All In Energy Cambridge Senior Program Manager Natalie Reeder reflects on being selected as an Aspen Institute Future Climate Leader and All In Energy's support for her professional development
It's not often that I have the opportunity to hear from such diverse individuals as Tommy Caldwell, a professional climber, Bill Nye, and Kamala Harris. That's what was so great about getting to attend the Aspen Institute’s Climate Conference. I was selected by Aspen Institute as a future leader, an honor I shared with 250 fellow 18-30 year olds working on climate change.
The diversity of thinkers there was impressive. From someone who worked at Heineken thinking about the sustainability of brewing beer to TikTok and LinkedIn influencers to people working for powerful corporations, I was able to broaden my perspective on the different ways people think about and work on the issue of climate change.
My job can look totally different from someone else’s and still be united by the common thread of addressing climate change. I was reminded of this fact with every person I met at the conference. The breadth of professions represented at the conference didn’t reduce my feeling of unity; I knew we were all working to address climate change and its impacts. I didn't agree with all of the perspectives represented at the conference, and this was my first time outside my liberal bubble in Boston hearing from people that had very different opinions on what priorities are for climate change.he diversity of thinkers there was impressive. From someone who worked at Heineken thinking about the sustainability of brewing beer to TikTok and LinkedIn influencers to people working for powerful corporations, I was able to broaden my perspective on the different ways people think about and work on the issue of climate change.
For instance, speakers such as Richard Powell (CEO of ClearPath) at a plenary session (plenaries convene larger groups of people at a conference) underscored the importance of capitalism to solve the problems of climate change, without mentioning the equity problems that are built into the structures of capitalism. While I disagreed with some peoples' points, I valued the opportunity to speak with people who had opinions that differed from my own. It forced me to consider their perspectives. Learning to deal with conflict and disagreements is an important skill to develop to try and reach as many people as possible, as we all must be in it together to address climate change. While I disagreed about some of the approaches people at the conference had in their work, being exposed to them reaffirmed how important it is to me to include equity considerations in all climate policy implementation. Many presentations and discussions lacked that lens, and it is lapse I hope to continue having the space to point out and bring up.
I had the chance to speak with multiple government officials including Mayor Jon Mitchell of New Bedford and Esther Sosa, Special Advisor for Policy, IRA Implementation, at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). about how they are trying to implement legislation including the MA Environmental Justice Policy and the Justice40 Initiative that requires more projects at the federal and state level to include justice considerations to be eligible for funding. I was grateful for the chance to speak to these changemakers, as well as others like Charles Hua from Rewiring America and McKenna Dunbar from Building Electrification at the Sierra Club about the work I do at All In Energy to amplify the impact of the outreach we do every day to people who have historically been left behind.
With the support of All In Energy’s Professional Development funds, I was able to spend a week learning from others about topics relevant to our work and broader mission, and also teach others about the implementation barriers we see and work with every day. Many people at the conference seemed more experienced than me with more impressive titles. By the end of the week, I gained so much confidence by going outside my comfort zone to talk to these people. I quickly learned that no matter their title or years of work experience, in their own way, everyone had the united goal of learning and growing, all to figure out how to better address climate change.
At the beginning of this year, I was able to join a professional organization, New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE) with the support of All In Energy. In the year that has passed since graduating with my Master’s. I have joined a professional organization, attended networking events alongside my coworkers, and been selected to attend a conference as a future climate leader. My coworkers and peers have pushed me to achieve, and supported me along the way. Because of them, I have achieved much more in a year than I could dream of when I was beginning college. I can’t wait to continue supporting the All In Energy team, and seeing all we can accomplish together in the future. I’m sure it will be more than we could ever imagine.
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All In Energy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to advance an inclusive clean energy economy. We bring energy efficiency and renewable energy to underserved communities, while increasing job opportunities for diverse talent in the clean energy industry.