to download Chairperson Sutherland's Biography
Vanessa Allen Sutherland was nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation in March of
2015 and confirmed by the Senate in August of 2015.
Prior to her appointment Ms. Sutherland served as the Chief Counsel for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation, whose mission is to protect people and the environment from the risks associated with hazardous materials transportation.
Prior to PHMSA, Ms. Sutherland spent seven years at Fortune 25 Philip Morris/ Altria Client Services in Richmond, Virginia. She managed technology transactions, procurement matters, data security and privacy, competitive intelligence, U.S. Customs issues, state and federal audits, and issues related to re-organization, dissolution and spin-off of international entities. Prior to her role at Altria, Ms. Sutherland spent six years in various legal roles at MCI/WorldCom, including Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for its webhosting and outsourcing subsidiary, eventually helping the subsidiary through legal matters that followed WorldCom’s admission of accounting fraud and irregularities and bankruptcy. During that time, Sutherland was profiled in the Legal Times for being a top, senior, minority, in-house lawyer. She also has worked briefly for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Inspector General and a law firm.
In 2012, she was the Recipient of a U.S. Secretary of Transportation Award at the 45th Annual Secretary’s Awards after only a year in her new position, and two Secretary’s awards in 2014. In 2010, she was the only in-house counsel recipient of thirty-one lawyers honored as "Leaders in the Law - 2010" for advancing the law, serving the community and improving the justice system in Virginia. She has been selected as a Fellow in both the Maryland State Bar (2005) and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (2011). She has been on the board or advisory committees of legal associations such as the Washington Metropolitan – Association of Corporate Counsel, Corporate Counsel Women of Color, Maryland State Bar, and the Virginia Bar Association.
Her non-legal contributions include having been the Vice Chairman of the Board for Peter Paul Development Center, whose mission is to help kids 7-18 by building a community of learners by engaging and challenging children, families and seniors in Richmond, Virginia’s East End neighborhood. She has been Vice President, President and a regional chair in Jack and Jill of America, Inc. – James River Chapter, Mid-Atlantic Region, has been top fundraiser annually for the March of Dimes–Central Virginia and has been a member of the fundraising arm of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.
After graduating high school at 16, Sutherland went on to obtain a B.A. from Drew University in New Jersey in Political Science and Art History after studying in London, England, to a J.D. and an M.B.A. from American University and a Certified Information Privacy Professional standing from the IAPP. She speaks French and is proficient in Spanish.