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From October 13-14, Karp Strategies’ Analyst Cheryl Lim and Graduate Analyst Stephanie Silva attended the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore Windpower Virtual Summit. Rebecca Karp, Managing Principal and CEO of the firm, was a panelist for a session titled “Meaningful Community Engagement in the Time of COVID” with fellow co-panelists Kris Ohleth from Ørsted and Hannah-Marie P. Garcia from the University of Delaware, and moderated by Beth Treseder from Equinor Wind. Throughout the two day event, Rebecca, Cheryl, and Stephanie joined over 1,000 renewable energy professionals, government officials, thought leaders, and students to participate in a variety of panel discussions focused on understanding and talking about the critical role of offshore wind in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Offshore wind presents a unique opportunity to address climate change head-on by bringing a much needed scalable renewable energy source to the market and by leveraging tremendous private and public investments to generate job opportunities and community economic development. America has been hard-hit by the effects of COVID-19, leaving communities reeling in the midst of economic turmoil. Despite the pandemic slowing or halting other projects altogether, offshore wind as an industry has continued to forge forward with momentum expected to continue and critically aid the recovery of the U.S. economy.

Multiple east coast states have, at an increasing pace, utilized the procurement of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and Offshore Renewable Energy Certificates (OREC), long-term electricity and wind energy contracts, to purchase energy in volumes and prices that meet consumer needs and which drive supply chain, workforce, and port development. States and developers have started engaging stakeholders to share introductory information on offshore wind, answer questions, and address concerns.

Throughout the conference, panelists shared their positive sentiments and outlook for workforce development within the offshore wind industry, including new jobs and the necessary related apprenticeships, training, and education. A key theme to the successful development of the workforce pipeline was centered around industry cooperation in all sectors - public, private, and non-profit. There are currently many workforce initiatives underway and regional collaboration will be integral to truly meet the workforce needs across the Northeast. A challenge identified by panelists for workforce development related to managing the expectations and understanding between industry and training/education organizations. Building an offshore wind farm will require mechanics, electricians, professionals from the oil and gas industry, workers from another renewable energy field, and more. Although transferable skills from these trades exist, the facilities and employee base may have decreased in size, and efforts to build these back up is needed. In the development of career pathways for OSW-adjacent professions, establishing standards beyond Global Wind Organisation (GWO) for on-site workers will be important. For example, such a standard would be commercial fishermen looking to use their vessels during the fishing off-season to assist developers. These trainings would allow for the fishermen to prepare for the transition smoothly.

Panelists also spoke about their dedication and commitment to meeting local stakeholders impacted by these developments with great fervor. Chris Hart, President and Managing Director of Atlantic Shores detailed Atlantic Shores’ commitment to hiring locally, citing locally-hired fishery and community liaisons, and building innovative partnerships with local institutions.

Stakeholder engagement is seen as a pivotal element to the success and failure of a project. Panelists highlighted the importance of looking beyond dialogue and moving beyond transactional interactions. Hannah-Marie Garcia from the University of Delaware spoke of her research into ways to develop co-management roles with tribal communities. Kris Ohleth from Ørsted spoke of building trust in the communities through deep, early embedded engagement. Rebecca Karp of Karp Strategies emphasized creating engagement opportunities during COVID not just over Zoom, but relying on tried and tested traditional methods like maintaining a relationship with members over the phone or in-person as needed. Throughout the conference, the importance of engaging communities early, often, and understanding local needs was an ever-present theme.

As we continue our work in offshore wind, renewable energy, and resiliency, we are grateful to participate in events to share and learn together. We would like to thank AWEA for hosting this virtual summit, and we look forward to attending again in 2021.

Interested in getting in touch with us about offshore wind? Contact Jen Becker, Practice Lead at

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Karp Strategies is thrilled to welcome Cali Williams to the firm as Principal. In her new role, Cali will provide executive project leadership and staff oversight, guide internal initiatives, and help spearhead the firm's growth and development. Most immediately, she is overseeing the firm’s engagements with the New York State Energy & Research Development Authority and the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Brooklyn Montgomery Coastal Resilience initiative. Cali brings an exceptional background in public service, having served at the NYC Economic Development Corporation for many years, most recently leading the Sunnyside Master Plan project.

We recently caught up with Cali over a virtual coffee to hear her insights on meaningful community engagement, inclusive urban planning practices, preparing for a sustainable future - and her thoughts on making the jump to consulting.

1. You join Karp Strategies after a long tenure at NYCEDC, where you served as Senior Vice President. What attracted you to work at Karp Strategies? What lessons will you take with you from your previous work as you transition to a private consulting firm? I was aware of and impressed by Karp Strategies for a long time through my experience at EDC. Part of what interested me in joining is that it is a mission-aligned firm, and in some ways, a start-up. From Rebecca (Karp), there’s a real priority around leading from the heart and around learning and growth as a team and alongside our partners and clients. What drove my work at EDC was making sure that people who weren’t at the table in decision making were able to participate in inclusive processes. I saw my role as bridging the gaps between government and local residents, business owners, and other stakeholders. This was a major priority of mine throughout work at EDC and will continue at KStrat. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned from my experiences leading neighborhood-wide planning, infrastructure, and resiliency projects across all five boroughs. I hope to continually grow my understanding of urban planning, to innovate, and think more creatively.

