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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Women in Clean Energy conference later this month already providing career connections for UD students

By Mark Gokavi

The 2021 Women in Clean Energy conference hosted by the University of Dayton features three sessions led by accomplished professionals and a panel discussion with recent graduates beginning their careers.

The virtual conference is Sept. 21-23 and Sept. 27. Registration for each session is linked to from the conference website. The sessions include: Clean Energy Implementation & Development; Clean Energy Regulation & Policy; Energy Justice & the Social Impact of Clean Energy; and Jumpstarting a Career in Clean Energy.

“Planning another all virtual platform has allowed us to expand our speaker and attendee base even more than last year,” said alumna Brianna Dooley, one of the event organizers. “We have worked hard to recruit female leaders in the clean energy field who will be joining us from the East and West coasts.

“While my hope is that in the future we can return to an in-person conference, my vision is to allow for virtual attendees to participate because we want to continue to reach and support young women and students interested in clean energy.”

Speakers for the implementation session are: Kerri Devine, director of engineering, Arcadia; and Joo Yong, director of North American wind independent engineering section, DNV.

The policy session will include: Jhay Spottswood, staff attorney at Franklin County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court; Dayna Baird Payne, principal, Government Edge; and Randi Leppla, VP of energy and lead energy counsel, Ohio Environmental Council (OEC).

Speakers in the energy justice session are: Dr. Diana Hernandez, assistant professor, Columbia University; Ruchi Soni, program manager, Sustainable Energy for All; and Anya Galli Robertson, assistant professor of sociology, University of Dayton.

Alumna Jennifer Hoody, who has helped lead the conference planning for two years, said: “Seeing younger classmen step up and dedicate their time to make sure the conference continues and meeting influential women within the clean energy field has inspired me and shown me how I can use my position to advocate for change within and outside of the field of engineering beyond my time as a student.

One of those underclassmen, sophomore mechanical engineering major Lauren Bower, said the event has been valuable even before it has started.

“I was hoping to begin making connections and getting involved in my fields of interest,” Bower said. “One way I was able to do this networking was through joining the planning team for the Women in Clean Energy Conference. Planning the conference was a great opportunity to meet members of the clean energy community as well as learn more about the organizing and networking that goes into these events.”

The goal of the event is to provide students and recent graduates from all fields the resources they need to begin a meaningful career in clean energy and sustainability. Organizers want to empower women and allies to make a difference in the male-dominated energy industry and educate men on the challenges often faced by women in the industry. 

“I’ve never helped plan a conference before and it was interesting to experience all the “behind the scenes” work,” said senior Ava Stokes. “I’m excited to see our hard work pay off after months of planning.”

For more sustainability news and information, visit HSI’s news blog, the Hanley Sustainability Institute website and the sustainability program website. To sign up for HSI’s Sustainability Spotlight newsletter, register here.

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