Leaders in Energy 2016 Year in Review

By TRAVIS HIGH, Leaders in Energy

Janine Finnell, Executive Director and Clean Energy Ambassador, Leaders in Energy on March 3, 2016

Around the world, 2016 was a year of tremendous change, upheaval in some cases, and new opportunities that the Leaders in Energy group, now in its fourth year, has explored during our twelve sustainability networking events in the Washington, DC area. Since the Paris Agreement on climate change late last year, broad, multisectoral partnerships have emerged, and work has been accelerated around the globe. Leaders in Energy is proud to be part of the movement.

At the same time, the political and social upheavals brought by voters with Brexit, the Colombia peace accord, Italy, Syria, and not least the U.S. election, have complicated the political agenda in many countries. In the U.S., many in the sustainability field have expressed concerns about the uncertainty over energy and environmental policy, and the U.S. government’s implementation of the Paris Agreement, under the coming administration of President-elect Trump.

In September we sat down with leaders of four U.S. political parties for what we called an “Un-Debate,” in which we tried to find common ground on energy and sustainability policy. Surprise, surprise … we actually did find some common ground on some issues, such as promoting technologies for energy efficiency and reducing subsidies.

Of course, that was before the election. It remains to be seen what 2017 will bring in terms of consensus on energy policy.

2016 Networking Events

Stephen Walz with panelists, Storm Cunningham, Harrison Newton, and Dwane Jones (l-r)
Stephen Walz with panelists, Storm Cunningham, Harrison Newton, and Dwane Jones (l-r)

This year Leaders in Energy hosted or cohosted twelve professional networking and educational events, supported by such sponsors and partners as ACORE, Advanced Biofuels USA, ArlingtonGreen, Arlington Economic Development, Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter, Career-confidence.org, Council on Women in Energy & Environmental Leadership (CWEEL), Ernst & Young, Lilker EMO Solutions, Longenecker & Associates, Metropolitan Facilities Solutions, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Potential Energy DC, Resilient Virginia, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, SolarCity, Taylor Strategic Partners, TechShop, United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, WifiForward, and Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment, among others.


Mary Sell, WCEE; Laurie Wiegand-Jackson; CWEEL Co-Chair; Janine Finnell, Leaders in Energy and CWEEL Board; and MaryAnne Lauderdea, CWEEL Co-Chair (l-r)

Events in 2016 included:

January 20 – Green Financing

February 5 – Energy & Sustainability Extravaganza at George Mason University

March 3 – Paris to DC: Acting for Affordable Clean Energy

March 22 – How the Smart Grid and Unlicensed Spectrum Impact Energy Efficiency

April 20 – The Maker Economy and Local Manufacturing in the DC Metro Region

May 24 – Sustainable Facilities for the Circular Economy

June 14 – Perspectives on Making an Impact Through Sustainable Investing

August 18 – Green Jobs

September 15 – “Un-Debate” on Energy and Sustainability

September 22 – CWEEL Reception at World Energy Engineering Congress

October 20 – Resiliency, Sustainability, and Economic Opportunities

December 2 – Third annual Four Generations of Leaders in Clean Energy & Sustainable Solutions Awards

Ilana Preuss, Dave McCarthy, Agustin Cruz, Janine Finnell, Christian Dorsey, Miriam Gennari at TechShop event (l-r)
Jason Holstine, Nancy Meyer, and Silvia Leahu-Aluas at Sustainable Facilities event (l-r)

In 2016 we continued to develop the Leaders in Energy Without Borders program, a “series of global conversations focusing on the path towards sustainable energy, in particular, and sustainable development, in general.” Two webinars were held in the first part of the year:

February 29 – Scenarios for a 100% renewable energy global architecture

May 5 – Jobs for the Sustainable Energy Transition

Participants learned of the abundance of possibilities for growing the green economy in order to obtain 100% renewable energy, including in the private sector, as well as the growing number of career opportunities for those who are looking to make something of themselves in the clean energy field.

Janine Finnell, Rich Dooley, Michelle Vigen, Bill Updike, Dave McCarthy at Green Financing in January (l-r)


Penny Gross, Albert Nunez, Janine Finnell, Dave McCarthy, and Nofar Hamrany at 4 Gen 2016 (l-r)

Leaders in Energy members also participated in a number of industry forums this year, such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy 2016 conference in June and the first Charge energy branding conference in Reykjavik, Iceland in September.


Thought leadership

This year we had 25 blog posts, including from a diverse group of guest contributors, on a wide variety of topics.

Challenges in clean energy and sustainability

Success stories

Building connections, partnerships, and jobs

2017 – A Year of Action

As 2016 cedes to 2017, we have been delighted at all the positive feedback received at the monthly events held this past year. Continuing our momentum into the new year, our organization plans to spearhead three initiatives. These goals are all geared to make our group increasingly more relevant to our members and stakeholders.

“Each one reach one” is a key 2017 initiative to expand our membership base. As a volunteer organization that depends on having topical speakers and compelling content, our group is more powerful when more people come together. We can gain higher visibility via our size and scope in a positive feedback loop. To that end, if every member asked just one or two colleagues to join our community, we’d quickly grow from nominally 2,500 members to well over 5,000.

Actively polling for member suggestions is the second initiative. Technology enhancements make it easy to send out polls to gauge our audience’s interest in specific topics. We intend to send out polls to aid in the development and prioritization of our monthly topics and speakers. Stay tuned for that roll-out … and please chime in with your preferences!

Enhancing the value of sponsorship opportunities is our third initiative. Leaders in Energy recognizes that sponsors budget marketing dollars based upon direct value in garnering new business opportunities. Our membership drive and continued focus on having intriguing monthly topics reinforces our view that sponsors will experience a positive ROI in 2017. We are evaluating some ideas for our sponsors to derive high value from partnership with Leaders in Energy.  We would love to discuss with you how our engaged community and audiences can help you to build your business and meet your goals.

Here’s what we’ve got planned for January and February 2017:

  • Green Financing – January 19, 2017
  • Energy & Sustainability Extravaganza at George Washington University – February 24, 2017

We are delighted that our group has a presence in 103 countries. In 2017, we will be focused on “A Year of Action” and we are currently honing our mission to focus as a platform for the collaboration and creative development of practical and implementable sustainable, high return on investment solutions for our communities, campuses, businesses, and cities.

In closing, to all of the volunteers, attendees, and sponsors that have made Leaders in Energy a “must attend” each month, thank you for your confidence in our worthy mission.  On behalf of Leaders in Energy, we wish you and yours all the best for health and happiness over the holiday season. We also would like to raise a glass to the continued success of all, as we collectively further our sustainability outreach in the coming year.

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