2019 Year End Review

2019 Year End Review

2019 Year End Review


2019 was a very busy and successful year for the continuously growing Leaders in Energy (LE) community.  Leaders in Energy is a community of organizational and individual leaders, young to old, working to lead the advancement of clean energy and sustainable solutions to create a sustainable energy system, economy, and a greener world.  We connect people to share success stories and new pathways, and to learn from each other. Our efforts include technology, and social and economic innovations – like new sustainability business models – to build a climate-smart and earth-friendly economy, including a circular economy.

Executive Director Janine Finnell and the rest of the Leaders in Energy team and community are tirelessly working to promote sustainability and clean energy solutions, with and an important focus on key areas of the green economy and green jobs; the circular economy; multigenerational leadership; and sustainable communities.

Leaders in Energy’s highly active and engaged international community encompasses 6000 individuals with 1700+ people in our community in the Metro Washington DC region and 3200+ in our LinkedIn group (Leaders in Energy Research, Communications, Policy & Analysis – LERCPA), along with our growing following on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

With the many important leadership, educational and networking events and workshops, Leaders in Energy maintains a jam-packed calendar year round. On top of the many annual events such as the Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza and Green Jobs Forum, Leaders in Energy hosts a Green Leadership Retreat, the highly successful Green Career 1.0 and 2.0 and Green Career Momentum series in addition to several strategic planning meetings and monthly Circular Economy Working group meetings.

As Leaders in Energy’s Director of Communications, I am thrilled to share some of our most exciting activities and accomplishments. Articles and presentations related to many of these events can also be viewed at our Event Archives here as well as in our blog articles here.

Promoting the Green Economy and Green Jobs

Leaders in Energy is dedicated to promoting and facilitating employment in a variety of sectors that help to regenerate the planet, promote clean energy and sustainability, or work to by finance sustainability through funding for start-ups and other businesses. In January, Leaders in Energy teamed up with Potential Energy DC to host Leaders in Energy’s the 5th annual Green Financing event, Innovative Clean Energy Project Financing Forum 2019.

(L-R) Dave McCarthy, Executive Director, Potential Energy DC; Musa Asad, Managing Director, BGB Investment Partners: Jay Wilson, Program Manager, DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Molly Medlin, Potential Energy DC: Janine Finnell, Executive Director, Leaders in Energy; Scott Dicke, SRS’ C-PACE program director for the Commonwealth of Virginia; Adler Prioly, Director, Clean Energy Finance at The Reinvestment Fund; Peter Drown, Manager, Strategy & Business Development at Recurrent Innovative Solutions, LLC; Mark J Riedy, Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP in Washington, DC; Energy, Project Finance & Clean Technologies Practice

Leaders in Energy maintained a strong focus on green jobs, with a calendar events and workshops to help connect job seekers with job providers, and importantly, to help guide and educate hundreds of participants to land job interviews, and ultimately land their green job of their dreams.

In March, Dr. Beth Offenbacker led the highly anticipated Green Career 1.0 and 2.0 Workshops, where participants had the opportunity to identify and analyze their strengths, learn more about their passions and motivations, and how these can be honed and tailored to maximize success in the green economy.

Read more about participants’ experiences here: Finding My Way – With Help from the Green Career Workshop, by Shelli Bond; and Green Career Workshop 1.0: What’s Your Green Career Plan?, by Khadija Khan

Green career guru Dr. Beth Offenbacker also held her multi-session Green Career Momentum Series: Land or Create Your Dream Green Job, featuring keynote speakers from different sectors of the green economy and with a wide range of expertise. Every one of the unique and interactive sessions focused on a different element crucial to securing the ideal environmental job. I also had the opportunity to catch up with Dr. Offenbacker to learn more about her experience developing her own ‘green career’.  Read more here: Gaining Momentum on Your Green Career: An Interview with Dr. Beth Offenbacker, by Miriam Aczel.

And then on August 22, Leaders in Energy held the much-awaited 6th Annual Green Jobs Forum and Workshops. The theme was Jobs for a Low-Carbon, Circular Economyand the event showcased a variety of different career opportunities, and highlighted exciting updates on the growth of the ‘green economy’ in the DMV region and beyond. A number of cities and states in the greater Washington Metropolitan region are enacting innovative approaches to become carbon neutral, transition to a clean economy including zero waste, and create enhanced economic opportunities for all citizens through green careers and jobs.

Panel 1: (l-r) Janine Finnell, Executive Director, Leaders in Energy (Moderator), Tommy Wells, Director, District of Columbia, Department of Energy and Environment, Samuel Beirne, Energy Program Manager, Maryland Energy Administration, Alex Cooley, Manager, Labor Information Services, Northern Virginia Community College, and Emily Yates, Founder + Principle of Urban Revolution Group (Charlotte, NC)

Panel Two on landing or creating a green job with Spencer Schecht, Member Experience Manager, the Smart Electric Power Alliance; Rodger Correa, US Communications Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare; Erin McGeoy, Co-Founder and CEO of Last Call, an on-line platform that connects users with discounted unsold food from restaurants;  Barbara Englehart, Senior Finance and Accounting Professional, ICF; David Gelman, Business Development Manager for the Mid-Atlantic, VEIC; and Charles Girard, Energy Advisor, World Bank  (Photo Credit: from YouTube Video produced by FilmBison Media)

These topics were discussed by a diverse panel of energy, economic development, and employment experts from across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV).  The event included green career and networking workshops, exhibitors hiring in the green economy, educators and career assistance organizations, and two panels with 120+ attendees.

Read more about the event here:  

Leaders in Energy 2019 Green Jobs Forum ─ A Hit with Green Career and Job Seekers! by Xavier Vergara and Janine Finnell

Growing the Green Economy, Careers, and Jobs in the DMV Region, by Janine Finnell

6th Annual Green Jobs Forum Exhibitors Showcase a Vast Range of Green Economy Career Opportunities by Miriam Aczel

To read more about the diverse group of employers and exhibitors present at the Green Jobs Forum’s Exhibit, see here:Green Jobs Forum Exhibitors: Environmental Employers Part 2 by Miriam Aczel

Leaders in Energy also maintains active lists of resources, including a webpage on Green Career Resources; and another on Clean Energy and Sustainability sources.

Towards a Sustainable Future

On February 15th, Leaders in Energy hosted the successful fifth annual Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza, held at George Washington University. The theme of the event was “Getting to Net Zero Emissions in Energy, Carbon, Water, and Waste,” and LE joined forces with the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter (AEE NCC) and the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) to host the event. The jam-packed day highlighted a wide variety of exciting new ideas and technologies, policies and services that are advancing clean energy, achieving zero waste, and promoting efficient water. We were delighted that we had over 150 individuals who attended the event.

Our keynote speaker, Todd M. La Porte, Associate Professor, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, provided the big systems picture needed to get us to net zero emissions in energy, carbon, water, and waste. He states that “I want to signal right at the outset, the magnitude of the challenge, I think, is more than just a solution that we can draw up on a drawing board but that it has deeper cultural, social, and organizational elements to it…” You can view his video presentation here and slide presentations from our panelists at our Event Archives.

We brought together businesses and academia to host an extra successful extravaganza this year! Check out this article by Molly Medlin to see how we focused on bridging these two sectors and why our many participants saw it as a success!  What are local D.C. universities doing to pursue sustainability? Making honey, fixing water pipes, and all other sorts of awesome! Sustainability is often broader than we think, and the university speakers at our Extravaganza had a lot to share on their campus’ efforts to be green as reported in this recap article by Ryan Block.

Speakers shown l-r:  Solome Girma, Director, Program Management Office at District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU); Annika Moman, Senior Vice President and head of Energy Services at AECOM; Lindsey Shaw, Manager, Energy and Sustainability Programs with Montgomery County and Nadia Khawar, Global Energy Group Manager at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The panel was moderated by Ida Namur, Operations Manager at AECOM.

The Extravaganza also included a focus on women leaders in cleantech careers.  At the Fifth Annual Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza at George Washington University (GWU) on February 15, 2019, attendees participated in a lively and interactive conversation featuring successful women in the energy and environmental fields talking about their careers and their perspectives on the retention and recruitment of women and other underrepresented people in these industries.   Learn more about the session in the report article here by Aldrich Reuelraj and Ida Namur.

Read more about the day’s reception and the exhibitors’ present here: Helping Attendees to Make Valuable Connections on Jobs, Business Partnering & More at Our 2019 Extravaganza Reception by Miriam Aczel; and learn more about our business showcase through Vishnu Babu’s piece on the Extravaganza Business Showcase.

On April 22—Earth Day—Leaders in Energy participated in the Engineering Sustainability Day at University of Maryland-College Park as an exhibitor.  The one day event highlighted ongoing projects as well as key challenges faced, with a focus on engineering and technical solutions. Read here to learn more about this exciting event: UMD College Park Engineering Sustainability Day Highlights Real Projects and Difficulties by Joanne Ivancic.  Leaders in Energy also participated in the Arlington EcoAction Annual Meeting as an exhibitor.

And then in May, Leaders in Energy held the event, co-sponsored by the Amir D. Aczel Foundation and held at Industrious Ballston, on Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Fossil Energy: In Search of the Next Better.  The event included a lively panel and Q&A discussion with a focus primarily on carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) technologies that could be leveraged to help sustainability goals and mitigate climate change impacts.

Left to Right: Panelist: Miriam Aczel, Co-Director Amir D. Aczel Foundation (event co-sponsor) and Ph.D. Researcher at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy, Communications Director for Leaders in Energy (Event Sponsor); Emma Haberman – Industrious Ballston (Event Host), Moderator: Bill Brandon, President, and CTO Industrial Ecosystem Partners and Leaders in Energy Vice President of Research; Panelist: Lee Beck,  Senior Advocacy and Communications Advisor, Global Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Institute; Panelist: Greg Kats, Board Member of Blue Planet, President of Capital E, and CEO of Smart Surfaces Initiative and Janine Finnell, Executive Director, Leaders in Energy

Closing the Loop

Back in 2018, Leaders in Energy formed an active Circular Economy Working Group, currently meets every 4th Wednesday of the month. Dr. Clifford Deaton is the group’s chair, and the Working Group is dedicated to promoting circular economy principles and opportunities for local implementation –‘closing the loop’—so that there is nothing wasted. For example, in September, the group held a meeting at Atlas Brew Workslooking at sustainable beer brewing, and then in October the group convened a meeting on ‘biophilic cities’.

We also had a session on green printing and sustainability practices.   Janine Finnell presented on the Circular Economy in February 2020 at the Sierra Club, May 2020 at the Smithsonian Global Co-Lab Network event on reducing plastics, and July 2020 at the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia at the Resilient Virginia Conference.

On February 15th, Leaders in Energy hosted the wildly successful fifth annual Clean Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza, held at George Washington University. The theme of the event was “Getting to Net Zero Emissions in Energy, Carbon, Water, and Waste,” and LE joined forces with the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter (AEE NCC) and the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) to host the event. The jam-packed day highlighted a wide variety of exciting new ideas and technologies, policies and services that are advancing clean energy, achieving zero waste, and promoting efficient water.

Read more about the day’s reception and the exhibitor’s present here: Helping Attendees to Make Valuable Connections on Jobs, Business Partnering & More at Our 2019 Extravaganza Reception by Miriam Aczel; and learn more about our business showcase through Vishnu Babu’s piece on the Extravaganza Business Showcase.

Promoting and Recognizing Multigenerational Leadership

From Left to Right: John Gaffigan-Four Gen Master of Ceremonies, Andrew Euston-World War II Awardee, Xavier Vergara-Leaders in Energy AV Team, Julia Cohen-Gen X Awardee, Eric Goplerud, Ph.D.-Baby Boomer Awardee, Krithika Layagala and Kayla Peale-Teen Ambassadors of Plastics Hub, Ashley Cheung-Teen Ambassador of Hunger Hub, Mikhail Floresc and Sophia Alfred-Teen Ambassadors of Arts Hub, Miriam Gennari-Mentor of Plastics Hub, Brian Coyle-Smithsonian Conservations Commons, Linda Staheli-Executive Director of Global Co-Lab, Bathsheba Bryand-Tarpeh-Mentor of Hunger Hub and Climate Hub, Janine Finnell-Executive Director of Leaders in Energy (Photo Credit: Hurriyet OK, Turkish American TV)

We also honored Emerging Leader Awardees Karen T. Campblin and Lee Williams, Co-Chairs of the Green New Deal Virginia Coalition.

