This blog is part of a series called Women in EVs – celebrating women leading on the development and adoption of electric vehicles. Other blogs in this series can be found here.
We are pleased to introduce Catherine Teebay as this week’s featured EV champion. Catherine is a leader in EV advocacy in the Northwest, where she is currently working as a Program Manager at Forth, but has a long history with electric vehicles.
Catherine Teebay, Progam Manager at Forth and lifelong EV enthusiast
Who or what is Forth and what do you do?
Forth is a nonprofit, automotive trade group working to advance and advocate for autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are headquartered in Portland, Oregon, but are also working on projects in Washington, Utah, and California. We also host Roadmap, formerly EV Roadmap, the largest electric vehicle conference in North America every June. I primarily focus on managing demonstration projects, like the Community Electric Vehicle Project (CEV) and Community E-Bike Project (CEV), and support consumer engagement work and the Go Forth Electric Showcase. Some of my current work also includes developing case studies for the CEV and CEB projects (available early this summer), consulting on work with Rocky Mountain Power, and supporting Electrify America’s Discover and Drive program in California.
What is your background in electric transportation?
I was introduced to electric cars when my only ride was a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe powered by my own two toddler feet. It was technically my first zero-emissions car! My father was the fleet manager for Los Angeles County and throughout the 1990s he brought home various electric cars that were company cars. The RAV4 EV, GM EV1, and Ford Ranger EV were just a few that I remember. As a very curious kid, I wanted to know everything about the cars and my dad, of course, obliged. He let me look under the hood, roll under the chassis, and plug-in the cars. I still distinctly remember sitting at a public EV charger waiting for the RAV4 to charge and my dad picking me up from soccer practice in the EV1 on his way home from work. Eventually, I grew up and went off to college where I interned in both the public and private sector and focused primarily on charging infrastructure. I was and still am intrigued by how we get around and how we can make transportation cleaner, more efficient, and most importantly, more accessible to everyone which is what drives me to work in this industry today.
What challenges and opportunities do you see on the horizon for the growth of EVs?
Emerging vehicle technologies, like electric cars, have the potential to benefit the most vulnerable people in society and fundamentally change the way we get around. Electric cars can save everyone money, reduce air pollution, and support local jobs by running on locally produced power. With so much opportunity, what stands in the way of greater EV adoption? Today, education is the single biggest hurdle the industry faces and is crucial to achieving wide acceptance and use of electric cars. Everyone from the utilities and automotive manufacturers (OEMs) to air districts, cities, and citizens should spend less time preaching to the choir and more time listening to people who may have never noticed, let alone driven or ridden in an electric car. The onus rests on all of us to ensure that educational efforts are designed with everyone in mind and that both the private and public sector come together to make transportation cleaner, cheaper, and better for all.
What role do you see for women in expanding the adoption of EVs?
According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, 85 percent of car buying decisions are influenced by women. However, women are underrepresented in both the automotive industry and at car dealerships where most people make their purchases. I believe that our role is two-pronged. First, I encourage any women who currently work in the industry to find other women in the industry to mentor or look to as a mentor. When you have someone who understands where you’re coming from, they can serve as a great sounding board and support. Second, empower your friends, family, and acquaintances who are women with knowledge about their cars and transportation. Knowledge is power and the more they know, the more confident they will be the next time they walk into a dealership or need to work on their car.
Do you have any concluding thoughts?
Just as the industry has grown, so too has the number of women working in the industry. I’m absolutely thrilled to see this growth and cannot wait to see how women continue to shape and change the industry for the better!
Thanks, Catherine. Keep up the great work!