MEEA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement
MEEA is committed to cultivating a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization, supporting our members as they pursue similar goals and providing a platform to elevate policies, programs and resources that encourage the diversification of the larger energy efficiency industry as a whole to increase access to clean energy for all.
In 2019, MEEA adopted a new strategic action plan for 2020-2025. Within this plan, we committed to developing, supporting and promoting innovative and impactful policies and actions to strengthen the energy efficiency industry by prioritizing equity, inclusion, access and diversity. Under this goal, MEEA is working to:
- Promote and develop equitable and inclusive energy efficiency policy and industry best practices
- Collect a database of diverse suppliers, guidance on how to get certified and identify certification challenges
- Research and share successful policies and programs reaching underserved communities, while also
- Identify additional programs and trainings that could be adapted to reach underserved communities
- Explore pathways to reduce energy burden in the Midwest
MEEA’s strategic action plan is a driving force for our organization and this goal is an important pillar of our work.
This organizational work is supported by a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Steering Committee made up of MEEA members and board members, serving as a sounding board and resource for MEEA’s efforts.
MEEA supports Energy Efficiency For All, coalitions of affordable housing, health, energy, environmental and community leaders drive changes in policy and practice to ensure that all renters live in homes that are affordable and healthy. As a regional partner in IL, MI, MN and MO, MEEA serves as an expert, facilitator and resource to the coalitions and states in order to increase programming and coordination in affordable multi-family housing.
Additionally, in collaboration with state energy offices, public service commissions and local stakeholders, MEEA serves as a contributor, facilitator and organizer of collaboratives around income-qualified programs across the Midwest.
At the heart of it all, MEEA is a convener. We bring people together to facilitate conversations around making the energy efficiency industry a more diverse and inclusive space. MEEA has also hosted conversations about how energy efficiency programs can be more inclusive, reaching more participants. Over the past few years, we have presented a platform for these conversations to take place.
Exploring Community-Based Approaches to Inclusive Energy Efficiency
Collaborative engagement with community leaders, policymakers and businesses across the sector is required to achieve equitable energy efficiency policy and programs in the Midwest. Too often, policies and programs lack input, involvement and consideration from the communities they are meant to serve. In this workshop, we will discuss initiatives and solutions from historically excluded communities taking climate and energy action. We will hear perspectives from community-based organizations and stakeholders and explore equity-driven approaches to inclusive energy efficiency policy and programs.
- Robert Blake, Native Sun Community Power Development
- Naomi Davis, Blacks in Green
- Briana DuBose, EcoWorks
- Marcus Johnson, Springfield Urban League
- Shama Mounzer, Wayne Metro Community Action
- Yami Newell, Elevate
- Joel Zook, Winneshiek Energy District
- Moderator: Aimee Gendusa-English, National Community Action Partnership
- Moderator: Ashley Palladino, Resource Innovations
Keynote Speaker: Shalanda H. Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice: Understanding the Past and Looking Forward
This training will focus on what DEIJ is and how we got here from the history of a society focused on exclusion. We will address why understanding DEIJ is important as well as new terms that need to be understood to hold these conversations. We will also discuss how to make personal plans to improve our own actions and create a more inclusive industry. This session will allow for personal self-reflection and group discussion, but you will not be required to share personal experiences or anecdotes.
- Scott Alan Davis, Director of Energy Access and Equity, SEEL, LLC
Making Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Actionable
This training session will continue the conversation from session one, though attendance at the previous session is not required. During this training, we will focus on reviewing the behaviors and history of exclusion through micro aggressions and biases. This session will also introduce strategies on how to reassess our own actions to be active change agents in the JEDI space. This interactive training will include thought exercises and discussions, but you will not be required to share personal experiences or anecdotes outside of your comfort level.
- Scott Alan Davis, Director of Energy Access and Equity, SEEL, LLC
Centering Conscious Communications in Your Work
How does the language you use affect the ways your business is seen by customers and communities? Conscious communications and asset-framing language can help create trust and build more authentic, respectful relationships. This training will provide you with language strategies and style guides to equip you with the tools you need to update your communications.
- Sylvia Ewing, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communication, Elevate
Building Your Hiring Toolbox With Workforce Development Strategies
The energy efficiency industry is the largest employer in the energy sector. As opportunities continue to grow, it is imperative that we prioritize equitable workforce development with diversified outreach methods in all communities. Join this interactive discussion to explore strategies and tools to establish equitable workforce development through trainings, community engagement, hiring practices and more.
Energy Affordability Roadblocks and Strategies for Success
From households to communities, low-income neighborhoods are carrying disproportionate energy burdens due to historic exclusion. Compounded by poorly-insulated housing and high rates of weatherization programming walkaways, it is imperative to approach affordability efforts holistically, centered around key issues defined by the affected communities while democratizing access to affordable energy. Join this session to hear from folks working to increase energy affordability across the Midwest.
- Briana DuBose, EcoWorks
- Mari Ojeda, Fresh Energy
- Andrenika Whisenton, CLEAResult
- Moderator: Katie Frye, Minnesota Power
Keynote Discussion: Understanding the Importance of Equity & Environmental Justice
Decisions made decades ago laid the groundwork for a system of environmental racism. During this conversation, we will discuss the impact these decisions had, why it is important to address these wrongs and what our industry can do now and in the future to create a more equitable environmental landscape for all.
