Karen Alderman Harbert

President and Chief Executive Officer, Institute for 21st Century Energy

Karen Alderman Harbert is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy (Institute). 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 international organization dedicated to advancing a constructive energy agenda with the business community, policymakers, and consumers. Harbert frequently testifies in front of Congress and provides analysis to the media, policymakers, and industry leaders.

Harbert led the Energy Institute’s development of its comprehensive Energy Works for US platform, which provides policy recommendations to secure our nation’s energy future and create millions of jobs, billions of dollars in revenue, and trillions of dollars of private investment. The Institute has attracted grassroots advocates across the nation supporting its efforts to capitalize on America’s tremendous energy promise. Under Harbert’s leadership, it established the groundbreaking Index of Energy Security Risk and the International Index of Energy Security Risk, the first tools to quantify America’s energy security on an annual basis.

Harbert is an appointed member of the National Petroleum Council, an industry advisory organization that advises the Secretary of Energy on issues related to the oil and gas industries.

Harbert is the former assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). She was the primary policy adviser to the secretary of energy and to the department on domestic and international energy issues. She negotiated and managed bilateral and multilateral agreements with other countries and also served as vice chairman of the International Energy Agency, which advises its 28 member nations on energy policy issues and orchestrates international responses to energy supply disruptions.

Prior to joining the DOE, Harbert was 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. She received a degree in international policy studies and political science from Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Harbert resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.


The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.