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 savvy, 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.
We work closely with Elemental's 130+ portfolio companies to identify and support their policy advocacy needs.
We recruit policy strategists to join a year-long Fellowship where they develop, design, and scale innovative approaches to equitable climate technology deployment.
We support policy changes that benefit the climate innovation ecosystem.
Policy Lab Fellows
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.
Meet the Fellows
Gwendy Brown serves as an in-house policy coach and coalition builder for Elemental portfolio companies and partners. Her fellowship focuses on helping stakeholders identify and take collaborative action towards their public policy goals at the local, state and federal level. 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.
Heather McTeer Toney
Heather McTeer Toney serves as the Climate Justice Liaison at the Environmental Defense Fund and Senior Advisor to Moms Clean Air Force. Heather’s fellowship is focused on removing the roadblocks to environmental equity for Black communities. She’s building a toolkit for a coalition of mayors to help them develop climate action plans that meet the needs of their communities and help them access infrastructure funds and foster cleantech innovation in their communities. 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 holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and law degree from Tulane School of Law.
Josh Stanbro is Senior Policy Director for the City Council of Honolulu, Office of the Chair. Josh’s fellowship focuses on bridging the gap between risk-averse public agencies and risk-taking entrepreneurs by working on three distinct policy changes in Hawaii that will reduce barriers to using infrastructure funds for climate tech startups. Josh 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.
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. Louise’s fellowship is focused on scaling best practices in integrated, equity-based approaches to climate action, drawing models and lessons learned from climate project deployments at SGC and Elemental to create principles for embedding social equity into climate research and innovation programs. Louise was 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.
Randall’s fellowship focuses on fostering more equitable urban growth that provides greater access to opportunity, making our communities more inclusive and resilient to climate change. Randall is designing a national-level version of CA’s Transformative Climate Communities program. Randall was Executive Director of the California Strategic Growth Council from 2015 to 2018. Previously he 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.
Out in the Field
Transcending Oil: Hawai‘i’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy assesses the pace and impact of clean energy deployment in Hawai‘i since the launch of the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative in 2008, and explores potential pathways in the decades to come. Choosing the path is up to us. This report presents a quantitative independent assessment of our accomplishments to date and describes the future potential of clean energy deployment in Hawai‘i’s electric power sector and on-road transportation.