The Distinguished Visiting Fellows Program brings renowned energy experts and public and private sector veterans into the Columbia University community. During their appointments, fellows connect with researchers, scholars, and students to offer their real-world experiences in policy-making and problem-solving.
Each appointment is tailored to the background and needs of the fellow. The appointment is typically structured as a 12-month engagement, but can be extended or shortened depending upon the fellow’s needs.
What to expect
The Distinguished Visiting Fellow will receive a formal Columbia University appointment and may participate in any of the following activities:
Please send any additional questions to Kaime Domond
Former Minister of Energy and Mining, Chile
Juan Carlos Jobet is Chile’s former Minister of Energy and Mining. He was recently appointed as Dean of the School of Business & Economics at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez.
He led Chile’s successful energy transition, including a thorough carbon neutrality plan for the energy sector, a phase out plan for all coal power plants, the accelerated deployment of solar and wind capacity, the development of key transmission infrastructure, Chile’s first energy efficiency law, and an ambitious green hydrogen strategy to position Chile as a top global producer and exporter. In the mining sector, he developed Chile’s first comprehensive mining policy: a long-term strategy built with participation of all relevant stakeholders, that sets a vision for a sustainable, competitive and green mining.
He successfully managed several crises after the social unrest of October 2019 and during the pandemic. Both the energy and mining sectors operated without disruptions, jointly represented over 50% of Chile’s investment and played a key role in the economic recovery.
As energy minister, he played leadership roles in several international organizations and initiatives, including as chair of the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation 2021, and as co-chair of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.
Throughout his career, he has held several positions in both the public and private sector. He was undersecretary of housing and minister of labor and social security during president Piñera’s first government. He has also worked as investment banker and in private equity. He has held several executive and board positions in industries including pension fund management, real estate, forestry, fin tech, infrastructure and waste management.
He holds an MBA and an MPA from Harvard University, and a bachelor in business and economics from the Catholic University of Chile. He is married and the proud father of three daughters.
Former Colombia’s Minister of Energy and Mines
Diego Mesa Puyo is a global energy, sustainability, and extractive industries leader with over 15 years of experience in senior management and advisory roles in government, multilaterals, and the private sector. As former Colombia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, he led the design and implementation of the country’s energy transition and mining diversification policies between 2018 and 2022, including the first successful renewable energy auctions in the country in 2019 and 2021, the passage of the Energy Transition Law in 2021, and launching the roadmaps for low and zero emissions hydrogen and offshore wind power in 2021 and 2022. Before joining the Colombian government, Minister Mesa worked for several years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where he led technical assistance missions to advise Asian, African, European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries on fiscal matters relating to their energy and extractive industries. Prior to the IMF, he worked as a Manager in the Consulting and Deals Practice of PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) in Canada focusing on energy and extractive industries. Minister Mesa has appeared multiple times on Bloomberg TV, BBC World, CNN, the World Economic Forum, the International Energy Agency and CERAWeek to discuss energy and economic policies. Minister Mesa holds an M.A. and B.A. in Economics from McGill and Concordia University, respectively, and has been a CFA® charterholder since 2012.
UK High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26
Nigel Topping, CMG was appointed by the UK Prime Minister as UN Climate Change High Level Champion for COP26. In this role Nigel mobilised global private sector and local government to take bold action on climate change, launching the Race To Zero and Race To Resilience campaigns and, with Mark Carney, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Nigel is now a global advisor to governments, financial institutions and private companies on climate and industrial strategy. He is a non-executive director of the UK Infrastructure Bank, an Honorary Professor of Economics at Exeter University and was awarded the honor of CMG in Queen Elizabeth’s final honors list in 2022. Nigel read Mathematics at St Johns and won two rugby blues, before entering a career in the manufacturing industry.
Former Minister of Electricity, IraqLearn More
Former Deputy Secretary of Energy, MexicoLearn More
Chairman and CEO of Bohr Quantum TechnologiesLearn More
Former Majority Staff Director, House Select Committee on the Climate CrisisLearn More
Former Mayor, Los AngelesLearn More
Advisory Board MemberLearn More
Former Chair, California Air Resources BoardLearn More
Founder, Climate and Nature SolutionsLearn More
Former Minister of Electricity, Iraq
Dr. Luay al-Khatteeb is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Prior to this appointment he was former minister of Electricity & Member of the Federal Energy Council in the Republic of Iraq.Dr. Luay al Khatteeb is the founding director of Iraq Energy Institute, and a former Foreign Policy Fellow at Brookings Institution.
