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President Joe Biden announced the names of 26 people representing 15 states and the District of Columbia to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council to recommend strategies for the nation’s critical infrastructure.
According to the White House’s Aug. 31 statement, NIAC will advise the administration on how to reduce physical and cyber risks and improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure sectors.
The group consists of members with a varying expertise and different viewpoints who provide an independent yet collective voice to help guide national policy.
Ogunlesi (left) and Lehman
For the new council, Biden appointed Adebayo Ogunlesi and Maria Lehman, both of New York, as chair and vice chair, respectively.
Ogunlesi is a leading independent asset manager focused on infrastructure. He is chairman, CEO and founder of Global Infrastructure Partners, which manages more than $84 billion in assets. He previously worked for 23 years in various senior positions at Credit Suisse.
Lehman, incoming president for the American Society of Civil Engineers, is a 40-year civil engineer with expertise in public and private transportation.
ASCE issued a statement congratulating Lehman on her post while noting she will bring “strong and knowledgeable leadership, enabling the group to advance the priorities of the administration and ensure that policies are developed with the resilience of our nation’s infrastructure top of mind.”
What is NAIC?
The National Infrastructure Advisory Council, established in October 2001 by President George W. Bush, was created to advise the president on practical strategies for industry and government to reduce complex risks to critical infrastructure.
It also applauded the selection on the council of Norma Jean Mattei, former ASCE president and its New Orleans member of the Structural Engineering Institute. ASCE noted her experience in sustainable engineering and construction along with large watershed management initiatives will be critical to creating resilient and sustainable national infrastructure.
“The individuals announced today are leading senior executives with deep experience across a broad range of sectors including banking and finance, transportation, energy, water, dams, defense, communications, information technology, health care services, food and agriculture, government facilities, emergency services and higher education,” the White House stated.
Representing 15 states and the District of Columbia are: Patricia Sims of Alabama; Clara Lee Pratte of Arizona; Anthony Thomas of Arkansas; Audrey Zibelman, Pasquale Romano, Beverly Scott, L. Vance Taylor and Conrad Vial of California; David Gadis of the District of Columbia; Sadek Wahba and Madhu Beriwal of Florida; Michael Hayford of Georgia; Constance Lau of Hawaii; Camille Batiste, Gil Quiniones and Jorge Ramirez of Illinois; Joshua Descant and Mattei of Louisiana; Christine Fox of Maryland; Ogunlesi and Lehman of New York; Alan Armstrong of Oklahoma; Deneen DeFiore of Ohio; Manu Asthana of Pennsylvania; Christopher Wiernicki of Texas; and Robert Work of Virginia.
Wiernicki is chairman, president and CEO of the American Bureau of Shipping and chair of ABS Group of Cos. ABS is a global maritime technical and standards organization that provides classification, certification, technical and risk management services.
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Serving on the Alabama State Port Authority’s board of directors is Sims, also president of Drake State Community & Technical College, a historically black college in Huntsville.
“It’s an honor to be asked to serve on this much-needed council,” Sims said. “Our work at Drake State is always about improving the lives of individuals for the betterment of our community. We address workforce needs in key areas of technology and health care that play a role in cybersecurity and disaster preparedness.”
Romano is president and CEO at ChargePoint, the world’s largest electric vehicle charging network based in Campbell, Calif.
“As our country continues to make the transition to electric mobility, it’s essential that there is reliable, equitable and accessible EV charging everywhere that people live, work and spend their time,” said Romano, adding he welcomed the opportunity to represent the EV charging sector on NIAC.
Electric power experts to serve on the council are Lau and Quiniones. Lau previously headed Hawaii’s largest public company that provided electric energy and served 95% of the state. She is a current board member of Matson Inc., an ocean shipping, truck, rail and logistics firm.
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Quiniones is CEO of ComEd, which provides energy for 4 million residential and business customers representing 70% of Illinois’ population. He oversees electric grid management for Chicago and most of northern Illinois.
Overseeing the largest electrical grid in North America is new council member Asthana, CEO and president of PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates wholesale electricity movements for 65 million people in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
“I am honored to be appointed to this role at such a pivotal and transformational time in the energy industry’s history,” Asthana said. “At PJM, we understand the critical importance that electricity plays in the daily lives of Americans, and our top priority is the reliability and safety of the electric grid.”
With a background in supply chain issues, Batiste is senior vice president of global supply chain and procurement at ADM, an agricultural origination and processing company that bills itself as a global leader in nutrition for people and animals.
Since its formation, NIAC members have conducted 30 in-depth studies resulting in 300 recommendations to the executive office.