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In January 2018, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Economic Impact and Diversity began work on the Equity in Energy initiative. The Equity in Energy initiative focuses on STEM enhancement, supplier diversity, workforce development, technical assistance, and access & attractability.  We are engaging with external stakeholders across the country to gain insight into the viewpoints of individuals in underserved communities, and working with the DOE program offices and the National Laboratories to bring awareness to these issues and address potential solutions. It is our hope that Equity in Energy responds thoroughly to stakeholders needs.

On May 14th and 15th, stakeholders in the energy community gathered in Houston, Texas for the Equity in Energy Engagement & 2020 Summit Planning Meeting. During this event, representatives from businesses and educational institutions from the Houston area met with officials from the Department of Energy for breakout discussions on the main pillars of the initiative.

Director James E. Campos speaking at the podium in front of a crowd
Director Campos welcomes attendees to the reception.

Tuesday’s reception at Texas Southern University (TSU) commenced with a welcome from the Honorable James E. Campos, Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, and special remarks from Dr. Bobby Williams, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas Southern University (TSU).  Johnathan Holifield, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), spoke about the critical role of HBCUs and his mission to connect underserved and disconnected populations to our nation’s innovation, entrepreneurship and research opportunities. Attendees were encouraged to network and plan for the discussions tomorrow.

A special thank you goes to Dr. Williams and the staff at TSU for hosting a successful evening!

On Wednesday at the University of Houston, Director Campos kicked off the event with the launch of the Equity in Energy initiative. He discussed the importance of diversifying the energy economy. He explained that the initiative will foster a more equitable energy economy by providing an invaluable platform for the Department of Energy and local, regional, and national stakeholders to share insights, and facilitate change.

Today we launch the Equity in Energy initiative to support the nation’s energy goals by fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and workforce partnerships for diverse communities in high-growth energy sectors and DOE programs and research opportunities.

the Honorable James E. Campos
Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

Next, Rodney Ellis, Harris County Commissioner, provided remarks on the vision he and late Congressman Mickey Leland had when creating what is now the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity back in 1979. He acknowledged the great strides our country has made but challenged attendees "to be better educated, to use new technologies and to embrace diversity. Ask yourself, what issues can you can take on to make life better for others?"

The morning was filled with panel discussions with from leaders in the energy sector. First, Administrator of the Energy Information Administration Linda Capuano, Director of the Office of Technology Transitions Conner Prochaska, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Fossil Energy Kimberley Rasar discussed each of their offices and provided an overview of current and pending opportunities and initiatives to increase the participation of individuals in underserved communities. Afterwards, senior advisors from the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Electricity, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Office of Environmental Management provided overviews of their programs and activities. 

Next, top oil and gas industry leaders discussed the importance of diversification of the workforce, and the opportunities and challenges occurring in one of the fastest growing sectors in the energy economy. Finally, leaders from the energy industry and minority community advocacy organizations discussed their workforce and economic development efforts, challenges and ideas for the path forward. During lunch, Commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission Wayne Christian discussed the state of the oil and gas industry in Texas and how to address energy sector skill deficits and develop a larger energy workforce.

Attendees were invited to attend “breakout sessions” on STEM, Supplier Diversity, Workforce Development, and Technical Assistance. Each session was led by a facilitator who gave an overview and asked several questions of the group. From these sessions, the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity was able to gain perspective from experts and practitioners in the field.

Thank you Dr. Erika Henderson and staff at University of Houston for providing such a wonderful forum for this discussion!

Staff at the conference pose in a group
Speakers and staff at Texas Southern University.

We are truly grateful to the attendees in Houston for sharing insights and ideas to create a more equitable energy economy.