Leaders in Energy Year-In-Review 2021

Leaders in Energy Year-In-Review 2021

By Dr. Miriam Aczel and Janine Finnell


2021 was another challenging year in many ways. From the COVID-19 pandemic which continued to cause dramatic impacts to yet another year of record-breaking temperatures, natural disasters, and artic sea ice loss, it was a difficult year for people across the globe.

But one bright beacon of hope in these difficult times was the incredible strength, cohesion, and resilience of our growing Leaders in Energy community. A silver lining was that, like many of our events in 2020, we were able to host events virtually. This meant that we were both able to include wider audiences and involve panelists and participants from across the world—all in a low-carbon and waste-free manner!

Leaders in Energy (LE) is proud to connect people to learn from each other, develop new collaborations, and inspire leaders of all generations to move towards a cleaner, greener future.

Executive Director Janine Finnell and the rest of our Leaders in Energy team and wider community are working hard to grow our global action network, promote sustainability and clean energy solutions, and celebrate opportunities and successes in the green economy and green jobs; the circular economy; multigenerational leadership; and sustainable communities.

Scientists and others are calling for a massive shift in the way we think, work, and live for planetary habitability. At Leaders in Energy, we refer to this as “The Big Green Shift.” We are working to build a bridge to a more sustainable future to decarbonize our energy system and reduce our human ecological footprint along the lines of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We developed an “Explainer Video” on our programs which include green finance, green products and services (circular economy), green jobs, multigenerational leadership, and our Ambassador program.

Staying connected is a core priority: our highly active and engaged international network reaches more than 8,000 individuals, with over 3,800 members in our LinkedIn group (Leaders in Energy Research, Communications, Policy & Analysis – LERCPA), our biweekly newsletters and our social media platforms—and counting!

As Leaders in Energy’s Director of Scientific Communications, I’m thrilled to share some of last year’s exciting milestones and events. From our 7th Annual Green Financing Forum to the widely anticipated 8th Annual Four Generations Awards, and let’s take a look back at all we achieved as a community, and what we have to look forward to next year.

NOTE: The LE Explainer Video shown above can be viewed here.

Highlights from 2021

Leaders in Energy was proud to have won Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Best Sustainability Business Award of the Year! The Arlington Chamber of Commerce recognized outstanding community businesses at the prestigious 35th Annual Best Business Awards held on May 19, 2021 in a hybrid format. LE Executive Director Janine Finnell accepted the award and shared her gratitude at the event:  “I’d like to thank the Arlington Chamber of Commerce for honoring Leaders in Energy with the Best Sustainability Business Award as a recognition for our extensive portfolio of initiatives and programs developed and deployed in support of advancing The Big Green Shift”.

Awards were presented to local businesses that: 1) deliver exceptional quality of service to their customers or members; 2) offer a unique approach to the delivery of its goods or services; 3) achieve significant growth or stability over the lifetime of their business; 4) display an interest in and concern for the Arlington community; and 5) demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Chamber received 29 submissions across 6 categories this year, ensuring a highly competitive selection process.

Green Financing

In January, Leaders in Energy and Potential Energy DC held its 7th Annual Green Finance Forum on “Green Finance for Climate, Clean Energy & Sustainability Technology.” On January 21, 2021, the sold-out event featured a keynote presentation from Clean Energy Business Network President Dr. Lynn Abramson, in addition to two exciting panels: ‘Grant and Equity Financing’ and ‘Renewable Energy Project Financing.

Learn more about our Forum speakers here and the recordings of Dr. Lynn Abramson’s keynote presentation as well as the two-panel sessions here.

Check out our recap blog articles below:

PEDC & Leaders in Energy Green Financing: Panel 1

PEDC & Leaders in Energy Green Financing: Panel 2 


Build Back Circular & Women in the Energy Transition

In March, Leaders in Energy together with the Association of Energy Engineers National Capital Chapter held the much-awaited 7th Annual Clean Energy & Sustainability Extravaganza. The exciting virtual event was made possible thanks to generous sponsor support and featured two panels: ‘Opportunities for Women in the Energy Transition and the New Administration’ (AEE NCC – Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership – CWEEL); and a second panel on ‘Building Back Circular’. See the presentation slides here.

Don’t miss our recap blog articles:

Panel 1: 7th Annual Clean Energy & Sustainability Extravaganza: Sustainability and Gender Equity Towards a Greener Future

Panel 2: Building Back Greener: Annual Clean Energy Extravaganza Recap

View the event recording here.

Green Jobs Forum and Career Fair

The 8th Annual Green Jobs Forum and Career Fair was held virtually on August 26, 2021 as part of the Resilient Virginia event on climate resilience.

The event website can be viewed here with the listing of speakers and exhibitors.

