11:30 AM - 11:45 AM
Attendees are encouraged to join the event prior to its official start at 11:45 a.m. E.T. in order to ensure they are comfortable with the meeting software.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
In this opening session, leaders from the Community Development Action Coalition (CDAC) and National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) will welcome attendees and set the stage for the convening.
Ron Butler, CEO, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
David Terry, Executive Director, National Association of State Energy Officials
Congressional Opening Remarks
As a champion of clean energy, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes will offer insights into the critical role played by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions in community development, sustainability, and economic opportunity.
Natasha Campbell, Director, Clean Energy Initiative, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
Foundation-Setting: Key Findings from the Energy Workforce Diversity Research Project
Over the past year, NASEO, CDAC’s Clean Energy Initiative, and BW Research Partnership have conducted research, policy analysis, and best practices exploration to understand challenges and opportunities to promote a more diverse, inclusive, and accessible energy sector workforce. In this session, the team will present key themes from the project and offer initial insights on how State Energy Offices, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, and other partners can act on the findings.
The team will also share a sign-up sheet that attendees can use to express their interest in future discussions, either at the regional level or in direct connection with State Energy Offices, HBCUs, MSIs, and other partners in their states and communities.
Sandy Fazeli, Managing Director, Policy and Development, NASEO
Natasha Campbell, Director, Clean Energy Initiative, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
Philip Jordan, Vice President and Principal Researcher, BW Research Partnership
Sarah Lehmann, Project Manager, BW Research Partnership
States Panel: Advancing Just Transition, Workforce Diversity, and Economic Recovery at the Regional, State, and Local Levels
In this panel, state leaders will highlight the partnerships, strategies, and policies that states are using to facilitate a just transition and equitable economic recovery for their clean energy workforce.
Tamika Jacques, Ed. D., Director of Workforce Development, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Robert Jackson, Director, Energy Office, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Noemí Gallardo, Public Advisor, California Energy Commission
Keynote: Setting a National Direction for Energy Justice, Equity, and the Clean Tech Workforce
As a new Administration takes stage, many have looked to clean energy as a tool to reduce pollutants, address economic and access disparities, and support an economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this session, equity and environmental justice policy leaders will discuss the promise and potential of commitments such as Justice40, President Biden’s initiative to direct 40 percent of the benefits of federal investments to disadvantaged communities, as their implications for state policymakers and the academic community.
Kelley Smith Burk, Director, Office of Energy, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Chair, NASEO Board of Directors
Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice and Secretary's Advisor on Equity, U.S. Department of Energy
Federal Panel: DOE's Workforce Development Priorities in the Context of Climate Change and Economic Recovery
Join experts across the U.S. Department of Energy for a discussion of how the Department will be mobilizing workforce development investments, stakeholders, and resources to achieve key Administration priorities.
Michael Furze, Assistant Director, Energy Division, Washington State Department of Commerce
3:45 PM - 4:00 PM
Day 1 Closing Remarks and Adjourn
Day 2 Opening Remarks
The event organizers from CDAC and NASEO will offer a brief synthesis of findings from the previous day’s discussion, and review objectives and formats for Day 2 of the event.
Sandy Fazeli, Managing Director, Policy and Development, NASEO
Natasha Campbell, Director, Clean Energy Initiative, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
Employer and Labor Perspectives: Strategies for Workforce Representation and Inclusion
Data show that a workplace culture founded in inclusion and equity pays dividends in terms of employee satisfaction and a business's bottom line. This discussion will highlight efforts by private sector and labor leaders to foster a representative and inclusive workforce.
Chad Kruse, Manager, Office of Energy, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Candace Bridges, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Employer Brand Leader, Schneider Electric
Willy Solorzano, Trustee, BYD-SMART Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee, Local Union 105
Congressional Outlook for Environmental Justice, Equity, and Diversity
As a member of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus, Congresswoman Alma Adams of North Carolina is a champion of policies that combat climate change, curb pollution, catalyze renewable energy investments, and promote sustainable development solutions. In this session, learn about key insights for environmental justice and climate action in the U.S. Congress.
