Social & Environmental Justice Keynote
Session Moderator: Dara Bortman
Building on the conference theme of “Empowering a Sustainable Future,” this session focuses on the topics of racism and social justice as they intersect with energy in general and renewable energy in particular. People in marginalized communities have often borne the burden of environmental exploitation and energy injustice in the name of unrestrained development and technical advancement. Here, the discussion is on these problem areas and on a vision of paths forward, how we can work together to ensure that all communities benefit from the clean energy transition, and how empowering a sustainable future can bring benefit to everyone without harming the most vulnerable among us. Each speaker presentation will be 20 minutes, and will allow questions in the final few minutes.
Henry Red CloudExecutive Director at Red Cloud Renewable
Henry Red Cloud is a 21st century Lakota warrior dedicated to improving livelihoods in Native American communities through renewable energy and sustainable Living approaches. In 2003, he developed a low-cost solar air heating system that saved tribal families 20-30% on their heating bills. In 2006, he established Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), one of the first 100% Native American-owned and operated renewable energy companies in the world. In associateion with our non-profit friends, Trees, Water & People, Henry created the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) in 2008, a one-of-a-kind educational center where tribal members receive technical and hands-on green job skills training. Here he reminds trainees that, by embracing renewable energy, there is a way to return to their traditional relationship with Mother Earth. In 2013, Henry opened the Sacred Earth Lodge, a residential training facility to accommodate the growing demand for training.
Henry’s philosophy of helping one family at a time not only improves lives, but it protects our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing reliance on fossil fuels. As a respected Lakota elder of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, he is a leader and role model who is inspiring enthusiasm for renewable energy in Native communities across the nation. Devoted to bringing social justice and economic development to Indian Country, Henry is helping tribes on their path to energy sovereignty.
While he grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Henry Red Cloud lived away from the reservation for over a decade. When he returned home as an adult in 1992 he was struck by the despondency he found there and has been working to provide hope to his people ever since. Driven by his desire to make a significant improvement in the life of each tribal family, Henry began to focus on residential-scale renewable energy options at the turn of the millennium.
Michelle RomeroNational Director at Dream Corps
Michelle Romero is the National Director of Dream Corps Green For All, where she is leading cutting-edge work at the intersection of the climate crisis, the economy, and racial justice. Under her leadership, Green For All ensures that as the clean economy grows, it brings good jobs, better health, and meaningful benefits to low-income families and people of color. She fights for a world that is green for all, not green for some.
Michelle’s central vision is a world that is more racially, economically, and environmentally just, but she recognizes that deep political and social divisions stand in the way of progress. Under her leadership, Green For All brings together both liberals and conservatives to find common ground on climate that can turn political breakdowns into breakthroughs. She is building unity between underdogs in red states and blue states and charting a path forward with the power to transform democracy, save the planet, and heal divides.
Michelle advises philanthropists and lawmakers at the federal level and in states across the U.S., to elevate equity in climate work.
Green For All’s #FuelChange campaign tackles the #1 source of carbon pollution in the U.S. — the transportation sector — and has secured over 3 billion dollars in commitments from both Democrat and Republican Governors for electric cars, trucks, and buses in underserved neighborhoods, since the campaign launched in 2019.
Green For All’s Safe Homes campaign uplifts the need for energy efficiency and home weatherization to keep struggling Americans safe in their homes, while creating good local jobs, and reducing U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
Green For All’s Green Jobs & Entrepreneurship campaign promotes green jobs training and green businesses entrepreneurship for people of color.
Monique DyersPresident/CEO at Ensight Energy Consulting
Monique Dyers is the President and CEO of Ensight Energy Consulting, LLC, a technically based management consulting firm, specializing in providing technical, environmental, commercial and financial advisory services and solutions to developers, owners, and financial institutions of energy, power and energy infrastructure projects.
Ms. Dyers has over 15 years of experience in the energy and power industry and has contributed to the industry in various technical and leadership roles. Her leadership and consulting experience include leading project feasibility studies, transmission and interconnection evaluations, equipment bankability studies, construction oversight and leading and managing due diligence reviews in support of the financing of energy, power, renewable energy and oil and gas projects. In addition, Ms. Dyers previously managed global teams in the design, development and performance validation of generator set engines and generators used in the energy and power industries. Ms. Dyers holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and has previously held senior consulting positions with other firms such as AWS Truepower LLC and Luminate LLC. In addition, she has held leadership and engineering positions with Vestas Technology R&D Americas and Caterpillar Inc.
As an accomplished energy professional and business leader, Ms. Dyers is passionate about ensuring that underrepresented communities are educated on energy polices and issues which may affect their communities. Her passion for community is demonstrated in her contribution and dedication to several groups and organizations. She’s currently the President of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Denver Chapter and serves on the boards of City and County of Denver Sustainability Advisory Council, and the Community College of Denver Foundation. Ms. Dyers has been recognized for her professional contributions as a recipient of the Denver Business Journal 2014 Forty Under 40 Award, 2015 Top Women in Energy Award, 2018 Who’s Who in Energy and 2019 Who’s Who in Energy.
During Ms. Dyers’ tenure at Louisiana State University and A&M College, Ms. Dyers was initiated into the Mathematics Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon. She is also recognized as establishing a local Woman in Engineering Networking group at a previous employer.
Ms. Dyers is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and appreciates spending time with her family and friends, mentoring underprivileged students in the areas of mathematics and science, travel, golfing and designing pottery.
Pilar ThomasPart-time Professor of Practice at the University of Arizona
Pilar Thomas is a partner in the firm’s Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Practice Group. She focuses her practice on tribal renewable energy project development and finance, tribal economic development, federal Indian Law, and natural resource development.
Pilar assists clients with strategic legal advice on tribal energy policy and planning; clean energy and infrastructure project development and finance; federal and state energy regulatory, programs, and policy efforts; and federal requirements for tribal lands development. She has negotiated or assisted with agreements related to transmission lines, landfill gas, solar projects, a natural gas power plant, and mineral development on tribal lands. She serves as general counsel for several tribes, Section 17 and tribal business entities.