NC GreenPower

Posted by: on February 20, 2019

As February comes to close, we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate Black History Month and reflect on the countless minorities that have driven and grown the renewable energy sector. One particularly noteworthy woman we’d like to highlight is The Honorable Hazel O’Leary. With an early career in criminal law, O’Leary created a reputation for herself as a progressive, environmentally conscious, do-gooder. She even served as the executive vice president at a Minnesota public utilities power company.

In 1993 as President Bill Clinton was looking to fill the position of the seventh U.S. Secretary of Energy, Hazel O’Leary was a natural choice and was unanimously approved by the senate, making O’Leary the first woman and first African American to hold this position.

O’Leary’s values aligned well with the Clinton Administration’s commitment to a greener United States. She pioneered the end of nuclear testing in U.S. while also championing policy that put funds towards renewable energy research. The former secretary was also the first Secretary of Energy to have worked in electric utilities.

One of her most impactful legacies was her commitment to diversity and inclusion within the renewable energy sector. She initiated the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, which works to engage minorities in STEM through federal programming.

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