Earlier this month, we blogged about that national solar roundtable discussion called #nationWISE. Over 600 professionals all over the country gathered at 17 different locations on Tuesday, February 23, to discuss the development of the solar industry and the part we all play in that development. While the overall goal of WISE is to promote diversity within the solar industry, the discussions at the different events covered a wide range of solar topics including diversity, relevant to each local market. Here is a quick recap from two events in the Southeast where SACE participated: Atlanta, Georgia, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
SACE staffers, Anne Blair and Allie Brown, attended the WISE event in Atlanta held at 5 Seasons Brewery. The turnout was a huge success, with over 75 women and men in attendance. Participants represented a broad range of solar professions including non-profits, utilities, finance, installation and development and operations. The event featured a panel of women playing a key role in advancing solar energy in Georgia. These women discussed their work and offered advice to women interested in the field. With 241 solar companies in Georgia and solar energy installations rapidly expanding across the state, the panelists highlighted what an exciting time it is to be in the solar field.
Later in the evening, the Fort Lauderdale group met at an ocean-side sushi lounge called Tsukuro, with about 40 attendees and some special quests – National Geographic, filming for Years of Living Dangerously, and Cecily Strong, known from Saturday Night Live and currently working as a correspondent with National Geographic. The Florida event was sponsored and organized by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Women4Solar, with co-hosts Alissa Schafer (SACE) and Raina Russo (Women4Solar).
After some opening remarks from Alissa and Raina, the event kicked off with a spirited panel discussion and followed up with group questions, including one from Cecily Strong, comedian and actress at Saturday Night Live. The panel was moderated by Alissa and featured three unique solar perspectives: Katie Ullman, Director of Global Marketing and Communications for Conergy, Debbie Dooley, founder of Conservatives for Energy Freedom, and Kathe Thompson, Board Director of Natural Resources for League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County.
While a portion of the discussion focused on ways that we can continue to ensure diversity in the growing solar industry, the majority of questions, answers, and comments centered around the general lackluster state of solar in the Sunshine State, and all the work that we have to do to keep moving forward. Debbie discussed the immense job creating potential that exists in the solar industry, and both Katie and Kathe emphasized that an important key to encouraging diversity moving forward is to make sure that we are consciously including a wide range of people in our discussions about solar. The evening’s event was a great example – as we discussed local and regional challenges and opportunities in the solar market, the conversation included women, men, and even children! The general consensus is that we must continue to lead by example and invite others to join in these important conversations with us.
Given that the Southeast continues to be a battleground for solar, it is more important than ever that we all continue to work together on the issues that really matter. SACE was honored to be able to participate in both the Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Lauderdale, Florida events, and looks forward to continuing these discussions moving forward.
For even more photos, check out the full #nationWISE album on WISE’s Facebook page here.