Energy & Climate Change Leadership Stories

“Ten years ago there were three solar companies in New Hampshire; today there are 90, and the next decade will be even more dramatic,” says Fellow Henry Herndon, casting his eyes in the direction of a new solar array on a local church in Durham. “I feel like I can have an impact in New Hampshire — and I already have had an impact in New Hampshire.”Read more >
At a time when much attention is on rising sea levels and extreme weather events, Jisung Park eagerly took on the challenge of developing a greater understanding of the correlation between long-term economic vitality and rising temperatures due to global warming.Read more >
Politics, capitalism, and energy poverty are combining in strange ways across India. The result looks like progress—sometimes.Read more >
Earlier this spring, COMPASS led a policy communications training for the Switzer Fellows in Washington, D.C. that included practicing communication skills and learning about the world of policymakers, and was capped by meetings with policymakers on Capitol Hill. Marissa McMahan, a graduate student at Northeastern University who is studying the northern range expansion of black sea bass and how that affects both human and ecological systems in the Gulf of Maine, talks more about her experience in D.C.Read more >
Dipti Vaghela is passionate about micro hydro. Vaghela’s organization, the Hydropower Empowerment Network, takes a country-by-country approach to rural electrification, helping micro hydro and other technologies take root in places where electricity is expensive and hard – or even impossible – to come by. Her goal? To bring electricity in a sustainable and participatory way to places that need it.Read more >
Fellow Daniel Swain's research focuses on the causes of persistent patterns in the atmosphere—like the ones that cause drought or exceptional rain in California—and how climate change might be affecting them. In his spare time, the 25-year-old Marin native runs the California Weather Blog (, a must-read for weather nerds where he comments on statewide weather patterns and their big-picture causes. He’s also the one who gave the name “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” to the pattern that’s being blamed for our three years of drought.Read more >
What started as an offhand remark by Lara Hansen (1995) to a funder, about how to use some leftover money from a grant, has become the largest national conference on adaptation to climate change. Actually, it is the only national conference on the topic, which is surprising given adaptation’s importance to humans in coming decades and centuries.Read more >
Climate change adaptation “isn’t something government is going to be able to solve alone,” says Amber Pairis. “We need to engage people in this conversation in a meaningful way. The rubber really meets the road on the ground in your community,” she adds. “And that is where change will happen”.Read more >
Brad Keitt (1997) has already been working to prevent extinctions caused by non-native species introduced to islands for decades. His non-profit, Island Conservation, prevents extinctions of native species by removing invasive species from islands. But the challenge of climate change has Keitt rethinking how his organization plans its projects and communicates about them.Read more >
Brenda Zollitsch (2009), whose work as a policy analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) is partially funded by a Switzer Leadership Grant, says one underappreciated challenge in addressing wetland loss is a chasm between the management of these issues between programs.Read more >

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