The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2017, which is Women’s History Month.
As part of the series we interviewed Elizabeth Dunbar, Senior Reporter at MPR News, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?
In my role at Minnesota Public Radio I think of myself as sort of a translator – I take complex policy and energy transition information and digest it for people who don’t have expertise in these areas. My goal is to help people better understand the role energy plays in contributing to climate change and to keep people updated on what types of solutions are being explored to address climate change.
How did you get into this work?
I studied journalism at the University of Minnesota and always knew I wanted to be a journalist. But my interest in the environment and energy issues came later. I was assigned to cover regulatory proceedings for the Big Stone II coal-fired power plant before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission when I worked for the Associated Press many years ago, and I got really into it. That plant never ended up being built because of economics and the transition away from fossil fuels.
What is a typical day like for you?
I come into work and try to wade through dozens of emails and also check Twitter to see what’s going on in the world of energy and the environment in Minnesota and nationally. I check in with my editor to see if there’s any pressing news we need to cover on my beat, and if there isn’t, I plug away on whatever stories I’m working on. That could mean going out to interview people, talking on the phone with sources or doing online research. When I’m on deadline for a story, that means I’m writing and working with my editor, then pulling tape from my interviews into an audio package that I voice for the radio.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
I love talking to people and learning new things, so I feel like journalism is a great profession for people who always loved school. I also like researching questions, especially hard ones, to find out answers that not many people know. The worst part of my job is having to listen through hours and hours of tape I’ve collected for a story and log the notes. Some of those interviews are great to listen to, but sometimes it takes a long time to draw people out and get to the really good information and sound bites.
What about your job inspires you?
Being able to connect people with the information they need to make better decisions is inspiring.
What advice do you have for women who are thinking about working in energy?
Networking and relationships are important. This is a complicated field, so the more people you know, the better able you’ll be able to tap into their expertise when needed.
Elizabeth Dunbar has been a reporter for MPR News since 2009 and currently covers the environment and climate change. In 2015, she co-reported a series on climate change in Minnesota that won a Kavli Science Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Previously, Dunbar reported and edited for The Associated Press in Minneapolis, Louisville, Ky., and Raleigh, N.C. Dunbar grew up in Iowa and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in journalism and political science in 2004. Her first reporting job was at The Minnesota Daily.
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mncerts</a> is highlighting 18 women leading MN's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CleanEnergy?src=hash">#CleanEnergy</a> industry! <a href="https://t.co/N6dQ6hf8vu">https://t.co/N6dQ6hf8vu</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/womensday?src=hash">#womensday</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IWD2017?src=hash">#IWD2017</a> <a href="https://t.co/sfwkGv8MK6">pic.twitter.com/sfwkGv8MK6</a></p>— CERTs (MNCERTs) March 2, 2017
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The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries during Women’s History Month.