National Renewable Energy Lab Scientist Ki Ye. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder.

Around this same time last year I shared with you a dispatch from the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and the Clean Energy Education & Empowerment Initiative, or C3E. As part of C3E, nine countries have committed to doing more to advance women’s contributions to clean energy.

This year, I’m pleased to share some bigger news: the Energy Department and the MIT Energy Initiative are teaming up to launch a national C3E Women in Clean Energy program. And today, we’re announcing the launch of the C3E awards program as part of our efforts to recognize mid-career individuals who are advancing the leadership and accomplishments of women in clean energy.

In order to tackle the economic and energy challenges of the 21st century, we need more women at the table, and we need their skills, talents and perspectives.  Through C3E, we hope to shine a spotlight on talented senior and mid-career women in the field.  Increasing their visibility will open up further opportunities for women to become decision makers and role models for younger women, who will continue to carry the torch.

At the core of this community will be a select cohort of C3E Ambassadors, a group of leaders from across the clean energy landscape.  I am proud to be one of C3E’s inaugural Ambassadors, and will be joined by Maxine Savitz, Vice President of the National Academy of Engineering and member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to President of the Alliance to Save Energy Kateri Callahan to Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations & Environment, among many others.  You can see a list of the dedicated women and men who have committed to be a C3E Ambassador here.

While we represent very diverse backgrounds and jobs, my colleagues and I share a passion for increasing the recruitment and advancement of women in the clean energy field and advocating for this goal across the country.

In addition to the Ambassadors, the U.S. C3E plan includes two other key features:

  • Through the C3E awards program I mentioned, the Energy Department and the MIT Energy Initiative will recognize six individuals for their contributions along with a $10,000 cash prize provided by MIT.  Categories cover a range that includes innovation and technology development, entrepreneurship, policy and advocacy, and advancements for the developing world. Follow this link for more information on how to nominate someone you know. The deadline is July 2, 2012.
  • A  C3E Symposium, hosted by the MIT Energy Initiative, in partnership with the Energy Department, on September 28, 2012.  The C3E Ambassadors, awardees, academia, NGOs, industry and representatives from other C3E partner governments will come together at a conference and awards ceremony. We hope this will continue as an annual event and build a network of women working to address tomorrow’s energy challenges today.

As we tackle the energy challenges of the 21st century, we must continue to push for new innovations, technologies, policies and ideas. There’s no other way to accomplish this successfully unless we leverage the full participation of women across the country and commit to advancing their leadership in all arenas.