2024 BWRC Annual Conference:

The conference is a full-day event, free and open to the public, with a lunch. The morning session will feature speakers talking about federal, state, and city efforts to bring Offshore Wind Energy to Brooklyn. The speakers will include representatives from the US Department of Energy, NYSERDA, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Equinor, and Con Edison. The afternoon session will focus on Brooklyn—first with a keynote during lunch on “A Just Transition to Clean Energy” and then with panels on business and workforce opportunities.


Alex Diaz-Casos serves as a senior project coordinator at BWRC and is a co-author of the conference white paper along with Nathan Kensinger. Diaz-Casos is an architectural engineer from Lima, Peru, where he worked as a construction project manager for several years, culminating in the founding of his former company, Dero Vax, where he designed green condominiums and restoration projects with local communities in Cusco, Peru. He then moved to Barcelona, Spain, to study for a master’s in the management of real estate development with a strong sustainability focus, leading him to delve deeper into the field by pursuing another master’s degree in science in Sustainability in the Urban Environment from the City College of New York where he will be completing his degree in May 2024. He has worked on various public-private consulting projects worldwide, and he just released his latest one in New York City regarding Local Law 97 and the balance of climate policies with housing policies for sustainable urban revitalization.

Nathan Kensinger is a photographer, filmmaker, artist and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. His work explores hidden urban landscapes, off-limits industrial structures, unnatural waterways, environmental disaster zones and other liminal spaces. He has been documenting New York City’s changing waterfront for the past decade, in an ongoing series of photo essays published every two weeks. These essays have been featured by the New York Times, New York Magazine, Village Voice and many other publications, and are currently published as the “Camera Obscura” column at Curbed NY. His photographs have been exhibited by the Museum of the City of New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Queens Museum, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, and in numerous galleries. Kensinger is currently curating Chance Ecologies, a public art project exploring the importance of unplanned wilderness along Queens’ post-industrial waterfront. His previous public art installations include The Newtown Creek Armada (2012), which created a model boat pond on the Newtown Creek, and Gowanus Voyage (2013), which invited the public to explore the Gowanus Canal with robots and underwater cameras. His photographs of Brooklyn’s waterfront are currenly on view in the Atlantic Avenue subway station, in a MTA Arts & Design solo exhibit titled “Industrial Twilight,” and will also be exhibed at Urban Glass and the Brooklyn Historical Society in 2017.

Learn more about our featured speakers

Alexa Avilés is a proud New Yorker living in Sunset Park with her husband Frankie and their two daughters and serves as a New York City Councilmember, serving Council District 38. She was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and grew up in East New York, Brooklyn. Avilés’s path has been inspired by her mother, Isabel, a brave, vivacious and loving woman who rebuilt their lives after the loss of her father to gun violence. Isabel used her own life experiences to help others suffering from poverty, incarceration, and substance abuse disorder. Before her election to City Council, Avilés’s career spanned almost three decades in the not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors. Most recently, she served as Program Director at the Scherman Foundation, where she supported local and national social justice organizations that included work to protect human rights, autonomy, and dignity of all people. She has supported state and national efforts to reduce the incarceration of juveniles and adults, fought discrimination across multiple government systems, and supported the empowerment of marginalized communities. Avilés also served as PTA President at PS 172 for nearly a decade, partnering with parents, staff, and students to improve academic and recreational programs. She championed language access and an inclusive and supportive community for all. She has had the privilege of serving as the Chair of the NYC Youth Board and on multiple local and national nonprofit boards, including Brooklyn Community Board 7. She is a proud alumna of A Better Chance and the National Urban Fellows. The first in her family to go to college, she is a graduate of Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Latin American History.  She earned a master’s degree in public administration at Baruch College’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.

Danielle Da Costa is an Assistant Vice President on the Opportunity M/W/DBE Team at the New York City Economic Development Corporation specializing in business development and capacity building programming. She earned a master’s degree in public and urban policy analysis and management from the New School. At NYCEDC, her primary focus has been the management of ConstructNYC and Offshore Wind Waterfront Pathways Programs where she has helped connect and support successful outcomes for M/WBEs on over $93M across the five boroughs.

Jessica Dealy is a Senior Advisor for Offshore Wind with the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). Her role entails guiding the coordination of New York State’s Offshore Wind Workforce Development efforts, with a focus on labor relations and environmental justice. Her work is meant to build racial and gender equity through the labor movement and employer partnerships. Prior to her position with NYSERDA, Dealy spent eight years working for renewable energy developer, EDF-Renewables. Most recently, she served as Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind’s External Affairs Lead. She earned a master’s degree in environmental geoscience and her undergraduate degree in meteorology and climatology from Mississippi State University, Phi Beta Kappa. Dealy also worked as an award-winning on-air meteorologist and taught news writing as a graduate assistant.

