WASHINGTON DC- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that seven new Biden-Harris administration appointees are joining the Department to work with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm to pursue the ambitious goals of President Biden on clean energy and moving to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. With these new hires and recent promotions, DOE appointees continue to be a historically diverse team, with 58% of women, 57% people of color and 15% of staff identifying as LGBTQ+.
“We are thrilled to welcome an incredible array of talented people to the Department of Energy, who bring their experience at all levels – from industry and academia, and from town halls to the White House,” said the DOE. Chief of Staff Christopher Davis. “These appointees understand the importance of this moment and will tackle the increasingly critical work of delivering on President Biden’s bold climate action goals.”
The new appointees are listed below:
Christopher Castro, Chief of Staff, Office of State and Community Energy Programs
Christopher Castro previously served as Senior Advisor to Mayor Buddy Dyer and Director of Sustainability and Resilience at the City of Orlando, Florida. Castro is well known for his entrepreneurial efforts prior to his work in Orlando, including serving as co-founder and chairman of several companies and organizations, including nonprofit IDEAS For Us for global sustainability, clean energy consulting firm Citizen Energy and urban agriculture. social enterprise Fleet Farming. In 2020, Castro also served as founding director of Climate First Bank, the first B Corp community bank in Florida working to advance environmental, social and governance principles and local investment in sustainability and decarbonization solutions. A native of Miami, Florida, Castro holds a BS 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 legislative aide to US Senator Richard Blumenthal, working on energy, environment, banking and economic policy. She has worked on environmental issues related to land and water conservation, as well as financial services policy aimed at addressing socio-economic inequalities. Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Marist College, where she was an NCAA Division I track and field athlete. She is from Bristol, Connecticut and enjoys visiting friends and family regularly.
Amanda Finney, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Office of Public Affairs
Amanda Finney most recently served as the White House Press Office Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Finney was previously associate director of policy and communications for Sidewalk Labs. Prior to joining Sidewalk, she served as Deputy National Director of Women’s Outreach for Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. She served as Louisiana State Director, then joined Hillary for America’s digital correspondence team. Finney was President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign organizer and a member of 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 a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications.
Isabel Munilla, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Market Development, Climate and Multilateral Engagement, Office of International Affairs
Isabel Munilla most recently served as Director of US Financial Regulation for the Ceres Capital Markets Accelerator, an initiative of the non-profit organization Ceres. She led the legal and regulatory strategy for engagement with U.S. financial regulators to address climate finance risk, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve. She has worked closely with investors, companies and civil society groups to enable a common understanding of changing market expectations of business performance around physical and transition risks, including the exposure to greenhouse gases. Prior to Ceres, she led transparency policy for the humanitarian organization Oxfam in its global oil, gas and mining program. She has led advocacy and research on norms and standards related to contract, tax and payment transparency, as well as research initiatives on the economics of mining, oil and gas projects and petroleum methane. and gas. 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 majors and Mining and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Previously, she was director of the US chapter of the global Publish What You Pay coalition, working for best practices in extractive industry transparency standards and regulations. Prior to that, Munilla worked for nearly a decade at the World Resources Institute on global environmental norms and standards relating to extractive and forestry projects, including indigenous rights, land tenure and related private finance systems. and public financing for development. She has degrees in journalism and French from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Maria Duaime Robinson, Director, Network 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. During her tenure, Robinson led the bicameral caucus on clean energy; was the Massachusetts state chair for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, where she also served on the board of directors; and was the only state legislator on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. She also served on the faculty of the School of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Tufts University, providing expertise in energy policy to graduate students. Prior to his election in 2018, Robinson led the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) wholesale markets program, including engagement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and regional transmission organizations. Previously, she focused on energy and air regulatory issues, including a 27-state campaign with governors’ offices, legislatures, and energy and environmental regulators. She also managed the AEE’s report development and data-based analysis at the state and national level. She worked for Navigant Consulting in the area of renewable energy, supporting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in analyzing and sourcing contractors for statewide renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Robinson is a proud lifelong Girl Scout. She holds an SB in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Jurisprudence in Energy Law from the University of Tulsa.
Sonja Thrasher, Advance Special Assistant, Office of Management
Sonja Thrasher most recently served as an advanced White House 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 native of California, Thrasher holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies with a minor in conflict resolution and a bachelor’s degree in dance from the University of California, Irvine.
Zachary Valdez, Chief of Staff, Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains
Zachary Valdez previously developed a 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 in science, technology, engineering, and math outreach and engagement with national nonprofit organizations. He is also an alumnus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s prestigious Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, where he served on the US Senate’s Energy and National Resources Committee. Valdez earned her college degrees in her home state of Texas, with a Ph.D. from Baylor University and engineering and physics degrees from St. Mary’s University.
Current appointees taking on new roles are listed below:
Tony G. Reames, Associate Director for Energy Justice, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity
Tony G. Reames was most recently Senior Advisor in the DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Reames was previously a professor of environment and sustainability at the University of Michigan, where he established the Urban Energy Justice Lab to conduct research and develop solutions to the production and persistence of racial, income, and geographic disparities in the world. energy access, affordability, decision-making, and participation. Reames served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and worked in the private and public sectors as a licensed professional engineer. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a Masters in Engineering Management from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in public administration from the University of Kansas.