His professional experiences span over twenty years in business development and public policy with executive capacities as director and senior advisor to various multilateral institutions, international oil companies, commercial banks and management consulting firms. He is a frequent commentator on issues related to energy security, economics, and politics in the Middle East. He is working on two books, the first addresses the comparative energy policy frameworks in federal systems, and the second on the political economy of Iraq post 2003.His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, Brookings Institution, Harvard University, Columbia University, Oxford Energy Institute, The Middle East Institute, The National Interest, The Huffington Post, Al-Monitor, CNN, MEES, The Petroleum-Economist and The National of the UAE among others. Dr. al-Khatteeb earned his Ph.D. in Political Economy from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
Former Deputy Secretary of Energy, Mexico
Leonardo Beltran is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Columbia University´s Center for Global Energy Policy, a non-resident fellow at the Institute of the Americas, and an executive fellow of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. He is also serving his second three-year term on the Administrative Board of Sustainable Energy for All.
Mr. Beltran has had a distinguished 13-year career in public service in the government of Mexico, including as the longest serving Deputy Secretary of Energy (2012-2018). In this capacity, he led the Ministry´s coordination of Mexico´s National Energy Strategy, policy document that served as the foundation for the energy reform of 2013. He was also on the Board of Directors of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico´s national oil company and the world´s 10th largest oil producer and was alternate Chairman of the Board of Directors of Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico´s national power utility and a Global 500 company. Mr. Beltran also chaired the boards of the national laboratories of the energy sector (Mexican Petroleum Institute; National Institute of Electricity and Clean Energies; National Nuclear Research Institute), and presided the board of a billion usd R&D trust funds that created the Mexican Centers for Innovation on Energy (biofuels, CCS, geothermal, ocean, solar, and wind), the largest clean energy technology innovation networks in Latin America, and invested in the biggest talent development effort in the energy sector in the country.
Before serving as Deputy Secretary of Energy, Mr. Beltran held other leadership positions in the Ministry of Energy, including Director-General for Information and Energy Studies and Director for International Negotiations.
Mr. Beltran is currently also a member of the Advisory Board of the Just Transition Initiative (partnership between the Climate Investment Funds and the Center for Strategic and International Studies); a member of the Board of Fundación Por México (NGO focused on providing educational services to underserved communities); a member of the IPS International Association (global news agency); a member of the expert´s network and the Global Futures Council of the World Economic Forum; and a mentor of the Global Women´s Network for the Energy Transition. He is also consulting the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Energy Organization, and the World Bank on issues surrounding the energy transition.
Mr. Beltran is a leading expert in the energy transition, he has been named several times as one of the most influential leaders in the energy sector in Mexico and personality of the year in renewable energy (including in 2018).
He holds a Master’s in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).
Chairman and CEO of Bohr Quantum Technologies
The Honorable Paul M. Dabbar is an Adjunct Senior Research Scholar and former Distinguished Visiting Fellow at CGEP. He is also Chairman and CEO of Bohr Quantum Technologies, developing and deploying technologies for the emerging quantum internet.
Prior to that in 2017, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Mr. Dabbar to serve as the Department of Energy’s fourth Under Secretary for Science, where he served from 2017-2021. He managed several areas of the Department, as well as serving as the Department’s principal advisor on fundamental energy research, energy technologies, science, and commercialization of technologies. He managed over 60,000 people with a budget of $15 billion p.a. at over 100 sites, including managing the majority of the U.S. National Laboratories.
Areas of research he managed included basic energy sciences, nuclear and high energy physics, advanced computing, fusion, and biological & environmental research. He also led the largest environmental remediation program in the U.S., addressing the operations of nuclear weapons and commercial power production, completing several multi-billion dollar construction projects. He also led various new efforts to commercialize innovations arising from the National Labs. He co-led several new energy innovation efforts, including the Energy Storage Grand Challenge, as well as the passage and implementation of the National Quantum Initiative Act.
