Karen Wayland

Distinguished Associate

Karen Wayland is a recognized expert in national energy and environmental policy and served in leadership positions at the highest levels of government and nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Wayland provides strategic consulting on policy development, coalition building and communications for major clean energy companies, national environmental organizations, local officials, and foundations. She recently launched kW Energy Strategies, a boutique shop offering services to businesses, states, nonprofits and others, applying her deep substantive policy and government expertise, broad network of relationships across the energy sector, and issue advocacy experience to accelerate the clean energy transformation. 

As Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Wayland managed comprehensive climate legislation, the federal response to the BP oil spill, and other energy, environment, and budget bills. As a political appointee and Senior Executive Service (SES) member at the U.S. Department of Energy, Wayland established a team in Secretary Ernest Moniz’s Energy Policy and Systems Analysis office to develop strategies for states, local authorities, and indigenous tribes to analyze emerging state and local policy issues. She led the Obama Administration’s national stakeholder outreach efforts for the first two installments of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), for which she was also one of the lead authors. She served as Senior Advisor for Domestic Energy Policy to the Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. She worked as a Congressional Science Fellow in the office of Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, where her portfolio included energy, nuclear waste, water, and Native American issues. 

Most recently, Dr. Wayland was the Executive Director of the Clean Energy Project, a Nevada-based nonprofit that produced the National Clean Energy Summit which convened business executives, government leaders, investors, and thought leaders around the benefits of clean energy. She was the Legislative Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council for five years, where she oversaw the organization’s federal environmental initiatives and political activity. She directed the Earth and Marine Sciences Program at Earthwatch, a nonprofit that funds scientific research through support from paying volunteers. She is on the board of the Center for Sustainable Energy, a nonprofit that implements state and local clean energy programs and is an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council to the National Test Site Historical Foundation, the nonprofit that manages the Smithsonian-affiliated National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, NV. 

Dr. Wayland has been an invited speaker across the United States on energy and environmental topics, women in energy, and the role of scientists in public policy. She has appeared as a commentator on major TV and radio programs, including CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. Wayland is a non- resident Senior Fellow with Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. Prior to moving to Washington, she conducted research and consulted in environmental geochemistry, watershed management, and ground and surface water modeling. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Connecticut and a Dual Ph.D. in the fields of geochemistry and resource development from Michigan State University.