US DOE develops plan to attract, support women in clean energy

By Erin Voegele | May 03, 2012

The U.S. DOE announced a three-part plan aimed at attracting more women to clean energy careers, and supporting their advancement into leadership positions at the Third Clean Energy Ministerial in London. The plan will help implement the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment initiative (C3E), which is a Ministerial program that supports women in energy. According to the DOE, the new plan, pursued in partnership with the MIT Energy Initiative, is designed to translate the goals of C3E into concrete, meaningful action in the U.S. 

“The Department of Energy is committed to advancing American leadership in the global clean energy economy and capturing the new markets and jobs of the 21st century,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “We will be more successful in these endeavors if we harness the talents of all of our citizens. Through the U.S. C3E initiative announced today, we are excited to join with MIT to ensure we are leveraging the skills and experiences of women nationwide to help solve important national and international energy challenges.”

Features of the U.S. C3E plan include three basic parts: an ambassador program, an awards program and a symposium. According to DOE, under the ambassador component of the plan a cohort of distinguished senior professionals who share an interest in broadening recruitment, retention and advancement of highly qualified women in the clean energy industry will be brought together. These ambassadors have signed on to act as champions of the C3E goals, and will also serve as the selection panel for awards.

The awards program aims to recognize mid-career individuals who advance the leadership and accomplishment of women in clean energy. According to the DOE, six awards will be given out, each including a $10,000 prize. While specific nomination instructions are scheduled to be released by the DOE in the coming weeks, the department has noted that nominations can be made in several categories, including innovation and technology development, entrepreneurship and innovative business models, corporate implementation, policy and advocacy and advancements for the developing world. Winners are scheduled to be announced at the C3E Symposium in September.

The symposium, which is invitation only, is scheduled to take place Sept. 29. It will bring together a group that includes the program ambassadors, awardees, members of academia , nongovernmental organizations, members of industry, and representatives of other C3E partner governments.

The inaugural group of ambassadors includes:

-Merribel Ayres, president of Lighthouse Consulting Group LLC

-Jan Blittersdorf, president and CEO of NRG Systems Inc.

-Marilyn Brown, professor and Ph.D at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy

-Kateri Callahan, president of Alliance to Save Energy

-Eileen Claussen, president of Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

-Christine Eibs Singer, United Nations Principal, High Level Group—Sustainable Energy for All

-Melanie Kenderdine, executive director of MIT Energy Initiative

-Bob Marley, deputy director of the DOE’s Climate Change Policy & Technology

-Jan McFarland, director at large at the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies

-Rose McKinny-James, managing principal of Energy Works—Nevada

-Nancy Pfund, founder and managing partner of DBL Investors

-Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Installations & Environment.

-Maxine Savitz, vice president of the National Academy of Engineering and member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

-Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy at Wal-Mart

-Mary Anne Sullivan, parter at Logan Lovells US LLP

-Sue Tierney, managing principal of the Analysis Group

-Dymphna van der Lans, senior director of economic policy and climate & energy policy at German Marshall Fund

-Richenda Van Leeuwen, executive director of energy and climate for the United National Foundations’ Energy Access Initiative

-Carter Wall, director of performance solar division at Broadway Renewable Strategies

-Alla Weinstein, president and EO of Principle Power Inc.

The Clean Energy Ministerial, where the new C3E initiatives were announced, is a global form attended by the energy ministers and leaders of 23 governments. These leaders join together to promote policies and programs to advance clean energy technologies, share best practices and lessons learned, and encourage the transition to a global clean energy economy.

The C3E program was launched by nine governments at the first Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010, with the mission to inspire and connect women around clean energy with the hope attracting more young women into the sector. Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K., and the U.S. all committed to the program. Each country is responsible for developing its own implementation plan that will work best for its workforce, industry needs and available talents. 


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