Telkes Fellows Visit DC For Meetings with Congress, Department of Energy and White House

October 5, 2022

The Clean Energy Business Network and Cleantech Leaders Roundtable were proud to host the inaugural cohort of Mária Telkes Fellows in DC September 28-29, 2022 in celebration of the sixth annual National Clean Energy Week. First announced in September 2021, the initial seven Fellows are currently mid-way through their two-year term (2021-2023).

As part of the week, the Fellows joined CEBN staff in meetings with two U.S. Senate Committees, the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, and the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. As founders and leaders of small businesses and nonprofits, they communicated the impact of recent legislative wins as well as ongoing challenges for their industry.

Organized by the Clean Energy Business Network and Cleantech Leaders Roundtable, the Telkes Fellowship champions rising stars in cleantech hailing from underrepresented backgrounds on a path to executive leadership.

Lynn Abramson, Salina Derichsweiler, Ben Burke, Annabelle Swift, Abhishek Dash, Sarina Cerro, and Sonam Velani in between Senate meetings on the Hill.

Several members of the inaugural cohort came together for a hybrid peer discussion at the start of NCEW to learn from each others’ experiences and brainstorm ideas for further enhancing the program. This conversation came just in time to welcome the incoming cohort of ten Fellows announced for the 2022-2024 term.

In meetings on the Hill, these clean energy leaders thanked the Senate Small Business Committee for its work to reauthorize the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program and provided feedback on ways to improve the program’s accessibility to diverse founders.

In addition, the fellows met with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for an informal briefing on implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, which are both investing  historic levels of support in clean energy and climate.

Telkes Fellows Salina Derichsweiler, Tina Calvin, Abhishek Dash, and Sonam Velani in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Following the legislative achievements of this Congress, the administration and federal agencies are turning to implementation. As such, the Fellows provided their perspectives in meetings with the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office and learned more about programs available to small businesses.

In an exciting conclusion of the policy discussions, the fellows were invited to meet with the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.  Taking place at the Eisenhower Executive Building, steps away from the West Wing, the Fellows met with climate advisors to discuss implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. Fellows offered briefings on their work in clean energy and will remain engaged with administration officials on efforts to further a just energy transition.

CEBN staff and Telkes Fellows outside the Old Executive Building with White House officials.

The gathering in DC was timed to coincide with National Clean Energy Week, an annual event led by CRES Forum at the end of each September celebrating the policies, industries, and innovations that power our daily lives while producing no or very little greenhouse gas emissions. Fellows participated in a networking event with leading industry officials and policymakers at the NCEW Gala Dinner.

Additionally, Fellows attended an intimate networking dinner convened by Cleantech Leaders Roundtable promoting further connections and partnerships, rounding out what has been a historic year for clean energy and the ongoing transition.

Sonam Velani, Lynn Abramson, Allie Judge, and Annabelle Swift at the National Clean Energy Week Gala.


Learn more about the inaugural cohort of Mária Telkes Fellows by checking out their Faces Behind the Facts profiles, and meet the recently-announced 2022-2024 Telkes Fellowship cohort.