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Department of Energy Announces 2019 U.S. Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Awardees

Published: November 13, 2019
U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E) Initiative

On November 14, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will recognize nine accomplished women for their achievements and leadership in clean energy as part of the U.S Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) Initiative.

The winners of the 2019 U.S. C3E awards, which will take place at the Eighth Annual U.S. C3E Women in Clean Energy Symposium, represent a diverse range of women leading in clean energy. The U.S. C3E Initiative is led by DOE in collaboration with the Texas A&M Energy InstituteMIT Energy Initiative, and Stanford Energy. DOE has led this initiative since 2012 with the goal of closing the gender gap and increasing the participation, leadership, and success of women in clean energy fields.

“Women have a critical leading role to play in developing clean energy technology for a prosperous future,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 U.S. C3E awards for the recognition of your dedication and rising leadership in this sector. May your work pave the way for more women to pursue careers in clean energy innovation.”

“It is an honor to recognize these accomplished women for their gifts of innovation to the United States,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “There is nothing we cannot accomplish when we have great minds like these women working on our toughest energy and scientific challenges.”

The 2019 award winners are:

Lifetime Achievement  Denise Gray, President, LG Chem Michigan Inc. Tech Center; Troy, MI

Gray has overall responsibility at LG Chem Michigan Inc. Tech Center for strategic direction, engineering, and business development. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in accelerating the development and deployment of advanced battery systems for transportation. 

Advocacy – Sonia Aggarwal, Vice President and Co-Founder, Energy Innovation; San Francisco, CA

Aggarwal led Energy Innovation’s team that created the Energy Policy Simulator and developed a program that brought energy policy experts together to outline the priorities for decarbonization of the electricity sector. Energy Innovation is a firm that provides research and analysis on energy policy.

Business  Mira Inbar, Commercial Director, Royal Dutch Shell’s New Energies group; San Francisco, CA

Inbar is assembling a North American residential power business. She was previously a strategy director at NRG and helped launch a clean energy joint venture at Dow Chemical. Inbar also worked in the non-profit conservation sector in Latin America and Africa.

Education  Dr. Valerie Karplus, Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management; Cambridge, MA

Karplus studies resource and environmental management in firms operating in diverse national and industry contexts. Karplus, an expert on China’s energy system, previously directed the MIT–Tsinghua China Energy and Climate Project.

Entrepreneurship – Dr. Suzanne Singer, Co-Founder and Chief Engineer, Native Renewables; Flagstaff, AZ

Singer, a member of the Navajo (Diné) tribe, co-founded the non-profit organization Native Renewables in 2016 to solve energy access challenges for 15,000 families on the Navajo Nation who live without electricity. She develops programs that promote tribal energy independence, offer affordable off-grid solar energy solutions, and provides training and education to empower families. She was previously a staff engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Government – Larissa Johnson, Residential Energy Program Manager, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection; Rockville, MD

Johnson educates residents about lowering their utility costs and selecting clean energy sources. Johnson has established creative partnerships and initiatives to move Montgomery County toward meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

International – Radhika Thakkar, Director of Corporate Affairs, Greenlight Planet; Nairobi, Kenya

Thakkar has led Greenlight Planet’s growth from its initial start in India, expanding to markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. Greenlight Planet designs, distributes, and finances affordable solar home energy systems for off-grid and underserved households.

Law and Finance – Becky Diffen, Renewable Energy Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright; Austin, TX

Diffen focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions, project development, and project finance in the wind, solar, energy storage, and waste-to-energy industries. She has represented clients in large and complex renewable energy transactions.

Research  Dr. Michelle Kidder, Research Staff Scientist in the Energy and Transportation Science Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Oak Ridge, TN

Kidder’s research focuses on novel material development and processes for alternative energy production from renewable energy resources. She conducts research aimed at developing synthetic liquid fuels from renewable electricity, CO2, and bio-feedstocks to decarbonize the transportation sector.