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CWEEL Chapter Liaison’s Growing!

As a reminder, one of AEE’s 2018 objectives is to have a CWEEL Chapter Liaison for every local AEE Chapter.  Chapter Liaisons are leaders in their AEE chapters who encourage, strengthen, and inspire other women to network and grow professionally.  We are actively recruiting additional Chapter Liaisons to strengthen our CWEEL Chapter Liaison Committee.

The Chapter Liaison Committee coordinates between local AEE chapters and CWEEL on a number of topics, including scholarships, mentoring, fundraising, and membership. This Committee provides chapter support and promotes CWEEL programs and goals including the development of a more prominent voice for women in the industry. Chapter Liaisons bring visibility to AEE and CWEEL during industry events and improve leadership opportunities for women.

The Chapter Liaison role would include a 30 minute monthly conference call with the Liaison Committee to leverage best practices and events between CWEEL and the local AEE chapters.  Some examples would include:  CWEEL held its first regional networking event at NJ Natural Gas with over 50+ attendees and we are planning a NYC event late summer.  The NYC Chapter Liaison, Israa Ajam, is currently working with us to drive visibility for the event.  Thanks Israa!

We wanted to thank & recognize the following for CWEEL Chapter Liaisons for their support and dedication:  Lisa Kosanovic (Connecticut), Israa Ajam (NYC), Nagea Littleton (Central Alabama), Emily Beck (Colorado), Kat Stahl (Raleigh(NC)), Jeneen Horton (Huntsville (AL)), Nandini Mouli (Baltimore), Nicole Davis (Arkansas), Leslie Kramer (Bay Area), Maryanne McGowan (SW Ohio), Shelley Sullivan (SE Michigan),  Heather Wheeler (Danville (VA)), Elin Shepard (Columbia River (OR)), Kelsey Chegus (Alberta, Canada) and Monica Bersani & Maryanne Campbell (Greater Philadelphia), Janine Finnell ( National Capital), Rebecca Karason & Angela Rybalt (Ohio Capital City), Carla Dozal (New Mexico), Diana Fuller (Peoria, IL) and Diana Medina-Lopez (San Joaquin Valley,CA).

We are still currently recruiting for CWEEL Chapter Liaisons from following USA Regions and Canada:

Region 1: New England, Maine, NJ, Long Island, Western NY, Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley & Western Pennsylvania

Region 2: Sunshine, Atlanta, Piedmont, East Tennessee, Mid-South, Middle Tennessee & Southeastern Virginia

Region 3: Iowa, Central Illinois, Chicago, Indiana, Kentucky, West Michigan, Twin Cities, Voyager, Northern Ohio, West Central Ohio, Wisconsin

Region 4: Rocky Mountain, Kansas City, St. Louis, Austin/San Antonio, North Texas, Texas Lone Star

Region 5: Arizona, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Southern California, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Pacific Northwest

Canada: Canada East, Hamilton, Southern Ontario, Southwestern Ontario


If you are interested in becoming a CWEEL Chapter Liaison sign up through the following link:

Again – help strengthen our CWEEL Team by becoming a CWEEL Chapter Liaison!  If you have any questions please contact

Deborah O. Lenny, CWEEL Board Member – Chapter Liaison Committee at

“Superman” Afure Onekpe

AfureeditAfure is the founder of the AEE Alberta Chapter, and she has dedicated countless hours of service to the energy efficiency industry in Alberta which has experienced incredible growth over the last few years. She currently serves on the Board of AEE – Alberta as Vice President, and she was also recently elected to the Board of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance. Not only is she an extremely accomplished professional, but she is also a mother to 4 young kids and an inspiring role model to myself and many others in Alberta. There is also much to be said about recent developments and momentum being created in Alberta for the energy efficiency industry.

Afure has over 15 years Environmental, Energy and Engineering experience. She holds a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. She is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Certified Environmental Professional (EP) with a specialization in Energy, Sustainability, GHG/Air and Water, Certified RETScreen Expert (CRE), Certified Enterprise Program Manager (EPM) and a Canadian Sustainable Energy Practitioner (CSEP). Afure currently works as a Senior Account Manager and Lead Energy Auditor for Energy Efficiency Alberta BNI Program and Non-Profit Energy Efficiency Transition Program (NEET). She promotes Energy Efficiency as a resource to Albertans through her involvements in various industry associations, numerous networks and connections.

EMC CWEEL Breakfast in Seattle

CWEEL hosted the Women in Leadership Breakfast at the West Coast Energy Management Congress on Thursday June 21 in Seattle, WA. Keynote speaker Susan Wickwire, Executive Director of the Seattle 2030 District and Washington state native, presented her thoughts on creating successful partnerships between the public and private sectors, while weaving in anecdotes from her life story, prior work for the EPA and state department, and the things that have driven her throughout her public service.

