This is the second in a series of stories about Clean Energy Champions—real people who are taking action to support or join the transition to a clean energy economy. Their stories illustrate the many ways you, too, can become a Clean Energy Champion.

Clean Energy Champion banner featuring Jamal Ferguson

Jamal Ferguson, Solar Energy Technologies Office, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Like many Americans, Jamal Ferguson knows the frustration of trying to scrape together enough money to buy gas for his car. He recalls searching for an extra $8 in 2012, when the average U.S. fuel cost had risen sharply to $4.13 per gallon, the highest price since 1976. That’s when he realized U.S. dependence on fossil fuels was a problem. It made his life harder—and it made him think about his career.

Ferguson wasn’t planning on a career in clean energy—or public service, although it meant he would follow in the footsteps of his parents, a police officer and a teacher. But not long after he earned a dual bachelor's degree in business administration and international marketing, Ferguson got a job at the Department of Social Services in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He worked with troubled youth in foster care, many of whom were in the judicial system, to help them transition into leading independent lives. He says he didn’t fully appreciate his job at the time—until he told other people about it.

"They said there was a strong need in my community to get positive people like me to show other people like me how to navigate the curves in life and be on the path to independence,” Ferguson says. “It made me feel like I could make a difference."

Through that job, he met someone who worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Hearing about that person’s role in the government sparked his interest. He liked the idea of being part of something big.

Stamp that says "Clean Energy Champion"

Clean En∙er∙gy Cham∙pi∙on

/klēn/ /ˈenərjē/ /ˈCHampēən/

noun

1. A person or group that takes action to support or join the transition to a renewable energy economy, with the knowledge that reducing carbon emissions provides daily benefits to every American so they can live happy and healthy lives.

Become a clean energy champion >>

Since 2016, Ferguson has been the executive assistant to the director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, providing logistical and administrative support to senior leadership.

In this role, Ferguson feels he is in a better position to serve his community “by supporting DOE’s mission and providing excellent customer service to people in DOE and, indirectly, our stakeholders.”

"I feel like I help my community directly, because I’m a face that people can relate to and feel comfortable with when they’re inquiring with questions about things that I may not know, but I’m in a position to get these answers and remind people that I’m a layperson that works at DOE," he says. "The benefits of our work are more believable coming from someone with the same background who can speak to them in a language they can understand."

Sharing and increasing access to information about renewable energy is part of what makes Ferguson a Clean Energy Champion. At home, he buys renewable energy credits through his utility and makes sure others in his community know this is possible, too, so he brings it up in casual conversation. At the same time, he is setting an example for his children.

"My children will be Clean Energy Champions one day," he says, "They have no choice but to follow down the road I set for them. I’m on the forefront of changing the landscape to make sure we have a decarbonized electricity system by 2035 and be completely decarbonized by 2050. I’m helping put the ball in motion to make it a regular way of life for them."

"I’ve always considered myself a protector or guardian of my household, and the earth is my home," Ferguson says. "I’m going to do everything in my power to keep it safe for the next generation and for the people who can’t fend for themselves and who don’t have a voice."

Learn about employment opportunities at EERE.

Read about another Clean Energy Champion, Rukmani Vijayaraghavan.