Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative, has been named as the first Distinguished Fellow of Emerson Collective, a social impact investing and philanthropic organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. He will support the mission of Emerson Elemental, a new platform dedicated to strengthening the nexus between humanity and nature.
As its first Distinguished Fellow, Moniz will promote scaling economic opportunity, workforce development, and community empowerment through clean energy innovation for a low carbon future. Emerson Elemental prioritizes enabling equitable access to technology for all members of society and building better communities through sustainable development. The fellowship agenda will be directed to communities where jobs have been disproportionately affected by the shift to lower carbon energy and in communities where infrastructure designed for heavy industry and manufacturing has weakened economic equality.
“We’re honored to channel Ernie’s deep experience in diplomacy, public service, private enterprise, and academia, in support of our shared mission to evolve a new ‘social compact’ for equitable technology access, and community development through innovation and workforce opportunity. Ernie is amongst the most reputable policy thought leaders and renowned scientists of our time and our forthcoming collaboration has ignited the imagination on so much positive possibility”, said Andy Karsner, Managing Partner of Emerson Collective. Karsner, a former climate negotiator and policymaker, has collaborated with Moniz over the last decade, and unveiled the Elemental practice within Emerson last year, with a mission to strengthen the relationship between humanity and nature.
The impacts, benefits, and opportunities afforded by new energy and technological advances are increasingly unevenly distributed across society, which unnecessarily exacerbates polarity across the country, Karsner explained. He added, “Social Compact 2.0 has to evolve commensurate with technological change. We have an obligation to improve our communities equitably for every member of society–No matter who you are, where you live, or your financial or social condition; This is what attracts and bonds us to Ernie’s new mission.”
Mutually reinforcing with his agenda as part of Emerson Collective, Dr. Moniz will lead a multi-year, multi-disciplinary MIT/Harvard effort that includes research and development leading to regional demonstration projects that identify new pathways to a low carbon economy in the U.S. in a way that measurably promotes job growth, minimizes worker and community dislocation, and harnesses the benefits of energy innovation for regional economic development. This complements Moniz’s roles as a professor of physics post-tenure and special advisor to the President at MIT, and is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.
“There are many parallels between today’s need for environmental equity and earlier social compacts, such as universal access to electricity,” Moniz said. “I’m excited to work with Andy, Laurene and the whole Emerson Collective organization to design solutions that help communities adapt their economies, education and training opportunities, policies, and institutions for long-term success aligned with a low-carbon energy future. We hope we can contribute to reshaping effective solutions and replicable, scalable community-based models throughout the U.S. and perhaps for other countries as well.”
Emerson Collective recognizes distinguished fellows for their extraordinary leadership in their profession; individuals who bring an exceptional body of knowledge, experience and distinct track record to their domain. Their opinions help shape influential discourse within their field, and often provide targeted policy prescriptions to Emerson program priorities. Emerson’s support of its Distinguished and Senior Fellows provides unencumbered flexibility to outstanding individuals, such as Dr. Moniz, to pursue their own intellectual, creative, and professional ambitions as a way to benefit the public good.