Ms. Wickwire has experienced first-hand the positive benefits to industrial and commercial businesses resulting from well-designed and executed government environmental programs. She assumed leadership of the Seattle 2030 District in 2015 – one of nearly two dozen major cities across the U.S. participating in the 2030 District initiative – which has grown to a membership of more than 150 property owners/managers, community and professional stakeholders, and resource partners. The objectives of the Seattle 2030 District are to develop realistic, measurable, and innovative strategies to assist district property owners, managers, and tenants in meeting aggressive goals for reducing environmental impacts of facility construction and operations. More about the Seattle 2030 District here –

CWEEL thanks Frontier Energy for their gracious sponsorship of the program.

See more pictures from the CWEEL Breakfast here –

Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Sleet, Nor Hail… nothing stops GLOBALCON!

It was March — it was Boston – and it was madness! That’s March Madness, aka the NCAA basketball tournament. Adding another level of excitement to Beantown was AEE’s 2018 Globalcon Conference, which included our CWEEL breakfast meeting. Mother Nature apparently wanted in on the action too – so she delivered a Nor’easter and, in doing so, almost kept CWEEL’s keynote speaker from making her appointed round.

The first thing we learned about Ilana Juda, Principal, Director of Sustainability at FXFOWLE, was that she has perseverance. She made the trek from New York City to deliver her inspiring message about how her values, developed in childhood, have enabled her to break through many barriers, which now included snowstorms! Ilana explained that she was raised by “devout environmentalists,” therefore sustainability is ingrained in her character. A champion of sustainable design initiatives through her profession as an architect, Ms. Juda promotes her agenda through advocacy, education and research. Of particular importance to her, is mentoring young women and fostering their leadership development while encouraging them to be leaders in sustainability design principles.

Besides hearing our thought-provoking speaker, getting the latest news about CWEEL, and enjoying a scrumptious breakfast, CWEEL extended one more reason to attend our meeting – we held a drawing to give away an Amazon Echo Dot to one breakfast attendee. Nancy Gardner, Senior Indirect Sales Manager, Direct Energy Business was the lucky winner.

We are also grateful to Frontier Energy for sponsoring the event and are pleased Carina Paton from their New York office was able to brave the elements to share about her company and its interest in supporting our organization.

CWEEL deeply appreciates everyone’s participation and support.

Harnessing the Energy Industry’s Shifting Workforce for Greater Diversity

AEE’s Council of Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership division recently participated in Mediaplanet USA’s Women in Energy campaign where we united with like-minded thought leaders and associations to shed light on the exciting and impactful opportunities available to women in the field. With 50% of the workforce retiring in the next 5-7 years, it’s crucial to highlighting the best practices for women to enter and excel in this rewarding industry.

The campaign was distributed through USA TODAY on June 8th, 2018 and is published online and the article is also listed below.

Harnessing the Energy Industry’s Shifting Workforce for Greater Diversity

More than fifty percent of the energy workforce was eligible to retire in 2015, resulting in an ongoing phenomenon known as “the great crew change.” Innovation in the sector generates greater demand for talent as new energy markets and technology drive employment. Companies are addressing this talent gap by investing in initiatives to recruit and develop employees that have the technical, managerial and leadership skills for this evolving sector. One initiative is a mentoring program to support young professionals (male and female) to enter, grow and advance in the industry. Mentors are industry-based, experienced professionals that are screened and partnered with a mentee. Mentees may be student interns, recent graduates, early stage employees and mid-level employees who are interested in advancing in the industry.

Boosting women through mentorship

The Department of Energy’s 2017 US Energy and Employment Report found the traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors employ approximately 6.4 million Americans. Yet women in these sectors range from just 22 to 34 percent, compared to 47 percent of the overall economy’s workforce. Companies and energy industry associations are implementing mentoring programs to increase diversity and specifically bring more women into the industry.

The Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership, through its affiliation with the Association of Energy Engineers, offers a mentoring program to support women in their career development in energy efficiency, renewable energy, utility and energy technology fields. Both mentors and mentees apply by filling out the application listed on the Council’s website. Tahseena Kahn, the mentoring program chair, pairs the mentee with the right mentor. The mentor-mentee pair then decides the best means of communication for them, be that in person meetings, teleconference, Skype or beyond. Some mentors and mentees live outside of the United States and support someone in another part of the world.

One mentee noted, “My mentor is a perfect match for me. She works in the same industry, so we relate very well. My mentor truly cares for my success and gives great and useful guidance.” Through the guidance of their mentors, mentees have found the right job, improved their skills for career advancement, gone back to school for advanced degrees and attended management training programs.

