Engineering Sustainable Change
By Katie Kershman
In the 20 years that Brendle Group has been working in sustainability, we’ve seen the concept change, evolve, and grow. Sustainability is a complex topic that effects and connects us all. We need all hands on deck with a full range of ideas to tackle these grand challenges. All hands on deck includes embracing cognitive diversity across gender, race, birthplace, educational background, and beyond. In fact, according to research by Margaret A. Neale of Stanford University, “the worst kind of group for an organization that wants to be innovative and creative is one in which everyone is alike and gets along too well.” Part of tackling the challenge is understanding it and empowering those most passionate about it. Not only do we need a diverse group but we also need to engage the people most affected by any environmental, economic, or social harm to become part of the solution. Passion can unite diverse groups toward a common goal.
Close to my heart is engaging women in clean energy. According to the National Science Foundation, a mere 27% of science and engineering jobs in the U.S. are held by women. We need to turn this deficit into a positive way out of economic disadvantage through clean energy employment. Brendle Group President, Judy Dorsey, used a $10,000 cash price from the U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) program to help establish Colorado C3E. Its mission is to do just that — drive revolutionary growth of the Colorado clean energy economy by educating and empowering women and girls.
This past month I had the pleasure of attending the Colorado C3E luncheon at CSU’s Energy Transition Symposium. It featured a power packed panel of women in clean energy: Ellen Williams, Director of ARPA-e for the Department of Energy, Kate Fay, Manager of Environmental and Regulatory Policy for Noble Energy, Vickie Patton, General Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund and Heather Zichal, Former Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. What a group! These women embody everything Colorado C3E stands for and they had an impassioned discussion about their journeys in the clean energy field. The most impactful bit of advice they gave was to recognize what your passion is, and then find the people (or curriculum) that will help you achieve your goals. I walked away feeling invigorated and excited for the future of clean energy. You can watch the C3E luncheon discussion here.
Diversity in sustainability is pivotal for overcoming the grand challenges of our times. My hope is that we can keep these important conversations going – with regard to sustainability broadly and about women in Colorado’s clean energy workforce in particular. We all have an important voice and an important role to play in the future of our world and I’m excited to see the next evolution of sustainability.
About the Author – Katie manages Brendle Group’s marketing and business development activities including branding, design, communications, and proposal development. With her strong writing and graphic design skills she also supports our clients’ needs for content development, writing, and outreach support. Katie has a range of marketing experience from working on strategy and execution for nation-wide media campaigns to organizing grassroots marketing efforts. Her expertise is in content management, Social media Management, Adobe Creative Suite, marketing strategy, customer relationship management systems, and search engine optimization. She’s also managed multiple marketing budgets, facilitated radio and video commercial recordings, developed weekly, monthly, and quarterly newsletters, and coordinated with public relations for media outreach. She loves language and uses this passion to help inspire positive change.