On the morning of Thursday, October 13, 2022, nearly 400 people from across Minnesota and around the country attended Fresh Energy’s Seventh Annual (and third virtual!) Benefit Breakfast to take part in an inspiring conversation with featured speaker Julian Brave NoiseCat, renowned writer and climate activist, as well as special guest Ryan Panchadsaram, engineer, investor, and co-author of the book Speed & Scale.
This year’s event emphasized the importance of collaboration and partnership as we strive for ambitious, bold solutions that make meaningful change at the pace and scale required by the climate crisis. Our shared challenge—the challenge that is the North Star guiding all of Fresh Energy’s work—is solving the climate crisis through equitable clean energy policy solutions that benefit everyone in Minnesota and beyond.
Fresh Energy and all our Benefit Breakfast guests—a community of long-time and new Fresh Energy supporters, friends, partners, and collaborators—joined us to recognize and honor the imperative of togetherness as we continue to face the climate crisis with equitable and bold clean energy solutions that help Minnesota and everyone who lives here end dependence on fossil fuel, electrify their lives, and build a healthy, clean energy economy where all can thrive.
Here are a few of our favorite highlights from the program:
Fresh Energy’s Joe Dammel, managing director, buildings, and Mari Ojeda, senior policy associate, energy access and equity, kicked off the morning with a crucial reminder about the heart and mission behind every facet of our work.
“Fresh Energy’s determination to build a carbon-neutral economy that is just, prosperous, and resilient—a clean energy future that benefits everyone—is more critical than ever. Together, we are shaping the course of history,” said Joe Dammel.
We debuted a fun, new illustrated short video that talks about the seeds of policy change that our staff plant, sow, and help harvest here in Minnesota, the Midwest, and beyond.
Special guest Ryan Panchadsaram, an engineer and investor focused on solving systemic societal challenges as well as co-author of Speed & Scale, walked us through a blueprint for climate action. That blueprint included many of Fresh Energy’s program areas like electrifying transportation, decarbonizing the grid, cleaning up industry, removing carbon, and—most importantly—turning movements into action at the ballot box, the boardroom, and beyond through innovation and investment.
“The work that happens in this room is so important,” said Ryan. “…The follow-through happens here at the state and local level. The work is up to us.”
Fresh Energy donors Melissa Rappaport Schifman and Ellie Schifman, Pam Moret, and Ted Contag—founding partner of Parable Wealth Partners and Fresh Energy board member—shared about the connection between generosity and purpose and how giving back in a meaningful way is the key motivator of their support of Fresh Energy’s work creating a just, prosperous, carbon-neutral economy.
Julian Brave NoiseCat, journalist, writer, and activist for climate and Indigenous rights, spoke about his Minnesota roots, what we can learn from Indigenous peoples about how to achieve climate justice, and how we all have opportunities—big and small—to do something about climate change.
“One of the things I see in Native communities,” Julian said, “is the present and deep pain that stems from the near annihilation of our people, our way of life, the nearly complete theft of our land … this apocalyptic break from a world that, not too long ago, was ours. In that sort of post-apocalyptic state, we have still found ways to love each other and be community together. We’ve retained and made great efforts to protect the land that we still have and the language, the culture, that we remember—and to bring it back, to regenerate it.”
He continued, “The parable of beauty and resilience in the face of apocalypse says a lot to the better side of our humanity when we face truly world-shattering challenges. I would say climate change is potentially one of those challenges. And, in that, I believe there are things to be learned from the Indigenous experience.”
We closed out our time together with another video showing Executive Director Michael Noble out and about on his e-bike to visit three friends of Fresh Energy—Shawntera Hardy, Laura Bishop, and Kristin Eggerling. We guarantee you’ll want to watch it through to the end!
A special thank you to our event sponsors and table captains, Breakfast Chair and Fresh Energy board member Eric Pasi, and everyone who logged on to make this event a success! Together, we raised $355,030 (and counting!) to support an equitable clean energy future.
Missed the event, want to relive your favorite parts, or share the program with a friend? View the full Benefit Breakfast recording on our YouTube page, or immediately below on this page! And you can still make a gift to support Fresh Energy’s work to speed the transition to an equitable carbon-neutral economy.
Thank you to our event sponsors!
Innovation and Technology Sponsors
Visionary Partner Sponsors
Great River Energy
Match Pool Sponsors
Randy and Bird Anderson
Will and Claudia Kaul
Jamal Knight and Kristin Kelly
Jim Ladner and Tracy Van Steenburgh
Sarah F. Lang Fund
Kevin Lawless and April Egan
James P. Lenfestey
Cotty Lowry and Laurie Jacobi
Mike Menzel and Kathy Iverson
Jan and Rick Neville
Michael and Patsy Noble
Chris O’Brien and Jane Alexander
Eric and Dana Pasi
William and Markell Rahr
Raj Rajan and Kavitha Sitaram
Federico and Nassim Rossi
Kate Wolford and Ed Reilly
Clean Energy Champion Sponsors
Charles and Candice Nadler
Friends of the Future Sponsors
CED Greentech Minneapolis
Cogent Consulting PBC
Conley Family Foundation
New Energy Advisors
SPIRE Credit Union
Stoel Rives LLP
Westwood Professional Services
Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.