2016 Award Winner

24May 2016

Nicky Phear was instrumental in developing the University of Montana’s (UM’s) Climate Change Studies as a minor concentration program. The minor—which focuses on science, society, and solutions—was the first undergraduate degree program of its kind in the nation. Phear now oversees the program and leads other programming that inspires student engagement, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. She created an internship program that empowers students to work on clean energy solutions and leads an Eco-Rep program, which trains students to serve as sustainability advocates and educators within the residence halls. She developed the innovative Cycle the Rockies course, which teaches students about energy and climate change as they bicycle across Montana. She also developed a similar course in Bhutan: the Bhutan Ride for Climate, a cross-cultural bike tour across Bhutan focused on energy and climate. In addition, Phear leads a study abroad course in Vietnam about climate change effects and adaptation in the Mekong Delta. She has advised and mentored nearly 150 students through UM’s Climate Change Studies program, and her support and encouragement have assisted students in earning many prestigious national awards. Phear is a founding member of Climate Smart Missoula, has led numerous campus and community climate discussions, is a member of UM’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Initiative, and has served as co-principal investigator on several federal grants. Phear has a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, and a PhD in Sustainability Education from Prescott College.

24May 2016

Debora F. Rodrigues is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Houston, Texas. Her research interests are directly related to the water–energy nexus. She has been conducting research to reduce total energy costs in water and wastewater treatment—which typically account for about 40% of total energy consumed in municipalities—by developing new alternative and clean bio- and nano-technologies. Her research integrates bio-inspired polymer nanocomposites and biological treatments to remove water contaminants. These technologies aim to produce clean alternative sources of energy, such as producing biofuels or recycling essential nutrients in contaminated water for reuse in agriculture. Because of her outstanding research contributions, she was presented with the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2012 and the Inaugural Emerging Investigator Research Award from the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization in 2014. She was also selected in 2017 to participate in the Frontiers of Engineering program organized by the National Academy of Engineering. Rodrigues has more than 51 publications with over 2,500 citations. Her breakthroughs in the water–energy nexus resulted in one international and two national patents. She holds a PhD from Michigan State University, and she was a postdoctoral associate in the Environmental Engineering Program at Yale University.

24May 2016

Maria Kingery co-founded Southern Energy Management (SEM) with her husband Bob in 2001. Since then, she has helped pioneer the residential energy-efficiency and solar industries in North Carolina and beyond. The company has installed hundreds of solar systems and worked with more than 300 homebuilders and developers across the nation to verify more than 25,000 homes to be energy efficient through the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and other green building programs. For seven consecutive years, SEM was recognized as an Energy Star® Partner of the Year. In 2009, Kingery led SEM to become a Certified B Corporation. In 2012 and 2013, SEM earned “Best for the World” status, ranking among the most impactful Certified B Corps worldwide. In 2016, Kingery’s desire to help other impact entrepreneurs succeed led her to train as a Professional Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) Implementer. With her new company, Kingery & Co., Kingery draws on her decades of experience as an entrepreneur to help other leaders excel and expand their impact quickly and efficiently. Kingery is also actively engaged with a number of organizations dedicated to bolstering the sustainable business community. She has served as Board President for the Raleigh-Durham chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization and the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, and as Chair of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. She also serves as a board member of Amicus Solar Cooperative, a collective of 38 of the top independent solar companies in the United States. She stays connected to her alma mater, North Carolina State University, where she serves as an advisory board member for the Poole College of Management’s Business Sustainability Collaborative and the College of Engineering’s NC Clean Tech Center. She also serves as the Leadership Advisor for the Duke Environmental Leadership Program at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment. In this role she works with candidates for the Masters in Environmental Management program to expose them to a wide variety of tools and resources to enhance their professional and personal development.

24May 2016

Kathryn Zyla is Deputy Director of the Georgetown Climate Center. She oversees staff research and policy analysis and facilitates multistate dialogues on issues such as multistate emissions trading approaches, low-carbon transportation policies, and more. Her own research includes state and federal renewable energy policies, public utility regulation relating to clean energy and electric vehicles, legal considerations related to the deployment of microgrids, market-based policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, and opportunities to link standalone emissions programs. She also facilitates and oversees research and analysis in support of the Transportation and Climate Initiative of the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. Zyla previously served as Director of Research and Policy Analysis for the Climate Center, as Senior Associate in the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute, and as Senior Research Fellow for Domestic Policy at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. She has been a member of the Engineering Advisory Council for Swarthmore College since 2013; was appointed to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee in 2014; and in 2017 was sworn in as a Commissioner on the District of Columbia’s new Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency. She has a BS in Engineering from Swarthmore College; a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry; and a JD, cum laude, from Georgetown Law.

