Women’s History Month: Celebrating J. Drake Hamilton

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Many people first learn about Fresh Energy because they have seen or heard Science Policy Director J. Drake Hamilton. Sought after as a speaker for business groups, civic organizations, congregations, and communities across the state, J. uses data-driven analysis and science-based solutions to inspire people to act on clean energy and climate solutions that grow our economy. One of the first Fresh Energy employees, J. is an award-winning, respected leader in forums where crucial energy decisions are made.

In honor of Fresh Energy’s 25th anniversary and Women’s History month, Fresh Energy would like to take a moment to acknowledge J.’s great work.

What motivates J. and drives her work at Fresh Energy? “Since childhood, I’ve loved science and research. I’ve always wanted to use them to make the world a better place,” she said. “I love applying science to solving real world problems. Our team at Fresh Energy works across Minnesota and achieves clean energy solutions at the scale of the climate challenge.”

Thank you, J., for your commitment to Fresh Energy, and your work to shape a healthy world for kids growing up today!

Earlier this month, J. was honored by Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) as one of the influential Minnesota women in energy. Read her full interview below:

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?

J. Drake Hamilton: As Science Policy Director at Fresh Energy, my work focuses on achieving big carbon reductions in electricity. I develop science-based climate policies, and work daily with colleagues and diverse partners to get them adopted. We seek to maximize economic opportunities in clean energy solutions across Minnesota.

How did you get into this work?

J. Drake Hamilton: I’ve always been interested in applying science to addressing critical human challenges. Global warming solutions at the scale of the problem captured my attention, so I deliberately shifted from work in academia to join one of the only nonprofits focused on both deep decarbonization and market-friendly clean energy policy: Fresh Energy.

What is a typical day like for you?

J. Drake Hamilton: Every day is unique, but the work requires being prepared to take advantage of evolving information and generating policy advancement opportunities. I begin every day reading the news looking for how to amplify emerging information, and scouring technical reports and scientific articles. Analysis, writing, meetings, testimony all are givens. Every week I identify stories in carbon reduction that need to be amplified, and work on finding the best messengers and outlets for those communications. Most weeks I share our work in a presentation to a business or civic audience.

What are the best and worst parts of your job? What about your job inspires you?

J. Drake Hamilton: I draw inspiration from the talented people engaged in policy advancement, who readily share their deep knowledge and bring great creativity—and often, a honed sense of humor!—to this difficult work. Progress builds on months and years of policy advances, so great perseverance is an important skill.

What advice do you have for women who are thinking about working in energy?

J. Drake Hamilton: We are in the midst of a clean energy revolution, but few people realize that the economics and technologies of energy are advancing so fast. Talk with a wide variety of people in the many fields that support the energy transition. Figure out your talents and proclivities, and develop expertise in one of the levers of transformation.

Check out the other honorees of CERTs’ Minnesota Women in Energy award.