Celeste Connors

Celeste has over a decade of experience working at the intersection of economic, trade, environment, energy, and international development policy.

Before starting c.dots development, Celeste was the Director for Environment and Climate Change at the National Security Council and National Economic Council in the White House, where she helped shape the Administration's economic priorities and initiatives. In this capacity, she developed US climate change, environment, and clean energy policies for a myriad of international institutions, including APEC, the G8, and the G20. Celeste was a key driver behind the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), the green growth strategy for the 2011 US-hosted APEC Summit in Honolulu, and building innovative public-private partnerships in advance of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

Prior to joining the White House, Celeste served as a diplomat in Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Germany. She also held positions at the US Mission to the United Nations, served as the Climate Change and Energy Advisor to the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs at the US Department of State, and worked for the City of New York.

Celeste is also a Visiting Scholar and Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and teaches courses in international energy and environmental policy. Celeste holds an MSc in Development Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. She is also studied at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, and is proficient in German and conversational in Greek and British English. 

Raised in Kailua, Oahu, Celeste divides her time between Hawai‘i and Washington DC.

Washington, DC | Honolulu, HI


Shalini Vajjhala

Shalini is an architect with an interdisciplinary background and expertise in green design, engineering, economics, and policy.

Before starting c.dots development, Shalini served as Special Representative in the Office of Administrator Lisa Jackson at the US Environmental Protection Agency. In this position, she led the US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JIUS) announced in March 2011 by Presidents Obama and Rousseff. The JIUS was a signature initiative of the June 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), demonstrating how environmental protection can serve as a driver for economic growth and job creation in building the greener economies and smarter cities of the future.

Previously, Shalini served as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of International & Tribal Affairs at the US EPA and as Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Climate at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. She joined the Obama Administration from Resources for the Future, where she spent several years researching a variety of energy and environmental issues.

Shalini received her PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and was an architect and community organizer in Pittsburgh before moving to Washington, DC. She is fluent in Telegu, conversational in Hindi and Portuguese, and dangerous in several other languages.

Shalini is a bike-share enthusiast and is happy to talk with anyone about sustainable development on a bicycle.


Washington, DC | Honolulu, HI