Two more Indian-Americans to join key Biden administration posts


US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday his intent to appoint Indian-Americans Manu Asthana and Madhu Beriwal to his National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). The NIAC advises the White House on how to reduce physical and cyber risks, and improve security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure sectors.

On Wednesday, the Biden White House announced the names of 26 experts “with deep experience across a broad range of sectors, including banking and finance, transportation, energy, water, dams, defence, communications, information technology, healthcare services, food and agriculture, government facilities, emergency services, and higher education” to the NIAC.

At present, Asthana is the Philadelphia-based CEO and President of PJM Interconnection, an energy distributor to 13 states and the District of Columbia. In a media release, the White House said, “Under his (Asthana’s) leadership, PJM has established a clear path for defining the grid operator’s role in the transition to a cleaner, more efficient grid while maintaining reliable electric service.”

The White House added, “Asthana has extensive leadership experience in the energy industry in the areas of power generation operations, optimisation and dispatch, competitive retail electricity, electricity and natural gas trading, and risk management. He is a member of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council and serves on the Board of Trustees of Texas Children’s Hospital.”

According to the White House, Madhu Beriwal founded Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM) in 1985 and continues to serve as CEO and President.

“IEM is the largest woman-led homeland security and emergency management firm in the United States,” the White House said. “Under Beriwal’s leadership, IEM has led some of the largest mitigation and resilience efforts across the United States, building back stronger following disasters including disaster recovery programs, delivering federal funds to survivors and communities faster than any other program of the same type and magnitude. For over 37 years, Beriwal has been dedicated to the use of technology to enhance preparedness and response and build resilience in communities and their critical infrastructure. She was inducted into the International Women in Homeland Security and Emergency Management Hall of Fame in 2012. She holds a master’s degree in urban planning and a bachelor’s degree in geography and economics.”