Laban L. Coblentz, strategic adviser to and communications specialist for the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will join Rensselaer as associate vice president for policy and planning and chief of staff to President Shirley Ann Jackson, effective Feb. 1. Coblentz will serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet, and will coordinate planning for the Institute, succeeding Cynthia McIntyre, who has announced her intent to return to the Washington, D.C., area.
“Dr. McIntyre has contributed her experience in the academic environment and managerial expertise to Rensselaer, and has helped to guide strategic initiatives at the Institute over the past eight and a half years,” President Jackson said. “Her guidance has fostered the progress of many areas of the Institute, and her contributions will continue to guide Rensselaer well into the future.”
Prior to joining the IAEA, Coblentz worked for Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman as a Congressional Fellow on the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1999 to 2000. He advised the senator on issues related to technology policy, helped to develop an unprecedented bipartisan initiative to involve citizens in online legislative planning known as “The e-Government Project,” and wrote legislation that became the E-Government Act of 2002.
He was also senior adviser to President Jackson from 1997 to 1999 when she served as Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), providing strategic analysis and helping to drive agency-wide strategic changes. Coblentz began his career in the United States Submarine Service, where he served as a nuclear operator and engineering laboratory supervisor onsubmarines.
“At Rensselaer, Mr. Coblentz will help guide our strategic priorities as outlined in The Rensselaer Plan through to their successful conclusion,” President Jackson said. “As an extremely accomplished administrator and policy analyst, he will provide strong leadership and organization to our educational and research ambitions now and into the future. He will guide the continued development of some of our most important platforms, from the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) to the Rensselaer Technology Park.”
Coblentz will coordinate and participate in strategic planning and decision making for the Institute, and will lead a steering committee planning the launch year of EMPAC and guiding its subsequent program development and implementation. He will oversee the strategic priorities of other important areas of Rensselaer including the Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush, which employs more than 2,400 Capital Region residents in 70 companies. He also will oversee the Rensselaer Office of Intellectual Property, Technology Transfer, and New Ventures, which includes the Office of Technology Commercialization and the Rensselaer Incubator Program. He also will lead a Presidential Communications and Media group in the Office of the President, which will coordinate with the Executive Communications program in the Division of Strategic Communications and External Relations.
In addition to these duties, Coblentz will coordinate the activities of the president’s office staff and coordinate and track the work of the President’s Executive Cabinet on Institute strategic priorities and the president’s priorities and objectives. He also will chair the President’s Committee on Honors and provide oversight of WRPI, the Institute’s student-run radio station.
Coblentz joins Rensselaer after serving for nearly eight years as communications adviser to the director general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei. His work with the IAEA began in 2000 and promoted peaceful applications of nuclear science and nuclear non-proliferation and security. As a key adviser to ElBaradei, Coblentz wrote speeches and helped outline strategic planning, communication, and management for the international agency. He also developed public policy on topics ranging from cancer treatment to nuclear inspections in Iraq and Iran. In 2005, the IAEA and ElBaradei were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and promote the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Coblentz received a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from Malone College in 1982 and a master’s in English from San Francisco State University in 1995. He was also trained at the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power Institute in nuclear propulsion engineering and radiochemistry in 1985.
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