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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Announces Key Executive Leadership at U.S. AI Safety Institute


The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) at Commerce will house the U.S. AI Safety Institute 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced today key members of the executive leadership team to lead the U.S. AI Safety Institute (AISI), which will be established at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Raimondo named Elizabeth Kelly to lead the Institute as its inaugural Director and Elham Tabassi to serve as Chief Technology Officer. The U.S. AI Safety Institute was established under NIST at the direction of President Biden to support the responsibilities assigned to the Department of Commerce under the President’s landmark Executive Order.

“For the United States to lead the world in the development of safe, responsible AI, we need the brightest minds at the helm. I’m proud to announce that Elizabeth Kelly will lead the AI Safety Institute. I’m also thrilled that Elham Tabassi will expand her work at NIST and play a central role on our executive leadership team. Together, they will provide the direction and expertise we need to mitigate the risks that come with the development of this generation-defining technology, so that we can harness its potential,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we’re in a position of power to meet the challenges posed by AI, while fostering America’s greatest strength: innovation.” 

“Elizabeth has been a driving force behind President Biden’s AI executive order to advance safe, secure, and trustworthy AI. I am thrilled that she will now be standing up the AI Safety Institute under Secretary Raimondo’s leadership,” said Bruce Reed, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. 

“Elizabeth Kelly is a great choice to lead the AI Safety Institute, which is essential for governing and benefitting from AI. She brings an understanding of the real-world implications of AI—how the use of this powerful technology affects people and business. I’m confident she will build on NIST’s strong track record to deliver on the charges in President Biden’s executive order,” said White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director and former NIST Director Arati Prabhakar.

“Elizabeth is a talented leader who shaped the President’s agenda on tech and financial regulation and worked to build broad coalitions of stakeholders. She was a key contributor to the design and implementation of the President’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence. Elizabeth has been a valued member of President Biden’s team at the White House, and we are delighted that she will continue to advance the President’s agenda on AI at the Department of Commerce,” said Lael Brainard, National Economic Advisor. 

“I am confident that under the leadership of Elizabeth Kelly, and Elham Tabassi, the U.S. AI Safety Institute will be well positioned to develop the measurement science needed to promote safe and trustworthy development of AI,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio

“The Safety Institute’s ambitious mandate to develop guidelines, evaluate models, and pursue fundamental research will be vital to addressing the risks and seizing the opportunities of AI. I am thrilled to work with the talented NIST team and the broader AI community to advance our scientific understanding and foster AI safety. While our first priority will be executing the tasks assigned to NIST in President Biden’s executive order, I look forward to building the Institute as a long-term asset for the country and the world,” said Elizabeth Kelly, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. 

“The USAISI will advance American leadership globally in responsible AI innovations that will make our lives better. We must have a firm understanding of the technology, its current and emerging capabilities, and limitations. NIST is taking the lead to create the science, practice, and policy of AI safety and trustworthiness. I am thrilled to be part of this remarkable team, leading the effort to develop science-based, and empirically backed guidelines and standards for AI measurement and policy,” said Elham Tabassi, Chief AI Advisor for NIST. 

Elizabeth Kelly, as AISI Director, will be responsible for providing executive leadership, management, and oversight of the AI Safety Institute and coordinating with other AI policy and technical initiatives throughout the Department, NIST, and across the government. Elizabeth Kelly serves as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House National Economic Council, where she helps lead the Administration's efforts on financial regulation and technology policy, including artificial intelligence. Elizabeth was a driving force behind the domestic components of the AI executive order, spearheading efforts to promote competition, protect privacy, and support workers and consumer, and helped lead Administration engagement with allies and partners on AI governance. Elizabeth holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, and a B.A. from Duke University.

Elham Tabassi, as the Chief Technology Officer, will be responsible for leading key technical programs of the institute, focused on supporting the development and deployment of AI that is safe, secure and trustworthy. She will be responsible for shaping efforts at NIST and with the broader AI community to conduct research, develop guidance, and conduct evaluations of AI models including advanced large language models in order to identify and mitigate AI safety risks. Elham Tabassi has played a leading role in the Department’s AI work at NIST, and in 2023 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in AI. As NIST’s Trustworthy and Responsible AI program lead, she spearheaded development of the widely acclaimed NIST AI Risk Management Framework (AI RMF), a voluntary tool that supports better management of risks to individuals, organizations, and society associated with AI. Tabassi is a Senior Research Scientist and most recently served as the Associate Director for Emerging Technologies in NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory (ITL). In that role, she helped guide strategic direction for research, development, standards, testing and evaluation in the areas of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.