Energy PLUS

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Energy and climate issues play out across our society—in books and film, institutions of higher learning, our democracy, and in the very air we breathe.

Once again this July, Thursdays are Fresh Energy summer webinar series days! Join Fresh Energy and special guests for four separate fun and engaging discussions about the many facets of energy in our lives. Stay tuned to this page for speaker information, topic schedules, and more.

Webinar Recordings:

July 28 at 12 p.m. Central | The Arts: From science fiction to popular Hollywood films, energy and climate are part of the arts today. How accurate are these depictions, and can they spur action?

Join Fresh Energy’s Anjali Bains and special guests including the author Naomi Kritzer, film scholar Olga Tchepikova-Treon, and musician and poet Ben Weaver to discuss this and more.


Audio only:

July 21 at 12 p.m. Central | Energy + Health: Tailpipe emissions, natural gas in our homes, and other reliance on fossil fuels impacts air quality across the state. How can we incorporate health impacts of energy decisions?

Join Fresh Energy’s Margaret Cherne-Hendrick and special guests Emma Hines of RMI, Tee McClenty of MN350, and Jessie Carr Shmool of the Minnesota Department of Health to discuss this and more.


Audio only:

July 14 Energy + Higher Ed: Minnesota colleges are modeling net zero innovation—and teaching the next generation of leaders. What’s next on the horizon for these important institutions?

Join Fresh Energy’s Allen Gleckner and special guests Martha Larson of RMF Engineering, Rose Patzer of Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence, and Amelia Vohs of Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy to discuss this and more.


Audio only:

July 7 | Energy + Democracy: Voting rights and civic engagement are two of the most pressing issues of our time. How does community engagement intersect with action on climate and justice?

Join Fresh Energy’s Justin Fay and special guests U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, Carolina Ortiz of COPAL, Dr. Gabe Chan of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Dominic McQuerry of The McKnight Foundation to discuss this and more.


Audio only:


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Panelists and Guests for Energy PLUS Democracy

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate. Throughout her public service, Senator Klobuchar has always embraced the values she learned growing up in Minnesota. Her grandfather worked 1500 feet underground in the iron ore mines of Northern Minnesota. Her father, Jim, was a newspaperman, and her mother, Rose, was an elementary school teacher who continued teaching until she was 70.

Senator Klobuchar has built a reputation of putting partisanship aside to help strengthen the economy and support families, workers, and businesses. In 2019, an analysis by Vanderbilt University ranked her as the “most effective” Democratic senator in the 115th Congress.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Steve Simon is Minnesota’s 22nd Secretary of State. He was sworn into office on January 5, 2015, and as Minnesota’s chief elections administrator pledged in his inaugural address to “work with anyone, of any political affiliation, from any part of our state” to protect, defend, and strengthen the right to vote in Minnesota.

As Secretary of State, he partners with township, city, and county officials to organize elections on behalf of Minnesota’s nearly four million eligible voters, and to ensure that the election system is fair.

Carolina Ortiz | she/her | COPAL

Carolina Ortiz has been with COPAL since it’s founding in 2018. She led the communications team for two years and is now the associate executive director. Carolina was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and is currently studying communications and women’s studies in Minnesota. A DREAMer herself, her passion for social justice stems from her own experiences and those of her community.

Gabe Chan | Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Gabe Chan is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) area. Gabe’s research examines policies to stimulate innovation in energy technologies and mitigate global climate change in the United States, China, and internationally. Gabe’s research also blends economic methods and theory with a broader set of social science and technical knowledge.

Dominic McQuerry | McKnight Foundation

As a program officer with the Vibrant & Equitable Communities and Midwest Climate & Energy programs, Dominic McQuerry oversees and develops innovative grant portfolios at the intersection of McKnight’s climate and equity goals with an emphasis on strengthening democratic participation and civic engagement. McQuerry is a policy and community engagement professional with a passion for supporting people’s lives and livelihoods, guiding and supporting powerful coalitions in Minnesota on housing, healthcare, child care, and more.

Panelists for Energy PLUS Higher Ed

Martha Larson | she/her | RMF Engineering

Martha Larson is currently the Director of Sustainability at RMF Engineering. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1999 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Martha began her career in Chicago as an acoustical consultant and project manager for complex visual and performing arts projects. In 2010, Martha became the first Manager of Campus Energy & Sustainability at Carleton College where she helped the college reduce its carbon footprint by nearly 70%. Notable projects included the Kracum wind turbine installation and an eight-year transition of the College’s district energy system from steam heating to low temperature hot water with geothermal heating and cooling.

