Melanie A. Kenderdine

Principal, Energy Futures Initiative


Melanie Kenderdine is a Principal of the Energy Futures Initiative and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. Kenderdine served at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from May 2013–January 2017 as the Energy Counselor to the DOE Secretary and concurrently as the Director of DOE’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. Her 100-person office was responsible for analysis and policy development in areas that included energy innovation, climate change, energy security, energy systems and infrastructure, and North American energy integration. She wrote or edited two installments of the Quadrennial Energy Review, and she helped conceive of and develop the Group of Seven (G7) Energy Security Principles adopted by G7 leaders in Brussels in 2014. In her capacity as Energy Counselor, Kenderdine provided key strategic advice on a broad range of issues across the DOE, including Mission Innovation, a 22-country and European initiative that supports transformational clean energy research, development, and deployment; North American grid integration and security; and the modernization of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

Prior to her service at DOE, Kenderdine helped to establish the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative (MITEI) and served as its Executive Director. During her six-year tenure at MITEI, she managed a large research and administrative staff, was a member of the research team for MIT’s Future of Natural Gas Study, was the rapporteur and editor for the MITEI Symposium Series, and edited the MIT Future of the Electric Grid study. Before joining MITEI, Kenderdine served as the Vice President of Washington Operations for the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) from 2001 to 2007. While at GTI, Kenderdine established a separate not-for-profit company, the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), taking it from a memorandum of understanding between GTI and one university, to an industry/academic unconventional natural gas research consortium of 26 universities and 30 industry partners. Kenderdine served as the original Chief Executive Officer of RPSEA and was one of its founding board members. Concurrently, she was a key architect of a statutorily established Royalty Trust Fund, the only federal trust fund dedicated to energy research and development.

From 1993 to 2001, Kenderdine was a political appointee in President Bill Clinton’s administration, where she served in several key posts at DOE, including Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary, Director of the Office of Policy, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. She is the longest serving political appointee in the DOE’s 40-year history. Prior to joining DOE, Kenderdine was Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for New Mexico Congressman Bill Richardson.

In 2014, she was named by the National Journal as one of the top five women in Washington shaping energy policy. Kenderdine is on the Board of Our Energy Policy.Org and is a frequent lecturer and speaker on energy policy across the country and around the world. She has published articles in the World Energy Forum magazine and Physics Today, and co-authored chapters in two editions of the book Energy Security in the 21st Century: A New Foreign Policy Strategy. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico.