Dr. Karen DeGannes is a trusted advisor and strategist in the environmental, and utilities (energy, water, transportation and broadband) sectors and has over 21 years of professional experience. Her work applies systems approaches to creating local level solutions that integrate climate change, asset/infrastructure management, clean technology and risk, while centering communities and environmental justice. In the role of Principal for a major, investor-owned energy utility, she has re-defined and managed the utility’s environmental and social justice strategy and portfolio across the organization and spearheaded improved situational awareness dashboards and processes that are inclusive of EJ communities and Tribal governments impacted by wildfires and public safety power shut-offs. She has shaped and implemented various mandates associated with decarbonization, air quality, climate adaptation and resilience, ESG, and climate emergency management in the context of California’s evolving environmental and social justice policy framework.
Her career comprises a series of technical and operational roles, including as Senior Analyst - Energy Division, with the California Public Utilities Commission’s Engineering, Environmental Studies & Customer Service Branch, where she led environmental review, permitting and compliance for large-scale utility infrastructure projects. She has served as Project Manager for the Interconnection of grid-scaled renewables and as Senior Gas Transmission Interconnection Manager for a municipal and a corporate utility, respectively. In her role as a utility regulator, Dr. DeGannes managed the oversight and evaluation of state-wide rate support, energy efficiency and demand response programs. She has designed national and state-level environmental, environmental justice, hazardous waste management, and economic development policies in the United States and in the Caribbean and has served as a technical expert on gender and renewable energy and energy market transitions for international organizations such as the United Nations. In her native land, Trinidad and Tobago, she founded and led an environmental consultancy that served as senior advisor to the Minister of Public Utilities and the Environment, the executive leadership of the Environmental Management Authority, and to commercial and industrial entities. From 2001-2003, Dr. DeGannes co-founded and operated an environmental justice non-profit organization that provided data judo and other capacity-building services to environmental justice (EJ) and community-based organizations. She currently offers pro-bono support to EJ organizations working in climate justice, clean jobs, decarbonization, and clean transportation arenas. Her formal education includes Doctor of Philosophy degrees in the fields of Natural Resources and Environment and (organizational) Sociology from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.