Rose Patzer | Minnesota State Colleges Energy Center of Excellence

Rose Patzer has an MBA in Business Administration and a B.A. in Chemistry. Rose has served as faculty at Minnesota West since 2007 in the Biofuels Technology and Energy Technical Specialist programs. She also provides project management services to the Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence activities and actively participates in the Minnesota Energy Consortium meetings. She has a number of publications, presentations, awards, and certifications in areas renewable energy, biodiesel and agriculture. She enjoys promoting awareness about the renewable and traditional energy industries and has actively participated in a variety of energy-related federal and state grants throughout her career. Rose currently serves as the interim executive director for the Minnesota State Energy Center of Excellence.

Amelia Vohs | she/her | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Amelia holds a B.A. in English from Coe College and graduated magna cum laude from Valparaiso University School of Law in 2011. Prior to joining MCEA, Amelia worked on water policy and litigated factory farm and RCRA cases for the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Panelists for Energy PLUS Health

Emma Hines | she/her | RMI

Emma Hines is an Associate in RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings program, where she works on the climate, health, and air quality co-benefits of building electrification. Prior to joining RMI, Emma participated in a two-year fellowship with the Climate and Health Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She also previously served as a member of the teaching faculty for the Climate Change and Health Online Certificate Program with the Yale School of Public Health.

Jessie Carr Shmool | she/her | Minnesota Department of Health

Jessie Carr Shmool is an environmental epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health, where she leads the Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring programs. Jessie earned her MPH in environmental health policy from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and DrPH in environmental epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, where her training focused on air pollution epidemiology, cumulative exposure assessment, GIS and spatial statistics, community-engaged research methods, and environmental health disparities. Before joining MDH in 2016, Jessie has worked at the New York City Department of Health, at a clean energy advocacy NGO, and as an 8th grade science teacher. Prior research focused on environmental health disparities and mixed methods for assessing psychosocial stressors and susceptibility to air pollution exposure in chronic disease etiology and adverse birth outcomes. At MDH, Jessie’s team builds interdisciplinary projects to generate actionable and relevant science connecting environmental exposures, health and equity.

Theresa “Tee” McClenty | MN350

Tee has witnessed the impact of the climate crisis first-hand. Her youngest son was born with asthma and continues to experience complications from it as a young adult. This story, she knows, is not unique. Many communities of color are hardest hit by the negative impacts of climate change. Tee joined MN350 in 2022 in a continuation of her career as a servant for all communities. She has dedicated her life to ensuring that all communities have ALL the resources available provided to them. She has worked more than 18 years in emergency medicine, seeing first-hand the impact of climate on people’s health. She has also worked in labor, advocating with school workers and health care union sisters and brothers for improved working conditions. In her most recent role, Tee connected the community to necessary resources in mental and behavioral health, dentistry, and human services.

Panelists for Energy PLUS the Arts

Naomi Kritzer | she/her | Writer

Naomi Kritzer has been writing science fiction and fantasy for over twenty years; her fiction has won the Hugo Award, the Lodestar Award, the Edgar Award, and the Minnesota Book Award. Her newest book is Chaos on CatNet, which is a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet, and is set in Minneapolis. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her spouse, two kids (when the college kid is home from college) and four cats. The number of cats is subject to change without notice. You can find Naomi online at or on Twitter as @naomikritzer.

Olga Tchepikova-Treon | she/her | University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Olga Tchepikova-Treon is a doctoral candidate and graduate instructor in the UMN cultural studies department, where she is writing a dissertation on disability aesthetics in alternative film cultures. Currently finishing up a Fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Museum of American History, her ongoing research looks at the ways medical films are used in art cinema contexts. To Olga, teaching film as cultural and historical commentary is one of the best things about working in the university environment. Her favorite place in the Twin Cities is the Trylon Cinema, where she volunteers at the box office.

Ben Weaver | Artist

Ben is a poet, songwriter, letterpress printer/book maker, public speaker, and endurance cyclist. Ben creates work that breaks down the emotional and systemic structures separating humans from the ability to feel our connections to the greater web of life and each other. The songs and poems he writes and performs work to dispel illusions of division. They hold open space for the wisdom that sits within the trees, rivers, rocks, plants and animals to reignite the inherent stories of wildness and mutuality living inside us all.