Ivory Toldson, President and CEO, Quality Education for Minorities Network; Former Executive Director, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Solar CARES Project Case Study Presentation and Breakout Discussions: Economic Opportunity and Job Creation: Partnership Models Centering Minority-Serving Institutions
This session will demonstrate successful approaches that address key paths to increase diversity in the energy sector while creating economic opportunity for job seekers, energy-related entrepreneurs and students through local partnerships and MSIs. It will overview the HBCU Clean Energy Initiative/North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical University Solar CARES Project, a community workforce-economic investment project to expand solar energy adoption through a comprehensive, community-wide approach that focuses on low to moderate income communities, homeowners, entrepreneurs and job seekers living in communities where HBCU are located.
Following the presentation, attendees will be encouraged to brainstorm in breakout groups the potential roles that new partnerships with MSIs and underserved communities can play in advancing energy policy priorities and economic development goals.
Starlette Hodge, State Energy Program Manager, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
Henry Golatt, Chief of Strategy and Partnership, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
Dr. Greg Monty, Director, Center for Energy Research and Technology, North Carolina A&T State University
Roundtable Discussion: Collaborations to Facilitate Entry to the Energy Sector Workforce and STEM Fields
This session will provide a deeper-dive into how various MSIs and State Energy Offices are approaching workforce development and diversity, and building partnerships to overcome barriers to entry into energy and STEM fields. In breakout groups, participants will be invited to explore barriers to workforce entry and economic opportunity for underserved individuals in their own states and communities, and to consider how potential future investments and partnerships in energy and workforce can be designed to overcome these barriers.
Dr. Janice Sneed, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Workforce Development, Southern University at Shreveport
Adele Ferranti, Program Manager, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
Dr. Deidra R. Hodges, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas at El Paso
Roundtable Discussion: State-Academic-Federal Partnerships for Diversity and Equity in Innovation, Technology Transfer, and Technology-Based Economic Development
This session will elevate the critical role that constructive partnerships between HBCUs, MSIs, Federal Agencies, and State Energy Offices, can play in advancing clean energy and climate innovation. Successful models will be presented of HBCUs and MSIs supporting the innovation, technology transfer, and economic development missions of State and Federal partners. The session will also provide a venue for DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions to discuss support mechanisms to scale successful models to other HBCU and MSIs communities.
In breakout groups, attendees will be asked to explore potential program designs that would unlock opportunities for diversity and inclusion not just in the existing energy sector workforce, but among clean technology innovators, researchers, and students.
Sumesh Arora, Ph.D., Director, Energy and Natural Resources Division, Mississippi Development Authority
Dr. J. Chris Ford, Mission-to-Market Manager, Applied Research Center, Florida International University
Dr. Vanessa Chan, Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions, U.S. Department of Energy
3:45 PM - 4:00 PM
Closing Remarks and Final Call for Sign-Ups
NASEO and CDAC leads will identify key findings and themes from the two days of discussion, including near-term follow-up items and long-term strategies. Attendees will have a final opportunity to sign up for future deep-dive discussions and networking on the topic of workforce development.
Executive Director, National Association of State Energy Officials
David Terry is the Executive Director of the National Association of State Energy Officials and has worked with NASEO in a variety of capacities since 1996. Mr. Terry leads NASEO's policy actions and programs in support of the 56 governor-designated state and territory energy directors and their offices. NASEO communicates the states' views on virtually all national energy issues. Mr. Terry has participated in governor-led policy meetings, testified before U.S. Congressional Committees and presented at White House and international energy forums. Mr. Terry has 25 years of experience working on a range of energy issues for such organizations as the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy and Coalition and Energy Services Coalition. Prior to working in the energy area, Mr. Terry was researcher at the National Academy of Sciences and a statistical analyst for a consumer products market research firm. He received a BA degree from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, and he has completed graduate coursework in statistics and marketing at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia.
Director, Clean Energy Initiative, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
As an advocate for social justice and under-represented individuals and communities, Natasha Campbell has made its her life’s work to create equal access to maximize success for the most marginalized. She joins the Community Development Action Coalition (CDAC) as the Director of Energy Programs, Policy and Solutions, where among other projects she will lead the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Clean Energy Coalition.
Prior to joining the CDAC, Ms. Campbell most recently served as a Presidential Appointee in the Obama Administration, assigned as a Senior Advisor to United States Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz. At the Department of Energy her expansive portfolio included labor and industrial relations for the 100,000 plus contractor workforce, economic development and workforce development. She co-led the Energy Jobs Strategy Council, a cross-cutting initiative to integrate the research, technical expertise and economic resources of the Department to accelerate the growth of and access to jobs in all sectors of the United States energy economy. With an emphasis on economic development, workforce development and jobs data analysis, Ms. Campbell collaborated with the Department’s program offices and national laboratories, other federal agencies, state and local government and external stakeholders to achieve the Council’s mission.
She was also instrumental in establishing the DOE Baltimore Initiative, a collaborative effort that included he City of Baltimore, Morgan State University, the Maryland Clean Energy Center and other community stakeholders to forge a workforce and community investment partnership in Baltimore and surrounding areas with a focus on expanding access to solar energy for low and moderate income residents, job creation, job training, job placement, and promoting solar energy as a utility costs saving measure. These efforts resulted in implementation of the Morgan Community Mile Solar Initiative, a project to install solar panels on 33 homes in the Morgan Community Mile Neighborhood of Baltimore, one of the City’s most economically depressed neighborhoods.
A seasoned attorney specializing in labor and employment law with extensive management experience in local and federal government, she has a strong record of leading organizational change, negotiating and administering complex agreements, implementing enterprise-wide employee engagement and workforce development strategies and motivating diverse team of employees. She is the past Director of the District of Columbia Government Department of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining, serving as a Mayoral Appointee for two Mayors. She is passionate about giving back to her community, including through mentoring and service to women and girls.
Kelley Smith Burk
Director, Office of Energy, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Kelley Smith Burk has been with the Florida Office of Energy since 2008 and oversaw the development and administration of over $176 million of federal and state grants to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Kelley serves as the director for the Office of Energy. Kelley is responsible for leading the Office of Energy as it develops energy policy and implements programs as well as promotes the use of renewable energy, energy efficient technologies, and alternative transportation technologies for the state of Florida.
Prior to joining the department, Kelley worked with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Strategic Projects and Planning as a policy analyst for the Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change. Kelley has also served as the director of Scheduling in the Executive Office of the Governor. Kelley received her bachelor’s degree in history from Florida State University and her master’s degree in public policy from Pepperdine University.
Sumesh Arora, Ph.D.
Director, Energy and Natural Resources Division, Mississippi Development Authority
Dr. Sumesh Arora is the director of the Energy & Natural Resources Division of the Mississippi Development Authority which is the state energy office. Since assuming this position in November 2016, Sumesh has reorganized this office to focus on four areas: energy efficiency programs, energy education and workforce development, energy projects and policy development, and energy data and security.
Previously, Sumesh served as vice president of Innovate Mississippi, director of the Strategic Biomass Solutions, and the Energy-Economy-Environment (E3) program manager for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Mississippi. He has led programs in cleantech commercialization, combined heat and power, innovation strategy development, STEM education, and technology-based entrepreneurship. Prior to that, he worked for 13 years as a researcher and product development engineer in the chemical fertilizer industry.
Sumesh is the co-inventor of a patented technology to convert poultry litter into bioenergy and testified before the United States Senate in 2014 to lend support for advanced biofuels technologies. He has over 125 presentations and publications including two book chapters. Sumesh received his PhD in international development from the University of Southern Mississippi and his BS and MS degrees in engineering from the University of Central Florida.
