Multi-ethnic Group of Women. Seamless Pattern. Femininity Concept.

Driving Women-Made Climate Solutions

As Women’s History Month kicks off, meet some of the RMI women who are working for a clean, sustainable future.

March is Women’s History Month, when we honor women’s contributions to society from the past and present. Of the more than 700 employees at RMI, over 55 percent are women, and they are working passionately to create a clean, equitable, and sustainable future. Meet some of them here, along with the women who have inspired them.

Zhinan Chen

I hope that girls in the next generation will be inspired and empowered by witnessing women from diverse ethnic backgrounds and nationalities leading the way in the climate change field, so that they also believe they can bring about the changes they want to see in the world.

Zhinan Chen, Senior Associate, India Team

Zhinan works to decrease emissions from the heavy transport sector in India, collaborating with Indian national and state level partners to accelerate the transition to zero-emissions trucking. It excites her to know that her team is tackling problems that haven’t been solved before and driving a transition at an unprecedented speed. Having worked on heavy industry and heavy transport, both of which are traditionally male-dominated industries, Zhinan is looking forward to “creating more opportunities to amplify women’s voices in tackling these hard-to-abate sectors.”

Inspiration: The women of RMI — “Every single one of them has been inspiring me in different ways with their unique strengths and varied experiences. From some, I learned how to stay affirmative when being challenged, while others have shown me how to foster inclusive environments and create opportunities for all.”

Crystal Eden with her dog Lyra

More women should be encouraged to work in the climate change field because all voices need to be heard.

Crystal Eden, Program Assistant, Electricity Team

Crystal supports four principals on RMI’s Carbon-Free Electricity team and assists the team with operations, implementation of effective practices, and planning. She loves helping others to optimize workflows, identify opportunities, and achieve work/life balance. “Reports have shown that women and girls are being affected disproportionately by climate-related change,” says Crystal. “There are many different circumstances that are important for all to be aware of, but we absolutely should educate ourselves on how women are being influenced.”

Inspiration: Rachel Gold — “Rachel is one of the principals that I support on the electricity team and is a powerful voice in the climate change field. I have the utmost respect for the work she does. She strives to collaborate, connect, and listen to anyone she encounters and goes above and beyond to engage everyone.”

Bryn Grunwald

Having women in the climate sector allows for focus on areas that are often forgotten about and have massive impact on the climate and people’s lives.

Ursula (Bryn) Grunwald, Senior Associate, Transportation Team

Bryn works on micromobility and clean transportation, focusing on accelerating electric bike adoption and cutting car use. What she enjoys most about her work is that she is working on areas that are broadly exciting people, and that offer a strong opportunity for households to cut costs; enjoy safer, healthier lives; and significantly reduce their carbon pollution. Bryn sees a lot of city street planning based around more stereotypical male needs — the need to go into the office and then go home. Women often have to do more caretaking and errands, she explains, which results in complexity and time constraints with the current transportation setup.

Inspiration: Former professors — “My female air quality professors and my thermodynamic professor from my undergrad and master coursework were inspiring, sharp, and caring.”

Alexandra Khripko

Climate change exacerbates existing structural inequalities, leaving women and other disadvantaged populations even more vulnerable. We’ve seen well-intended climate policies and initiatives fail when the intersectional perspective is disregarded. All women need a seat at the table.

Alexandra Khripko, Manager, Third Derivative

Alexandra focuses on ecosystem partnerships, startup account management, and events for climate tech innovators. She enjoys working in the climate tech innovation world because “there is something very unique about this particular startup sector, maybe because we are all working on something that is much bigger than us.”

Inspiration: Rafia Zakaria — “Her book Against White Feminism is something I try to really use as a compass in my own feminism.”

While climate change affects everyone, it does not affect all equally. This is especially true in many parts of the world where women rely on climate-sensitive work like agriculture and manual labor.

Shuyi Li, Principal, China Team

Shuyi works to decrease emissions from China’s heavy industry, including sectors like steel, cement, petrochemicals, and aluminum. She loves being part of the entire process of helping to accelerate the journey toward zero-carbon, from seeding the opportunity to scoping the work to driving the changes hands-on to finally witnessing them happen. Shuyi believes that “women have impressive talents to contribute to combating climate change and can provide a unique angle that fills the full story.”