24May 2016

Jodie Wu leads Greenlight Planet in developing new products and services for underserved communities across Africa. Fluent in Swahili, an engineer by background, and an entrepreneur who dove straight into social enterprise at 22 years old, she brings unique expertise to the field of international development. She lived and worked in Arusha, Tanzania, for eight years, growing her staff to more than 80 Tanzanians to deliver life-improving solar lanterns, clean cookstoves, and agricultural tools to more than 100,000 families before joining Greenlight Planet’s global team. Greenlight Planet is present in more than 60 countries and brings products and a level of service that rivals Western markets, creating tremendous opportunities for cost savings and income generation for its 7 million customers. As a champion of collaboration, Wu has helped establish an innovation center in Arusha, advised dozens of fellow entrepreneurs entering the Tanzanian market, and consulted for various energy companies to bring in new services, including battery swapping, pay-as-you-go solar, microgrids, and clean cookstoves. She was named one of America’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs by Bloomberg BusinessWeek in 2010 and was named to the Forbes “30 under 30” in 2011. She is also a 2010 Echoing Green fellow, 2011 TED Global fellow, 2012 Ashoka Emerging Innovator, and 2013 D-Lab Scale-Ups fellow. Wu holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

24May 2016

Shelee Kimura was named Vice President of Corporate Planning and Business Development for the Hawaiian Electric Company in May 2014. She oversees the company’s strategic planning, business development, forecasting, renewable acquisition, grid technologies, and demand response. Kimura led the company-wide effort that produced Hawaiian Electric’s 2030 Vision for Hawai’i’s Energy Future and Strategic Transformation Plan, which calls for achieving more than 60% renewable energy by 2030 while lowering customer costs, increasing customer options, and tripling distributed generation on the grid. In April 2016, Hawaiian Electric further pushed the envelope by committing to meet Hawai’i’s 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2045. To achieve this ambitious goal, Kimura co-led the establishment of, and continues to oversee, the company’s Transformation Office, which has launched over a dozen strategic initiatives to transform the electric system and the company. These critical, interdependent initiatives include achieving a diverse mix of renewables using distributed and centralized generation, equitably and reliably integrating market demand for distributed energy resources, designing advanced demand response programs, and developing new products and services to meet evolving customer preferences. Kimura holds a BBA degree from the University of Hawai’i, where she was a Presidential Scholar, and she is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

24May 2016

Rebecca Pearl-Martinez is a Research Fellow and Head of the Renewable Equity Project (REP) at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. REP explores the impact of gender diversity on accelerating the clean energy economy and how advancing women in the clean energy workforce develops climate-smart innovators. Since the late 1990s, Pearl-Martinez has worked on global initiatives with United Nations (UN) agencies and multilateral organizations, most recently with the UN Environment Program, Power Africa, and the Climate Investment Funds. She led a global consultation process and authored a U.S. Agency for International Development white paper on women in clean energy. She also co-founded and led the Global Gender and Climate Alliance, an effort by UN agencies and civil society organizations to advance gender equality in climate change policy and finance. She was Senior Researcher for Climate Change at Oxfam America, served as Visiting Lecturer on climate change governance at Tufts University, and developed a country performance index based on gender and environment data that was nominated for a Katerva Award on sustainability innovations. She also led the global Women’s Major Group process for the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10). She holds an MA in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

24May 2016

Suzanne Tegen manages a talented team of engineers and analysts dedicated to the responsible deployment of clean energy and microgrids around the world. She recently completed a multiyear research project to assess and quantify key siting considerations for wind energy, including public engagement, radar, transmission, and wildlife. She has authored reports on the domestic hydropower workforce and the levelized cost of wind energy, and she co-wrote a report on clean energy policies for the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Clean Energy Solutions Center. In addition, she is updating the National Wind Skills Assessment, which shows that women make up approximately 28% of the U.S. wind workforce, racial and ethnic minorities make up about 25%, and veterans make up about 11%. She represents the United States in the International Energy Agency’s wind energy social acceptance task. She plays an active role in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition, inspiring students to work in the clean energy arena. In addition, Tegen is working on a jobs and techno-economic analysis of offshore wind for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, contributing some of the first studies to characterize the resource and its potential economic impacts along the Pacific and Gulf Coasts. She has written more than 50 publications and given countless presentations on responsible renewable energy development across the country. Beyond her job requirements, Tegen is passionate about mentoring and energy education, delivering diversity training for her staff, other women in clean energy, and youth. She is a founding board member of Women in Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) and serves on the Executive Committee. She actively participates in the WRISE fellowship process, bringing young women into the clean energy arena. She educates students, teachers, and co-workers about the importance of diversity in our current and future workforce. She has a PhD in Energy Policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Before graduate school, she worked for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the South Pole and McMurdo stations and for the Center for Resource Solutions in San Francisco.