Pauline Huet Le Bertre is Assistant Director of Offshore Wind at NYSERDA. The Offshore Wind program team is engaged in advancing competitive procurement of new strategic projects, contract management of the growing portfolio, advancing grid integration solutions, driving workforce and economic development including manufacturing and port infrastructure investments to ensure NYS maintains its position as the nation’s hub for offshore wind, supporting the regulatory and diverse inter-governmental engagements required to support New York’s offshore wind industry’s responsible and cost-effective growth including New York’s four offshore wind Technical Working Groups (TWGs) which lead relevant research projects (environment, innovation, stakeholder, etc). Prior to joining NYSERDA in February 2024, Huet Le Bertre was living and working in France and has 15 years’ experience in the energy sector. Two years as Deputy Chief of Staff and special advisor to the CEO of the French national TSO, focused on strategy, prospective, planning and communication. Five years as CEO of the trade association dedicated to wind power in France (both onshore and offshore). Nine years in a public affairs and consulting firm as director lobbyist. She is a corporate lawyer by education (LLM at NYU, Paris and NY Bars) and practiced as an M&A lawyer for three years at Gide.

Sam Jung is the Vice President of Renewable Energy Industry Development at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). He is responsible for developing and advancing equitable innovation, supply chain, and workforce development initiatives to accelerate the growth of the offshore wind, energy storage, electric vehicle, and solar industries in New York City. Prior to this role, Jung worked at the NYC Mayor’s Office where he led the inclusive economic development and business innovation portfolio of the Deputy Mayor of Strategic Policy Initiatives to enable community wealth generation at scale. Jung is passionate about addressing climate change through developing non-extractive economic development strategies. He holds a master’s degree in city planning from MIT, and bachelor’s degrees in international studies and ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego.

Bobby Kennedy is a project manager for Con Edison of New York where his is responsible for overseeing a $1.2 billion clean energy infrastructure portfolio. His primary focus is on advancing the company’s commitment to constructing a resilient grid that will deliver 100 percent clean energy by 2040. Notable among the clean energy projects in his portfolio is the Brooklyn Clean Energy Hub, an $810 million electric substation in Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn. This hub will be able to accommodate up to 1.5 megawatts of offshore wind generation, sufficient to power approximately 750,000 homes. It will also address a reliability need in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn. Moreover, the Brooklyn Clean Energy Hub is anticipated to generate over 500 skilled union jobs in Brooklyn. Kennedy also leads a $36 million clean energy interconnection project in Long Island City, designed to accommodate 1,250 megawatts of clean hydroelectric energy from Quebec, Canada, enough to power approximately 625,000 homes. In 2023, he and his team successfully completed the firm’s $275 million Queens Reliably Clean City Project—a 300-megawatt clean energy power line from upstate New York, replacing a fossil fuel generation station in Astoria, Queens.  In 2023, he was recognized by City & State NY Magazine as one of the Top 50 “Above & Beyond Innovators” in the State for his commitment to clean energy.

Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Science in organizational management from Manhattan College and is an MBA candidate at NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Beyond his professional and personal pursuits, Kennedy is an advocate for criminal justice reform and actively supports the Innocence Project—a non-profit legal clinic dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing. Additionally, he champions the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice Reform, a non-profit organization advocating for laws that protect society without penalizing poverty, mental illness, or underlying substance abuse.

Helena Pound is currently a Management Analyst working as a Lindahl Reed Contractor at the US Department of Energy- Wind Energy Technologies Office. Her current role is focused on strategic planning and implementation of major offshore wind initiatives including the DOE Offshore Wind Strategy and Floating Offshore Wind Shot. She came to the US Department of Energy through the NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. She holds a PhD in microbiology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, a master’s degree in marine biology from the College of Charleston, and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. With her interdisciplinary background and passion for sustainable energy, Pound’s is committed to advancing the development and deployment of offshore wind technologies in the United States.

Debra Salomon is the Director of Program Development at City Tech CUNY Continuing Studies Center. Over an eighteen-year career, her focus has been on providing affordable, hands-on renewable energy and clean technology training for all New Yorkers- especially those who are traditionally overlooked.  Starting with solar PV in 2007 and energy storage a decade later, Debra’s focus is now on Offshore Wind. A background in design and construction led to her exploration of energy production that is both efficient and sustainable. We don’t yet know the forms that energy generation and storage will take- the field is wide open. That’s a fascinating place to be.

