I got my first taste of the urgency of climate change while spending a summer as an unpaid intern at an energy and environmental NGO in Dakar, Senegal. I was fresh out of a two year-long post-college experience in Washington, DC, and I wanted to get back to West Africa, were I had spent a year abroad in college. At ENDA-TM, I read for the first time the UNFCCC reports on climate change and desertification. Later during my stint working in rural Senegal on a fuel switching program to encourage villagers to purchase kerosene stoves instead of harvesting and burning shrubs, for the first time I began to appreciate the human dimensions of climate change, which for this part of the world largely meant more heat, less rain, less forest, more desert. A spark went off within me.
I took my newfound passion for finding more environmentally sustainable ways to meet our basic (and not so basic) energy needs to New England, where I began working and studying on these issues at Tufts University, first as a foot solider at the Global Development and Environment Institute, and then as a Master’s student at Tufts’ Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Empowered with an understanding of how demand for what society needs to thrive and grow (e.g., energy, food, natural resources) bumps against the natural limits to growth, I explored a range of cleaner ways society can flourish. I worked to advance understanding of innovative financial tools, such as carbon finance, that could help small-scale clean energy developers in developing counties to find additional sources of revenue to bring their projects to life.
So far, over the course of my career I have had the immense privilege and pleasure to work alongside researchers from China, India, and the US to promote the least carbon-intensive and most practical ways to deliver energy and transportation services around the world. I managed projects on behalf of U.S. EPA’s Climate Change division, where I engaged with corporate sustainability leaders on their green power purchasing decisions, steps to increase the fuel economy of their tractor-trailer fleets, and with state energy agencies on their environmental R&D initiatives. I helped craft and advocate for policies that ensured that natural gas and electric customers are incentivized to use the most energy efficient technologies possible, and that our electric grid and energy markets were responsive to the imperative that we deploy low-carbon energy resources as quickly as possible. I worked with commercial real estate stakeholders in Boston to advance innovative models that can help unlock billions of dollars in energy efficiency, clean energy, and climate change adaptation investments.
Now, as I survey my accomplishments since dipping my toes in the climate and energy waters in ENDA-TM’s steamy Dakar office on Rue Kleber nearly twenty years ago, I’m thrilled to start my own firm where I can provide informed and impassioned services to my clients. For now, the focus of my work will be in three primary areas:
- Community and neighborhood climate resilience;
- Clean energy and energy efficiency project finance and development; and
- Decarbonization of commercial cannabis cultivation.
They require urgent attention. The Earth’s climate is changing rapidly and is creating a cascade of startling challenges. Finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing sectors, such as from the residential and commercial building sector, and newer industries such as indoor commercial cannabis cultivation, are critical components in stemming climate change. Yet of equal importance is the need to prepare for and adapt to changes that are already hitting communities around the world. I believe that there are many strategies, particularly those including aggressive clean energy and energy efficiency targets, that can provide immediate mitigation and resilience (and social and economic) benefits.
They require passion. I am a parent of two wonderful children to whom I hope to leave a livable and recognizable planet. Our unsustainable current pattern consuming nonrenewable and oftentimes polluting resources has left the Earth in a tenuous position. I’ve taken on the challenge of leveraging my own resources and skills to find and promote ways to meet our development goals while reducing our negative impact on the planet.
They require skills that I have. My work on climate policy and urban planning supports my community resilience work; my experience with clean energy businesses supports my work engaging stakeholders on ways to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; and my energy efficiency technology and clean energy finance experience supports my work in reducing the cannabis sector’s energy footprint. Further, my formal training and practical work in sustainability and policies for climate and energy action informs all of my work.
I hope you will join me in this fight. I am lucky to find myself in very good company, as I count as my colleagues some of the smartest, most passionate, principled and hardest-working people I know. I look forward to working alongside you all and together forging practical and effective ways to fight climate change.