Emerging Leader Awardee Mitra Kashani, Founder, Mason Environmental Justice Alliance celebrating with Janine Finnell and John Gaffigan of Leaders in Energy.

In December, Leaders in Energy held the 6th edition of the annual Four Generations of Leaders in Clean Energy and Sustainable Solutions Awards. The event, which took place at the Pepco Edison Gallery, had a focus on the theme ‘Building Alliance for Action: Coalitions, Collaboration and Partnerships’. The awards were given to leaders of all ages, within the categories of Millennial/Gen ZGen X; Baby BoomerWorld War II; as well as an Emerging Leaders.

Leaders in Energy remains dedicated to recognizing those leaders—both established and emerging—who show a commitment to advancing clean energy, sustainability, and other crucial environmental issues.

To learn more about previous years’ awardees, check out Leaders in Energy’s 4 Generations Hall of Fame page.

Spotlight on Communications

Leaders in Energy is also committed to serving as a resource for all things sustainability, clean energy, environment, and leadership. This year saw a particularly significant rise in the number of articles posted on our blog. With a total of nearly 400 blogs posted and roughly 200 new articles since 2018, Leaders in Energy has the opportunity to feature many new authors and articles, demonstrating the wide diversity and expertise of the global LE community (including several contributions from high school students).

In 2019, Leaders in Energy also introduced the bi-weekly newsletters. Led by Kyle Saukas and Janine Finnell, these newsletters highlight newly posted blogs, job opportunities, and include a ‘bookmarked’ section for interesting reads from the community.  You can see our 2019 newsletters at our News Archives here.

Leaders in Energy Ambassador (LEA) Program & International Outreach 

Janine Finnell, Executive Director, was proud to represent our Leaders in Energy community at the Charge 2019 Energy Branding Conference last week in Reykjavik, Iceland – a country known for being a green energy leader!

She moderated the Innovation and Green Energy panel on “Energy, Tourism, and the Circular Economy.” This panel focused on the important role of geothermal energy and how this resource is being utilized to create additional green industries and jobs, e.g., the water utilized by the Blue Lagoon health spa is a byproduct from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Ásgeir Margeirsson, CEO of H.S. Orka, spoke about how geothermal energy is producing more than just hot water and electricity. The H.S. Orka Resource Park, a sustainable industrial park, is developing many spin-off products from geothermal resources including renewable fuels such as methanol and high-value products such as fish meal from sustainable fisheries, cosmetics, and more. On the topic of the Blue Lagoon being named one of the 25 wonders of the world, Grímur Sæmundsen, CEO of Blue Lagoon, injected some levity by saying “God made 24. I made the 25th.”

Key takeaways included:

  • The topic of energy is hot. “There is no other category on the planet more dead-smack in the middle of the entire global consciousness than energy….Perhaps no other consumer, business, national or planetary issue is more center stage with more persistence than ‘energy’ ”  (Thom Kennon, Founder of Free Radical, a consulting firm based in New York)
  • The President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, stated that we need to think about sustainable solutions that benefit us all. While energy is a commodity that can be marketed, produced, bought, and sold, we can also think of energy as a human right. Although Iceland is a green energy leader, a third energy revolution is needed to supply low carbon energy in transportation.
  • The bad news is …that the pace of the energy transition is not happening fast enough. The Norway-based DNV GL company, an independent third-party provider of assurance and risk management services to the energy sector, in their just published “Energy Transition Outlook 2019”, provides an analysis of the demand-and-supply aspects of the energy transformation.
  • One piece of positive news is …regulatory incentives (particularly in the U.S. states) are driving innovation in pricing, performance monitoring, and delivery. These incentives are creating increased value for customers, producers, distributors, and investors.

