Meet the Executive Director
Biden-Harris Administration Presidential appointee Christine Harada serves as the Executive Director of the Permitting Council. As Executive Director, Harada assists Permitting Council member agencies in managing a portfolio of nearly $100 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects—most of which are renewable energy, coastal restoration, and electricity transmission projects. She assists Federal agencies in developing and implementing comprehensive, project-specific timetables for all required infrastructure permitting reviews and authorizations for FAST-41 covered infrastructure projects, advancing the administration's infrastructure agenda to rebuild the economy.
Harada brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in the public and private sectors to the Permitting Council. Harada was most recently the Vice President for Government Affairs at Heliogen, a California-based renewable energy technology company. Previously, she served as the President of i(x) investments, a company focused on impact-driven investments in critical areas such as renewable energy, green real estate development, and accessible smart and sustainable housing. She was a Partner with Ridge-Lane Limited Partners, an advisory firm of experts in private sector innovation, investment capital, and government policy that works with companies pursuing social and environmental impact, along with financial performance.
As the former Federal Chief Sustainability Officer under President Barack Obama, Harada oversaw all federal sustainability-related initiatives in energy, vehicle fleets, and acquisitions. She also served as the Acting Chief of Staff, the Associate Administrator of Government-wide Policy, and Chief Acquisition Officer at the U.S. General Services Administration.
Harada has worked as a Senior Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin and as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and Booz Allen Hamilton. She holds a master's degree in international studies from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School at Penn. Additionally, she has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in aeronautics and astronautics.
Manisha Patel is the Deputy Executive Director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council). Ms. Patel has over two decades of experience developing and implementing regulations, policies, and guidance for public agencies and the private sector to deliver infrastructure projects effectively and efficiently, while protecting our natural resources and producing positive outcomes for our communities. Her mastery of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and acumen for solving complex multi-jurisdictional problems, including working with a broad and diverse range of stakeholders, have yielded some of the fundamental federal environmental and energy efficiency regulations and policy of the last decade.
Prior to joining the executive staff at the Permitting Council, Ms. Patel was a Vice President at WSP, a global engineering services firm. At WSP, Ms. Patel led the Environmental Process and Policy Practice Team, providing cross-disciplinary strategic advice to deliver major infrastructure projects by using innovative approaches for accelerated environmental reviews and permitting approvals.
Ms. Patel shepherded the development of a Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) guidebook for the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. PEL is a collaborative approach to transportation decision-making that uses the community, economic, environmental and transportation goals developed during the planning stage to inform and accelerate the environmental review process under NEPA. She was also part of the team that identified and implemented the process used by the State of California to become the first state to assume federal environmental responsibilities from the Federal Railroad Administration under the NEPA Assignment Program (23 USC 327). Ms. Patel co-authored the handbook that describes the NEPA policies and practices used by the California High Speed Rail Authority to deliver the largest infrastructure project in the nation.
Ms. Patel’s former federal service includes serving as the Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to provide government-wide legal advice on NEPA. She also served as the Deputy Associate Director for Regulatory Policy at CEQ, working closely with federal agencies, state and local governments, stakeholders, and other White House offices to advance sound and practical policy. Prior to joining CEQ, she served in various capacities at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding leadership positions in EPA’s Office of General Counsel and Office of Regional Counsel (Region 6).
Ms. Patel served as a primary reviewer for the 2015 U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Red Book: Synchronizing Environmental Reviews for Transportation and other Infrastructure Projects. She also played an integral role in the drafting and implementation of key environmental provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. She was one of the architects of FAST-41.
Ms. Patel has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern University and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. She is also an alumna of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Executive Energy Leadership Academy. She hails from Lima, Ohio; started her career in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C.; proudly lived in Dallas, Texas; planted roots in Falls Church, Virginia; and now happily calls St. Louis, Missouri home.