Tone Søndergaard is the Director of the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub, Urban Future Lab at NYU Tandon school of Engineering.  She spearheads the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub which aims to grow the US offshore wind industry by harnessing the entrepreneurial powers of global industry-leading startups. By building collaborative partnerships, she is on a mission to accelerate nascent technology and business development that will drive inclusive offshore wind supply chain advancements. Her role entails all aspects of strategic development, program oversight, and daily management of this initiative and physical space in Industry City. Søndergaard has more than ten years of experience in innovation and development of transatlantic partnerships, sustainable business support programs, and climate change initiatives. As Founding Director of Circular City Week New York, her passion for community and ecosystem building runs deep. She holds a master’s degree in international business and politics from Copenhagen Business School, partly completed at Columbia University.

Bryan Turner has spent over 20 years as an engineering and project management leader in various industries. He has degrees in Geology and Environmental Engineering as well as holding licenses as a Professional Geologist and Professional Civil Engineer.  He is passionate about delivering large-scale technical development projects.  Turner was born and raised in New York and lived the majority of his life in the New York City Metro area.  For the past two and a half years, Turner has been working for Equinor on renewable offshore wind projects as an engineer on the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.

Spencer A. Williams currently serves as the Director of Land Use and Topography for the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, a role he has held since March 2024. In this position, Williams leads initiatives under the Borough President’s Charter mandates, focusing on the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process and providing crucial land use recommendations. His previous experience includes a significant role as the Director of Advocacy at The Municipal Art Society of New York, where he influenced housing policies and urban planning standards. Williams’s extensive background also includes positions at the Seattle Planning Commission and the City of Seattle, where he engaged deeply with community planning and zoning reforms. A recipient of the AICP certification and an Associate Architect, Williams is also an active academic contributor, with publications that address urban design, parking policies, and housing affordability.

Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney of African and Indigenous ancestry and environmental/climate justice leader who is the executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Puerto Rican community-based organization. She is also the Co-Chair of a national alliance called Climate Justice Alliance and the co-founder of #OurPowerPRnyc.Her award-winning vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community-led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around just, sustainable development, environmental justice, and community-led climate adaptation and community resiliency in Sunset Park. In addition to that, she was recognized in 2015 by Vogue as a Climate Warrior and one of the 13 women on the frontline fighting against Climate Change. Yeampierre has been a featured speaker at local, national, and international forums including Sage Paris 2015, 2016 GRI Amsterdam, White House Forum on Environmental Justice, Yale, Harvard, the Cooper Union, Columbia, and universities, colleges, and conferences all over the country and spoke at the opening climate rally for Pope Francis at the National Mall, and at The Battle for Paradise at Cooper Union with Naomi Klein. Her work is featured in several books, in addition, being featured in Latina Magazine, VOGUE, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Grist, American Prospect, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Democracy Now, The Intercept, and a variety of media outlets throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe.

In 2014, Yeampierre was part of the leadership of the People’s Climate March Mobilization – a march of over 400,000 people across New York City. She played a major role in ensuring the frontline was made up of young people of color, and successfully proposed the adoption of the Jemez principles for democratic organizing, which have since become the roadmap to building just relationships in the climate justice movement. Yeampierre was recently featured in the NY Times as a visionary paving the path to Climate Justice. In 2018, she was awarded the Frederick Douglass Abolitionist Award FD200. She recently was named by Apolitical as “Climate 100: The World’s Most Influential People in Climate Policy,“ and spoke at Oxford University, and the Ethos Conference in Brazil.

Conference Recap!

The Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center hosted a full-day conference on the efforts to bring Offshore Wind Energy to Brooklyn. The event was free and open to the public, with a hybrid format to accommodate both in-person and virtual attendees.

The morning session featured several speakers discussing various governmental and corporate initiatives related to offshore wind energy. Representatives from the US Department of Energy, NYSERDA, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Equinor, and Con Edison shared their insights and ongoing projects.

Richard Hanley, the director of the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, opened the event, emphasizing the return to in-person conferences after the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Hanley encouraged attendees to imagine a full house, acknowledging the hybrid nature of the event.

Throughout the morning, federal, state, and city efforts were detailed. Specific projects, goals, and collaborations were highlighted to demonstrate the progress and future plans for offshore wind energy in Brooklyn.

The afternoon session began with a keynote address on “A Just Transition to Clean Energy,” focusing on equitable and sustainable energy practices. The keynote provided a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities in transitioning to clean energy.

Following the keynote, panels discussed business and workforce opportunities related to offshore wind energy. These discussions included potential job creation, training programs, and the economic impact of the growing offshore wind industry in Brooklyn.

The event concluded with a Q&A session, where attendees had the opportunity to engage with the speakers and ask detailed questions about the topics discussed.

Overall, the conference provided a thorough and impartial overview of the ongoing efforts and future plans for integrating offshore wind energy into Brooklyn’s energy landscape.