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Nine Women Honored for Leadership and Achievements at Annual U.S. C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium

At fourth Symposium, U.S. Department of Energy and MIT Energy Initiative make eight awards to mid-career women leaders and confer lifetime achievement award to CA Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nine Women Honored for Leadership and Achievements at Annual U.S. C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium

Nine remarkable women were honored during the annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium, held on November 4 and 5 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Left to right: Erica Mackey (Entrepreneurial), Jessica Granderson (Research), Dawn Lippert (Advocacy), Carla Peterman (Government), DaNel Hogan (Education), Grace Overlander (Business), Alina Zagayotva (Law/Finance), Anya Cherneff (International), Kathy Swartz (special commendation). Photo courtesy of MIT.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – For the fourth year, the U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) program, an initiative under the Clean Energy Ministerial, has recognized the outstanding leadership and extraordinary achievements of mid-career women working to advance clean energy. The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) administers the C3E Awards in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The winners received awards during the annual C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium, held on November 4 and 5 at MIT. 

Nine remarkable women were honored: eight mid-career women received awards for leadership in specific areas and Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, received a lifetime achievement award for her career of public service and regulatory breakthroughs that have advanced clean energy and environmental protection. The winners were nominated across multiple categories and were selected by the U.S. C3E Ambassadors. 

“The U.S. C3E program, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and MIT, brings together women at all stages of their careers,” said Melanie Kenderdine, Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis and Energy Counselor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy. “By supporting and highlighting the achievements of women at mid-career, we are inspiring and investing in women at the earliest stages of their clean energy careers at the same time we are developing senior leaders for the future.” 

“With energy demand forecast to double by 2050, the world needs clean, affordable, and plentiful energy sources that meet global needs while curbing climate change,” said MITEI executive director Martha Broad. “The C3E Symposium brings together a network of women professionals to contribute to energy and climate solutions, and MIT Energy Initiative is proud to collaborate with DOE on this initiative.” 

The recipients of the Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awards, by category, are: 

International Leadership: Anya Cherneff, Executive Director, Empower Generation 

Anya Cherneff co-founded and leads Empower Generation, a social enterprise that empowers women to distribute clean energy solutions in their remote communities of Nepal. Empower Generation has launched 15 women-led solar businesses that collectively employ over 200 sales agents. To date, Cherneff and her team have distributed 50,000 solar products, bringing clean, safe power and light to more than 250,000 people. In addition, she speaks at global energy companies and women-in-energy networks, continuing to inspire women in the clean energy revolution.

Research Leadership: Jessica Granderson, Deputy of Research Programs, Building Technology and Urban Systems Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 

Granderson leads a team conducting cutting-edge research in building controls, automation, and analytics to develop innovative solutions for commercial buildings. She provides technical expertise and knowledge transfer to advance the energy management initiatives of the nation’s largest enterprises, national accounts, and public sector entities. Her methodologies help streamline verification of performance-based savings, and she is a dedicated mentor to students and junior staff, particularly those from groups underrepresented in engineering and science. 

Education Leadership: DaNel Hogan, Director, The STEMAZing Project, Office of the Pima County School Superintendent  

DaNel Hogan provides professional development opportunities to Pre-K–12th grade educators, edits The STEMAZing Newsletter, and co-organizes professional development workshops for STEM educators on topics such as energy and water. Previously, she served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy, where she led outreach on the Energy Literacy Framework, an effort involving 13 federal agencies and thousands of experts. She continues to serve on the Teacher Advisory Board for the National Energy Education Development Project. 

Advocacy Leadership: Dawn Lippert, Founder and Director, Energy Excelerator 

Dawn Lippert is the Founder and Director of Energy Excelerator, a startup program dedicated to helping solve the world’s energy challenges, starting in Hawaii. She has raised over $40M to help companies reach the market and achieve scale through targeted funding and strategic relationships with customers, investors, and corporate partners. The nonprofit program has funded 43 companies thus far. Lippert also is Chair of the Board for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a board of private and public energy stakeholders tasked with transforming Hawaii to 100% renewable energy.

Entrepreneurial Leadership: Erica Mackey, Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, Off.Grid:Electric Ltd. 

Erica Mackey leads the world’s first massively scalable, off-grid electric company, which delivers reliable, affordable energy to African communities. Using an innovative, pre-paid solar model, the company will have provided over 100,000 African homes with clean, modern electricity by the end of 2015. Mackey also launched M-POWER Academy to train young East African professionals and place them in solar jobs. She was recognized as a Forbes “30 Under 30” for her leadership, won an Ashden Award for Financial Innovation, and is an alumna of the International Achievement Summit.  

