Exploring Careers in the Green Economy is a collaborative series developed by the Center for Careers and Internships and Middlebury in DC, in collaboration with the Climate Action Capacity Project, Energy2028, and Midd Sustainabililty with content contribution from members of the Middlebury Professional Network and Middlebury students.
The evidence demanding action is profound. The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, as of 2018, is the highest it has been in 3 million years. Eleven percent of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) 2018 World Employment and Social Outlook report a shift to a just and greener economy could create 24 million new jobs globally by 2030 if the right policies are put in place. The new jobs will be created by adopting sustainable practices in the energy sector, electric vehicles, and increasing energy efficiency in existing and future buildings. This series explores interviews with professionals who represent a variety of entry points on green strategies and innovations working towards a transition to a green economy.
Green Economy Videos - Part I, released Spring 2021
Episode 1: Regenerative Resource Management and Sustainable Consumption (32 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Zachary Tofias ’00.5, Director, Food, Water and Waste Program, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
Interviewer: Alexander “Zander” Kessler ‘22.5
Episode 2: Renewable Energy Development (30 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Paul Hildebrand ‘12, Senior Associate, Project Finance, Cypress Creek Renewables
Interviewer: Jay Hamel ‘21.5
Resource: Solar Project Timeline by Paul Hildebrand
Episode 3: The Mathematics of Distributed Energy (29 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Dylan Cutler ‘04, Senior Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Interviewer: Jay Hamel ‘21.5
Episode 4: Leading by Example in State Government: Putting Climate Policy Into Action (34 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Eric Friedman ‘82, Director, Leading by Example Program, MA Department of Energy Resources
Interviewer: Katherine Morris ‘21.5
Episode 5: Changing the Way People Use Energy (30 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Clayton Reed ‘08, Program Director, CLEAResult
Interviewer: Courtney Gantt ‘22
Episode 6: Accelerating Renewable Solutions in Cities (32 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Ali Rotatori ‘14, Senior Associate, Cities Renewable Accelerator, Rocky Mountain Institute
Interviewer: Alexander Kessler ‘22.5
Episode 7: Sustainability: A View From Inside A Corporation (30 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Tiffani Jarnigan ‘14 MIIS, Sustainability Project Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Interviewer: Courtney Gantt ‘22
Episode 8: Green with Envy: Behavioral Tools for Global Energy Efficiency (23 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Kira Ashby ‘05, Senior Program Manager - Behavior: National Expert IEA, CEE
Interviewer: Monique Santos ‘21
Green Economy Videos - Part II, released fall 2021
Episode 9: What Does Energy Justice & Democracy Look Like in the Green Economy? (32 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Anahi Naranjo ‘17, Equitable & Just National Climate Platform Coordinator, Center for Earth Energy & Democracy
Interviewer: Elizabeth Reyes ‘22
Episode 10: Getting to Zero Carbon Mobility (27 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Kelly Blynn ‘07, Transportation Climate Change Specialist at Colorado Energy Office
Interviewer: Julia Ulsh ‘24
Episode 11: Beating the Climate Crisis at the Ballot Box (26 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Ben Wessel ‘11, Executive Director, NextGen America
Interviewer: Kate Goodman ‘24
Episode 12: How Do You Get Meaningful Youth Engagement in International Environmental Policy? (45 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Mika Mei Jia Tan ‘15, Coordinator, ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme
Interviewer: Maria Than ‘21
Episode 13: The Role of Advocacy, People-Power, and Social Movements in Accelerating the Green Economy (33 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Michael Silberman ‘02, Founder, Mobilisation Lab
Interviewer: Eva Morgan ‘22
Episode 14: The District, Committed to Carbon Neutrality (27 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Alexandra Fisher ‘10, Energy Policy Analyst, US Department of Energy & Environment
Interviewer: Sachi Howson ‘21
Episode 15: A Scientist’s View of Bioenergy Technologies (23 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Jay Fitzgerald ‘06, Chief Scientist, Bioenergy Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy
Interviewer: Nicholas Nonnenmacher ‘21
Episode 16: Machine Learning x Climate at Myst AI (31 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Ellery Berk ‘14, Business Operations Manager, Myst AI
Interviewer: Daniel Brey ‘22
Episode 17: Digitally Connected Energy Storage Network (24 minutes)
Guest Speaker: Will Hanley ‘15, Manager, Project Finance, Stem
Interviewer: Courtney Gantt ‘22
Green Economy Guest Speaker Biographies
