Leading with Joy and Passion: Dr. Rita L. Joyner and the Future of Women In Clean Energy

For anyone lucky enough to hear the phrase “Happy WICE Wednesday!from the one and only Dr. Rita L. Joyner (“Dr. J”), there is a special sense of belonging that comes from these few words. 

Founded in 2018, Women In Clean Energy (WICE) provides opportunities for both personal and professional development in a welcoming community that enables self-identifying women to thrive within all sectors of clean energy and sustainability 

On this WICE Wednesday, NCSEA is reflecting on the transformational impact that Dr. J has had on the WICE Initiative and community and looking to the future to continue empowering women in North Carolina’s clean energy industry through mentorship, networking opportunities, and community. 

Special Thanks to Dr. Rita Joyner
As NCSEA’s Senior Advisor, Dr. J led the WICE Initiative for the past 2 years. Among her many accomplishments during this time, Dr. J spearheaded efforts to expand the WICE community to almost 800 members and allies and managed the relaunch of the WICE mentorship program. Dr. J also created the foundational pillars of WICE: Personal Development, Gender Equity and Equality, Mentorship, and Leadership.  

According to the 2023 U.S. Energy & Employment Jobs Report (USEER), women make up 43% of the U.S. workforce average but only represent 26% of the energy workforce. In response to this significant gender disparity in the energy workforce, these pillars serve as guiding principles aimed at intentionally building a more robust pipeline for women in the clean energy industry in North Carolina and beyond.  

Serving as everyone’s favorite hostess for the many WICE events throughout 2022 and 2023, Dr. J’s charismatic leadership ensured the success of every luncheon, reception, and networking event. Although Dr. J has moved on to professional opportunities outside of NCSEA, her monumental work to build out an inclusive community for women in the clean energy field has generated critical momentum towards diversifying this industry. NCSEA is eternally grateful for her dedication to and passion for the WICE community and will continue her legacy of making more energy friends each and every day! 

As a farewell to the WICE community, Dr. J wanted to pass on the following message: 

"Happy WICE Wednesday! I am thankful for NCSEA and grateful for the opportunity to have led WICE these past two years. I know that our teamwork and passion for being in this space made the difference. Remember to count me in for the mentorship program! #collaborationovercompetition #greenstemeducation Until then, it’s already already alright. Peace and blessings."

WICE Mentorship Program 
Given that mentorship is one of the foundations of WICE, NCSEA is excited to continue expanding the progress made by Dr. J throughout the rest of 2023. Since women are underrepresented in the clean energy industry, our organization recognizes the importance of mentorship as a tool to strengthen women’s confidence and connect them with professional development and leadership opportunities. In early 2023, the WICE Mentorship Program survey was distributed to interested participants. For the many individuals who have expressed interest in participating in the 2023 WICE Mentorship Program, NCSEA is incredibly grateful. Our team is in the process of reviewing responses and putting together potential mentor/mentee pairs. Stay tuned for more on next steps! 

WICE Networking Events
WICE networking events bring together a diverse group of women working in the clean energy industry to connect and share their experiences. During many of these events, there are exciting discussions on topics such as the barriers facing women in the clean energy industry, taking care of mental health while working, and the various forms of leadership. NCSEA is currently in the process of planning future WICE networking events, including a WICE reception at the 2023 Making Energy Work conference.  To continue growing the momentum of a program like WICE, we rely on the support of people like you.  If you or your business would like to help sponsor or even host a future WICE event, please reach out to wice@energync.org. 

NCSEA thanks Dr. J for her dedication to ensuring that everyone is seen and heard in North Carolina’s clean energy industry and for always leading with wisdom, grace, and joy. To learn more about her journey through clean energy, green STEM, education, and community engagement, check out our previous blog post on Dr. J: A Pioneering Leader in Education, Clean Energy, and Beyond: Dr. Rita Joyner. 

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