-Harris Administration. She previously worked for the Warnock for Georgia campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Tom Steyer presidential campaign, in addition to the Center for Global Development. A California native, Thrasher holds a B.A. in international studies with a minor in conflict resolution and a B.A. in dance from the University of California, Irvine.

Zachary Valdez, Chief of Staff, Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains
Zachary Valdez previously developed strategy for diversity, equity, inclusion, and future workforce policy at the Office of Advanced Manufacturing within the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. Dr. Valdez has extensive experience with science, technology, engineering, and math outreach and engagement with national non-profits. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, where he served on the Energy and National Resources Committee of the U.S. Senate. Valdez received his academic degrees in his native state of Texas, with a Ph.D. from Baylor University and engineering and physics B.S. degrees from St. Mary’s University.

Current appointees taking on new roles are listed below:

Tony G. Reames, Deputy Director for Energy Justice, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity
Tony G. Reames was most recently Senior Advisor in DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Reames previously was professor of environment and sustainability at the University of Michigan, where he established the Urban Energy Justice Lab to conduct research and develop solutions on the production and persistence of racial, income, and geographic disparities in energy access, affordability, decision making, and participation. Reames served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and worked in both the private and public sectors as a licensed professional engineer. He earned a B.S. in civil engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a Master of Engineering Management from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in public administration from the University of Kansas.

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