C3E 2012: Technologies and Business Models for the Developing World

Panel Discussion

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The MIT Energy Initiative and the US Department of Energy hosted an invitation-only Women in Clean Energy Symposium on September 28, 2012. This symposium – for leaders who have helped advance the careers of women in clean energy, academics, other experts in clean energy, and students who are studying clean energy disciplines – will help lay the foundation for a broader, continuing effort to enable and support the careers of women in clean energy.

Here you can see Richenda Van Leeuwen of the United Nations Foundation moderate a panel discussing energy in the developing world. Allison Archambault, President of EarthSpark International; Alla Jezmir, Business Development for AES Corporation; Rhonda Jordan, MIT PhD student in the Engineering Systems Division; and Meg Harper, Humboldt State University (CA) Master's student in the Environmental Systems: Energy, Technology and Policy department serve as panelists.

For more information about C3E and to view additional videos from this event, visit the C3E website.

About the Speakers


Richenda Van Leeuwen
Executive Director, Energy and Climate, Energy Access Initiative team
UN Foundation

Ms. Richenda Van Leeuwen is Executive Director, Energy and Climate, Energy Access Initiative overseeing the UN Foundation's work on energy access and its engagement with the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. She founded and leads UNF’s Energy Access Practitioner Network, a 600-strong global network catalyzing market-led solutions for energy access in developing countries.

She joined the UN Foundation in 2010 from Good Energies, a global renewable energy private equity firm where she led its work both on commercial emerging markets transactions and as a founding board member of the Good Energies Foundation, on the application of renewable energy technologies for poverty alleviation in developing countries.

A sought out speaker on energy access, gender equity and poverty issues, she has over 20 years of executive management experience with the UN, private sector and non-profits on several continents, in particular focusing on impact investing for micro- and small and medium sized enterprises as well as post-conflict reconstruction, refugee issues and economic empowerment.

She currently serves on the board of SELCO India, a leading renewable energy social enterprise focusing on energy solutions for poor families in India.  She gained both her BS and MBA degrees from Durham University, UK.


Allison Archambault

Ms. Allison Archambault is President of EarthSpark International, an NGO working to deliver high-quality energy solutions to off-grid Haiti. She is developing value chains for small-scale clean energy technologies and micro-grids. Ms. Archambault is also a founding principal at Fresh Generation, a consultancy working with companies, non-profits, and governments toward widespread and efficient adoption of sustainable energy solutions. Fresh Generation currently serves organizations in the US, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Previously, Ms. Archambault worked for 3TIER to facilitate renewable energy siting and integration. She also led the renewable energy partners program in the early days of GridPoint, a clean tech company in the smart grid space. She has a background in grid-tied residential solar and demand management and in rural electrification in the Caribbean and West Africa. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and Economics from Tufts University, and she firmly believes that a smart grid does not have to be a big grid.

Alla Jezmir
Business Development
AES Corporation

Ms. Alla Jezmir is a Project Manager in the Business Development group at AES Corporation. She is currently focused on developing the company’s Global Integrated Gas program, which aims to deliver energy through this more environmentally friendly fuel to markets where fuel oil and diesel are prominent. She is co-founder and board director of EGG-energy, an energy distribution company that provides portable, rechargeable batteries to low-income African households and small enterprises lacking access to the power grid. Previously, as Principal of the Green Portfolio at Calvert Foundation, she led the organization’s Green Initiative. She worked in TechnoServe’s Swaziland and Kenya offices, was a consultant at Reingold and participated in the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. She has consulted for the ILO, GreenFuel Technologies, and Masdar. Ms. Jezmir interned in the CEO’s office of Fabindia, one of India’s emerging retailers, and the Cleantech Group, Investment Banking Division, at Jefferies & Company. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a B.S. in international business and political science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Rhonda Jordan
PhD Student, Engineering Systems Division
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ms. Rhonda Jordan recently received her PhD from MIT’s Engineering Systems Division after developing a novel approach to long-term generation expansion planning for power sectors in developing countries. In 2008, she worked for the United Nations Environment Programme on rural electrification in East Africa, developing business models for off-grid electrification. With regulatory knowledge and experience, technical ability and the strong desire to improve access to modern energy in a sustainable manner, she is one of the founding members of EGG-energy, Inc.

Ms. Jordan is originally from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. She studied electrical engineering and obtained her bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia University.

Meg Harper
Research Engineer
Schatz Energy Research Center

Ms. Meg Harper is a research engineer at the Schatz Energy Research Center in Arcata, CA and is finishing her Masters in the Energy, Technology and Policy program at Humboldt State University (HSU), where she studied the technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency development. Within this broad context, and with complimentary studies toward a second bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resources Engineering, she has been able to explore local and state-level energy efficiency and climate change policy, the technical design of solar thermal, wind and PV systems, and appropriate technology design and dissemination for international development.  Ms. Harper’s thesis research has focused on improving the quality of electricity on renewable energy mini-grids and included performing a pilot installation of student-designed “GridShare” demand-side management devices on a village microhydro system in Bhutan.  In addition to her work in Bhutan, she has performed field work as part of the Lighting Africa program in Kenya, attended the International Development Design Summit in Ghana (2009) and assisted a team from UC Berkeley with a solar thermal design project at AIDG in Guatemala. 

Prior to attending HSU, Ms. Harper received a BS in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College and has worked in the field in a number of different capacities including environmental contaminant and wildlife research, as well as experiential environmental education.