The power of sponsorship

Beyond mentoring programs, there are informal sponsors that can help with career development and advancement. These are superiors and peers within an employer or outside (trade allies, association members, etc.) that provide guidance and honest feedback. This support may be limited to a specific life event, such as making a decision for a job change, or it may span years. A sponsor is a business associate with whom one has a natural affinity and comfort level that has knowledge of your capabilities and performance. A sponsor not only provides encouragement, but she (or he) is a trusted advisor that can help you understand the corporate culture and the skills required to be successful in the company.

As the majority of industry management are men, these sponsors are often men who recognize the inequity of the gender gap in the sector and truly care about the importance of the advancement of women to the evolution of the industry. Finding a sponsor starts by taking the initiative to ask for guidance and support. Building that relationship requires listening to feedback and allowing the sponsor to challenge you. Maintaining sponsors requires follow through, appreciation and respect.

The energy industry is in the midst of a significant workforce change, yet navigating a career in energy can still be challenging. Having both mentors and sponsors will help increase career opportunities, develop and hone skillsets, and build valuable relationships for a season or a lifetime.

eSai Awarded SBA’s 2018 Maryland Woman Owned Business of the Year Award

The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded eSai, LLC the 2018 Maryland Woman Owned Business of the Year Award.

The selection for this award was based on several criteria, including: evidence of success as measured by sales and profits; innovativeness of product or service; response to adversity; demonstrated potential necessary for long-term business success and economic growth.

Nandini Mouli, Ph.D., President, Founder & CEO of eSai Consulting, participated in a small award celebration at the SBA office with Maryland Senator, Ben Cardin and Congressman John Sarbanes. Nandini sits on the CWEEL Board as the Scholarship & Awards Committee Chair.


Nandini will be recognized on Thursday, June 7th at the 34th Annual Maryland Small Business Week Awards Luncheon at Martin’s West in Woodlawn, MD.For tickets or more information, visit the event website at

CWEEL Event – 4th Energy Extravaganza with AEE Chapters

On February 23rd, the Council of Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) had another great event at the University of Maryland,  College Park as part of the 4th Energy Extravaganza which AEE-Baltimore, AEE-National Capital Chapter and Leaders In Energy had co-organized.

The following were our panelists:
Rosa Cassidy – Deputy Director, Lockheed Martin
Kathy MaGruder – Executive Director, Maryland Clean Energy Center
Laurie Vodreuil – CEO, Mosaic Power

Janine Finnell did the opening remarks for CWEEL and Nandini Mouli moderated the panel.  The three panelists responded to 6 questions related to career, women in energy working together to advance “common good” in the industry and how to be of support to each other.  We selected the panelists because they are not only trailblazers in the cleantech world but also very creative individuals and public in their causes for women’s progress.  For showing their personal side, Rosa Cassidy was asked to read out-loud a poem from her book, “Mi vid en poemas y cuentos”  and Kathy and Laurie shared their experiences with painting landscapes and rocks.   Their life and career stories touched many people in the audience and stuck a nice chord.  Many mentioned that they were (are) motivated about their job, career and future in general in the clean energy world.

Eastern Africa CWEEL Chapter Site Training on Grid Tie PV Installation

CWEELEA_JanTripThe CWEEL-Eastern Africa falls under the Association of Energy Professional in Eastern Africa (AEPEA) which is a professional body for all professionals working in the energy sector. It is registered in Kenya and accredited as chapter of the AEE since 2014. It is the second local chapter of the AEE in Africa after the South African chapter.

One of AEPEA’s objectives in Kenya is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, conservation and management in accordance to the existing standards, policy, legal and regulatory framework and uphold the highest standards of professionalism in the Energy sector. For one to be a part of the CWEEL-EA network, one has to join the AEPEA membership as all AEPEA Members are automatically CWEEL-EA Members.

Grid tie systems are becoming increasingly popular among businesses in Kenya. As electricity tariffs continue to increase, many public and private facilities are turning to solar PV systems to reduce their operational costs and realize some savings. Kenya sits on the equator and is fortunate to receive an insolation of 4-6 kWh/m2, with an average of 5-7 peak sunshine hours in most areas. CWEEL-EA organized a site training on grid tie solar PV installation basics at Penta Flowers located in Thika off Gatanga road on 20th January 2018. The farm has been in operation for the last 25 years and has 40 hectares under flowers. From a past energy audit, 80% of their power requirements come from cold storage and water pumping. A captive power solar PV system without storage was installed at the site in mid-2017, consisting of 134kWp roof mount and 66kWp ground mount installations (total of 200kWp), to offset approximately 40% of their energy consumption from the Kenya grid.