See the following recap articles from the event:

8th Annual Green Jobs Forum: Green Economy Event Recap, by Mustafa Adel Amer

Green Jobs Forum: The Moment is Now for Green Jobs, by Eghe Herrmann

Recording for Green Jobs Forum Panels on jobs trends, advice from those landing green jobs, and recruiters

Recording for Career Fair with employers and educators


Celebrating Multigenerational Leadership: The Annual Four Generations Awards

Held on December 3rd, our 8th Annual Four Gens Awards, was truly a celebration to remember.  In true LE spirit, this year’s event was filled with hope and action: attendees learned from seven extraordinary innovators (from around the US and as far away as the Netherlands) who spoke about clean energy, nature-based solutions, future-ready cities, the circular economy, and climate activism – with new visions for best ways forward.

Read more about the awardees and their exciting work here. This much-anticipated yearly celebration drew together a wide audience with attendees from across the globe—who greatly enjoyed the event, with attendees saying: “This is an amazing event!”; “Such inspirational talks, I love the thread of harmony with nature in all of them”; “Glad to see trailblazers of all ages and from around the world tonight!”


Energy Central interviewed four of the 2021 winners whose work focused on the clean energy sector:

Energy Central Interviews the 2021 Winners of the Leaders in Energy Four Gen Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree, Dr. Edward Saltzberg, Reflects on His Recognition from Leaders in Energy and His Time at the Security and Sustainability Forum

Leaders in Energy Four Gen Award Recognition with Samir Chowdhury, Founder of Youth Climate Action Team

Orlando’s Sustainability & Resilience Director, Chris Castro, Discusses with Energy Central His 2021 Four Gen Award from Leaders in Energy

Recognized by Leaders in Energy’s Four Gen Awards for His Work with Edison Electric Institute, Lawrence Jones Sits Down with Energy Central

Working group meetings

LE’s Circular Economy Working Group (CEWG) met on January 27th with a special presentation from Stephanie Miller, founder of Zero Waste in DC, which provides consultation to individual households and corporations on reducing waste. She discussed her recent book Zero Waste Living, The 80/20 Way: The Busy Person’s Guide To A Lighter Footprint on how a few relatively easy lifestyle changes can create a significant positive impact. Using the simplicity of the 80/20 rule, she demonstrated those things (the 20%) that we can do to make the biggest impact (80%) difference in reversing the waste and climate crisis.

Other meetings included the Climate Finance Working Group Meeting held on June 17th, where attendees discussed the topic of ‘ESG Reporting and Ratings’. The guest speaker was Eugene Okun, founder of SustcoScore, a ratings agency providing combined financial & ESG reports, ratings, and scores for global publicly traded companies and savvy business investors.

The goal of the Climate Finance Working Group is to further collaborate on opportunities to develop financing frameworks, tools, and platforms focused on increasing investment in renewable energy and sustainability to the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more about our Climate/Green Finance Program here.

Communications including Our Blog and Newsletters

We had over 75 new blog articles posted in 2021, for a total of nearly 500 blog articles published on our website. Leaders in Energy is excited to feature a wide range of new authors and are continuing to expand our communications with members and the wider public. The new authors and wide range of topics featured demonstrate the diversity and expertise of LE’s multigenerational community. A number of these blog articles were also highlighted in our newsletters.

Leaders in Energy also published 30 newsletters in 2021, with each issue chock-full of exciting clean energy and sustainability news and updates, job opportunities, event announcements and highlights, LE community updates, editorials, and featured blog articles.  These can be viewed further below.

See all of our 2021 newsletters below:

Best wishes and a pineapple (December 17, 2021)

Need a Breath of Fresh Air? The FOUR GEN Awards this Friday! (December 1, 2021)

Giving Thanks + 4Gen Awards this Friday, Dec 3rd + COP26 & Doughnut Economics (November 27, 2021)

Special Four Gen Announcement – Meet the 2021 Awardees! (November 17, 2021)

4GEN Registration Open + Free UN Zero Emissions Conference & Webinars on Climate & Careers (October 22, 2021)

Accepting Four Gen Awards Nominations, Learn from Utility Innovators & Emerging Energy Professionals (October 8, 2021)

2021 Four Gen Awards, Circular Economy Working Group & All Careers Watch Party! (September 28, 2021)

70 Jobs Available at Our Green Jobs Forum, Seeking Volunteers & Upcoming Programs! (September 10, 2021)

Green Jobs & Climate Conference Is Just Around the Corner! Plus See New LE Video, National Clean Energy Week & More! (August 20, 2021)

UPDATE: Meet Our Green Jobs Forum Speakers & More Exhibitors Added, Virginia Green Initiative for Businesses & More (August 9, 2021)

Meet Our Green Jobs Forum Speakers & Exhibitors, Virginia Green Initiative for Businesses & More (August 6, 2021)