- Regina Strong, State of Michigan
- E'Lois Thomas, Ph.D., SEEL, LLC
Empowering Women in Energy Efficiency
We know that diverse and inclusive organizations are stronger and perform better in the long-term. Hear experiences of women in energy efficiency in a discussion facilitated by female leaders in the industry. Come to learn and discuss intersectional approaches to organizational policies that create inclusive workplaces and help women succeed.
Seeking Equity and Inclusion in Our Industry
This open forum will be a platform for EE professionals and organizations rooted in Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leadership and communities of color to share their stories of entry into—and their experience in—the industry. Reflecting on those stories, participants will be prompted to consider potential pathways to build the capacity of organizations and dismantle white supremacy, expanding workforce opportunities within BIPOC communities. Panelists will facilitate small group discussion to encourage honest conversation sharing challenges faced and supportive strategies to nurture open, non-hostile work environments.
- Denise Abdul-Rahman, NAACP
- Justin Idleburg, Idleburg Consultants
- Holly Spears, SEEL, LLC
- Carla Walker-Miller, Walker-Miller Energy Services
Help Needed: Equity-Focused Workforce Development
The energy efficiency industry produces more new jobs than any other part of the energy sector and is crucial to the revitalization of the clean energy workforce. But our growing industry can provide greater opportunities for equity-focused workforce development programs and policies. Join this interactive discussion to identify innovative workforce development opportunities that diversify the energy efficiency industry by attracting youth, veterans and members of BIPOC communities.
- Charlie Espedido, Environmental Leadership Program
- Delmar Gillus, Elevate Energy
- Taylor Searcy, DNV GL
- Moderator: Mary Shoemaker, ACEEE
The Systemic Problem of Energy Affordability
Energy affordability is a long-term, systemic problem, particularly for low to moderate income communities, and this issue is currently being further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the state of energy affordability across the Midwest and potential strategies being looked at to lesson this deep-rooted problem.
- Ariel Drehobl, ACEEE
- Mark LeBel, The Regulatory Assistance Project
- Ben Passer, Fresh Energy
- Moderator: Sarah Moskowitz, Citizens Utility Board
Community Perspectives on Energy Efficiency
The Midwest includes a diverse range of customers spread across MEEA’s 13-state region. What are the opportunities and challenges in program design and how do we engage stakeholders and develop partnerships in communities throughout the region? Learn from several local organizations on their energy efficiency needs, community barriers and opportunities and how utility programs, administrators and contractors can tailor offerings to meet local needs.
- James Carlton, People for Community Recovery
- Theresa Collins, Senior Services Plus, Inc.
- Naomi Davis, Blacks in Green
- Dana Gray, Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corp.
- Mary Ellen Guest, Chicago Bungalow Association
- Moderator: Theodora "Theo" Okiro, Future Energy Enterprises
Increasing Access to EE through Partnerships
Under-resourced communities are an underserved sector, yet given their disproportionately high energy burden, these communities have the greatest need for energy efficiency. This panel focuses on partnerships that have successfully designed unique programs and implementation strategies in the low-income housing sector.
- David Becker, DTE Energy
- Katherine Elmore, Community Investment Corporation
- Uzma Noormohamed, ISEIF
- Louise Sharrow, Elevate Energy
- Moderator: E'Lois Thomas, Ph.D., SEEL, LLC
Dr. Tony Reames, Achieving Energy Justice: The Importance of Place and a Community-based Approach [presentation]
How to Create an Industry that Reflects & Serves Diverse Communities [recap]
The energy efficiency sector has been grappling with fostering a more diverse and inclusive industry, but the workforce remains largely homogenous. Diversity and inclusion efforts are on the rise as businesses and organizations re-examine workforce development, supplier diversity and how to better serve traditionally underserved communities. This small group, interactive workshop will focus on sharing best practices and tips to increase diversity that participants can bring back to their organizations.
Sharing the Load: Best Practices in Energy Equity
By and large, the low-income customers who would benefit most from energy bill savings are not being reached by energy efficiency programs. While the EE industry has made notable strides, we are still a long way from fully meeting the needs of low-income communities. In this roundtable workshop, participants will swap ideas, observations and best practices while identifying gaps and innovative solutions to ease the energy burden.
Diversity Opportunities within Energy Efficiency
From executives of energy efficiency companies to contractors working directly with customers, there is a lot that can be done internally to foster a more diverse and inclusive industry and ensure that the goods and services offered by energy efficiency providers reach all customers. This workshop will discuss workforce diversity, designing and implementing programs that serve all customers, and fostering increased diversity in utility energy efficiency supply chains. This interactive workshop will encourage participants to share experiences and brainstorm together what MEEA can do to promote increased diversity and inclusion in our industry.
Our Industry is an Economic Generator: How Can We Use This Advantage to Support Diversity?
Energy efficiency is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Midwest that is supporting thousands of jobs and creating new businesses. Panelists will discuss their experience in our industry and the potential opportunities to promote diversity and economic expansion.
- Darade Collins, Nicor Gas
- Tammy Rempfer, Group O
- Georgia Marsh, Women’s Business Development Center
- Moderator: Danisha Hall, Illinois Commerce Commission