CEO, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
CDAC LEADERSHIP TEAM
Ron Butler has served as the CEO of the HBCU CDAC since 2010. As CEO, he is responsible for leading a coalition of HBCUs and MSIs working on community development programs around their campuses. Mr. Butler's work includes advocating for resources, including corporate sponsorships, developing and implementing program initiatives, and providing technical assistance and other support for redevelopment opportunities.
Mr. Butler has over 35 years of experience as a community economic development professional. He was an executive director of the 79th Street Corridor Neighborhood Initiative in Miami, Florida, and an acting Principal at The NYMIA Group, which provides technical assistance and training to community initiatives in housing, community development, human services, economic and small business development. Mr. Butler has also worked as a consultant and subject matter expert and trainer with colleges and universities since 2002 and has worked on international community development projects since 1998. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The University of Delaware, a Master in Public Policy and Administration from The University of Illinois, and numerous Training Certificates in Community Development. Mr. Butler also serves on several private and public boards.
Managing Director, Policy and Development, NASEO
Sandy Fazeli leads NASEO policy and program priorities coordination; workforce development; equity, access, and inclusion; and state and local cooperation and coordination on energy, climate, and resilience planning. She oversees NASEO’s private sector Affiliates program, which connects state energy policy makers, companies, and non-profits, and helps lead the content development of NASEO’s major conferences and events. Prior to NASEO, Ms. Fazeli worked on energy efficiency and state policy issues at the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Colorado Energy Office, and the Alliance to Save Energy. She received a Bachelor of Science in foreign service from Georgetown University and a Master of Development Practice from the University of Denver.
Vice President and Principal Researcher, BW Research Partnership
Philip Jordan is the Vice President of BW Research and manages the firm's Massachusetts office. He has worked in research, law, and policy for nearly two decades in the private sector, government, and academia. Phil is an adept problem-solver who is intensely focused on building systems that are more equitable and effective.
Phil leads the firm's energy practice and his research is focused on the intersection of the human age and the digital, especially with regards to inclusive economic and talent development that lead to increased mobility. He is a Luma Certified Practitioner of Human Centered Design and is credited for using data and communications to create change.
Phil is a Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he focuses his teaching and research on comparative talent and labor practices in the U.S. and Asia, and is an attorney and member of the Massachusetts Bar. He has his J.D. and Certificate in Environment and Land Law from Boston College and his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut. When not working, you can find Phil outside with his family, on the water, in the woods, or in the garden.
Dr. Robert Powell
Associate Professor, North Carolina A&T
Tamika Jacques, Ed. D.
Director of Workforce Development, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Tamika N. Jacques, Ed.D., has been the Director for Workforce Development at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) since 2012. Over the past nine years, Tamika has created new workforce initiatives such as the Successful Women in Clean Energy Program (women and minorities), the Learn and Earn Program (high school students), Clean Energy Activity Day (elementary school students) and the annual Clean Energy Symposium for higher education students. She also oversees the Internship Program which has placed more than 4,000 interns at over 300 companies. Tamika is also the author of two books, A Brown Girls Guide to Employment and Networking; and A Brown Parents Guide, Preparing Our Children For Employment In The 21st Century.
Prior to joining MassCEC, Tamika served as the Executive Director for the Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, where she oversaw job training programs for the Commonwealth, developed and published policy reports around the Governor’s workforce development priorities, and established collaborations with state, business, and local partners in the workforce development system. Tamika’s diverse work experience also includes teaching as an English as a Second Other Language (ESOL) instructor and working with first-generation, low-income and disabled higher education students. She also served as a District Representative for Congressman Stephen F. Lynch.
Tamika earned an Ed.D from Johnson & Wales University in Educational Leadership, an M.S. from Northeastern University in College Student Development and Counseling and a B.S. in International Economics from Suffolk University.
