Charging Up: Women’s climatetech career moves in venture capital, energy storage and beyond

New faces at Elemental Excelerator, National Grid Partners, Convergent, The Solutions Project and the DOE Loan Programs Office.

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Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles women’s career advancements in the climatetech sector. Please send feedback and tips to [email protected]​canarymedia.​com.

U.S. venture-backed startups with at least one female founder raised $25.12 billion in the first half of this year, more than the total amount such companies raised in any previous year. But female-founded startups’ share of overall VC dollars remains small, and the gender gap continues to grow, according to Pitchbook.

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Those findings are for startups in all sectors, but the same trends are at play in the climatetech space. Women entrepreneurs in cleantech are having increasing success and raising more VC funding, but the pace of change in this sector is still too slow.

Women in VC funds and climatetech acquisitions

Earthshot Ventures, a new venture fund supporting entrepreneurs focused on confronting climate change, announced the first close of a $60 million fund last week. Earthshot Ventures is being spun out of Elemental Excelerator, and the fund’s team leaders include Dawn Lippert, Elemental founder and CEO, and Ramsay Siegal, former head of Elemental’s portfolio. Earthshot is backed by limited partners including Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, John Doerr, Tom Steyer and David Crane. Canary reported last week on Earthshot, as well as on the new Galvanize Climate Solutions fund and its co-founder Katie Hall.

Avra van der Zee is joining Elemental as the company’s new COO. Previously, Avra was the COO, general counsel and chief strategy officer of micromobility company Jump, where she led the company’s strategic acquisition by Uber.

Carolin Funk was promoted to partner at climatetech investor Blue Bear Capital. She joined Blue Bear from her previous role as COO of EV charging startup FreeWire Technologies. Funk is on the boards of Raptor Maps, Copper Labs, Datch and Urbint. She is a member of a German ska band and had this to say about the overlap between that experience and her work: The years on the road as the only woman in a nine-piece ska band were the best possible preparation for the startup and VC world. Lots of learning, sweat, tears and money discussions.” 

SimpliPhi, a battery-based energy storage company helmed by Catherine Von Burg, was acquired by generator manufacturer Briggs & Stratton. The value of the deal was not disclosed. 

Tigercomm, a U.S. clean economy marketing communications and public relations firm, acquired Chase Media Services and hired founder Melissa Baldwin to serve as senior vice president. Baldwin recently penned a blog post about her career path. 

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Career moves

Aimee Bailey is leaving her current role as director of decarbonization and grid innovation programs at Silicon Valley Clean Energy to take on the role of director of innovation and portfolio management at National Grid Partners, the investment and innovation arm of National Grid Group.

Elizabeth Mayo was promoted to VP of operations at Brookfield Renewable Partners. Brookfield operates one of the world’s largest publicly traded renewable power firms with a portfolio comprising over 20 gigawatts of capacity. Hydroelectric power makes up approximately 62 percent of its portfolio. 

Annie Lappé, previously with Vote Solar, is now VP of operations at philanthropic organization The Solutions Project, which awards grants for community organizing, policy work, fossil fuel infrastructure resistance, Indigenous-led movements and democratically controlled rural electric cooperatives.

Veronica Relea, an energy and infrastructure projects lawyer with experience in Latin America, joined the Pillsbury law firm, which has a focus on energy, as a partner in the firm’s global finance practice. She worked most recently at the law firm Latham & Watkins.

Cynthia Clark was promoted to clean power program director at the University of California Office of the President.

Jamie Nolan joined Jigar Shah’s team at the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office as a part-time communications and media consultant.

Energy storage provider Convergent Energy + Power added Mariko McDonagh Meier as its chief strategy officer. Meier has more than a decade of experience at Enel X (previously EnerNOC), a division of global utility Enel. She most recently served as VP of marketing for Enel X’s North American business. 

Listen up

Megan O’Connor, founder and CEO of Nth Cycle, discusses the challenge of EV battery recycling on the Investable Universe podcast. 

Liza Reed, research manager for low-carbon technology policy at the Niskanen Center, talks about how to fix energy transmission in the U.S. on the Volts podcast. 

Anne Kelly, VP of government relations at sustainability nonprofit Ceres, joined the Electric Ladies podcast to discuss sustainable infrastructure and jobs.

An inspirational woman artist

Sydney-based artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso was born in 1963 in Bogota, Colombia. Her work blends nature, art, science and technology to transform unconventional materials into inspiring installations, sculptures, performances and videos. The images below are from her Actual Size series, in which she and several collaborators use microscopic photography to capture the colorful details of tiny Maratus spiders of Australia.

Eric Wesoff is the managing editor of Canary Media. He's a prominent industry journalist, analyst, writer, consultant, speaker and expert witness in the renewable energy field.