Workforce of the Future: How can Minnesota ensure broad access to jobs in the clean energy economy?
Play • 1 hr 1 min

Tune in to Part 2 of Fresh Energy's "Intersection of Energy and Community" webinar series!

The transition to an equitable, carbon-neutral economy will bring big changes to our communities. State and federal policies, utility programs, and the overall evolution from a world powered by oil and gas to a clean electricity-powered future, play out in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and homes. But it’s not just communities adapting to change. Cities, counties, and local institutions are often leading through model projects and Climate Action Plans to shape a new reality.

In summer 2021, Fresh Energy hosted a webinar series to raise the question: How can we dramatically reduce carbon emissions in a way that improves our communities and benefits everyone?

This conversation is sponsored by Great River Energy.

Nina Axelson, Founder, Grid Catalyst
Nina Axelson is leading the development of a clean energy accelerator, focused on demonstrating and scaling solutions for northern climates. The program will work with regional partners to connect entrepreneurs to project demonstrations, mentorship, and investments to help them grow their business. Grid Catalyst is under development, with a launch anticipated by the end of 2021. Previously, Axelson was the Vice President of Sustainability and Outreach for Ever-Green Energy, and has nearly 20 years of experience in the energy and environmental sectors. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Robert Blake, Founder & CEO of Solar Bear
Robert Blake is the owner of Solar Bear a solar installation company located in Minneapolis, MN, the Ojibwe pronunciation is Gizis-o-makwa. Robert is the Executive Director of Native Sun Community Power Development a Non- Profit located also in Minneapolis, MN. Robert is a graduate student at the University of Minnesotan Carlson Executive Master of Business Administration (CEMBA) program. Robert is a tribal citizen of the Red Lake Nation. His passion is spreading the word of renewable energy through communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

Jamez Staples, President & CEO of Renewable Energy Partners
Jamez Staples founded Renewable Energy Partners after seeing how solar energy was being built in other parts of the country and after Minnesota passed its Solar Jobs Act in 2013.  He has lived in North Minneapolis most of his life and graduated from North High School where REP has installed a 365-kilowatt community solar garden. He has seen and experienced injustices in economic opportunity and environmental health in Minnesota but was also inspired by former Obama Administration Green Jobs Czar Van Jones’ idea of addressing climate change and poverty at the same time.

Ben Passer, Lead Director, Energy Access and Equity at Fresh Energy
Ben Passer directs Fresh Energy’s work to advance equitable outcomes across Minnesota’s energy system. A member of the Minnesota Bar, Ben leads Fresh Energy in securing regulatory results at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, policy change at the State Capitol, and collaborative efforts with diverse partners and allies to move Minnesota toward a just, carbon-neutral economy by mid-century. Ben represents Fresh Energy in key regional and national forums and serves as a recognized thought leader and public speaker on the intersection of energy and equity. Ben currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy.

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