Director, Energy Office, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Robert Jackson is a chemical engineer with over 20 years of industrial energy efficiency and environmental engineering experience. Mr. Jackson is currently the Director of the Michigan Energy Office. He is directly responsible for the state of Michigan’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Revolving Loan Program, and the State Energy Program’s Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing, Technology Demonstration and Deployment Programs, and Agricultural Energy Programs.
Deputy Director for Energy Justice and Secretary's Advisor on Equity, U.S. Department of Energy
Shalanda H. Baker was mostly recently a professor of law, public policy, and urban affairs at Northeastern University. She was the co-founder and co-director of the Initiative for Energy Justice, which provides technical law and policy support to communities on the front lines of climate change. Baker served as an Air Force officer prior to her honorable discharge pursuant to the then existing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, and became a vocal advocate for repeal of the policy. She earned a B.S. in Political Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Northeastern University, and L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin.
President and CEO, Quality Education for Minorities Network
Dr. Ivory A. Toldson is the president and CEO of the QEM Network, professor of counseling psychology at Howard University, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Negro Education and executive editor of the Journal for Policy Analysis and Research, published by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. Previously, Dr. Toldson was appointed by President Barack Obama to devise national strategies to sustain and expand federal support to HBCUs, as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Since 2016, as QEM principal investigator, Dr. Toldson has been awarded more than $4.5 million from federal agencies including NSF and NASA, to support capacity building efforts for STEM programs at Minority Serving Institutions.
With more than 80 publications, Dr. Toldson was dubbed a leader "who could conceivably navigate the path to the White House" by the Washington Post; one of "30 leaders in the fight for Black men;" by Newsweek Magazine; and the "Problem Solver" by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. A sought-after speaker, Dr. Toldson has been featured on MSNBC TV, C-SPAN2 TV, NPR News, and numerous national and local radio stations. In print, his research has been featured in The Washington Post, CNN.com, The New York Times, The National Journal, Essence Magazine, BET.com, The Grio, and Ebony Magazine. Dr. Toldson was named in The Root 100, an annual ranking of the most influential African-American leaders. He also served as contributing education editor for The Root, where he debunked some of the most pervasive myths about African-Americans and gained a national reputation for challenging “BS,” or Bad Stats.
Dr. Toldson, according to former U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, is "a prolific young scholar and myth buster.” According to NPR, “Toldson says the refusal to look at the data closely — to prefer a story over the facts — creates more problems than it solves.” According to the Washington Post, Dr. Toldson help others to “Look deeper into the dispiriting statistics” to “Find a rarely acknowledged beauty: an indomitable spirit and irrepressible desire to beat the odds.” He is married to Marshella Toldson, and together, they are raising their daughter, Makena and their son, Ivory Kaleb.
The Honorable Alma Adams
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
Dr. Alma S. Adams was elected to her fourth full term representing the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina on November 3, 2020. After winning a special election in November 2014, Congresswoman Adams was sworn in immediately as the 100th woman elected to the 113th Congress.
Representative Adams serves on the Committee on Financial Services; Committee on Education & Labor and the Committee on Agriculture. She holds several leadership roles; as Assistant Whip for the Democratic Caucus, Chairwoman of the Committee on Education & Labor’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections and Vice Chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture. Representative Adams’s subcommittee assignments, in addition to Workforce Protections, include Civil Rights and Human Services Committee on Education and Labor; Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations on Agriculture, and the Oversight and Investigations on Financial Services. Her signature legislative accomplishment in Congress is the enactment of H.R. 5363, the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act that permanently provides funding totaling $255 million a year for all Minority-Serving Institutions, including $85 million for HBCUs.
Representative Adams has previously served on the Joint Economic Committee and in several leadership positions including Vice Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee, and Ranking Member of the Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulation. The Congresswoman is a co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus with Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois and the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus, which promotes bipartisan legislation that supports HBCUs and their graduates.
Chief of Strategy and Partnership, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition
In his current role with HBCU, Mr. Golatt helps executive leadership communicate and execute on the strategic vision sanctioned by the Board of Directors. He also serves as a senior organizational representative and voice at national and regional conferences and assists in developing and drafting funding proposals to ensure organizational growth. Mr. Golatt has also held many senior leadership positions in other organizations, including leading efforts within the Economic Development Division for the City of Columbus and acting as an executive director at the Economic Research and Development Center at the University of Arkansas.
Mr. Golatt has won numerous honors and awards, such as the Delta Entrepreneurship Network Fellow, Booker T. Washington Economic Development Award from Tuskegee University Arkansas, District Director Partnership Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, among others. He also sits on several boards and is an active member of numerous professional committees. Mr. Golatt graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in Accounting.
Dr. Janice Sneed
Associate Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Workforce Development, Southern University at Shreveport
Dr. Greg Monty
Director, Center for Energy Research and Technology, North Carolina A&T State University
The Honorable John Sarbanes
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
Congressman John Sarbanes has represented Maryland’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. Congress since 2007.
He currently serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. He serves as Vice Chair of the House Subcommittee on Health. Congressman Sarbanes also serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and its Subcommittee on Government Operations. Since 2017, he has chaired the Democracy Reform Task Force, a bold effort in the House of Representatives to build a government that puts the public's interests ahead of special interests.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Congressman Sarbanes has experience working in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He and his family live in Towson, giving him the opportunity to drive home every night and hear from the people he serves in Congress. Listening to their concerns allows him to better represent Maryland and has shaped his work in the House of Representatives.
Project Manager, BW Research Partnership
Sarah Lehmann is a Project Manager at BW Research, working from the firm's Carlsbad, CA office. Ms. Lehmann has been with the company since 2015. Her focus is on economic and community development research, energy and clean energy industry research, and other workforce and industry cluster analyses for local, state, and federal government agencies. Sarah’s work supports the firm’s research endeavors through research design, survey development, project and deliverable management, data processing and analysis, and report writing.
Sarah received her B.A. from Boston University in Environmental Analysis and Policy, with a minor in Sustainable Energy. At BW Research, Sarah is focused on producing the state-level Clean Energy Jobs Reports, the annual United States Energy and Employment Reports, and other various clean and advanced energy-specific workforce development research efforts. When she is not working with data, Sarah enjoys playing music locally, teaching piano at a private music studio, drawing, and gardening.
Ann (Sweeney) Augustyn
Acting Director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity
Ms. Augustyn has worked for the Department of Energy for 36 years. She is currently the Acting Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) where she provides executive leadership and strategic direction to the Office of Minority Educational Institutions, the Office of Energy Workforce, the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Equity and Diversity. In her current role, Ms. Augustyn is responsible for developing and executing Department-wide policies to implement applicable legislation and Executive Orders that strengthen diversity goals affecting equal employment opportunities, minority businesses, minority educational institutions and historically underrepresented communities. She is also charged with ensuring that DOE complies with all anti-discrimination statutes, and associated directives issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
From October 2016 to October 2017, Ms. Augustyn served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity at DOE, and from August 2015 to October 2016, she served as Acting Director of DOE’s Office of Civil Rights.
Prior to her tenure in ED, Ms. Augustyn served as an attorney, Administrative Judge and Chief of the Personnel Security and Appeals Division at DOE’s Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA). In those capacities, Ms. Augustyn conducted classified and unclassified hearings, issued Agency Decisions in cases involving DOE security clearances and contractor whistleblower complaints, and conducted high profile Management Inquiries and Fact-Findings in sensitive cases, including many with EEO overtones.
Ms. Augustyn has been an instructor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, teaching courses in administrative law, and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s National Training Center teaching classes on personnel security matters. Before joining the Department, Ms. Augustyn worked as an associate attorney at Foreman & Dyess in their Houston, Texas and Washington, DC offices.
Ms. Augustyn graduated cum laude from Boston College Law School. She received her B.A. degree, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Boston College. She is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, and holds a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Ms. Augustyn is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia.
Assistant Director, Energy Division, Washington State Department of Commerce
Michael joined the Department of Commerce in 2014 and is assistant director for the Energy Division, which includes policy, initiatives, energy emergency management and the weatherization program. Michael joined the weatherization network in 2009, drawn by the convergence of social justice and environmental sustainability.
After working for five years in New Mexico Energy$mart Program, he transitioned to Washington’s weatherization program in 2014 and has been actively involved in the weatherization network’s Weatherization Advisory Committee. Michael earned his master’s degree in community and regional planning from the University of New Mexico.
Dr. J. Chris Ford
Mission-to-Market Manager, Applied Research Center, Florida International University
Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Dr. J. Chris Ford is an experienced researcher and expert in building inclusive innovation ecosystems and programs for technology transfer and commercialization for universities, Federal agencies, corporations, and investors. From 2012-2017, Dr. Ford was an expert consultant and contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with special emphasis on inclusion, technology transfer, and economic development. In this role, Dr. Ford served as a change agent to catalyze the DOE technology commercialization ecosystem while assisting minority and small businesses, impacting underserved communities, and including minority serving institutions. At DOE, Dr. Ford developed a novel Lab-embedded accelerator programs, a four-point inclusive innovation ecosystem development plan, and strategies for intellectual property monetization. Prior to his role at DOE, Dr. Ford was a researcher and entrepreneur in the technical consulting and healthcare sectors. Dr. Ford has more than ten years of alternative energy research experience specializing in battery and fuel cell technologies, and thermodynamic optimization algorithms for energy systems at Georgia Tech, DOE, and the Department of Defense. Dr. Ford received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and a B.S. in mathematics and dual degree engineering from Morehouse College. While at Georgia Tech, Dr. Ford completed a special two year technology commercialization and entrepreneurship training program called the TI:GER (Technological Innovation Generating Economic Results).
Director of Energy Jobs, U.S. Department of Energy
Jennifer Jean Kropke served as the first Director of Workforce and Environmental Engagement for IBEW Local Union 11 and the National Electrical Contractors’ Association-Los Angeles’ Labor Management Cooperation Committee. She focused on creating clean energy, port electrification, and zero emission transportation opportunities for union members. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law.
Dr. Vanessa Chan
Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions, U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan is the Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions for the U.S Department of Energy. In this role, she is responsible for all commercialization activities across DOE, the 17 National Laboratories, and the Department’s other research and production facilities across the country. This includes advocating and advancing clear pathways for the commercialization of innovative technologies, ensuring that the discoveries happening at DOE’s world-class facilities make their way out of the labs and into the commercial marketplace.
Dr. Chan is an innovator who has worked across a wide range of ecosystems, from academia to Fortune 1000 companies to startups. She has two decades of experience helping organizations grow at the interface of technology and business across a diverse set of industries.
She is a former McKinsey & Company partner, experienced Venture Board Director for Vanguard and United Technology Corporation, and a former board member at multiple startups.
Chan comes to DOE on a leave of absence from her position as Undergraduate Chair of the Materials Science & Engineering department at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her B.S.E. in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Deidra R. Hodges
Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas at El Paso
Dr. Hodges studies photovoltaics, solar and renewable energy, sustainability and radiation detectors. Hodges is also interested in the research, education and development of a Sustainability NEXUS through water treatment and sources, food security and solar energy for improved socioeconomic status in desert climates. She is particularly interested in semiconductor materials, processing, characterization, and devices for perovskite solar cells and cadmium zinc telluride radiation detectors, focusing on the design and realization of new electronic materials for flexible and portable electronics. An additional interest is the investigation of new materials for quantum applications and shielding electronics from high energy radiation.
