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Until her appointment Zichal served as the co-chair for the Energy and Environment Policy Team for the Obama transition team.  Zichal served as the Policy Director for Energy, Environment and Agriculture for Sen. Obama's presidential campaign. Prior, she served as the Legislative Director to Senator John Kerry where she coordinated domestic and foreign policy. In 2004, she was responsible for the Kerry campaign's energy and environment policies. She grew up in Iowa and is a graduate of Rutgers University.
Ms. Zichal is an ardent opponent of oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, supports expanded ethanol production and is a strong proponent of cap-and-trade. She also sits on the President's automotive task force. Zichal graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in environmental policy, during which time she co-authored a paper on reforestation and development in Puerto Rico. After graduation, Zichal began working with New Jersey's congressional delegation on environmental policy. She worked as the legislative director to Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), and later served in the same capacity for Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) from 2001 to 2002.
Zichal departed Pallone's office to serve as a legislative assistant to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). During Kerry's failed 2004 bid for the presidency, Zichal was his energy and environment policy adviser. In 2006, she became Kerry's legislative director, a post she held until July 2008, when she joined the Obama campaign. 
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- "Head Count: Heather Zichal," Washington Post, accessed April 2009.