Executive Spotlight: Isabel Reiff of ICF International

Ask Isabel Reiff what she most enjoys about her work as senior vice president of ICF International, a global professional services firm based in Fairfax, Va., and she’ll be the first to tell you: the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing issues of the day. Here Reiff shares the latest trends to watch in some of the most competitive market areas: housing, transportation, and the environment.

What do you most enjoy about working with federal and local government customers?

Isabel Reiff: We work on some of the most pressing and compelling issues of the day- affordable housing, sustainability, transportation, child welfare.  Most of our staff work at ICF because they are passionate about these issues and want to make a difference.  Working with government clients allows us to do this.

What are some of your goals this year for ICF’s government sector business development?

Isabel Reiff: We hope to apply many of the analytical tools that we have developed to the public discussion around climate and sustainability.  In addition we plan to go to market with integrated solutions that take advantage of our core capabilities in climate, energy, transportation, and environment . Also we’d like to increase what has been a growing trend for ICF, coupling our advisory services business with additional projects in the implementation area by leveraging our stronger presence in the state and local market as well as our growing capabilities in program management, IT solutions, strategic communications, and human capital.  We’ve been doing that increasingly over time and we plan to continue.   It allows our staff to actually see how their advisory services can make a real difference in these important policy areas.

What trends are you tracking in housing?

Isabel Reiff: The Department of Urban Housing Development as well as Rural Development USDA are major clients of ours; we have supported them for years. We are clearly looking at the programs that are coming up to deal with the foreclosure issues and that are leveraging the use of community development block grant funds to work for some of those programs.

What about environmental issues?

Isabel Reiff: Among the things that we are looking at is the extent to which the Federal government is going to play a larger role in directing the way states, localities and companies are going to have to deal with climate change.  For now it’s been a fairly disaggregated approach because there hasn’t been a Federal position on it and now there is.  We are looking at how the Federal government, Congress, state and regional entities –will all be trying to develop a United States position on these issues and how that will end up shaping the way companies and localities move forward.  The name of the game for us is integrated solutions that rely upon solid tools and analysis.  Because we have worked in these areas for 40 years and for virtually all stakeholders- we are not advocates, we believe we can help advance these solutions.  Our international offices, also working on these very same issues, will help inform the debate.

And transportation?

Isabel Reiff: In the area of transportation we have been tracking — and will continue to track — all the climate change and air quality initiatives.  We’re also looking at how initiatives around congestion management, infrastructure improvement, high speed rail are developed and the role they play in terms of climate change and environmental improvement.  We have been actively involved in environmental streamlining initiatives that seek win-win solutions where infrastructure projects can move along and environmental issues are adequately, and efficiently, managed.

You have a high profile job, how do you manage the stress?


Isabel Reiff:
Well, it is a fast moving job.  It is as close as I’ve ever gotten to playing a competitive sport.  While it is stressful it is also a significant adrenaline rush to both compete and to participate in discussions around issues that are on the front page everyday.  Somehow it seems to work and I would say I feel more energized than I fell stressed.

What’s something most people don’t know about you personally?

Isabel Reiff: I was an art history major in college—it has helped me recognize there is a requisite amount of creativity and magic—not just strategy and process — that should be part of most endeavors.

Interview conducted by JD Kathuria

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