Biden, Harris add energy, environment aides to White House roster

Source: By Timothy Cama, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden named an additional 21 people to fill out his National Security Council staff, including an aide focused on energy and climate change, while Vice President-elect Kamala Harris added 12 aides to her staff.

The NSC appointees, who do not require Senate confirmation, will work under incoming National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to formulate and coordinate Biden’s foreign policy, national security and defense operations.

“These crisis-tested, deeply experienced public servants will work tirelessly to protect the American people and restore America’s leadership in the world,” Biden said in a statement today. “They will ensure that the needs of working Americans are front and center in our national security policymaking, and our country will be better for it.”

Yohannes Abraham, currently the executive director of Biden’s transition team, will serve as Sullivan’s chief of staff and executive secretary. He was previously a senior adviser in the National Economic Council in the Obama administration, and chief of staff in President Obama’s Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Melanie Nakagawa will be senior director for climate and energy at the National Security Council. She was most recently director of climate strategy at investment firm Princeville Capital.

Her past roles include deputy assistant secretary for energy transformations at the State Department under Secretary John Kerry. She was also an attorney at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Other NSC aides named today include Sasha Baker, who will be senior director for strategic planning. She previously was a top policy aide to the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and helped formulate her numerous climate change policies.

Rebecca Brocato,the former director of strategy and government affairs at National Security Action, will become the National Security Council’s director of legislative affairs. Emily Horne, a former Brookings Institution spokeswoman, will become the security council’s chief spokeswoman.

Harris’ newly announced aides include Ike Irby to be her policy adviser. He is a marine scientist, and previously advised Harris’ presidential campaign and her Senate office on climate change, energy and environment policy.

Michael Fuchs will be the deputy to Harris’ chief of staff Tina Flournoy, while Kate Childs Graham will be director of speech writing.

“These deeply experienced public servants reflect the very best of our nation, and they will be ready to get to work building a country that lifts up all Americans,” Harris said. “Their counsel and expertise are grounded in a commitment to making sure our economy works for working people and all those looking to work.”