Senior Consultant, 5 Lakes Energy
Communications Committee Chair, AWE
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Please describe your current role:
Laura Sherman is a senior consultant with 5 Lakes Energy where she focuses on renewable energy development, community engagement, and business sustainability. Her work involves engagement with industry, community members, non-profit organizations, and elected officials to advance renewable energy projects across the Midwest. Laura also serves as the Vice President for Policy Development for Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation. In that role, Laura focuses on supporting all aspects of Michigan EIBC’s policy platform, including ongoing policy initiatives, engagement at the Michigan Public Service Commission and state agencies, and legislative efforts.
How did you get into the energy industry?
My graduate and postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan focused on the use of novel techniques to “fingerprint” toxins, like mercury, from coal-fired power plants into ecosystems across the Great Lakes Region. In addition to researching pollution from energy generation, I also taught a field course in Wyoming for several years focused on energy issues.
However, despite my academic knowledge of energy, I lacked an understanding of energy policy. To learn more and experience federal policy making, I took a fellowship through the American Academy for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union in the office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). After my one-year fellowship, I was hired to stay in the office as a policy advisor covering energy, agriculture, and environment issues. In that capacity, I led a team to develop legislation, analyze policy issues, and negotiate bipartisan solutions. I was involved in crafting the 2015 extensions of the renewable tax credits, advancing federal initiatives on building energy efficiency, and supporting land conservation efforts. And I caught the energy policy bug!
What has been the key to your success?
Several things have been really valuable to me: curiosity, written and oral communication skills, and a willingness to work hard. Beyond that, I think it’s absolutely critical to be willing to learn from anyone, to remain humble, and to take a chance on new opportunities. You never know when a fork in the road will lead somewhere exciting!
What is the best advice you've received?
Under promise and over deliver. I’ve always lived by that mantra and was thrilled to hear it repeated at the Advancing Women in Energy annual meeting in 2017 by the CEO of ITC Holdings, Linda Blair.
What inspires you in your work?
My colleagues and collaborators, especially the amazing, intelligent, trail blazing women who I have the privilege to work with, learn from, and look up to.
What would you tell a young person considering a career in energy?
The energy industry is growing and innovating across the country – there are so many opportunities to learn, engage, and make a difference. If you’re interested in tackling tough challenges and coming up with real world solutions, a career in energy might be perfect for you!
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