The trip attracted 41 participants, both women and men, drawn from different professions which included engineers, energy auditors, entrepreneurs, public sector staff, academia, environmentalists, private sector practitioners, EPCs and energy lawyers, all with a passion for renewable energy and environment. The operations manager at the farm was at hand to take the participants through the history of the farm, their power requirements, why they chose solar power and how they financed their system. The project engineer explained how they collected data for the system sizing, factors to consider when designing a grid tie system, operations and maintenance. Participants were also advised on challenges faced when designing and maintaining such systems, environmental and safety regulations. The visit was quite informative and well received, it generated a lot of conversation on the opportunity for energy efficiency and installation of captive power systems for the agricultural sector in Kenya. This is because almost all agricultural facilities prefer to use their land for food, vegetable or flower production but have adequate rooftops for similar installations.
For more information contact the CWEEL-EA Liaison Caroline Makenzi on +254720399764 or on email /

Top 10 Advice on Career Development – Part 1

Career development is so important in any profession. Here is a list of top 10 advice/tips.

  1. Be Willing to Say Yes – Volunteer. Especially for those of you who are earlier in your careers, don’t be afraid of raising your hand to take an assignment that interests you or to go for a new position. You will benefit:
  • by increasing your own knowledge and experience;
  • from the satisfaction and confidence that comes from achieving a new goal;
  • and if you for some reason fail at the objective or aren’t chosen, you will also learn from that experience


  1. Handling Disappointment – Please Persevere! We all have setbacks.  Something doesn’t go the way you want – could be a position that you don’t get, a co-worker or boss that is difficult to work with, a project that doesn’t get approved.   
    • Be assured that it is a temporary situation – this too shall pass.
    • Don’t listen to the naysayers – anyone with negative energy/ put downs is not helping you to grow.
    • Do listen to your mentor or trusted advisor who will provide positive, encouraging and realistic feedback (more on mentors later)…

Early in my career I worked diligently and excitedly for months on a special project.  Having never completed this type of project before, I was on a huge self-learning curve.  From market analysis to planning, and from pipeline system design through economic analysis.  Once my report was completed, I was asked to be present for the utility’s Board of Director’s meeting at which it was discussed and ultimately the Board decided not to proceed with the expansion.  I was disappointed to say the least.  Some peers in the company looked at all that work as a “waste of time”.  But it taught me valuable lessons and I developed skills in market assessments and analysis that helped me in future positions and as an entrepreneur.   As a result of the exposure with the Senior VP and Board, it opened up the door to other opportunities at the company including taking on a leadership role at the utility’s retail affiliate start up and more importantly I found an unexpected passion in “start-ups”.

  1. Be Willing to Make a Choice & Take a Risk – If you don’t take a chance on something then you limit your career development options. Wanting to “stay safe” is the number one barrier to success.  You cannot succeed if you don’t even try.

I was at the stage in my career where I wanted to move from an engineering sales position into management.  There was an opening for manager of energy conservation.  I had no specific energy efficiency or conservation experience and had only minimal supervisory experience with a small group in the engineering department several years earlier.  Many in the company said it was a “dead end” job and the utility only supported energy conservation because of regulatory mandates.  I applied for the position as a means to an end – to gain management experience managing a multi-million-dollar program with associated staff and vendors.  I was selected and after one year it led to a trajectory into other management positions both within and beyond that company.  It also expanded my knowledge base into the area of Energy Efficiency which opened other opportunities for me.  It also introduced me to trade organizations, like the Association of Energy Engineers, which provided awesome networking and volunteer opportunities.

Tips 4-10 will be posted throughout the remainder of 2018 – check back for more!

CWEEL Board Member Joins the City of Santa Monica’s Building Efficiency Working Group

Kahn, TahseenaTahseena Kahn, head of the Mentoring Program for CWEEL, became a member of  the City of Santa Monica’s Building Efficiency Technical Working Group to draft a policy to reduce energy use in existing buildings. Santa Monica became the first city in the world to enact a Zero Net Energy requirement for new homes in 2017 and hopes to cut carbon emissions from buildings in half by 2030.  This group will:

  • Analyze the drivers of energy use in existing buildings and the opportunities to improve energy efficiency.
  • Evaluate existing building policy and make recommendations for future policy.
  • Identify supplementary resources that the city can develop to aid building owners and tenants in achieving deep carbon reductions.
  • Draft a policy to reduce energy use in existing Santa Monica buildings

Tahseena has also joined an Industry Advisory Council for the Chancellor of California Community Colleges to develop a statewide training program in Energy Analytics and Auditing.