Renewables Forward Appoints Chris Nichols as Executive Director

Veteran solar leader takes the helm of growing, action-oriented DEI collective to drive results and increase diversity within the renewable energy sector

Washington, D.C., May 24, 2022 — Renewables Forward, a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative of leading U.S. clean energy companies and partners, today announced the appointment of its first executive director, Chris Nichols, an industry veteran who has championed access to clean affordable energy for all in both public and private sectors throughout her career. This key organizational milestone demonstrates a deepening commitment from the RF Board of Directors who are driven to "get stuff done" now, while setting the clean energy industry on a growth path toward a more equitable clean energy future.

“Leaders in every industry want to step up and address systemic injustice,” said Chris Nichols, Renewables Forward Executive Director. “I'm honored to work with RF leaders in creating practical systems that actively welcome, reward, and retain talent from every part of the community. We are not building a new recruiting platform. We are building a new economy, powered, and defined by voices from across the spectrum of culture and capacity. Our differences make us stronger, more resilient, more creative and productive.”

Nichols is uniquely qualified for this position. From her work at Groundswell to the Department of Energy and SunEdison, she has spearheaded energy workforce development and credentialing programs, youth workforce development in green jobs (YouthBuild), forged public-private partnerships and delivered solar and energy efficiency programs designed for low-income communities. One of her most prized accomplishments is having founded the Solar Ready Vets program, a well-known industry program creating career pathways for military veterans.

“We are incredibly excited to have Chris lead Renewables Forward alongside industry leaders who continue to invest in the organization and its mission to increase diversity, equity and inclusion across the clean energy industry,” said Yuri Horwitz, Board Chair of RF and CEO of Sol Systems. “Building on Chris’s deep industry experience, Renewables Forward will be able to double-down on inspiring action in a way that helps to create a better, more equitable future for all.”

In her first 120 days, Nichols aims to execute on existing strong program commitments while building new ways for RF to help drive diversity and inclusion within the member companies, industry partners and the industry. Her immediate focus will be to collaborate with other RF partner organizations to benchmark current progress and set specific, measurable goals for DEI progress. In parallel, Nichols will work across the industry to launch a new Renewables Forward business-to-business mentorship program and develop a community investment and impact strategy in partnership with social and environmental equity organizations across the US.

“With Chris leading the charge, I have no doubt she will be a force to help us make real, systemic change across the clean energy sector,” stated Paula Glover, President of Alliance to Save Energy and RF board member. “Chris lives out her commitment to workplace equity and has the track record to prove it. It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Chris Nichols to serve as the new Executive Director of Renewables Forward.”

“At Renewables Forward, we are focused on clear action and concrete steps, and I am thrilled to welcome Chris to drive our commitments to data collection and transparency, improved results in hiring a diverse and inclusive workforce, and increased investment in the under-resourced and impacted communities in which we live and work,” stated Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) Executive Director and Secretary of RF board, Esther Morales. “Chris brings a wealth of experience across sectors and industry verticals, and her awareness of the role of allyship in building through right relationships will make all the difference.”

Since 2020, Renewables Forward has worked to increase industry-wide diversity and inclusion that catalyzes concrete and collective corporate action. Most notably, the organization has published Part I and Part II of its DEI playbook and has grown membership to more than 40 contributing organizations and more than 20 partner organizations. About Renewables Forward

About Renewables Forward

Renewables Forward is a diversity and inclusion initiative created by CEOs and executives from leading solar and renewable energy companies and industry organizations. The goals of the open and collaborative partnership are to assess and improve diversity and inclusion in the industry, develop and share corporate practices and policies, create a more diverse and inclusive pipeline of candidates, and invest in the under-resourced and minority communities in which we work. The founding members are Capital Dynamics, Cypress Creek Renewables, EDF Renewables, Generate Capital, Mosaic, Nautilus Solar Energy, New Columbia Solar, Nextracker, Sol Systems and Volt Energy as well as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and IREC (formerly The Solar Foundation). Connect with us on LinkedIn.