wind - woman engineerWomen’s History Month is here! Let’s take a look at some of the women who are shaping wind and solar energy as renewables plays an expanding role in all our lives.

by Jeremy Gross, Green Economy Post

Women’s History Month began in 1978 as “Women’s History Week” in Sonoma County, California. Then in 1981, Congress passed a resolution that made the history week a national event. Finally, in 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to a month, officially declaring March as Women’s History Month.

At Green Economy Post, in honor of Women’s History Month, we celebrate women who are making great strides in the green economy and renewable energy – areas which will continue to have a tremendously positive impact in all our futures.

Here are 10 women who are players in our renewable energy focused future:

Marlene BrownMarlene Brown is an Electrical Engineer and a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Labs. Marlene is a former President of the New Mexico Solar Power Association (NMSEA), and is currently on the Board of Directors. She has worked with photovoltaic (PV) systems for over 15 years, installing hundreds of systems throughout world.  She has also taught solar energy installation classes for over 10 years and spends many hours promoting renewable energy technology as a career choice for women.  Using an all female class, she put photovoltaics on her house in May 2004.  Marlene was the 2009 Winner of the American Solar Energy Societys “Women in Solar” award.

Katherine KentKatherine Kent has been President of the Solar Store since 1998. The Solar Store provides both remote and grid tie solar energy systems for rural and urban homeowners.  Katherine earned a BS in Chemical Engineering, an MS in Nuclear and Energy Engineering, and an MBA! She is also a licensed professional engineer in Arizona, a Certified Energy manager, and has commercial and residential Arizona contracting licenses in electrical and plumbing with solar.  Katherine has received numerous awards throughout her career: the Department of Energy’s presented her with the Energy Innovation award for work on passive cooling strategies for desert climates; she was named 1995’s Distinguished New Engineer by the Society of Women’s Engineer’s; and was named the 2007 Woman in Solar Energy by the American Solar Energy Society.

alison kwokAlison Kwok, AIA, Ph.D., LEED AP, is a professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oregon, Eugene where she teaches design studios, seminars in climatic design, lighting, and building performance in addition to classes in environmental technology.  Her current research interests include thermal comfort, air movement patterns in naturally-ventilated spaces, physical building performance measurement, and environmentally-responsible design.  Over the years, Alison has encouraged her students to study passive solar design through case study investigations and she received the American Solar Energy Society’s 2008 WISE (Women in Solar Energy) Award.

Jan HamrinDr. Jan Hamrin is founder and president of the Center for Resource Solutions, a national nonprofit working to fight climate change by building policies and consumer-protection mechanisms in renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions and energy efficiency.  Jan has served the Commission for Environmental Cooperation as an advisor to on renewable energy policy issues, and the G-8 Renewable Energy Task Force.  She led a team towards designing the implementation of the California RPS program and developing a western renewable energy tracking system and a tracking system association for North America.  Jan has a Ph.D. in Ecology, with a focus on public policy evaluation of environmental and energy programs, from the University of California, Davis.  She also has Masters degrees in Public Administration and Consumer Science from U.C. Davis as well as a B.S. from the University of New Mexico.  Jan received the “Green Power Pioneer” award from the Department of Energy and Women of Wind Energy’s 2007 Woman of the Year Award.

Jan BlittersdorfJan Blittersdorf is CEO and President of NRG Systems, a wind measurement systems manufacturer that she joined in 1987 as CFO and vice president.  In 2006, Jan was the first woman to be recognized as the Wind Woman of the Year by WoWE (Women of Wind Energy), and is currently on the WoWE’s Board of Directors.  Additionally, Jan is a member of the Audit Committee for the American Wind Energy Association. She is also on the Board of Directors for Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, on the Advisory Boards for the University of Vermont School of Business and Vermont Technical College, as well as a member of the Business Advisory Council for the Vermont Speaker of the House.  Jan received bachelor’s degrees in nursing and human development from the University of Vermont.

Lisa DanielsLisa M. Daniels is the Executive Director and founder of Windustry, an organization that promotes renewable energy solutions and empowers communities to develop and own wind energy assets.  She has been providing wind energy information and assistance to farmers, ranchers, elected officials, rural utilities and other interested groups since 1995.  Lisa leads Windustry’s contracts with the US Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is a Wind Powering America partner. She serves on the American Wind Energy Association Community Wind Work Group Steering Committee, and the National Wind Coordinating Committee’s Steering Committee.  Lisa is also a founding member and on the Board of Directors for Women of Wind Energy (WoWE).  The Wind Powering America program honored her in 2004 with the Chicago Regional Office Wind Advocacy Award for regional leadership, creativity, and commitment to wind energy development – and also in 2005 for her work with the Agriculture Outreach Team.

