Smart Energy Voices- Episode 93

Smart Energy Voices- Episode 93

DEI Impact Awards Part 2

Listen on your Preferred Podcast Player » 

On this episode of Smart Energy Voices, we continue to highlight the winners of the 2023 DEI Impact Awards, recognizing power users driving the energy transition while advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. We speak with Sandeep Blah about the PSE&G Clean Energy Jobs Program, Bambi Ingram about the success and educational value of the UAB Solar House and Sustainable Community project, and Scott Gerba and Ashif Hassan about the Colin Powell Bloom Energy Fellowship. 

Each of these winners shares their insights on empowering individuals, sustainable living, and fostering diversity in clean energy leadership and how their particular program helped move the needle in those ways. Listen to gain insight into integrating DEI into operations and encourage support and participation in your energy transition efforts. The DEI Impact Awards were sponsored by NRG.


You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Sandip Blah, representing PSE&G, winner of a Partnership award for their Clean Energy Jobs Program.  [2:05]
  • Bambi Ingram, representing the University of Alabama at Birmginham’s award-winning UAB Solar House and Sustainable Community [14:00]
  • Ashif Hassan and Scott Gurba, representing The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at CCNY, winner of the One to Watch award


Sandeep Blah: Managing the Clean Energy Jobs Program at PSE&G

The Clean Energy Jobs Program by PSE&G started in 2021 with the primary objective of creating economic opportunities for up to 2,000 low- to middle-income New Jersey residents. The program’s approach was to focus on three primary pillars of the jobs program - training, recruiting, and diversity.

In the training category, the program focuses on providing training opportunities in the job categories that are in highest demand. This includes providing a course curriculum to help people develop the skills needed to truly compete for the available jobs.

Diversity goals the program actively measures the demographic makeup of those being hired and works in partnership with two organizations within New Jersey - the African-American Chambers of Commerce and the statewide Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. 

When it comes to recruitment, the program works with multiple nonprofit organizations spread across the state of New Jersey. These organizations recruit on PSE&G's behalf, communicating about the process and pathway for employment to those who are seeking the jobs.

Listen to hear more about the challenges, obstacles overcome, and benefits this innovative program has been able to accomplish.

Bambi Ingram: Director of UAB’s Solar House and Microgrid Demonstration Community

The UAB Solar House and Microgrid project was part of the Department of Energy's solar decathlon competition in 2017. For the competition, the student and faculty team had to build a 100% solar-powered home, with very little construction or architecture experience among the team. The project was built on campus, was tested full, then taken apart and transported to Denver, Colorado for the content, and reassembled. The home was displayed for over 90,000 people attending the competition there.

Once the contest was over, the home was returned to the University of Alabama campus and reassembled and discussion ensued about how to intentionally use the project. The decision was made to open the house to the public as a service to the campus and the community. 

Additions were made so that the home is not only 100% solar-powered but also demonstrates resilience with the addition of a remote microgrid. Gardens were added as a habitat for monarch butterflies, beekeeping was an additional feature, and a rainwater collection system and separate composting system rounded out the project. 

Listen to learn how multiple collaboration efforts in the creation and maintenance of the project made it a DEI demonstration as well as a clean energy model.

The Colin Powell Bloom Energy Fellowship: Diversifying the Clean Energy Industry

The Colin Powell School is the social sciences division of the Community College of New York - the first free public institution in the United States. The Colin Powell Bloom Energy Fellowship was drawn up in partnership with Bloom Energy with the goal of diversifying the ranks of leaders in the clean energy and sustainability industries. The fellowship provides students a chance to receive mentorship, professional development, and paid summer internships at Bloom Energy's headquarters.

The first group was made up of 11 students and was arranged in a cohort model that helps them overcome the inevitable imposter syndrome, or feeling that they may not belong at the table or in the industry. This was seen as important because most of the clean energy space is led by those who are, quite frankly, just white and wealthy, according to the creators of this program.

The program focused on carrying out one of CCNY’s beliefs that we need trained people who are prepared to lead every sector, individuals who can reimagine how we as a society address our world's current challenges and inequities. The program is built on a collaborative effort between the school and Bloom Energy's talent recruitment team, both sides of the partnership working closely to engage with students who attend professional development workshops facilitated by CCNY faculty members. This included training in email etiquette, learning how to communicate effectively, managing up and across, working on presentations, and enhancing the participant’s so-called “soft skills.” Students exited the program feeling more confident and a sense of belonging before they flew to the West Coast to participate in internships and such in Silicon Valley.

Of the 11 students who completed the internship program, a handful have already been asked to come back to the organization where they interned. The program is experiencing a 50% conversion rate for full-time participants, which is phenomenal for the first year. The students completing the program are just as capable and qualified as those coming from more traditional recruitment areas. 

Listen to learn more about this amazing program!


Connect with Sandeep Blah

Sandeep Blah is a Project Manager of Clean Energy Jobs Program at PSE&G, overseeing the Jobs Program with an objective to generate economic opportunities for unemployed, under-employed, low- to middle-income New Jersey residents. In her previous positions in Information Technology, she is an experienced team leader with an outstanding ability to provide customer support from development to production environments. She has an excellent teamwork attitude with an ability to provide cross-functional coordination to achieve success. Impressive ability to identify problems and offer preventative solutions. She holds two Bachelor's degrees: Computer Science from LPU (India) and Computer Engineering from DeVry University (NY). She also holds a Masters in Business Administration from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).


Connect with Bambi Ingram

Bambi Ingram is Manager of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Sustainability Program and the project director for UAB’s Solar House and Microgrid Demonstration Community. Bambi is an International Society for Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) Certified Sustainability Professional and a LEED Green Associate.

As Sustainability Manager for the University of Alabama at Birmingham—an urban campus of more than 200 classroom, office, research, and hospital buildings comprising one hundred city blocks—Bambi works to advance campus and community projects and policies in renewable energy, waste diversion, transportation, and other sustainability challenges.

Prior to her work at UAB, Bambi served as the Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations at Birmingham-Southern College and the Southern Environmental Center. Over the course of her career, she has procured and managed more than $20 million in federal, state, corporate and foundation funds in support of higher education, arts, and environmental and renewable energy programs.

Bambi currently serves on the board of directors for Energy Alabama. Previously she served on boards for the Alabama Environmental Council, Birmingham Artwalk and the Homewood Arts Commission. Bambi holds a bachelor’s degree in art from California State University, Long Beach.

Connect with Scott Gurba

Scott Gurba was appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer of The City College of New York by the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York on May 15, 2023. 

Formerly senior vice president of strategy and process innovation at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he served in increasingly responsible positions at the Bank: senior vice president of financial operations; senior vice president, chief financial officer and head of transformation; senior vice president and chief operating officer; and vice president of enterprise financial planning. Before joining the Fed in 2007, he spent eight years in senior management positions at American Express.

Gurba holds an M.B.A. in finance from Hofstra University, and a B.S. in finance and investments from Northern Arizona University.


Connect with Ashif Hassan

Ashif Hassan is the Corporate Partnerships Manager at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, where he builds and maintains strong relationships with corporate partners, and fosters meaningful collaborations that drive positive change. In this role, Ashif helps college students pursue careers in industries such as banking, tech,, and sustainability by connecting them with partners to provide mentorship, internships, and job opportunities. By bridging the gap between academia and industry, Ashif and his colleagues strive to empower the next generation of leaders to make a meaningful impact in their careers.


Connect with Smart Energy Decisions

  • LinkedIn
  • Subscribe

Smart Energy Decisions Content Partners