Mr. Dabbar was awarded in 2021 the Secretary of Energy’s senior DOE award, the James R. Schlesinger Medal, for leadership on developing energy technologies, discovery science, environmental management, and the National Quantum Initiative.
During his time in government service, Mr. Dabbar traveled to both the geographic North and South Poles. He traveled to the North Pole by submarine to conduct environmental research while in the Navy, and to the South Pole in support of high energy physics astronomy missions of DOE at South Pole Station.
Prior to confirmation as Under Secretary, Mr. Dabbar worked in operations, finance, and strategy roles in the energy sector. As a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan, he had over $400 billion in transaction experience across all energy sectors. In addition, he had a senior leadership role for the company’s commodity trading business, including energy. Before joining J.P. Morgan, Mr. Dabbar served as a nuclear submarine officer. He has been a lecturer at the U.S. Naval Academy, and conducted research at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Mr. Dabbar is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Dabbar has a bachelors from the U.S. Naval Academy, is a graduate of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear power and nuclear engineer programs, and a masters from Columbia University.
Former Majority Staff Director, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
Ana Unruh Cohen has spent the last two decades working on U.S. federal climate and energy policy in Washington, DC. She was most recently the majority staff director of the House Select Committee on the Climates Crisis, which released a comprehensive Congressional climate action plan in June 2020 that set the stage for energy and climate provisions in the 2020 omnibus appropriations act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPs and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Of the 715 recommendations in the plan, 314 became law and 438 passed the House of Representatives by the end of 2022.
Prior to joining the Select Committee staff, she was managing director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the NRDC Action Fund. She served as the Director of Energy, Climate and Natural Resources for Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) for four years. In the U.S. House of Representatives, she served as the Deputy Staff Director of the Natural Resource Committee Democratic staff from 2011 to July of 2013 and as the Deputy Staff Director and Chief Scientist of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming from 2007 through 2010. Dr. Unruh Cohen was the first Director of Environmental Policy at the Center for American Progress, where she worked from end of 2004 to early 2007. She has also served as a legislative aide to then-Congressman Edward J. Markey, handling various issues pending before the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Unruh Cohen originally joined Congressman Markey's staff as the 2001-2002 Science and Technology Policy Fellow sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
Dr. Unruh Cohen has a B.S. in chemistry from Trinity University and received her D.Phil. in Earth sciences from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar and a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipient. Dr. Unruh Cohen’s husband is an aerospace engineer and they have a daughter.
Former Mayor, Los Angeles
Mayor Eric Garcetti joins CGEP as a DVF. Eric Garcetti is a committed public servant, educator, and environmental activist. After serving twelve years as a Los Angeles city councilmember, including six as City Council President, Garcetti was elected as the 42nd Mayor of the City of Los Angeles in 2013 as the youngest mayor in Los Angeles history, and he was re-elected in 2017 with the widest margin ever recorded in his city. During his mayoralty, Garcetti led Los Angeles through crisis, charted a bold green future, and launched record investments in infrastructure. Under his watch, Los Angeles was named the best run city in America by the What Works Cities initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Named Public Official of the Year in 2019 by Governing Magazine, Garcetti brought a strong management culture of innovation, equity, and accountability to the 41 city departments he oversaw. He passed ten balanced budgets and left the city with a record budget surplus.
Garcetti raised the minimum wage, made community college free, and cut city business taxes, leading to a 27% reduction in poverty and a record number of new businesses. He brought an unprecedented focus on equity to city government, helping raise incomes of Black and Latino residents by 44% and 43% respectively, initiating model local-hire programs, and launching the nation’s largest guaranteed basic income program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Garcetti was praised for leading Los Angeles’ aggressive response, building the largest testing and vaccination sites in the world and adopting many of the earliest public health protections while keeping critical sectors of the economy going.
Garcetti earned a B.A. at Columbia College, Columbia University as a John Jay Scholar and an M.I.A. at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. After graduating, he was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, studying at The Queen’s College, Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Science. During 12 years as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Component, Garcetti served under the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Defense Intelligence Agency, retiring in 2017 as a Lieutenant. Garcetti was selected as Rockefeller Next Generation Leadership Fellow, an inaugural Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society, a Young Fellow of the French-American Foundation, a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and a Reboot Fellow. In 2005, he was awarded the New Frontier Award given each year by the Kennedy family and Kennedy Library to a young elected official who embodies President Kennedy’s vision of service.