Inspiration: Ting Li — “Our China’s managing director is a true role model as a woman leader in the field. While she often appears to be the only woman panelist in quite a number of energy- and climate-related conferences, she takes the time to highlight the importance of women participation in these discussions.”

Nydia Bryan Martinez

Climate change impacts different communities disproportionately, and some of those communities have a large percentage of women. Having a woman in climate change can ensure those communities are represented and reflected in solutions.

Nydia Bryan Martinez, Senior Associate, Industries Team

Nydia works on helping to grow the clean hydrogen market through increasing demand and building out the necessary infrastructure. She enjoys her work because it is on the edge of innovation, has real world applicability and influence, and teaches her something new almost every day. Nydia believes it’s important for young girls and women to see more women involved in climate change solutions.

Inspiration: Leah Thomas — Author of The Intersectional Environmentalist and founder of Green Girl Productions.

Rachel Sarah

Women are not only the most impacted by the effects of climate change around the world, they are also at the forefront of climate solutions in everyday life.

Rachel Sarah, Communications Team

As RMI’s media relations lead, Rachel responds to press inquiries, nurtures relationships with journalists, and proactively spots emerging news trends to pitch stories that highlight RMI’s mission. She also provides media training for RMI staff across all teams. Rachel is passionate about her work at RMI because she feels it’s crucial to communicate clearly to people how we can solve the climate crisis. “Women leaders in the climate change field are able to enact change because they are more transparent, collaborative, and clear about the solutions we need to mitigate the climate crisis on the ground,” she says.

Inspiration: Daphne Frias — “Daphne is a 25-year-old youth activist born with cerebral palsy in West Harlem, NY, where she lives and works today. She uses a wheelchair to ambulate and is a champion for the disabled community. Daphne was in medical school when we first connected, and she’s the woman who opened my eyes when she deconstructed the silos between health and the climate crisis.”

Cheryl Webster

Women, particularly those in the Global South, are underrepresented in the solutions to and disproportionately affected by the issues of climate change.

Cheryl Webster, Manager, Third Derivative

Cheryl is a startup account manager and head of virtual programming and resources helping to connect climate tech innovators with experts and investors. She loves knowing that she’s directly contributing to the success of private-sector solutions to climate change. Cheryl believes it’s crucial to have more diverse voices and perspectives in this line of work.”

Inspiration: Mia Motley — Prime Minister of Barbados

Madeline Weir

Solutions to broad societal issues, including climate change, are often designed for and by men. With more women as a part of the conversation, we can lessen the consequences of climate change for everyone while ensuring we aren’t creating more problems for marginalized people like women and people of color with our solutions.

Madeline Weir, Senior Associate, Buildings Team

Madeline helps affordable housing and large buildings to emit less climate pollution. She feels that since people spend so much time indoors, creating safe, healthy, and comfortable living spaces is essential to our growth and stability as a society. Madeline believes it’s crucial to have more women from diverse backgrounds in the climate change space, which allows us to broaden our perspectives, and in turn, our solutions. “Women are often sensitive to unintended consequences in a way that allows us to see the big picture.”

Inspiration: Majora Carter — “She is such an incredible urban revitalization strategist, real estate developer, and environmental justice advocate who has created a roadmap for letting communities lead on redevelopment projects.”

Kelly Wu

To fully understand the consequences of climate change and the proposed energy transition, we need very diverse perspectives to be heard and incorporated into decision-making. Too often, women are not well represented in boardroom discussions or high-level political discussions on these critical technology pathway choices.

Kelly Wu, Associate, Industries Team

Kelly spearheads the technical modeling of decarbonization pathways for cement production. She is most excited about the carbon reduction impact her work can have on a large incumbent industry, and the ability for her team to be a knowledge hub where supply, demand, and innovation all meet in the cement sector. As a woman in STEM, Kelly feels it’s incredibly important for women to be able to see themselves approaching climate change problems from technical angles as well — whether that’s founding a technology startup or working on techno-economic models that can provide investment and policy guiderails.

Inspiration: Rachel Carson — “She spent her career grounded in her interest in nature and her dedication to science, and used this grounding to create systems change and bring awareness to environmental pollution while in tandem trailblazing a space for women to work in science. She was able to share her passion for both science and human wellbeing.”


This article was updated on March 8, 2024, to reflect Crystal Eden’s research on gender and climate change.