Ali Zaidi is a non-resident Fellow at Columbia University. At the Center on Global Energy Policy, his research is focused on the intersection of energy, water, and climate change, which allows him to work across the Columbia community and in partnership with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Columbia Water Center.
Zaidi currently serves as Senior Advisor to Morrison & Foerster and as Precourt Energy Scholar at Stanford University. For eight years, Zaidi served in key roles within the Obama Administration. From 2014 to 2017, Zaidi was appointed by President Obama to be the Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In this role, Zaidi led a team of policy and budget experts 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; and the National Science Foundation.
As part of his duties, Zaidi served as OMB's chief policy official for implementation of the President's Climate Action Plan, which he helped design and draft. Implementation included efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions through technology, finance, and regulatory innovation; bolster extreme-weather resilience through analysis, disclosure, and mitigation of climate risk; and spur complementary private, philanthropic, subnational, and global climate action through new strategic partnerships. Zaidi was also a leader on a number of other aspects of the Administration’s economic and environmental policy. The team he led at the White House oversaw critical aspects of the Administration’s efforts on infrastructure, technology, fundamental science, and conservation.
Before his most recent White House appointment, Zaidi served in a number of other roles within the Obama Administration, including as policy aide to the U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and as the White House Domestic Policy Council’s Deputy Director for Energy Policy.