Fellow Story

Gobar hopes to shape state policy by working at the community level

Fellow(s): Wes Gobar

Editor’s note: Content excerpted from original story by Yale School of the Environment News

In 2020, Wes Gobar '24 MEM found himself the sole person of color on a team tasked with building Evergreen Action, a political advocacy group focused on clean energy policy. 

"We were forwarding jobs through the same listservs, and it was one of the formative moments where we realized the importance of a Black environmental networking approach, centering the community to build retention and recruitment," Gobar says. 

The experience made Gobar realize the need for professional organizations to help young Black professionals secure green jobs and, ultimately, inform climate policy. That same year, he co-founded BlackOak Collective with clean energy sector colleagues Kiera Givens, Sarah Nesbit, and Miles Braxton, a graduate of YSE’s Financing and Deploying Clean Energy online certificate program.

Recently named a 2023 Switzer Environmental Fellow, Gobar says he hopes to connect the growing BlackOak Collective talent network to the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation.

Originally launched as a Washington, D.C.-area networking group for Black professionals, students, and advocates within the sustainability space, BlackOak has become a national organization through partnerships with leading companies and nonprofits looking to diversify their applicant pools.

"We have a diverse set of over 250 members across many environmental fields, whether it's solar and clean energy, policy, finance, public health or agriculture," Gobar says. "There are a lot of resources that I'd love to be able to share from the Switzer network with the BlackOak Collective, and also to be able to leverage the experience and the talent pipelines within BlackOak Collective to the Switzer network."

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