CleanChoice Energy Major Forum Sponsor, Clean Energy Standards & Trolls Guarding Forest Biodiversity (July 23, 2021)

The Moment is Now on Green Jobs, Clean Energy Events, & Idea for an Earth Systems Restoration Corps (July 9, 2021)

Green Jobs Forum Reg Open, Carbon Capture, Green Futures for Youth & More! (June 25, 2021)

Microplastics, ESGs, Energizing Your Green Career PLUS 8/26 Career Fair Exhibitor Opportunities (June 11, 2021)

LE Wins Sustainability Business of Year Award, 6/2 CWEEL Utility/Career Webinar & Save the Date for 8/26 Green Jobs Forum (May 28, 2021)  

LE Welcomes New Leadership Director, Career Fair Opportunities, Circular Cities & More, 
(May 14, 2021)

Exciting News: LE is a Sustainability Award Finalist, Serve on Our Circularity Committees, New Team Leads & More! (April 30, 2021)

Meet Our New Circular Economy Vice Chair, Members Pitching Their Green Companies & More! (April 16, 2021)

Fun I Spy Video on Climate, Green Career Workshop, Energy Economics Annual Event & More! (April 2, 2021)

Hear Energy Executives on Renewables, CE & Climate Finance Working Groups, OEP Hydrogen Webinar & More! (March 19.2021)

Join Us Tomorrow! Hear Energy Transition & Circular Economy Leaders! (March 11, 2021)

Meet Our Master of Ceremonies & Speakers — Extravaganza This Friday (3/12)! (March 9, 2021)

Our Extravaganza Speakers, Book Review in Science, LE at CHARGE Branding Conference & Other News! (March 5, 2021)

Extravaganza Registration & Sponsorship Opportunities Now Open (February 26, 2021)

Extravaganza Coming in March and Other News! (February 19, 2020)

New Climate/Green Finance Working Group to Meet on Feb 18th & Other News! (February 5, 2021)

Meet Zero Waste Author, Stephanie Miller, at Circular Economy Working Group (January 22, 2021)

Dr. Lynn Abramson, President, Clean Energy Business Network to Keynote Green Finance Forum (1/21)! (January 18,2021)

The Promises of the New Year, 7th Annual Green Finance Forum & More! (January 8, 2021)

LE Program and LE Brain Trust Meetings

We conducted a number of program meetings throughout the year.  These include our LE “Brain Trust” group which focuses on strategic planning and governance topics for the organization with a smaller core group of team members.  We also conducted meetings with our Program Leads to focus on our specific programs.

LE Ambassador Meeting in June 2021

Initial work was done to begin building a network of Ambassadors with a meeting held in June 2021 to introduce the program and for the Ambassadors to meet with one another.

LE Team

Thanks to those on our team for their contributions throughout the year.

Board: Janine Finnell (President) and Bill Brandon (VP), Treasurer (Open Position)

LE Brain Trust – Janine Finnell, Linda Mansdorf, Francois Giraud, Carol McCaffrey and Miriam Aczel (supporting advisor)

Programs and Committees:

  • Ambassador Program, Anant Mohan, Chair
  • Circular Economy/Sustainable Marketplace, Chair, Lara Ilao and Vice Chair, Niv Sridhar
  • Multigenerational Leadership, Jesse Colman, Chair, Carol McCaffrey, Vice-Chair
  • Green Jobs/Careers, Beth Offenbacker, Chair, and Kathy Manger, (Vice Chair) (Through August 2021)
  • Green Finance, Marty Silber
  • Social Media, Francois Giraud, Elvin Yuzugullu (supporting advisor), assistance with Tamerlane and Jane Spiff Eben
  • Communications (Newsletter), Carol McCaffrey
  • Scientific Communications – Blog, Dr. Miriam Aczel
  • Volunteer Recruitment and Management, Linda Mansdorf
  • Membership, Open Position
  • Business (Ecosystem) Development and Fundraising, John Gaffigan (on hiatus) Leo Perez (Supporting)
  • Research, Kaifi Jamal
  • Intern, Lucia Ferlauto

Event Revenue, Grants, and Donations

We receive revenue to support our organization and mission from selling tickets and sponsorships to our events.

We received s small grant from Siemens Energy to support our circular economy working group activities as part of a video content that we participated in.

Thanks to Bruce Wyman for his generous donation through The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

Thanks to those who donated as Changemakers to our Four Gen Awards event.  These included Linda Staheli at the Global Co-Lab, Jim Schulman, Elicia Finnell, Robert Saltzberg, and others.

Thanks for Barbara Englehart for her donation of volunteer hours from ICF.

Many thanks to our Leaders in Energy community for its support.

Acknowledgements in producing this annual report:  Dr. Miriam Aczel, Director of Scientific Communications and Janine Finnell, Executive Director, Leaders in Energy

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