Meet the moment, build the future
We are living through an extraordinary moment of interconnected urgency.
Acknowledging this, the Biden-Harris Administration is focused on addressing four related crises: the pandemic, the economy, the climate crisis, and structural racism. On Earth Day 2021, America committed to picking up the pace.
These crises are converging because they are all related. Issues of environmental protection, equity, human health, inclusive governance and prosperity are inextricably interlinked. The crises we now face derive from a set of intersectional preconditions (racism, structural inequality, an extractive economy), and they require integrated, cross-sectoral solutions. Our approach to achieving a climate-safe future must reflect this reality.
Addressing climate change in a way that gets to the root of these interconnected crises will require not only technological innovation, but also innovation and entrepreneurship to reenvision and reshape everything we do – including and especially policy. That’s why we created the Elemental Policy Lab.
We created the Elemental Policy Lab for two reasons.
First, we see entrepreneurs as a key engine for our country’s economic growth in the coming decades. Yet they are often absent from or underrepresented in policy conversations that have the potential to significantly impact the future of their industry. We want to amplify learnings about what successful climate innovation and entrepreneurship looks like, and share ideas for what policymakers can do to support it. We also want to connect entrepreneurs with policymakers who are hungry to know what’s working (or not) on the ground, and help them make policy that is responsive to and supportive of climate x social equity innovation.
Second, we seek to bring the entrepreneurial spirit, the community of practice, our commitment to equity, and the lessons we’ve learned about successful climate and cleantech innovation to bear in the realm of policy. So, we are creating a platform to uplift the voices of extraordinary individuals — policymakers, community activists, up and coming political leaders, and entrepreneurs — who have a clear, innovative policy idea that would benefit from “accelerator” support. Through policy entrepreneurship these Fellows will help us collectively advance climate action, jobs, and justice in the US.
Pioneers with innovation proof-points and insights into policy barriers, who need to engage policymakers.
Legislators and regulators who are ready to advance climate and social justice priorities, and are hungry for ideas with concrete data, multi-stakeholder buy-in, and private sector momentum.
The Elemental Policy Lab
A saavy, nimble collective of policy entrepreneurs who work at the seam of technology and policy. They are designers and implementers who know how to access and navigate local, state, and federal processes and embed reality-based, equity-centered solutions into policies.
Our fellows see an opening for policy change, and are audacious enough to do something about it. We provide these policy entrepreneurs with a platform and resources to tackle a discrete challenge, and to translate technology and community insights into actionable solutions for policymakers to scale.
Sectors of interest:
- Green Infrastructure
- Future of Mobility
- Food & Agriculture
Meet the Fellows
Heather McTeer Toney
Heather McTeer Toney was the first African-American, first female, and the youngest (age 27) to serve as Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi from 2004-2012. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her as Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast Region. Heather has appeared on numerous news outlets and has written for publications including New York Times, Washington Post, and DAME. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and law degree from Tulane School of Law.
Louise Bedsworth is Director of the Land Use Program and Senior Advisor to the California China Climate Institute at the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Strategic Growth Council for the State of California. Louise holds a B.S. in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, both from the University of California at Berkeley.
From 2015 to 2018, Randall was Executive Director of the California Strategic Growth Council and previously served as an international climate policy advisor to California Governor Jerry Brown. Additionally, he has held roles at multiple architecture and urban development firms in Beijing, New York, and Los Angeles. Randall has a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law, a Master of Architecture from University of Virginia, and a B.A. from Harvard University.
Josh Stanbro is Senior Policy Director for the City Council of Honolulu, Office of the Chair, and previously served as the Chief Resilience Officer and Executive Director for the City and County of Honolulu's Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency from 2017-2021. Josh graduated from Claremont McKenna College, attended the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, earning the Cali Award for Native Hawaiian Rights, He holds a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law.
Gwendy Brown served for 15 years in various leadership roles at microlender Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF). At AOF, Gwendy advanced policies, built coalitions and led programs to deliver responsible financial services to underinvested small business owners and communities. Prior to that, she supported California’s early efforts to track greenhouse gas emissions and promoted international climate action as a Fulbright Fellow in Venezuela. Gwendy holds a BA from Pomona College and an MPA from NYU Wagner.
Questions We Are Thinking About, Inspired by Our Portfolio
Energy Efficiency Innovation
How can we leverage each dollar of taxpayer subsidy with 5 to 10 dollars of private capital, to make our government infrastructure investments stretch farther?
Low-Carbon Materials Innovation
What are the pain points in municipal procurement preventing the adoption of low and zero carbon materials like concrete in America’s infrastructure?
Clean Technology Innovation
How can employment opportunities in clean technology solutions, such as geothermal, solar, and mobility, help facilitate a just transition for oil and gas employees?
Regenerative Agriculture Innovation
How can USDA partner with agtech startups to effectively increase the supply of sustainable plant protein and vegetable oil in the US?