Shalini Vajjhala

Shalini Vajjhala

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Brookings Metro

Shalini Vajjhala is a nonresident senior fellow with Brookings Metro. She is the executive director of PRE Collective and a nationally recognized infrastructure and climate resilience expert with more than 15 years of experience designing, funding, and financing community-centered resilient infrastructure solutions. Over the last decade, she founded and led the design firm re:focus partners and co-founded The Atlas, an online platform for local government collaboration and innovation.  

Previously, Vajjhala held multiple positions in the Obama Administration, including special representative in the Office of Administrator Lisa Jackson at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she led the US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability; deputy assistant administrator in the Office of International & Tribal Affairs at EPA; and deputy associate director for Energy & Climate at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She joined the Obama Administration from Resources for the Future. She currently serves on the board of Smart Growth America. 


Vajjhala graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a doctorate in engineering and public policy and bachelor’s degree in architecture. She was also a visiting associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) from 2013 to 2014, where she designed and taught courses on international environmental diplomacy and case studies in sustainable development.  

  • Current Positions

    • Founder & CEO, re:focus partners
  • Past Positions

    • Special Representative in the Office of Administrator Lisa Jackson, US EPA
    • Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of International & Tribal Affairs at EPA
    • Deputy Associate Director for Energy & Climate, White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Education

    • PhD in Engineering & Public Policy and B.Arch in Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University
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