Karen Alderman Harbert is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy (Institute). In this capacity, Harbert leads the Institute’s efforts to build support for meaningful energy action nationally and internationally through policy development, education, and advocacy.
Under Harbert’s leadership, the Energy Institute has evolved into a premier national and increasingly international organization truly dedicated to advancing a constructive energy agenda and transforming the energy and environmental debate into a widely supported plan of action.
At the Institute, she was instrumental in formulating 88 specific policy recommendations that were presented to President Obama and the members of the 111th Congress. Harbert frequently testifies in front of Congress and provides analysis to the media, policymakers and industry leaders.
Harbert is the former assistant secretary for policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). She was the primary policy advisor to the Secretary and to the department on domestic and international energy issues, including climate change, fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Harbert was also a member of DOE’s Executive Board as well as the Credit Review Board. She negotiated and managed bilateral and multilateral agreements with other countries and international agencies to further the nation’s energy security and research and development objectives. She was vice chairman of the International Energy Agency which advises its 27 member nations on energy policy issues and orchestrates international responses to energy supply disruptions.
Harbert was the deputy assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She had oversight of programs in 11 countries, totaling more than $800 million and 1,000 employees.
In the private sector, Harbert worked for a developer of international infrastructure and power projects valued at more than $9 billion in countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Harbert gained experience on issues associated with economic reform and privatization through earlier positions at the USAID, the Organization of American States, and the International Republican Institute.
Harbert received a degree in international policy studies and political science from Rice University in Houston, Texas. She is active in numerous international policy forums and resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.