Program Manager, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
Adele Ferranti is currently the Team Lead and Program Manager for NYSERDA’s $120 million workforce development and training initiatives targeting existing and emerging workers in all sectors. Workforce development and training activities address energy efficiency, carbon neutral buildings, electrification technologies, energy storage, electric vehicles, building science, renewable power generation and other emerging technologies. NYSERDA is also supporting initiatives to develop career pathways and job placement for priority populations such as veterans, displaced fossil fuel workers, disabled workers, low and moderate-income residents and individuals living in disadvantaged and environmental justice communities. Prior to her current position, she was a Sr. Project Manager in NYSERDA’s R&D group for over 15 years where she started NYSERDA’s photovoltaic (PV) and wind training programs and NYSERDA’s PV incentive program. Adele has a B.S. in Biology from SUNY Geneseo, M.S. in Environmental Science from SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a M.P.A. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.
State Energy Program Manager, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
Starlette Hodge is the Manager of the State Energy Program in the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Ms. Hodge began her career with the State Energy Program in 1999 and has served in many managerial roles during her tenure. In this position, she provides programmatic, technical and financial oversight for programs in the governmental, residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and energy sectors. Since joining the State Energy Program, she has overseen the initiation of several successful programs including the nationally recognized Utility Savings Initiative, the Energy Improvement Loan Program, the Upgrade and Save Program for Manufactured Homes, and other programs that encourage energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy. Prior to joining the State Energy Program, she managed energy and engineering projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Rocky Mount, NC. Ms. Hodge holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University.
Public Advisor, California Energy Commission
Noemí O. Gallardo joined the California Energy Commission (CEC) as the Public Advisor in September 2019. She oversees the Public Advisor’s Office, which advises the public and the CEC to ensure the full and effective participation by all interested groups and the public at large in the CEC’s planning, procedures, proceedings, business meetings, workshops, and other activities.
The CEC nominates the Public Advisor, whom the Governor appoints to a three-year term. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Gallardo to the position in August 2019.
Before joining the CEC, she was senior manager of public policy at Sunrun Inc. Her professional experiences include serving as a program fellow at the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a consultant at Gallardo Law and Policy Consulting, an energy and telecommunications legal fellow at the Greenlining Institute, and a principal investigator at the Public Law Research Institute at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Gallardo is also a state-certified interpreter in Spanish who established and ran a translation and interpretation services business in her native Ventura County.
She is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and is a first-generation college graduate who earned a juris doctor degree from UC Hastings, a master of public policy degree from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor of arts degree from Pepperdine University.
Trustee, BYD-SMART Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee, Local Union 105
Willy Solorzano has served as a Trustee of the BYD-SMART Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee (JATC) since its inception in 2018. BYD Coach & Bus is a global leader in the manufacturing of electric vehicles and is the first union employer to sponsor the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) registered apprenticeship program in the State of California.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Employer Brand Leader, Schneider Electric
Candace Bridges is an innovative and growth-minded leader with leadership experience in marketing, branding and communications, recruitment strategy, diversity and inclusion and employer brand. She is currently the Leader of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Employer Brand for Schneider Electric for the North American Region. She is responsible for attracting early career, professional and diverse talent, and ensuring Schneider has an inclusive environment in which all employees can thrive. Candace established a framework and approach to tackle tough topics such as racial equity in the workplace, and champions programs that have advanced Schneider’s recognition as a top company for diversity.
Candace lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, two daughters, dog and cat. She has spent her career in the construction industry, and attributes much of her success as a female leader to the investment her pipe fitter and welder father made in building her character.
Manager, Office of Energy, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Chad’s childhood love of water and the outdoors matured into a desire to apply his education in anthropology, earth sciences, and law to environmental concerns. He has over a decade of environmental law and policy experience with the State of Illinois. His work with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency includes serving as Assistant Legal Counsel for the Bureau of Water and his current role as Manager of the Office of Energy.
Over the past year, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has worked to align the State’s energy programs with environmental protection. One example of this effort is the Agency’s focus on energy efficiency at publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants with the objectives of energy savings for municipalities and improved water quality.