- Former CEO of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection
- Controversial Obama appointee overseeing more than $16 billion in stimulus spending
Cathy Zoi is a leading environmentalist who has had a lengthy career in both government and the private sector. She holds a B.S. degree in Geology from Duke University and an M.S. in Engineering from Dartmouth College. During the early 1990s, Zoi pioneered the Energy Star Program, working as a manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. From 1993 to 1995, she was the Chief of Staff in the White House Office on Environmental Policy for the Clinton Administration.
From 1996 to 1999, Zoi was the founding CEO of the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), a $50 million fund to commercialize greenhouse-friendly technology in New South Wales, Australia. She then moved to Sydney, Australia, where she worked as Assistant Director General of the New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency. From 2003 to 2007, Zoi served as Group Executive Director at the Bayard Group, later renamed Landis+Gyr Holdings, an energy-management company which operates in 30 countries and has annual revenues exceeding $1.2 billion. In 2006, she partnered with Al Gore to create the Alliance for Climate Protection, a powerful and well-funded environmental group. Together Zoi and Gore advocated cap-and-trade legislation and promoted a federally funded transition to a new green economy in America.
At the Aspen Environmental Forum in March 2008, Zoi suggested that government involvement in creating a new green economy would be a key factor in pulling America out of its economic recession. “Just as munitions got us out of the [Great] Depression,” she told the audience, “the transition to a clean energy economy is going to get us out of this.” Zoi shared her vision of a “neighborhood by neighborhood mobilization that may be like the Peace Corps-meets-the-military, where literally SWAT teams go into neighborhoods and they retrofit every single house, every single business on main street.” She then defended the high cost of such an undertaking, saying “that it probably isn’t as cheap as the calculations on paper, but [we must] organize ourselves the way we would a military organization.”
On March 27, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Zoi as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. On June 19, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Zoi as Assistant Secretary, giving her oversight over the Department's $2.3 billion applied science, research, development and deployment portfolio and another $16.8 billion in funds that had been made available under Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (more commonly known as the 2009 Stimulus Package).
In August 2009, at the National Clean Energy Summit 2.0 held in Las Vegas, Zoi toured the city with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta, Obama "green jobs czar" Van Jones, and other progressive environmentalists. In a panel that included also Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Senator Reid, T. Boone Pickens, and Hilda Solis, Zoi again depicted the recession as the primary reason that the federal government had been able to move ahead with its plan to bankroll its green-economy initiatives. “We are getting involved in a lot of important financing activities right now because of what happened on Wall Street last year,” she said.
In January 2010, Fox Business’ John Stossel hosted Annette Meeks and Jonathan Blake of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota in a discussion regarding crony capitalism in the "green jobs" provisions of the 2009 Stimulus Package. According to Meeks and Blake, Zoi’s husband, Robin Roy, worked as the policy director of Serious Materials, which had gained a special Stimulus Package tax credit from the Department of Energy. Meeks and Blake also questioned how Serious Materials had managed to become the White House’s “poster child” for green jobs and economic recovery, noting that executives from the small window company had appeared publicly with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden six times in one year.
In February 2010, Glenn Beck cited Zoi as an example of the lack of transparency surrounding Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act. By April, other media outlets were disclosing that Zoi and her husband held a significant financial stake in Serious Materials and Landis+Gyr, two companies benefitting greatly from Stimulus Package spending. According to sources, Robin Roy owned options on 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, and was slated to receive an additional 2,500 shares every month until October 2012. Zoi, meanwhile, owned between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of stock in Landis+Gyr, the company for which she had worked from 2003 to 2007.