Toward more inclusive spaces
“Coming to Stanford was a dream for me – I was excited to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship principles while I pursued opportunities to make a positive social impact,” said Ken Alston, MBA’11, MS’12.
From serving as a Presidential Appointee at the U.S. Department of Energy to positions in venture capital and management consulting, Alston’s professional career has spanned a range of environmental roles. He is a passionate environmentalist with a background in financing new and emerging sustainable energy technologies.
Stanford’s interdisciplinary environmental studies graduate program, the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) bridges science and policy across schools. Alston fondly remembers his E-IPER experiences at the Graduate School of Business, where one class led him to develop a startup focused on making commercial buildings more energy efficient. His participation in this student startup experience continues to influence his current work on funding startups and innovation.
“Throughout my school and work years, I was often the only Black person in the room,” Alston said. “Climate change and protecting the environment impact everyone, and it’s made me wonder why there’s not more representation in the rooms where decisions are made on these issues.”
Alston hopes to make the climate tech and environmental sectors more inclusive and representative, which he believes would encourage more students of all backgrounds to pursue careers in this space.
Alston has held various positions in the Obama Administration and worked at the U.S. Department of Energy as a Presidential Appointee and Special Advisor to the Secretary. He co-founded the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Investment Center and has led various energy policy and financing initiatives. Currently, he is a Venture Investor in the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund.