There are two Pelosis with important jobs in Washington.
Yes, they’re related. But they occupy different worlds.
Everyone is familiar with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 83, the two-time Democratic speaker of the House who since 1987 has represented San Francisco and outlasted six presidencies, and possibly a seventh.
The other one is more of a mystery. Alexis Pelosi is the congresswoman’s niece-in-law and senior climate adviser to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge. She joined Fudge’s office in January after holding a similar position with the HUD Community Planning and Development office in 2022.
Alexis Pelosi, 52, is virtually unknown in a city where her last name can elicit strong feelings. Yet she holds sway over programs that steer billions of dollars toward making buildings and homes more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
She declined to be interviewed, but in a written response to emailed questions she said her directive under the Biden administration is to help promote Fudge’s vision that “HUD be a part of the solution” to climate change, adding, “I am honored to be in a position to advance this important work.”
Unlike her firebrand relative who continues to loom large over U.S. politics, Alexis Pelosi has maintained a much lower profile since moving to Washington from San Francisco, where she founded the Pelosi Law Group in 2011. The self-described “boutique” firm, now called the Peter Ziblatt Law Group, represents commercial and residential developers in real estate transactions and land use regulation.
Her current office is in the imposing Robert C. Weaver Federal Building on L’Enfant Plaza, where she has become part of HUD’s supersized bureaucracy and mission to ensure all Americans have access to safe, affordable housing amid rising threats from climate change.
Among other things, she is charged with executing multibillion-dollar programs drawn up in HUD’s 2021 climate action plan, which has received big cash infusions from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Aides to Alexis Pelosi said she has settled into the job. But the agency did not provide a statement from Fudge about how closely she and Pelosi work together. Fudge is a former Ohio congresswoman who once considered challenging Nancy Pelosi for the speakership.
What appears clear — based on interviews, public records and social media — is that Alexis Pelosi works within the technocratic confines of government rather than at the tip of the political spear, where her in-law remains both revered and reviled.
Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the nation and Fudge “are well-served by Alexis Pelosi’s leadership, knowledge and relentless commitment to climate resilience.”
The family link between the two women runs through Alexis’ husband, Laurence Pelosi, whose father, Ronald, is an older brother of the congresswoman’s husband, Paul Pelosi.
Laurence Pelosi is an attorney and senior managing director at Crow Holdings, a major real estate firm that recently expanded into the renewable energy sector as a developer of community- and utility-scale solar arrays and battery storage projects.
Last year, Alexis and Laurence Pelosi donated $100,000 to Georgetown University to endow a scholarship in the McCourt School of Public Policy. In a university press release, Alexis Pelosi said the money would “advance opportunities for underrepresented students who want to explore careers in public service, and deepen the impact they can have on our democracy.”
Alexis Pelosi came to Washington with environmental policy credentials. She holds a master’s degree in environmental science from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Earlier in her career, she worked as a deputy city attorney in Oakland. Then, over two decades in private practice, she lent her legal skills to urban planning and housing advocacy efforts.
Alicia John-Baptiste, president and CEO of the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, or SPUR, a nonprofit where Pelosi served on the executive board for two years, described her as “incredibly active and engaged,” particularly in Oakland.
The city across the Bay Bridge is demographically divergent from San Francisco. Two-thirds of Oakland’s population is non-white, one in 10 families lives below the federal poverty threshold, and the median home price hovers around $875,000, according to Redfin, the real estate tracking firm.
“I don’t think that the [Pelosi] name has ever been an obstacle to getting to know her or her involvement in the community. She just doesn’t operate that way,” John-Baptiste added. “What you got from her was ‘Alexis.’ It wasn’t ‘Alexis Pelosi.’”
In Washington, Pelosi has remained mostly out of the headlines, including from HUD’s own news releases touting its climate efforts.
Last month, when HUD awarded its first grants under its $800 million “Green and Resilient Retrofit Program” — a major part of Pelosi’s portfolio — she stayed out of the limelight and instead posted a congratulatory message to HUD staff on her LinkedIn account.
In response to E&E News’ questions, Alexis Pelosi said little about her experience on climate and housing issues before arriving at HUD, nor did she answer questions about her relationship to the former speaker.
One of her only known HUD media events outside Washington was in Yonkers, New York, where in September she toured several Housing Authority sites, including the construction of a $44 million apartment complex for low-income seniors that’s being built with a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability.
Last month, she participated in an Aspen Institute panel in Miami Beach, Florida, where she noted that natural disasters displaced more than 3 million adults from their homes in 2022. Nearly a half-million did not return home.
“This loss of housing highlights the need to invest in resilience, adaptation and sustainability because affordable housing is more than just the cost of rent,” Alexis Pelosi said. “It is a home that can withstand the next storm or storms and one that weathers our uncertain climate future.”
The event foreshadowed a much larger gathering of climate experts and luminaries next March called “Aspen Ideas: Climate,” also in Miami Beach. Nancy Pelosi helped open the conference in 2022 by calling climate change “as big as the sky itself.”
In addition to her voluntary role at SPUR, Alexis Pelosi also was a board member of the Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition and the California steering committee of Up for Growth, an national nonprofit dedicated to housing supply and affordability.
She also has been a political campaign fundraiser and contributor. She gave more than $19,000 to President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, according to campaign finance records. She also donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and Democratic congressional candidates, including $1,500 to Nancy Pelosi. She is also a regular donor to ActBlue, a Democratic political action committee.