Kira Ashby ‘05, Senor Program Manager - Behavior; National Expert IEA, CEE. Kira is the Senior Program Manager for Behavior at the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). For the past 11 years she has facilitated CEE members’ work applying social science-based behavioral techniques to energy efficiency programs. Most recently, Kira has served as the National Expert for the United States on two projects with the UsersTCP by the International Energy Agency, the most recent of which focuses on better engaging “Hard to Reach” energy users. Kira holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish (with minors in Environmental Studies and Psychology) from Middlebury College and a Master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Ellery Berk ‘14 runs Business Operations at Myst AI, a Google-backed, Series A startup focused on accelerating the renewable transition through better near-term electricity forecasting. Prior to Myst, Ellery worked as economic consultant on grid reliability and on the US’s first mandatory cap and trade program. She spent her MBA summer at Valo Ventures, a purpose-driven venture firm. Ellery holds a B.A. in Economics from Middlebury College, as well as an MBA from the Stanford GSB.
Kelly Blynn ‘07, serves as a technical and policy advisor on transportation electrification and other sustainable transportation initiatives to cities in the American Cities Climate Challenge. Previously, she worked with Cadmus’ strategic electrification team where she led over a dozen building and transportation electrification projects for cities, states, and utilities. Her career has also included cofounding and working as an international campaigner at 350.org, and working as a sustainable transportation advocate with the Coalition for Smarter Growth in the Washington, D.C. region. She holds a Master of City Planning and Master of Science in Transportation from MIT, and undergraduate degrees in Geography and Environmental Studies from Middlebury College.
Dylan Cutler ‘04 is a senior research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). His research focuses on the techno-economic performance of distributed energy resources—electric and thermal storage, solar PV, wind, combined heat and power, and natural gas generation—and their integration into electric infrastructure and associated energy markets. He leads technical development of the REopt model at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the lab’s premier model for integration and optimization of distributed energy resources. He is also the principal investigator on NREL’s blockchain-based energy markets research (involving both lab testing and co-simulation modeling). He is an author of multiple software records and dozens of peer reviewed publications.
Alexandra Fisher ‘10 is a Policy Analyst with the District of Columbia State Energy Office, specializing in regulatory pathways to grid modernization, microgrids, DER interconnection, and data analysis and GIS planning of neighborhood-scale decarbonization strategies. She graduated from Middlebury in 2010 with a B.A. in Environmental Policy and subsequently received her MA in Energy, Resources, and Environmental and International Economics from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Jay Fitzgerald ‘06, ORISE Fellow Bioenergy Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy. Jay Fitzgerald is the Chief Scientist for the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In that role he helps to guide scientific program direction for overcoming challenges in the conversion of biomass and wastes into low-carbon fuels, chemicals, and materials. He specifically focuses on synthetic biology, performance-advantaged bioproducts, and chemical and biological conversion of plastics.
Jay was previously an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the DOE Office of Science Office of Biological & Environmental Research (BER). He completed his PhD in organic chemistry at Stanford University with Professor Chaitan Khosla, focusing on the biosynthesis of medicinally useful polyketides. He also holds a BA in biochemistry and a minor in economics from Middlebury College.
Eric Friedman ‘82 is the Director of the Leading by Example Program, a statewide “Greening the Government” program established in 2007 by Executive Order No. 484. The LBE Program works with dozens of large state agencies as well as with 29 public colleges and universities to develop and implement programs that result in lower energy use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, less water consumption, reduced waste generation, disposal of fewer toxic materials, and greater resource conservation. As LBE Director, Eric has overseen the development of a new green building standard for all new state government construction projects, created the state’s first comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory for state facilities, and supported efforts resulting in more than 28 MW of installed solar PV and close to 100 LEED certified buildings at state facilities. From 2010 through 2012, Eric oversaw the successful implementation of $54.9 million worth of stimulus funded clean energy projects, involving deep energy retrofits, comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits, and installation of renewables at public and private sites throughout the Commonwealth.