Karen ConoverKaren Conover has over 20 years of experience with wind energy technology and other renewable energy applications.  She co-founded Global Energy Concepts (GEC) in 1994, growing to 100 employees and two offices.  GEC was acquired in 2008 by DNV as part of the Cleaner Energy group and is currently the Director of Wind Business and Strategy Development.  Her work includes wind resource assessment, project design, technical due diligence, site selection, feasibility studies, financial and economic analysis, bid preparation and evaluation, project development, policy evaluations, training, testing, construction oversight, performance evaluation, and O&M planning.  Karen has been an active American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) board member since 1995 where she was the first woman and also the youngest person appointed to the board. She was also named WoWE’s 2009 Woman of the Year.  Karen holds an M.S. in Energy Systems Engineering from the University of Arizona and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Material Science from Duke University.

Rachel ShimshakRachel Shimshak has been the Director of the Renewable Northwest Project (RNP) since its inception in 1994. Under her leadership, RNP has supported the Northwest’s implementation of more than 2,700 MW of wind, geothermal, and solar projects.  In 2005, she was chosen by the Governor of Oregon to represent the state on the Western Governor’s Association Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee, and she was chosen by the four Northwest Governors to serve on the Comprehensive Review of the Northwest Energy System in 1996.  She has served on the Boards of several, non-profit, clean energy and educational organizations and is currently the Secretary of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Rachel was also named WoWE’s 2008 Woman of the Year.

trudy forsythIn the wind technology field since May 1994, Trudy Forsyth is currently a Senior Project Leader for the National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  Trudy is also the NREL liaison with the AWEA Small Wind Turbine Committee, which wrote and published the AWEA Small Wind Turbine Industry Roadmap, a multi-year strategy for the small wind industry.  Trudy is currently part of the National Organizing Committee for ASES 2009, is a member of the Small Wind Certification Council, chairs the ASES Small Wind Division, and serves on the steering committee for Women of Wind Energy.  She received an NREL 2003 Staff Award for Outstanding Community and Professional Service and special recognition from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council for her strategies to promote the use of renewable energy.  Trudy has a B.S. and M.S. in  Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Sarah WrightSarah Wright is the Founder and Executive Director of Utah Clean Energy (UTC), a non-profit public interest organization working to build a new clean energy economy.  Sarah also serves on the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council and the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change.  She was previously an environmental consultant focused on occupational health and ambient air quality permitting.  She won the 2009 WoWE Rising Star award for her accomplishments in promoting wind, renewable energy and efficiency within the state of Utah.  Sarah holds a B.S. in Geology from Bradley University, and an M.S. in Public Health from the University of Utah.

Who else would you like to acknowledge?  Please leave us a note below to celebrate other women in renewable energy.

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Author: Jeremy Gross (10 Articles)

Jeremy Gross is a beginner blogger who has always been drawn to the idea of the triple bottom line (planet, people, and profits) and green living. While studying for his B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, he started a small, side business selling organic granola and cookies. Since granola wasn’t as lucrative as he hoped, for the last few years he has been a technically-oriented Business Analyst with a family-and-employee-owned bank in Seattle. Jeremy volunteers with a forest restoration program and an urban agriculture organization. He also enjoys working with plants, building terrariums, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and cat! If you’d like to reach Jeremy, contact him through He’d love to hear from you!

  • Matt McPherson
    • Jeremy Gross

      Hey Matt,
      Thanks for the heads up about Lynn and SunRun. SunRun’s “home solar as a monthly service” offer is pretty cool.

  • Richard Norman

    You are also missing Maria McCaffery CEO of Renewable UK (was BWEA)

    • Jeremy Gross

      Hi Richard,
      Thanks for the comment. This blog focuses primarily on the US, so I didn’t include women from outside the US. But I definitely agree that there are women from all over the world bringing value to renewable energy.

  • Rita Radostitz

    I would add Jennifer Gleason, Senior Staff Attorney with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide. Jennifer has worked with a global alliance of environmental advocates for more than 15 years to help advance effective renewable energy policies. She has worked to bring lessons from Europe back to the U.S. and worked to promote effective renewable energy policies in Oregon. She also teaches Energy Law at the University of Oregon School of Law.

    • Jeremy Gross

      Hey there Rita,
      ELAW is doing some great stuff. Looks like Jennifer is currently promoting laws that encourage producing renewable electricity.
      Thanks for your comment,

  • David

    What about Martha Wyrsch, President of Vestas US?


  • EEFNow

    This is really a great event, people who help the environment to breathe needs to be honored in any way. I totally agree with the points presented. Thanks for sharing