As executive director of Fresh Energy, Dr. Brenda Cassellius will bring three decades of expertise in social justice, education, and meaningful public policy to the organization.
Brenda began her professional career first as a teacher and administrator in Saint Paul Public Schools and later as the first African American woman in Minnesota history to serve as Commissioner of Education—a role she was appointed to and held for eight years during the administration of former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
In her time as commissioner, Brenda’s commitment to justice and conservation shone in her work. Under her leadership, Minnesota participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program focused on school sustainability and the Minnesota Department of Education was one of the first state agencies to launch a vehicle fleet electrification process.
Dr. Cassellius later went on to hold the role of Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, where she led the district as it completed its five-year strategic plan and navigated the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was also instrumental in the Boston Public Schools’ Green New Deal plan, which reimagines schools as full-service community hubs and engines of climate resilience and includes plans for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and practices.
Brenda holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Policy from the University of Memphis, in addition to a master’s degree in Secondary Education and Teaching and specialist degree in Educational Leadership and K-12 Administration from St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has also dedicated years of service to nonprofit boards, including Alight (formerly the American Refugee Committee), a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance across the globe.
For 30 years, Fresh Energy has been speeding Minnesota’s transition to a clean energy economy to ensure that our region enjoys good health, a vibrant economy, and thriving, equitable communities today and for generations to come. Dr. Cassellius channels her deep experience and passion for public education and youth into her work as she leads Fresh Energy in its mission of shaping and driving bold policy solutions to create equitable carbon-neutral economies for all.
Dr. Cassellius lives in Minneapolis with her husband and is the proud mother of three. Outside of work, she enjoys playing amateur women’s hockey, water skiing, writing, and spending time with family and friends.