From 2008 to 2009, Eric was the staff lead for the Governor’s Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force, which issued a set of recommendations to set the state on a path toward universal adoption of zero net energy buildings by 2030. In 2004, at the request of the U.S. EPA, Eric participated in a national effort to develop a green rating system for computers and electronic products. The resulting EPEAT tool now rates over 1,000 products and is internationally recognized as the go-to rating system for electronic equipment. From 1994 to 2001, Eric was the Environmental Purchasing Coordinator at the Massachusetts Operational Services Division (the state’s central purchasing agency), where he helped the Commonwealth increase its purchases of recycled products from $2.8 million in 1992 to over $65 million in 2000. Eric received a B.A. in Political Science from Middlebury College and an M.A in Environmental Policy from Tufts University.
Will Hanley ‘15 is currently a Manager on the Project Finance team at Stem, Inc., a leading energy storage software and project development company located in San Francisco, CA. At Stem, he manages relationships with investment partners and oversees the financial transactions with them to enable energy storage projects to be built. With the support of the Stem team, he has funded over 100 energy storage projects worth more than $50 million. Prior to his role at Stem, Will worked as an Analyst at Cadmus Group, LLC a sustainability consulting firm located in Boston, MA. In this role, he aided government agencies with the development of policies and programs to grow solar and energy storage markets. Notable clients included the U.S. Department of Energy, New York State Energy & Research Development Authority, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Will graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in Film & Media Studies.
Jamie Henn ‘07, Director, Fossil Free Media
Paul Hildebrand ‘12, graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Economics. After graduating, he spent a year in India as an IDEX Fellow in Social Enterprise. Over the last several years, Paul has worked with a number of solar energy focused enterprises and is currently a Senior Associate in Project Finance with Cypress Creek Renewables in Hanover, NH.
Tiffani Jarnigan ‘14 MIIS, leads strategy & ops for customer and stakeholder engagements on the HPE sustainability team. In this role, she defines and measures key metrics around sustainability-driven purchasing, sales pursuits, and market opportunities. In addition to leading data governance for the team, she also engages internal stakeholders to explore sustainable product innovation and also engages in external working groups focused on social and environmental issues in collaboration with nonprofits, customers, and other partners. Tiffani brings a diverse background in environmental development and business intelligence reporting. She previously worked as a data and business analyst for an organic produce distributor and served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic where she specialized in rural water infrastructure projects. Tiffani has been named a 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Women of Excellence award winner.
Anahi Naranjo ‘17 is the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform Coordinator with the Center for Earth Energy & Democracy. Anahi graduated from Middlebury in 2017 with a BA in Environmental Studies and has experience conducting narrative research with diverse communities. She is experienced advocating for environmental justice through efforts to create inclusive outdoor spaces and including unheard narratives in dominant environmental discourse. Additionally, Anahi has an MA in Oral History from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Clayton Reed ‘08 is the Colorado Program Director at CLEAResult, an industry leading provider of energy efficiency consulting services for Energy Utilities and Municipalities. Clayton began his career as a residential energy auditor, screwing in an estimated 10,000 light bulbs a year in customer homes! Today he manages a portfolio energy efficiency programs for residential, commercial and industrial customers. He graduated from Middlebury College in 2008, majoring in Environmental Economics. After several years in the job market, Clayton returned to school in 2011 for a Masters Degree in Global Energy Management from the University of Colorado Denver.
Ali Rotatori ‘14 is a clean energy nerd who is passionate about unlocking and accelerating access to renewable energy markets for non-utility buyers. She started off her career in the clean energy industry at SunEdison, where she honed her technical skills by developing and financing solar projects for local governments, housing authorities and corporations. In late 2016 she joined Rocky Mountain Institute, where she took a seat on the other side of the table—helping similar customers understand complex procurement processes and make progress towards their clean energy goals.
