Charging Up: A chat with Jessica Kelley, VP of HR and ESG at Longroad Energy

Plus, climatetech career moves at Fervo, AES, Vote Solar, Gridtractor, Blue Bear Capital, Theion, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Climate Avengers and more.

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Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles gender diversity in the climatetech sector. Part one is a short Q&A with an industry role model about their career path. Part two features updates on career transitions. Please send feedback and tips to [email protected]​canarymedia.​com. Canary thanks FischTank PR for its support of the column. 

Jessica Kelley: A VP who focuses on the human side of climatetech and sustainability

Jessica Kelley is vice president of human resources and environmental, social and governance at Longroad Energy, a Boston-based company that develops, owns and operates wind, solar and storage projects throughout North America. This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.

How did you end up on this career path?

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Thankfully, it found me. Matters of social justice and sustainability have always been near and dear to my heart, and in prior companies, I’d found avenues for impact through employee resource groups and volunteerism. I’ve been in human resources my entire career. The opportunity to apply my expertise within climatetech and leave a legacy for the world my three children will live in is exceptionally fulfilling.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve received some amazing advice throughout my career from some incredible mentors. That said, one of my favorite pieces of advice actually came from Instagram. It was a quote that read, You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” In both HR and sustainability work, there is no shortage of opportunities to address and no ceiling on improvement. It takes thoughtful, patient leadership to discern the right next step and keep focus on what is most relevant for the organization at that time. Doing this work well requires the ability to say not yet” to many great ideas.

What is a barrier you faced, and how did you overcome it?

While I’d never call my children a barrier, the working-parent struggle is real. I face the challenge daily of how to be both a loving mother to my kids (ages 3, 7 and 10) and a leader at work. There’s no summiting this mountain. It’s daily work to stay grounded and focused on my priorities and make sure my ego doesn’t get in the way of asking for help on both sides — at Longroad, working with teams where no one has to go it alone, and at home, communicating with my husband and caretakers who partner with me to get our kids what they need. On the home front, it’s also quality over quantity, attempting (not always successfully) to be present and active with my kids when I’m not working. 

What do you think are the most exciting new career opportunities in climatetech?

It’s such an exciting time to start a career in climatetech, even more so now with the Inflation Reduction Act poised to supercharge the clean energy economy in the U.S. with a host of new opportunities. At Longroad, we are privileged to have attracted and deepened our relationship with strong international investors (MEAG, NZ Super Fund and Infratil) that will fuel our growth and help us further our environmental, social and governance objectives. During the great reshuffle,” employees are seeking purpose now more than ever and will want to contribute their talents and energy to those organizations making the broadest and deepest impact.

What is your superpower?

My kids would tell you my superpower is throwing dance parties in our kitchen; the Kelley family is never without music when it comes to dinnertime! In my work, the strength I rely upon the most is communication. Between crafting internal messages, helping the organization understand a change or facilitating a meeting to help us determine that right next step, communicating with empathy is central to all of it.

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Career and board moves in climatetech investing

Elena Foukes, the founder of Climate Wealth, is now a venture partner at Climate Avengers, an angel-investor syndicate investing in climatetech software companies from preseed to Series A.

Rachel Slaybaugh, an investor at DCVC, is now a board observer at Fervo Energy, an advanced geothermal energy startup that recently closed a $138 million funding round. The Houston-based company uses drilling techniques from the oil and gas industry to draw heat from the Earth and turn it into clean electricity.

Stine Rolstad Brenna has joined lithium-sulfur battery materials company Theion as a board member. Stine currently serves as an investor at technology holding company Team Global, which has developed and funded companies such as AutoFlight and Volocopter.

Hayley Nystrom (McCurdy) has joined Blue Bear Capital as an investment associate focusing on digital technologies in energy and climate.

Career moves in climatetech

Jennifer Allyn, previously with Sempra, has started a new position as director of origination and power marketing at Pattern Energy Group.

Diana Madson has joined Bloomberg Philanthropies to lead its Beyond Carbon campaign to end coal, stop the rush to gas, and win big on subnational climate action.” Madson was previously with Hua Nani Partners.

Natalia Cardona Sanchez is now chief access and equity officer at Vote Solar. Cardona Sanchez previously served as the associate director for justice and equity at 350.org.

Rachel Goldstein, previously with Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, has been hired as research and modeling manager at Energy Innovation, an energy and climate policy firm working to accelerate decarbonization through nonpartisan research and analysis.

Michelle Bogen has joined Gridtractor as senior product manager to help develop a solution for electrification, charging and grid integration of agricultural vehicles and equipment. She brings prior EV and automotive experience at Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BMW Group to the role.

AnnMarie Reynolds, previously a VP and chief customer officer for The AES Corporation, is now managing director of new markets at Hannon Armstrong, a climate solutions investment firm.

Wired

Nonprofit think tank RMI will be taking over management of the Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) network from the Clinton Climate Initiative, part of the Clinton Foundation. WIRE works to increase the presence of women leaders on islands within the energy sector. Despite women being affected disproportionately by climate change…[they] face many barriers in actively participating in the urgent combat against its ravaging effects,” Charlin Bodley, manager with RMI’s Energy Transition Academy and a WIRE alumna, said in a statement. (Canary Media is an independent affiliate of RMI.)

Advice on navigating tech

Angie Jones, vice president of global developer relations at Block, recently offered up some hard-earned advice on navigating tech as a woman in this Twitter thread.

Over the past decade, FischTank PR has established itself as one of the leading cleantech / renewable energy / sustainability PR firms in the country. We are known for our ability to get results, be creative and serve as an extension of our client’s communications program. FischTank has extensive experience working with brands across solar, energy storage, battery technology, EVs, hydrogen, grid edge technologies, software, utilities, developers, financiers and more. For more information about our cleantech / sustainability practice, please visit our website or follow us on LinkedIn to see our client work.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial and research associate at Canary Media.

Eric Wesoff is the editorial director at Canary Media.