Join WCEE on Thursday, October 27 to recognize the 2022 Woman of the Year, Champion, and Sparks award recipients at our first in-person awards event since 2019.
Celebrate leaders in energy and environment and WCEE's fourth decade of helping women succeed in these fields. Enjoy rooftop views of DC, good conversations, and meet new people in your field at this widely attended event.
2022 Women of the Year Brenda Mallory, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality. Ms. Mallory advises the President on environmental and natural resources policies that improve, preserve, and protect public health and the environment for America’s communities. Brenda is one of the sharpest environmental lawyers out there, a dedicated public servant who also has experience in the private sector and NGO space. Beginning her career in environmental law in private practice, Brenda rose to chair her firm’s Natural Resources Practice Group. She later joined the EPA, beginning a 20-year career in public service. She has served in senior roles at both EPA and CEQ, working on clean water, energy, toxics, and emergency response efforts. In the Office of General Counsel, Brenda led initiatives on Environmental Justice and diversity and helped reform EPA’s Office of Civil Rights. Brenda has also been a leader in the environmental advocacy community, serving as the Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Executive Director and Senior Counsel for the Conservation Litigation Project. As Chair of the CEQ she brings all of these experiences to bear in working with all stakeholders to help avoid, minimize, or mitigate the environmental impacts of government decisions.
Woman of the Year Gina McCarthy: A Woman of the Year awardee must demonstrate exceptional leadership in her professional life and have an ongoing commitment to serve as an inspirational role model for other women. Gina McCarthy recently served as White House National Climate Advisor, tasked with coordinating the Biden administration’s domestic climate agenda. She has been a leading advocate for smart, successful strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. McCarthy was the president and chief executive officer of NRDC before joining the White House. A Boston native, she previously advised five Massachusetts governors, including Mitt Romney. At the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, McCarthy was a professor of the practice of public health in the Department of Environmental Health and chair of the board of advisors at the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE). She also served as a member of the boards of the Energy Foundation and Ceres. McCarthy served under President Barack Obama as the 13th Administrator of the EPA from 2013–2017 where she led EPA initiatives to cut air pollution, protect water resources, reduce greenhouse gases and strengthen chemical safety.
Champion Steve Mitnick: Steve Mitnick has made it his mission to celebrate the unsung heroes of the utility sector. He wrote the book on women in the industry, publishing Women Leading Utilities, the Pioneers and Path to Today and Tomorrow last year. A book that chronicles the history of barrier breaking women from the earliest days of the electric power industry to our modern leaders. Committed to recognizing important contributors in the industry, Steve has written other books on under-recognized individuals and communities who have shaped our modern electric utility sector. Steve has led a multifaceted career, starting as a consultant and now serving as Executive Editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly. At PUF he shines a light on all individuals working to keep our nation's critical energy infrastructure safe and operational.
Champion Ralph Cavanagh: Ralph Cavanagh joined the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1979 and serves now as its Energy Co-Director. Throughout his career, which has also included teaching at several law schools and serving on federal and non-profit advisory boards, he has focused a great deal on developing women in leadership in the energy sector. Ralph has been a tireless advocate who leads with humility and empathy and elevates others around him, giving them the courage to lead. His collaborative approach to his work allows him to cross political, geographic, and fuel-based divisions to make a difference. Ralph has trained and mentored several generations of women leaders, advocating behind the scenes to help many women trailblazers over the past 40 years. A superb mentor, he consistently makes time to help advance his colleagues’ careers.
Sparks Awardees (our inaugural class!):
• Esther Wozniak, The Pew Charitable Trusts: Esther Wozniak is an officer with Pew’s international fisheries project. She focuses on advocacy efforts within countries, with regional fisheries management organizations, and with United Nations agencies to ensure the sustainability of global fisheries. Wozniak previously worked on Pew’s global shark conservation project, leading efforts in the Pacific region to manage and conserve sharks and rays. She also successfully pushed for protections to regulate international trade of sharks and rays at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In addition to her conservation work, Wozniak focuses on multiple efforts within Pew to advance inclusion, diversity, and equity. Before joining Pew, Wozniak worked on the intersection between ocean science and policy at the University of the South Pacific, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, where she provided conservation research support for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
• Jennifer Morrissey, Dentons: Jennifer joined Dentons' energy practice just over a decade ago, transitioning from another practice area and quickly becoming an expert in energy regulation and go-to team lead for complex issues. She divides her practice between traditional regulatory and transactional matters relating to energy, resources and infrastructure, and federal litigation and appellate work related to energy and resources. Jennifer is leader and founding member of the Dentons Smart Cities & Connected Communities Think Tank. She is a "behind-the-scenes driving force for a number of innovative and important initiatives that bring together people from all corners of the critical infrastructure sectors." Jennifer also gives back by serving on the board of professional organizations, teaching courses, publishing articles, and being a tremendous mentor to associates. Jennifer is a former Fulbright Scholar, a Georgetown Law alum, and a graduate of Johns Hopkins SAIS.
• Samantha Childress, Schneider Electric: As Solutions Architect Manager, Microgrids & Distributed Energy at Schneider Electric, Samantha manages a team of cross-functional solution architects & engineers working to make local energy systems more sustainable, economical, and resilient through the deployment of microgrids and distributed energy resources (DERs). Samantha works to expand the global adoption of renewable energy by designing and commercializing microgrid & distributed energy solutions. Samantha is President of the Board of the United Solar Initiative, a nonprofit that leverages private sector contributions to deploy clean energy projects for communities and NGOs worldwide. She has an applied engineering degree with a technical focus on sustainable and renewable energy systems from Appalachian State University and a Master of Environmental Management from Duke.