Through her work on the Business Renewables Center (now Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance) and (currently) the City Renewables Accelerator, she’s indirectly supported over 200 corporations and cities that have collectively procured over 10 gigawatts of renewables in the past 5 years. In the past 2 years, she has directly supported procurement of over 200 megawatts (MW) of renewables by US cities, including:
- Cincinnati’s 100MW project, which accounts for 25% of annual municipal energy use and 10% of community-wide energy use. It is the largest municipally led renewable procurement in the US.
- Philadelphia’s 70MW deal, which represents 22% of annual municipal electricity use and was the largest solar project in PA;
- Charlotte’s 35MW project, which covers 25% of municipal electricity use and established it as the most populous city to procure renewables through a green tariff;
- Additional ongoing 10-50MW procurements in cities including Arlington and Richmond, VA, San Jose, CA, and St. Petersburg, FL.
Michael Silberman ‘02 founded and led two organizations, Mobilisation Lab and Echo & Co, dedicated to advancing advocacy and campaigns for social justice, especially for climate, inequality, and human rights. He has guided dozens of organizations to revamp their communications, supporter engagement, and volunteer mobilization strategies for the digital era. Michael’s work developing people-centered and people-powered advocacy strategies has been globally recognized by The New Yorker, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Newsweek, and Wired. Over the last 10 years, Michael and his team at MobLab trained thousands of social change campaigners, as well as developed a new, open source methodology to enable advocacy organizations to be more effective through people power, systems thinking, and the creative use of new technology. He started his career leading the first successful digital grassroots organizing program in U.S. politics for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.
Mika Tan ‘15 has been working with youth in the environmental scene for the past decade. Her expertise lies in youth empowerment, urban biodiversity, systems thinking, capacity building, public speaking, and hosting and facilitation. Currently, she is the Coordinator of the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme (AYBP) at the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, as well as the Co-Founder of the Urban Biodiversity Hub (UBHub). As AYBP Coordinator, Mika crafts training and mentorship programmes, forges connections to bridge the policy-implementation gap, and empowers youth in the ASEAN region for the benefit of nature and people. As Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Urban Biodiversity Hub (www.ubhub.org), Mika leads an international team of professional collaborators, building partnerships to enable local governments to plan with nature.
An interdisciplinary thinker, Mika holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Conservation Biology) from Middlebury College, USA, and is an inaugural Middlebury Social Entrepreneurship Fellow and a Loke Cheng-Kim Scholar. When she is not in front of a screen, she can often be found dancing, running, or exploring the outdoors.
Zachary Tofias ‘00, serves as the Director of the Food and Waste Programme at C40. His work supports C40 cities transition towards regenerative resource management and reduce emissions through more sustainable consumption. The Programme is helping cities accelerate a worldwide transition to more effective municipal solid waste management, and the implementation of comprehensive solutions that reduce carbon emissions and increase resiliency and health throughout the urban food system. Zach has been with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group since 2007 in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative. Over the course of this time he has been City Director in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, created and led the Climate Positive Development Program, and most recently was the head of Urban Planning and Development. For over 13 years, Zach has been working around the world with leading cities and the private sector on developing locally relevant solutions for replicable models for sustainable city growth. Zach has an Master’s of Business Administration from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College.
Ben Wessel ‘11 is the Executive Director of NextGen America, which fights for progressive change by growing and wielding the grassroots power of young people in elections. In this role, Ben works to elect candidates who support progressive policies with a focus on mobilizing the voters who care most the issues: young people. NextGen works across 11 states, focusing on elections from President to state legislature. Prior to being named Executive Director of NextGen in July 2019, Ben worked in various roles at the organization including in the organizing, digital, and political departments starting in 2014. Before NextGen, Ben worked for Cory Booker’s campaign for US Senate in New Jersey, as the Political Campaigns Manager for 350.org Action, and as the Youth Vote Director for President Obama’s reelection campaign in New Hampshire. In 2016, Ben was named one of the “16 Young Americans Shaping the 2016 Election” by Rolling Stone magazine. He is a board member of the Alliance for Youth Action and a native of Washington, DC. He lives in San Francisco.