Chitra Kumar is the managing director of the Climate & Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, she provides leadership, strategy, and oversight for the UCS teams working to transform the US energy system into one that is equitable and powered by renewable electricity, and to address climate damages by ensuring polluters pay their fair share of these costs and that people have the tools and resources they need to build healthy, resilient communities.
Prior to joining UCS, Ms. Kumar served as the director of the Office of Policy, Partnerships, and Program Development, in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. In that position, she advised senior Biden administration officials and career EPA leaders on environmental justice and climate policies and programs, including the Justice 40 initiative, and a $3 billion Inflation Reduction Act provision for Environmental and Climate Justice Grants. She also helped shepherd the organization through a historic reorganization, laying out a vision for entirely new lines of work for the agency to integrate environmental justice principles throughout its programs and policies.
Locally, Ms. Kumar is an advocate for just land use and housing policies, member of the Virginia NAACP, and serves on Arlington Leadership Center for Excellence’s faculty.
Previously, Ms. Kumar was a senior fellow with the Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group and Thrive Rural, focused on bridging the fields of health, environment, and economic development to improve rural well-being. She also directed the Federal and State Division of EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization, and she served at the White House Council on Environmental Quality as the Deputy Associate Director for Water, where she contributed to high-profile water-related federal policies, including implementation strategies for clean water, water infrastructure finance, green infrastructure, and freshwater climate change resilience.
Ms. Kumar holds a master’s degree in city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA in international policy for environment and negotiation from Boston University. She has written op-eds for TheHill.org and been quoted by the Associated Press.