Business Leadership: Grace Overlander, Manager of New Product Introduction, Tesla Motors

Grace Overlander is responsible for the successful launch of more than a dozen distinct products across over 12 production lines at Tesla Motors. Her team launched new battery and electrics components that are at the heart of the Model X sport utility vehicle, and she was responsible for the introduction of Tesla Energy, which is revolutionizing the home and industrial energy storage markets. She is active in educating students and coworkers, sponsoring internships, and championing executive events to introduce students to electric vehicle technology.  

Government Leadership: Carla Peterman, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)  

Carla Peterman led the CPUC’s adoption of an energy storage procurement framework and the first mandatory U.S. utility program for purchasing energy storage. Her work is accelerating investment in storage across the United States. She oversees CPUC’s $1 billion-plus annual customer-funded energy efficiency program, leads implementation of California’s 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard, and runs the CPUC alternative vehicle program, which aims to put 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. She is a former Commissioner of the California Energy Commission. 

Law & Finance Leadership: Alina Zagaytova, Assistant General Counsel, First Solar 

Alina Zagaytova leads First Solar’s strategic partnerships and investments, project finance, mergers and acquisitions, and distributed generation programs. She has handled over $10 billion in financing and transactions for renewable energy projects and led First Solar’s energy access projects in Africa and South America. She provided pro bono legal help to several clean energy start-ups that are now thriving companies and serves as a mentor within her organization. She also founded a networking group for young renewable energy professionals in Washington, D.C. 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board 

Mary Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to advocating for the environment and public health. She has served as Chair of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) since 2007, and she previously held the post from 1979 to 1983. At ARB, she is responsible for implementing California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation as well as setting air pollution standards for motor vehicles, fuels, and consumer products. 

Nichols also served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources from 1999 to 2003, and before returning to the ARB she was a Professor of Law and Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to the ARB, she served as head of the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she was responsible for many regulatory breakthroughs, including the acid rain trading program and the first air quality standard for fine particles. She also practiced environmental law in Los Angeles, pursuing cases on behalf of environmental and public health organizations to enforce state and federal clean air legislation. She is a dedicated mentor and champion for women in the clean energy field. Nichols graduated from Cornell University and holds a JD from Yale Law School.

This year, the selection committee also awarded a special commendation to Kathy Swartz, executive director of Solar Energy International, for serving veterans. Swartz has implemented the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Ready Vets training programs at the first two military bases. The training provides transitioning service members with the technical expertise to start a career in the renewable energy field. She also established Programa Hispano for Latina workers, women-only training programs, and the Heather Andrews Scholarship Fund for women pursuing training and employment in the solar industry. 

More extensive profiles of each awardee are available at Nominations for the 2016 C3E Awards will open shortly and will also be available on the C3E website. 

Sponsors of the 2015 C3E Symposium are Brattle Group, Cummins, Florida Power and Light (FP&L), GE, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Hogan Lovells, Lockheed Martin, MassCEC, Sabanci Holdings Enerjisa and Industry Group, Shell, SolarCity, Southern CA Edison, The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, and Walmart. 

About C3E and the U.S. C3E Program

The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative was launched by the Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010. The Initiative was born out of recognition that the ideas and talents of all members of society are essential to meeting our future clean energy challenges. Women represent substantially less than half of the workforce across the energy field. Closing the gender gap and increasing women’s participation and leadership in these fields are the goals of the U.S. C3E Initiative, led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). Additional information is available at To learn more about C3E’s upcoming activities, visit, an online community of women working in clean energy around the world. 

About MIT Energy Initiative

The MIT Energy Initiative facilitates energy research, education, and outreach—linking science, policy, and innovation for a low-carbon energy future. Formed in 2006, MITEI programs address all areas of energy supply and demand, security, and environmental impact. Approximately one-third of MIT faculty engages in energy-related classes or research. MITEI is supported by industry members; government, foundation, and philanthropic programs; alumni; and donors. Additional information is available at

About U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mission is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. DOE coordinates the Clean Energy Ministerial, a 24-government forum to drive the transition to a global clean energy economy. DOE leads the C3E initiative along with several other initiatives under the auspices of the Clean Energy Ministerial. Additional information is available at: