Mission + History

WRISE’s Mission:

Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) promotes the education, professional development, and advancement of women to achieve a strong diversified workforce and support a robust renewable energy economy.

WRISE’s History

WRISE started as a creative idea in several women’s minds, a spark that caught fire and has grown organically and intentionally into a network across the US and Canada – uniting women and men in working to change the face of renewable energy.

Spring 2005: Three founders – Lisa Daniels, Trudy Forsyth, and Mia Devine – hatch the idea to create an organization for women in the wind industry. They call it “Women of the Wind.”

May 2005: The organization holds its first annual luncheon at WINDPOWER in Denver, attended by 120 guests. We announced the Rudd Mayer Memorial Fellowship, honoring a pioneering woman of wind, and introduced six inaugural Fellows.

Summer 2005: Windustry, the renewable energy nonprofit, offers the first home for our fledgling program. Discovering that “Women of the Wind” is a name already taken by motorcycle enthusiasts, we pick “Women of Wind Energy” as our permanent name and the beloved acronym WoWE (pronounced WOW-ee) is born with it.

February 2006: We hold our first meet-up, a gathering in Spokane at the Harvesting Clean Energy conference, extending women’s networking beyond our once-a-year luncheon.

June 2006: 160 WoWE participants gather at WINDPOWER in Pittsburgh for our second national luncheon. We make the surprise announcement of WoWE’s first Woman of the Year honoree, NRG Systems CEO Jan Blittersdorf, and welcome five Rudd Mayer Memorial Fellows.

Summer 2006: Based on ideas and interest from attendees at the luncheon in Pittsburgh, WoWE launches inaugural chapters – first in Portland OR, then Seattle WA – and small local gatherings begin popping up regularly.

June 2007: WoWE’s third national luncheon in Los Angeles attracts 200 attendees. Jan Hamrin, president of the Center for Resource Solutions, is named Woman of the Year and we introduced ten Rudd Mayer Memorial Fellows.

June 2008: At WoWE’s fourth luncheon in Houston, attendance has grown to 250. We announce the new Rising Star Award, which goes to Elizabeth Salerno of AWEA, and celebrate Rachel Shimshak of the Renewable Northwest Project (now Renewable Northwest) as our Woman of the Year. We applaud six new Rudd Mayer Fellows.

Summer 2008: We launch WoWE’s on-line mentoring program, the only program of its kind geared specifically to women in the wind energy field, connecting 60 mentors and mentees.

May 2009: Over 400 women and men attend our biggest-ever luncheon. We honor Woman of the Year Karen Conover, Rising Star Sarah Wright, and six Rudd Mayer Fellows. We announce WoWE’s incorporation as an independent nonprofit, launch the search for our first full-time Executive Director, and unveil WoWE’s new look and logo.

November 2009: WoWE hires Kristen Graf, first Executive Director and opens physical office space in Brooklyn, NY.

May 2010: At another sold out luncheon with 400 attendees, WoWE Recognizes Abby Arnold as woman of the year and Jennifer States as Rising Star.

October 2010: WoWE receives official determination letter from the IRS giving it tax-exempt status as a 501c3 public charity.

November 2010: WoWE hosts first-ever Leadership Forum: Encouraging a New Leadership Model for Wind Industry Success just before AWEA’s 2010 Fall Symposium in Phoenix Arizona.

January 2011: WoWE began a preliminary effort to better understand the gender demographics of U.S. wind energy companies. The study included review of existing research and data, a survey of members of the AWEA Human Resources Working Group, and polling of WoWE program participants. The early results were published in WoWE’s WINDPOWER 2011 poster.

February 2011: WoWE launches new Webinar series with first topic – Transmission and the US Wind Industry.

April 2011: WoWE Launches Online Member Center housing member directory, mentoring program, networking community, and a resource library including our webinar archive.

May 2011: WoWE Recognizes Beth Soholt of Wind on the Wires as woman of the year and Alicia Cushman as Rising Star at the 2011 Luncheon. Also for the first time WoWE introduces the Outstanding Mentor Awards with five recipients.

February 2012: WoWE officially re-launches mentoring program (new system run through the WoWE Online Member Center) with chapter events and house parties around the country joined together on two national conference calls.

Spring 2012: WoWE begins collaboration with KidWind to conduct Teacher Trainings and Design Challenges in Pennsylvania and Maryland through Constellation Energy Education Grants.

May 2012: WoWE hosts member conference call with Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

June 2012: At the 2012 Luncheon, WoWE introduces new WoWE Champion Award and recognizes first honoree – William H Holmes of Stoel Rives LLP.

January 2013: WoWE begins Chapter Leader calls every other month to help connect chapter leaders, share success, work through challenges, and improve communications between the national level of the organization and the local chapter level.

March 2013: WoWE hires Lauren Glickman as first Community Engagement Consultant to ramp up WoWE’s email communications, member and chapter support, and social media presence.

September 2013: WoWE Executive Director, Kristen Graf, received one of six C3E awards for mid-career excellence. Kristen was recognized in the Education and Mentoring category. The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) initiative was launched by the 24-government Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010. The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) initiative was launched by the 24-government Clean Energy Ministerial in 2010.

December 2013: WoWE receives Green Power Leadership award from the Center for Resource Solutions and the EPA for Best Green Power Education Program.

September 2014: WoWE partners with the Environmental Leadership Program in a Negotiations Training Retreat in Philadelphia. The training was facilitated by staff from the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) as part of a program to provide free training for organizations working with women and climate issues.

Fall 2014: WoWE Launches pilot Take Charge initiative with WoWE Members leveraging expertise and reaching out in their local communities to engage and activate more women to take action toward a clean energy future.

November 2014: WoWE expands Leadership Forum to include a half day of structured networking prior to the full day main event with great success.

March 2015: WoWE launches Peer Group Mentoring Program. The new program is designed to bring groups of 4-6 women together in-person or online for six structured sessions. Over 60 women register for the 2015 program and are matched into 12 groups.

February 2016: Announce new Wind at our Backs Fellowship in collaboration with the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Similar to the Rudd Mayer Fellowship this program brings students and recent graduates to the WINDPOWER conference, but it is particularly targeted for women in Wind Technician training programs and includes a tuition stipend.

November 2016: WoWE announces intention to re-name/re-brand as a way to more fully live into the mission of supporting a robust renewable energy economy and to reflect growing programs across the full spectrum of renewable energy.

February 2017: WoWE hosts first in-person Take Charge event in Washington DC focused on communication skills, advocacy tools, and running for office.

May 2017: WoWE officially reveals the new name and logo through a virtual event livestreamed from Washington DC and becomes WRISE – Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy.