Leaders in Energy 2019 Green Jobs Forum ─ A Hit with Green Career and Job Seekers!

Leaders in Energy 2019 Green Jobs Forum ─ A Hit with Green Career and Job Seekers!

By Xavier Vergara and Janine Finnell

Leaders in Energy conducted its sixth installment of the Green Jobs Forum on August 22, 2019 at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.  The event was a hit and had the highest attendance of all of the jobs forums to date.   The event had three components including:  1)  two Green Career Workshops and a Fear is Your Co-pilot networking workshop on overcoming social anxiety;  2) the Green Jobs Forum with two panels, and 3) exhibits featuring green employers, educators, and career assistance organizations.

Sustainability and green jobs are growing in relevance and are becoming the norm for businesses and consumer purchasing trends. Today it is very important we analyze our impact as we search for green job opportunities as business owners and consumers to align ourselves with greater values where we do business as it could be the key to finding higher employment and business stability.

According to the Governance and Accountability Institute, 86% of S&P 500 Index companies published sustainability reports as of 2018.  A Forbes survey of CEOs in the US, found that 90% of CEOs believe sustainability is essential for success while 88% of business school students believe social and environmental elements are priorities in business, and 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on sustainable brands with nearly three of four millennials sharing this same belief.

This year’s Forum theme was on the low carbon and circular economy.   See a summary of the Forum’s activities below.

Green Career and Networking Workshops

The Green Career Workshops were instructed by Dr. Beth Offenbacker, Ph.D., HR consultant and coach and Leaders in Energy, Director of Education.  They included training and group activities aimed at examining attendees’ current job status, a reflection of what each individual person has done to reach their employment aspirations, and training on strategies that attendees could use to reach their employment goals in the green jobs sector.


Attendees participating in team exercises. (Photo credit: Sasha Clark)



“This is the third year we’ve offered our Green Career Workshops,” Dr. Offenbacker said, “and each time we do, we hear from LE members how valuable the sessions are.  It’s a great opportunity for people to focus on their career plan, which is something people often have a difficulty setting time aside for.  There’s crowdsourcing about the market and practical insights that people share with each other too. But perhaps the most valuable element we hear about by far is the chance for people to network and develop relationships with fellow Green Leaders.” Overall, the workshop was very informative, giving valuable insight to the steps and structure for obtaining green jobs.


Spencer Schecht (Member Experience Manager, the Smart Electric Power Alliance) who instructed the networking workshop said that “It brought job seekers deep into human evolution, psychology, and offered all the hard and fast networking tips in between. Attendees spent time considering their character assets and limiting beliefs, interjected by dynamic group sessions to elicit crowd-sourced wisdom and connection. The lunch session concluded with a meditative visualization activity leaving job-seekers empowered and inspired. “

Forum Speakers

The green career and networking workshops were a fantastic complement to the Green Jobs Forum, along with the Forum Exhibitors.  The Forum included speakers in the public and private sectors who have different levels of knowledge involving green jobs, but all with valuable insight into green jobs and opportunities.  Some of the speakers were even looking for employees or giving hints as to methods event attendees could find employment with employers who provide green jobs, including searching for information in job descriptions as opposed to specific job titles implying green job roles. Other notable information discussed included: Maryland’s plan to go 100% renewable, links between green jobs and K-12 education, updated composting and recycling strategies, micro transit, food waste, value of LinkedIn as a job searching tool, organizations which provide green job finding assistance, and fun catch phrases for some of the speakers.

Panel One on green jobs and economic development in the greater Washington Metropolitan region with Janine Finnell, Executive Director, Leaders in Energy; 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 (Photo Credit: from YouTube Video produced by FilmBison Media)

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)


Connecting with Others During Networking and at the Exhibit

Networking sessions took place before and after sessions to facilitate meeting other green-minded people!

Attendees meeting after Networking Shoutout which helps people to connect with one another on topics of mutual interest.  (Photo Credit: Janine Finnell


Exhibitors included companies, educators, and career assistance organizations such as Advanced Biofuels USA, BCS., CleanChoice Energy, the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), The Plastic Tree, and the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter and University of Maryland Student Chapter (with 16 energy and sustainability certifications), plus Career Confidence.  The University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce, was also an exhibitor which offers a Certificate in Sustainable Business program co-sponsored by GreenBlue, an environmental NGO.


Green Jobs Exhibitors (Photo Credit: Denise Nelson)


Thanks to Our Volunteers and Sponsors

Thanks to all of our volunteers who contributed in a myriad of ways to make the Forum a resounding success in helping with the refreshments, registration desk, reporting on the event, and taking photos.   We greatly appreciated Wegmans and WethePizza supporting our event, along with our exhibitors.  Thanks also to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for being our event host.

L-R: Linda Mansdorf, Leaders in Energy, Volunteer Coordinator with Emily Cercone. (Photo Credit: Janine Finnell)


We look forward to seeing you at upcoming Leaders in Energy events on topics spanning green jobs, leadership, finance and the green economy including its Circular Economy Working Group meetings and more!  The events help our attendees learn about the latest trends affecting businesses today and how to improve your employment possibilities in a changing world.

Additional Resources from the Forum



Xavier Vergara is a volunteer with Leaders in Energy.  He has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Marketing.  He is currently working on a Master of Professional Studies in Sustainable Urban Planning and Climate Change Management.   He has career experience in marketing, sustainability and management combined with skilled leadership in research and analysis, data management. 

Janine Finnell is the Executive Director of Leaders in Energy.

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