Equity in EnergyTM is an initiative designed to include and expand the participation of individuals in underserved communities, which includes minorities, Native Americans, women, veterans, and formerly incarcerated persons, in all the programs of the Department of Energy. Equity in Energy also seeks to infuse and expand participation in the private energy sectors in our nation’s economy to ensure America’s energy independence.
On Monday, July 15, 2019, Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity the Honorable James E. Campos hosted the Equity In Energy™ African American Stakeholder Discussion at the Department of Energy (DOE) headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the second in a series of meetings to solicit feedback directly from leaders in the community, and facilitate an increased open dialogue with Departmental elements.
Director Campos opened the meeting with an overview of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, the Equity In EnergyTM initiative, and the importance of energy diversity. Next, David Byrd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Policy Development and Research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, spoke about the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council’s efforts to encourage capital in economically distressed communities. He encouraged those in the room to invest in opportunity zones, explaining “opportunity zones will make a good project better.”
Attendees were gifted with an impromptu appearance by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Dwayne S. Bolton. He spoke of the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act under consideration by the U.S. Congress. Among other things, this bill would establish a energy workforce development program to encourage underrepresented groups to enter STEM and energy-related fields.
Assistant Secretary of the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response the Honorable Karen S. Evans, Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Charles Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Electricity Patricia Hoffman, Director of the Office of Integrated and International Energy Analysis at the Energy Information Administration Angelina LaRose, Energy Technology Program Specialist for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Jennifer Rivers, and Senior Advisor for the Office of Science Kurt Heckman presented overviews of their respective offices and how they are working to advance the mission of increasing the participation of underserved communities in the energy sector.
During her presentation, Assistant Secretary Evans highlighted the CyberSeek program, intended to “Hack the Gap: Close the cybersecurity talent gap with interactive tools and data.” Using this tool, stakeholders can learn about the demand for cybersecurity jobs in their community and what credentials would be the most profitable to cultivate.
During the presentations, the conversation opened up for stakeholders to share their insights into the current challenges they face and discuss with DOE ways to address these challenges today and in the future and how to access the growing opportunities. Focus remained on tangible opportunities for collaboration between DOE and stakeholders.
A prime example of convening’s such as this producing new awareness to opportunities to stakeholders was when Senior Vice-President Policy and Advocacy and Executive Director of the Washington Bureau at National Urban League Clint Odom, shared about a planned electrical vehicle charging station in Anacostia, a neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and in an opportunity zone. This lead to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Hoffman encouraging him to submit a concept paper to the Electric Grid of Things funding opportunity announcement.
At the conclusion of the meeting, attendees networked with each other and DOE staff to continue dialogue in the future.