CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Female leaders are playing a growing role in advancing the development of clean-energy technologies, helping to advance plans for carbon reduction, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and foster job creation. Some of these women were honored in a daylong symposium at MIT on Friday, Sept. 28, the inaugural event of an initiative -- jointly created by the U.S. Department of Energy and the MIT Energy Initiative -- called Clean Energy Education and Empowerment, or C3E.
MIT president emerita Susan Hockfield opened the symposium, recalling the launching of MIT's Energy Initiative as one of her very first acts upon assuming the Institute's presidency eight years ago. "The most important challenge for this generation," she said, "is building a sustainable energy system for the future."
That requires a multipronged approach, she said: "Great technology will never win alone; it needs to be paired with policy." The key, Hockfield said, is "turning ideas into action." When she gives talks on energy, she said, her audiences are largely male. But, she added, "Women are awfully good at turning ideas into action."
A centerpiece of the day included the presentation of the first-ever C3E Awards. Rising leaders in clean energy were recognized for their leadership and achievement in six categories with a $10,000 cash prize.
Winners included Judy Dorsey, President and Principal Engineer of the Brendle Group, for Entrepreneurship and Innovative Business Models; Margaret Downey, Assistant County Administrator for Barnstable County and Administrator of the Cape Cod Light Compact, for Policy and Advocacy; Tracey Holloway, Associate Professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for Education and Mentorship; Jing Li, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, for Innovation and Technology Development; Liz Porter, Program Director, ITA Enterprise Transport Management at Lockheed Martin, for Corporate Implementation; and Laura Stachel, MD MPH, Founder of WE CARE Solar, for Achievements in the Developing World.
MIT President L. Rafael Reif presented Mildred Dresselhaus, Institute Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics at MIT, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her significant contributions to the field of clean energy.
South Africa's minister of energy, Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, gave a keynote address and highlighted the importance of the work featured at the symposium. "The development of the clean-energy sector will revolutionize the energy sector," she said.
The symposium's speakers ranged from those working on small-scale individualized energy solutions to those working at the highest levels of government or corporations. But, these leaders pointed out, with many national and international energy plans stalled, local initiatives often are leading the way. Among other things, energy efficiency has been embraced by some states and cities, forging ahead of national standards.
Henrietta Davis, the mayor of Cambridge, said that "action on things like energy efficiency is very much on the local level," pointing out that, besides Cambridge, cities including Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Washington have instituted efficiency programs of their own.
"The time is finally right for energy efficiency to be considered as a national strategy in itself," said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, which works with government officials and corporate and NGO executives to establish strategic energy plans.
Full bios for all award winners are available at: http://www.