New York Women in Energy: Top Ten

on June 26, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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The role of women in business and the role of business in women’s lives has attracted enormous controversial attention in recent months, and it is impossible to put together a list of the top women in energy without giving some thought to why there have traditionally been so few of them.

In some regards, the absence of high-profile women in energy has often been a function of the absence of women in high-profile corporate positions generally. Nonetheless, if you were to make a practice of counting up the women in the audience at most energy conferences (much less on the panels), the small number might surprise you even if you expected it.

This is not to argue any special prejudice on the part of the energy business beyond the manifold ways privilege works across our broader educational and business cultures with both obvious and subtle outcomes.

Nonetheless, at some point an industry has to think about reflecting the world in which their enterprises operate, and at some point soon there simply have to be more women in energy.

Women getting started in the energy business today need role models and men in the energy business need to remember to be aware of the important roles many women are already taking in the energy business. So Breaking Energy, together with the leadership of New York Energy Week, dove into identifying ten of the top women in New York energy.

New York Women in Energy
Names are listed alphabetically

Jill Anderson
Chief of Staff
Director of Energy Policy
New York Power Authority

Few professionals in the industry have the breadth and diversity of professional experience Anderson has brought to her leadership role in an organization receiving literally global attention in the wake of Superstorm Sandy’s impacts on the city and state’s power systems. After working at both Hess and Con Edison, she joined NYPA in 2009 and now is responsible for strategically central functions including energy policy, business integration and the corporate sustainability program.

Kristin Barbato
Deputy Commissioner
NYC Dept of Citywide Administrative Services

Even for people who live in New York City, the scale of the municipal government can be impressive. Barbato’s team manages an $800 million a year energy budget impacting more than 4,000 buildings. In an era of tight city budgets and against the backdrop of the Bloomberg administration’s drive to efficiency, she has led high-profile efforts to leverage data that can make the city’s energy use go further, cleaner. She knows the inside of a boiler room as well as she knows City Hall too, after starting her post-Cornell career as a substation reliability engineer at a major East Coast utility.

Kate Burson
Chief of Staff to Energy and Finance Chairman
Office of the Governor of New York

Governor Cuomo’s administration has taken an unusually proactive state-wide lead on energy and sustainability issues since taking office, and his appointment of former Obama administration official and former Good Energies CEO Richard Kauffman to lead the state’s energy finance efforts attracted national attention. Doing the equally difficult work of helping Kauffman put into place an unprecedented structure for changing the future of New York’s energy sector is Burson, a lawyer who joined the Cuomo administration in 2011 as Special Assistant for Energy Efficiency and has demonstrated a commitment noted by the leadership of New York Energy Week.

Posie Constable
Director Clean Heat Energy Finance

The New York City Energy Efficiency Program is much more than audits and new boilers. The group is working to create financial products that will help building owners comply with the city’s requirement to move off heating oil usage. That requires building partnerships with private and philanthropic funds in an effort that has put this former Merrill lynch managing director and consultant at the heart of some of the city’s most results-oriented energy efforts.

Rebecca Craft
Director, Energy Efficiency and Demand Management
Consolidated Edison

It is difficult to overestimate the role of ConEd in guaranteeing the country’s largest city gets to work every morning. But an emphasis on reliability hasn’t kept the huge utility from aggressively pursuing the deployment of new technology that can help it better and more efficiently manage its enormous portfolio of energy assets. The utility’s progress is down in part to the efforts of Craft, who brought significant private sector experience from more than a decade in leadership positions at Prudential Financial.

Helima Croft
Managing Director
Barclays Capital

Croft was one of the New York Energy Week nominating group’s least disputable choices as a New York energy leader. In an increasingly globalized US energy sector, Croft’s experience as a geopolitical analyst and her access to the senior executives of one of the world’s largest investment banks makes her a star in the city’s energy scene and a strong example of the way diverse experience and leadership roles at even non-energy firms can become a central part of the industry’s discussion and direction.

Yusha Hu
Director of Market Development
Honest Buildings

The women on this list are not confined to large institutions like regulators or banks, as Hu’s startup maven role attests. As an early employee at the entrepreneurial Honest Buildings, already featured in these lists, Hu was one of the first names nominated for this list by New York Energy Week leadership and was repeatedly praised for everything from an active social media presence to her diverse financial and global knowledge including a Fulbright Scholarship during which she co-founded and hosted the International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change in Beijing in 2009.

Carolyn Kissane
Academic Director
NYU-SCPS & Center for Global Affairs

In an information economy, research institutions are vital in providing an edge for cities competing for new businesses and the brightest talent. Kissane sets the pace for the city’s academic community by coordinating NYU’s growing energy and environment program as part of the Center for Global Affairs’ masters program. She is a leader in a future of energy driven by stakeholder issues and global affairs, with the academic credentials to match.

Katherine Spector
Head of Commodities Strategy
CIBC World Markets

Spector is one of the most reliably high-profile faces and names in the New York energy scene, and her wide-ranging and authoritative discussions of energy markets have bolstered a leading position for a Canadian bank that previously made little splash in the world of New York energy finance dominated by traditional behemoths. Yale graduate Spector was ranked the most accurate forecaster of benchmark WTI oil prices over a two-year span by fellow analysts polled by Bloomberg late last year.

Teri Viswanath
Director of Commodity Research
BNP Paribas

The fortunes of the natural gas industry and its relation to energy markets has been an increased focus for the financial sector as the shale revolution has taken hold, and Viswanath’s widely acknowledged deep natural gas and power industry expertise has boosted the profile of her own analysis and that of French commodities powerhouse bank BNP Paribas. Stints at Dynegy, Platts and Credit Suisse all play a role in the law school graduate’s curriculum vitae, and are part of a closely watched career across the New York energy world.

Various Disclaimers: Peter Gardett is the Founding Editor of Breaking Energy and a board member of New York Energy Week. The lists compiled as part of Breaking Media’s partnership with New York Energy Week would give his old statistics professor a seizure, as they have been put together with an emphasis on the qualitative but an effort to acknowledge where multiple nominations identified initially unlikely candidates or left initially nominated leaders unsupported. Essentially, Breaking Energy and ESF spoke to a lot of people and applied our editorial judgement and decades of experience to highlight leaders we thought deserving as part of New York Energy Week. Please tell us how right or wrong we were in the comments.