Janine Finnell, Leaders in Energy discussing energy and circular economy topics with Ásgeir Margeirsson, CEO of H.S. Orka and Grímur Sæmundsen, CEO of the Blue Lagoon (from right to left (Photo Credit: Carina G. Correia).

Leaders in Energy is also working to connect with its rapidly growing global membership base outside the Washington, DC, area, consisting of individuals who are passionate about contributing to the development of sustainable and environmentally responsible communities around the world.  However, each individual community is unique in terms of its local infrastructure, natural resources, labor force, industrial activity, regulatory policies and incentives, pace of economic development, and future energy and resource needs.  Building an effective global action network will therefore require LEA to help align and connect a diverse set of participants at distinct local and regional levels who share a direct stake in the sustainable development of their particular community.

The goal of the Ambassador program is two-fold:

a) Provide structure, framework, and shared resources to help develop local action networks both within the US and internationally under the directorship of LEA and led by regional ambassadors at the local level

b) Collaboratively ensure integration and communication of lessons learned and best practices across regions with an aim to increase membership penetration and improve geographic diversification of membership base.

Leaders in Energy has also been working to grow our expanding international presence, through promoting global conversations focusing on the path towards sustainable energy, in particular, and sustainable development, in general. Through the Leaders in Energy without Borders program, LE is working to reflect our goal of covering issues with a global impact and of leveraging the power of a wider global audience.

Thanks to Our Leaders in Energy Community and Sponsors

We want to thank our Leaders in Energy community including our Board Members, Organizational Leads, Advisors, volunteers, and to those who support our programs.  Learn more about our team here and our Advisors here.

We conducted 3 Strategic Planning meetings with our Board, Organizational Leaders, and Contributors throughout the year to plan the content of our programs as well as examine sustainable funding mechanisms for the organization.

We want to kindly thank our company, organizational, venue sponsors, Silent Auction donors, partners, and exhibitors.  These include the following:

Advanced Biofuels USA



Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research and Education in Science and Mathematics

Arlington EcoAction

Armstrong Filtration

Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter

Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Student Chapter at The George Washington University

Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Student Chapter at the University of  Maryland


Bethesda Green

Bollywood Bistro

Career Confidence

Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE)

Clarendon Presbyterian Church of Arlington

Clean Choice Energy

Clean Energy Business Network

Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership

DC Sustainable Energy Utility

DC Department of Energy and Environment

Douglis Creative


FilmBison Media


Industrious Ballston

LarsEn Energy Branding

Maid Brigade

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Mili Salon

MOM’s Organic Market

National Association of Homebuilders


Ocean Conservancy



Potential Energy DC

Resilient Virginia

Shannon Global Energy Solutions

Styrofoam Mom

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice

Veron Ventures

Virtues Matter

University of Virginia

Virginia Clean Energy


Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments (WMCOG)

Waterford Inc.

Water Management, Inc.


We the Pizza

JOIN US – Toward a Cleaner, Greener and More Sustainable Future 

2019 was an exciting and very busy year for the Leaders in Energy community.

We are looking forward to continuing our work towards advancing clean energy and sustainable solutions to create a better and greener world.

Leaders in Energy warmly invites you to join our active global action network of leaders. Connect on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter, and we hope to see you at one of our upcoming events and our monthly Circular Economy Working Group meetings.  Please also join our community by subscribing to our newsletter here to learn about and contribute to our programs through our public forums, serving as a speaker or sponsor, blog contributor, etc.

If you are interested in writing a blog on a clean energy and sustainability topic, please contact the author of this article, Miriam Aczel at maczel@leadersinenergy.org.

Miriam Aczel is a President’s Scholar PhD Candidate at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy. Her research is on international energy science and policy, with a focus on mitigation of environmental and health impacts of shale gas, greenhouse gas removal technologies, and citizen science and public participation mechanisms. She is also co-founder and co-director of the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research and Education in Science and Mathematics, a nonprofit supporting educational programs in Cambodia and beyond.

Miriam is Director of Communications and blog editor for Leaders in Energy.

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