In 2018, I attended the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association’s convention in Orlando, Fla., with Jay and many folks from Egg Geo. This was right after having gone through an extensive series of surgeries for brain aneurysms. It felt as if we were really doing some good, and with the youngest of our children about to turn 18, I was intrigued and feeling optimistic about the future of the geothermal industry.
Shortly thereafter, I attended the New York Geothermal Energy Organization’s conference and enjoyed the comradery of our New York associates: strong advocates for geothermal such as Samara Swanston, Lisa Marshall, Kim Fraczek and Zeyneb Magavi inspired me to action. Bill Nowak, Billii Roberti and John Ciovacco, along with so many others, made me feel like family.
It was wonderful to see the tremendous growth in the industry from the efforts of NY-GEO, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, IGSHPA and GEO. Each time I met with a group of industry professionals, I was in awe of the power of the women in leadership positions. There was no misogyny, only true and utter respect for the hard work and dedication of each member of the team.
As life would have it, just as my desire to try and enter normality started to near, seizures and COVID-19 dominated life. The COVID-19 pandemic struck globally and the world shut down; seizures made our world even more closed off. The world became a virtual one, and like everyone else, we learned to communicate, teach, consult and live through the computer screen.
Our first Geothermal Rising Conference was virtual and how we met Will Pettitt, the former executive director of Geothermal Rising (www.geothermal.org). Jay and Will decided that the traditional division of deep and shallow geothermal needed to end and that the geothermal world should come together into one sandbox and play nice. What a brilliant and brave new world!
Since then, low-temp or direct-use geothermal has had a strong and getting stronger presence at the GRC (grc2023.mygeoenergynow.org), and the two sides are working together to build a bigger presence for geothermal across the board.
In 2021, GRC was back in person in San Diego and the conference was a hit with the deep and shallow geothermal folks! It could be desperation for actual living, breathing conversation that wasn’t through a Zoom connection, but I prefer to think it was the excellent technical panels and outdoor activities and reception.
Either way, it was in San Diego that I met two ladies who would help to shape me: Dr. Ghazal Izadi, a brilliant geomechanics and fluid transport engineer, as well as a Women in Geothermal (WING) member; and Anne Robertson-Tait, global chair of WING and a geologist. Both women are renowned in their chosen fields, way above my pay grade and level of intelligence.
In fact, I was starting as an intern for a senior partner of a group of companies of which Egg Geo is part. I was once referred to as a “glorified secretary;” to be honest, it felt accurate. After all the surgeries (even with another new degree), I felt inadequate to be among these industry titans.
Here’s the thing with WING (www.womeningeothermal.org); there are no titans of industry. The wings worn by members are all the same.
My geothermal knowledge has increased exponentially since I attended that first in-person conference. I was not giving myself enough credit for the 25 years of geothermal history that I had earned. I worked to support my husband, sometimes two jobs, while he wrote books on geothermal and traveled to speak, teach about, install and consult on geothermal systems.
I was a witness to the importance of the need for beneficial electrification and for utilities to adopt measures to allow for BTU exchange. My conversations with Anne and Ghazal were considered intelligent and worthwhile, and I didn’t shy away from their compliments. I began to open to the idea that I had something to add to the industry, too.
I may not be a reservoir engineer or a geologist, but there are many people needed to move this industry along.
Since then, I have met some more amazing women to add to my team; you guessed it, WING supporters, too.
Marit Brommer is a WING member and the executive director of the International Geothermal Association. If you think that sounds impressive, it pales in comparison to the woman. Marit is the consummate professional; she leads panels with the polished smoothness of a hostess, answers direct technical questions with the practice of a tenured professor, and balances the life of a wife and mother with poise and humor.
When we traveled to El Salvador (https://youtu.be/Kn6_hgq578c, https://youtu.be/O5Jz6P2t9QU), she and I toured a geothermal plant together. I watched as she deflected multiple remarks that would have challenged the patience of a lesser person. She is a prime example of the kind of leader needed in the geothermal industry. There is no perfect mold; we are all doing what we can to build what we believe to be the best answer for our energy problems.
Zeyneb and her partner-in-crime Audrey Schulman are the forces of nature behind the Home Energy Efficiency Team (www.heet.org). Bold and brilliant, they save lives and make Massachusetts a cleaner environment. It was during a meeting with Zeyneb that I was introduced to a unique and exciting environmental lawyer who is the kind of advocate I love to see.
Her name is Jamie Beard, and she calls herself a “geothermal instigator.” She gets on stage and can get a crowd all riled up and cheering about geothermal and energy transition, even in Texas! Jaime is part of a think tank out of Texas called Project Innerspace (www.projectinnerspace.com); it has published the “Future of Geothermal in Texas,” which some folks from our company helped with.
My most recent roundup of remarkable women is from a recent hop across the pond to Italy. Once again, I met a WING member by the name of Kristina Hagstrom-Ilievska, the chief marketing officer of Baseload Capital. We have more than our common interest in thermal energy networks; we are also moms who love to share science!
Jay and I have always had a Kid’s Corner on our Egg Geo website, and I was thrilled to learn that Kristina and Baseload Capital also have a children’s book centered on geothermal and the positives of renewable energy for the earth. We will be working with Baseload to help get their books out to kids and communities where the information can be shared.
My association with Women in Geothermal has opened my eyes to the increase in the number of women in all aspects of the geothermal industry. From the drillers in the trenches to the project managers and financial analysts in the offices, women are entering the industry in staggering numbers. WING is a global organization that includes, endorses, enables and encourages women (and Wing-Men) to build the industry for all.