2. You also served as NYCEDC’s Director of Sunnyside Yard, which recently completed an ambitious master planning process involving a complex diversity of stakeholders. How did you go about the community planning and engagement process? What are some of the key takeaways?

The most important piece of any stakeholder engagement process, whether it was for Sunnyside Yard, or Jamaica Now, or Downtown Far Rockaway, is listening. Listening to community members, and I define community members broadly, to learn about their priorities and concerns. Taking time to make sure people are able to share what’s important to them by meeting people where they’re at. We spent nights and weekends going to people’s kitchen tables, churches, streets fairs, barbeques, you name it. By holding space to have these conversations, we are better able to understand what people love about their neighborhoods, what people find challenging, and what people can see happening differently there. One of my key takeaways from years of leading neighborhood planning and engagement processes is that transparency is critical. Transparency about who we’re representing, the parameters of what we’re able to do, and what we’re asking from people when they participate. For large-scale projects like Sunnyside Yard, the key is being able to hold a long-term vision that will span decades with immediate needs and desires.

3. Historically speaking, the urban planning field has been responsible for perpetuating policies of neglect, pollution, and disinvestment in BIPOC communities. This summer, communities around the world rallied together to demand racial justice and structural change. What must we as urban planners do to meet this call to action? Urban planners need to take responsibility for our role in upholding systemic racism and white supremacy. It’s our responsibility as a profession to not just acknowledge what we’ve done in the past but to take actions to undo institutions of racial oppression and plan differently. This summer there have been a lot of protests, articles, social media posts, book clubs, all-around a realization and acknowledgment that we need to do things differently. But I’m concerned that much of it has been performative and that energy and momentum to create change have been lost. Intentions are meaningless without impact. We as a firm need to live by our values of equity through the projects we engage in. We need to ask which people and/or neighborhoods continue to be ignored? Which projects are getting funded, and what are their impacts? All of this work should be scrutinized through a racial equity lens.

4. As a native New Yorker, you’ve seen the city go through intense periods of ups and downs. COVID-19 has profoundly affected our lives, and its full impact has yet to be realized. What do you hope to see as New York charts its path to recovery? This is an opportunity for us to think beyond recovery, and vision a new New York. I want a New York where people of all backgrounds can realize their full potential. By rethinking how we plan our City from streets to transportation to housing and giving voice to those who have been most impacted by COVID-19, New York can become a leader in the world in how we think about racial equity and how we invest and lift up community stakeholders. And while the focus right now is on the pandemic, we also must think about the climate crisis if we want to have any kind of future. Any planning decisions and investments in New York’s future must proactively combat climate change - which is why I’m thrilled to be leading the Karp Strategies team’s work on the Brooklyn-Montgomery Coastal Resilience with AECOM and the New York State Energy & Research Development Authority’s Offshore Wind initiatives. My daughter is a sixth-generation New Yorker. I want NY to be a place she can afford to live, where she wants to live. A place that has open space, public transportation, and schools that are able to really meet the needs of our growing population. A city that continues to be a place where people from all over the world want to live. A city where artists are celebrated and compensated. I am committed to the city and want to use my skills, knowledge, and relationships to help make it reach its full potential. My love and commitment to New York were what drove me to become an urban planner. And it’s what drove me to take the job at Karp Strategies.

5. And lastly, Karp Strategies has been fortunate to be fully operational throughout COVID-19 and responsive to our clients’ needs. As we continue to work remotely, do you have any sheltering-in-place tips? What are your favorite socially distant activities? I’ve been exploring parts of New York that were new to me. My husband and I were looking for new parks where my three-year-old daughter could run free and be in nature. We explored Shirley Chisholm park, parks in Staten Island, Greenwood Cemetery -- quiet and peaceful parts of the city. It was great to see that people were taking social distancing and mask-wearing seriously, but were also continuing to live their lives. And now, we spend a lot of time in Prospect Park, especially to meet with friends who also have kids. Having socially distant picnics has been wonderful. Saturday evenings it feels like Prospect Park becomes everyone’s backyard. In every corner people have lights hanging up and live music. The open streets are also inspiring. I love how creatively restaurants have set up umbrellas and chairs. By taking away cars, streets have been reclaimed as they should be, by people.

Interested in connecting with Cali? You can find her on LinkedIn, or reach out directly.

You can read Cali’s recent op-ed she penned with Rebecca Karp on creating systemic change in NYC’s planning and development processes.

We are thrilled to debut the Karp Strategies Learning Club! This new initiative is an opportunity for planning professionals, students, and other curious people interested in thinking deeply about cities to meet around key issues in the field. Each month, we will focus on a different hot topic via reading, film, discussion, and more.

Interested in joining the conversation? The Learning Club will take place on the second Tuesday of every month. RSVP to participate in the September 8th edition of The Learning Club, where we will discuss two articles: “The Unrealized Potential of New York City’s Open Streets” by Transportation Alternatives, and “'Safe Streets’ Are Not Safe For Black Lives” from City Lab in a discussion about open and shared streets moderated by Karp Strategies’ own, Ali Sutherland-Brown. Snag your spot here.

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