Advisory Board Member
Cheryl A. LaFleur is an Advisory Board Member at the Center on Global Energy Policy. She is a nationally-recognized energy leader. Since 2019, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE), the independent, not-for-profit organization that plans and operates the power system and administers wholesale electricity markets for the New England region. She has been the Chairman of the ISO-NE board since 2021.
Previously, LaFleur was one of the longest-serving commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). nominated by President Obama in 2010 and 2014 serving until August 2019. She served as Chairman was 2014-15 and as Acting Chairman from 2013-14 and during 2017. She successfully navigated nearly a decade of change in the nation's energy industry, power supply, and political leadership, helping FERC respond effectively to major energy challenges and opportunities across the electric, natural gas, and oil sectors.
LaFleur helped lead the FERC's work to adapt the nation's energy markets and infrastructure to ongoing changes in the nation's resource mix due to the growth of gas and renewables and to changing climate and environmental goals. She also played a leading role in FERC's efforts to assure the reliability and security of the energy grid in response to emerging security threats.
Earlier in her career, LaFleur had more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in the electric and natural gas industry. She served as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA, responsible for the delivery of electricity to 3.4 million customers in the Northeast. She led major efforts to improve reliability and employee safety, and led award-winning conservation and demand response programs for customers.
LaFleur has been a nonprofit board member and executive and is a frequent speaker on energy and leadership issues. She has been recognized with several awards for energy policy and leadership, including the Carnot Prize for leadership in energy policy, the Vanguard Award for leadership on energy market issues, a Bipartisan Congressional Award for leadership in addressing emerging hazards to the grid. She began her career as an attorney at Ropes and Gray in Boston. She has a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an A.B. from Princeton University.
Former Chair, California Air Resources Board
Mary Nichols is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and the former Chair of the California Air Resources Board, where she occupied the attorney seat. She has served on the Board under Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (1975–82 and 2010–18), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (2007–2010) and Governor Gavin Newsom (2019–present). She also served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources (1999–2003), appointed by Gov. Gray Davis.
When not working for the State of California, Nichols was a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council; Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in the administration of President William Jefferson Clinton; and headed the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Over a career as an environmental lawyer spanning over 45 years, Nichols has played a key role in California and the nation’s progress toward healthy air. She has also led the Board in crafting California’s internationally recognized climate action plan. Nichols is a graduate of Yale Law School and serves on the faculty at the UCLA School of Law.
Founder, Climate and Nature Solutions
Catherine McKenna is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy. She is also the founder and principal of Climate and Nature Solutions and recently launched Women Leading on Climate at COP26 in Glasgow.
As Canada’s former Minister of the Environment and Climate Change she was a lead negotiator of the Paris Agreement (in particular Article 6 concerning carbon markets) before introducing and successfully defending landmark legislation that established a carbon price across Canada. She also led efforts to phase out coal, reduce plastics in oceans and waterways, and doubled the amount of nature protected in Canada in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
As Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, she made historic investments in public transit and green infrastructure, leveraged private sector investment through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and led the development of Canada’s first National Infrastructure Assessment to drive to net-zero emissions by 2050.
While in government, she helped establish the Powering Past Coal Coalition (with Canada, the UK and Bloomberg Philanthropies), the Ministerial on Climate Action (with Canada, the UK and China), the Women Kicking it on Climate Summit and the Nature Champions Summit, was Co-Chair of the World Bank's Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, and helped develop the Ocean Plastics Charter adopted at the G7 hosted by Canada in 2018.
Before entering politics, she worked as a competition and trade lawyer at leading firms in Canada and Indonesia and served as a senior negotiator with the United Nations mission in East Timor. She co-founded the charitable organization Level Justice. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and law degree from McGill. She is called to the Bars of Ontario and New York.
A mother of three who is also a passionate open water swimmer, she is focused on scaling climate and nature solutions to drastically reduce global emissions by 2030 and ensure a sustainable planet for future generations.