Organization Recognizes Female Leaders in the Energy Industry
Women have a significant role to play in driving the rapid change needed to create a sustainable and equitable society, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo told members of New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE) on Thursday.
“We need your voice, and we need more women leaders,” she said at NEWIEE’s 10th annual awards gala. “You’re strong, you’re smart, you’re capable and you’re leaders.”
Raimondo encouraged attendees to accept leadership roles, be allies for other women and mentor young women.
“Get involved in locally led conservation efforts, park cleanups or coastal restoration projects, and make an effort to listen to people who have different perspectives and backgrounds from yours,” she said.
During the gala, Marcy Reed, former Massachusetts president for National Grid, said that there is value in bringing together the societal challenges of climate change and equity.
“Probably none of us remember a time when we’ve seen a tipping point as poignant as the U.S. is seeing now with the conviction of Derek Chauvin or the momentum of Black Lives Matter,” she said. “Just imagine all the good we can do for the world and future generations if we combine our passions for clean energy and ending systemic racism.”
NEWIEE presented Reed with the Board Recognition Award at the gala. During her 33 years at National Grid, she also served as executive vice president for energy policy and social impact and spent three years as the head of investor relations.
The challenges that come with climate change also create opportunities for leadership, Reed said.
“The number of opportunities facing us with clean tech — exciting upgrades to our networks; solving the puzzle that is the future of gas; discovering affordable ways to decarbonize power, heat and transportation; and the many regulatory and policy shifts we encounter every day — enable us to use our smarts and our creativity to bring about meaningful change,” she said.
Rising Star Award
NEWIEE recognized Eugenia Gibbons with its Rising Star Award for her work to reduce the environmental footprint of the health care sector while advocating for policies that are equitable.
“Being a rising star means building upon the work of those who have come before while paving the way for those who will come next,” she said.
Gibbons is the Massachusetts director of climate policy at Health Care Without Harm. She previously served as policy director at the Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
“I entered the field of energy and environmental advocacy when Massachusetts was just embarking upon its clean energy and climate transition,” she said. “Having come from project procurement and electric generating facilities elsewhere in the country, state policy advocacy was an entirely new terrain with new players and tremendous potential.”
Ceres CEO Mindy Lubber received NEWIEE’s Leadership Award for building a legacy of leadership and mentoring and encouraging the next generation of women in the fields of energy and environment.
Lubber said that her work at Ceres and the climate leadership of the current administration make her feel “hopeful that we are finally taking the steps we need to address climate change.”
Ceres works with Fortune 500 companies to integrate climate and sustainability from the boardroom to the supply chain, according to Lubber.
“Five years ago, if we said to some of the large companies like Apple and Amazon … ‘We want you to make a commitment to getting to a net-zero-carbon future by 2040,’ they would have laughed at us,” she said. But now, she added, hundreds of companies are making that commitment.
“Banks are now stepping up and saying they will put trillions … of dollars into a clean energy future,” she said. “That’s change, and that’s what we’re seeing today.”
Lubber joined EPA in 1995 as a deputy regional administrator and was named regional administrator under President Bill Clinton in 2000.
NEWIEE named Sheila Dormody and Jean Ann Ramey as Achievement Award recipients.
Dormody, who is Rhode Island director of climate and cities programs at The Nature Conservancy, was recognized for being an exceptional colleague and an advocate for environmental justice and climate resilience. NEWIEE acknowledged Ramey’s work as a change agent and role model. She is the founder and executive director of Climable.org and co-founder and senior vice president of Synapse Energy Economics.
“We’re not going to solve climate change if we only solve it for some people,” Dormody said. “And we’re not going to solve climate change without having a plan to create real justice, equity and inclusion for everyone.”
Dormody said that the efforts of energy and environmental organizations in Rhode Island are creating a pathway for equity in the state.
“We have dozens of Rhode Island environmental groups who are engaged in strategies to undo racism,” she said. “And the city of Providence is launching a plan for a more equitable tree canopy, and [it] created a stormwater innovation center to promote using natural infrastructure to create healthier communities and ecosystems.”
Achieving true climate justice, according to Ramey, will mean engaging community members and elevating their voices in the process of change.
“I really believe that when we listen and take to heart the wisdom of our communities, that is when we will continue to inch toward a more just society,” she said.
Climable, she added, is putting communities first in its work with the Green Justice Coalition on micogrid projects.
“We ask the communities that we work with to be in the lead,” she said, “and those are community people who have been working on the issues that face the community, so they know what issues they need to address.”
Building trust and energy literacy, according to Ramey, will help communities adopt the right technologies for their needs.
“I try to listen a lot more than I talk, and the voices of our partners are really the voices that I want to amplify,” she said.