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Ali A. Zaidi is engaged in teaching, writing and research at the intersection of technology, policy, and financial innovation through Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy. Since 2017, Zaidi has taught graduate students in STEM on economic and technology policy topics related to climate change -- serving as as an Adjunct Professor for Materials Science 301, Engineering Energy Policy Change, and Chemistry 279, Chemophysical Analyses of Costs to Lower Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases. At Stanford, Zaidi has advanced scholarship on the economic and fiscal implications of climate change and public and private sector responses to those financial risks. In addition, Zaidi co-founded Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, a first-of-a-kind initiative that will connect sustainability-focused startups with pro bono legal services worth over $20 million by the end 2020. This initiative is being jointly facilitated by the Precourt Institute for Energy and Stanford Law School.
For eight years, Zaidi served in key roles within the Obama-Biden Administration. In 2014, President Obama appointed him the Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where he led a 60-person team that was responsible for overseeing a wide array of policy, budget, and management issues across a nearly $100 billion portfolio and a number of federal agencies, including the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works, the National Science Foundation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public utility. In this role, Zaidi also served as OMB’s chief policy official for implementation of the Climate Action Plan, which he helped design and draft, and was part of the delegation that negotiated the historic international climate change agreement in Paris. At OMB, Zaidi also led on aspects of other Obama-Biden Administration priority policies, including on infrastructure, transportation, technology, science, and conservation.
Before OMB, Zaidi served in a number of roles in the Administration, including as the Deputy Director of Energy Policy for the White House Domestic Policy Council; and as Senior Director for Cabinet Affairs at the White House.
Since leaving the Obama-Biden Administration, Zaidi has worked as a transactional and regulatory attorney and helped launch and lead his law firm’s sustainable investment practice. His practice is focused on clients with interests in sustainability and ESG, climate change, clean energy, advanced transportation, and water. He is also a leader on pro bono, as counsel on a diverse set of matters, including civil rights, global development, and impact investment.
Zaidi has also served as Vice Chair of Center for Carbon Removal; Trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation’s largest environmental nonprofit organizations; Director of America’s Promise Alliance and of The Generations Initiative; and Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute EEP’s Strategy Group on Future of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.
Zaidi holds an A.B. and J.D. from Harvard University and Georgetown University, where he was editor of the Georgetown Law Journal (GLJ) and executive editor of GLJ’s Annual Review of Criminal Procedure.