Kathleen Alexander - Environmental Specialist at R.J. Burnside and Associates

General info:

Kathleen Alexander is an Environmental Scientist at R.J. Burnside & Associates in the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Group. Primarily working on feasibility and environmental constraints studies for solar and wind projects, serving a wide range of clients from municipalities, private developer, to First Nation communities. She has also been an Environmental Technician with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in the Enforcement Branch. Worked with Environmental Officers performing inspections at a wide range of facilities, including wind farms, to ensure proper approvals are in place and conformance with terms of the approval. 

Kathleen went to Queen's University for Environmental Science and is currently pursuing a Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia. Planning to do her thesis on the integration of renewable energy systems into the landscape, with a focus on urban environments. Using design as a means to more beautifully integrate renewable energy generation into our everyday lives.  

Why did you join WiRE?

I joined WiRE in September 2014 to be part of a community of like-minded people. I am inspired by women working in atypical fields like renewable energy, so sought out to make connections and learn from them! I also wanted to gain a broader perspective on the renewable energy industry. 

What has your involvement been with WiRE?

I was the Digital Content Publisher for the monthly newsletter - editing, arranging, and distributing valuable content. I learned a new skill set while staying informed, first hand, of all the opportunities and news in the WiRE community. 

What made you interested in renewable energy?

I believe production of, and access to, clean energy is one of the greatest challenges (and opportunities) of our time. I believe meeting that challenge is essential for securing a sustainable present and future for humankind.

Do you have any advice for women who want to enter the RE field?

Just do it! Work in the RE field comes in many different shapes and forms. Even if you are not currently doing something directly related, with dedication and confidence you can leverage your experience into a role that gets you closer to your goals. If you have a vision and the perseverance to see it through, you will achieve it. 

What challenges have you faced in the field, and what actions have you taken to overcome them? 

The greatest challenge I’ve faced are presumptions about my capabilities - whether those presumptions are perceived by myself or by someone else. I believe this is a life-long battle that almost everyone faces. In my experience, the best way to overcome this is to have confidence in yourself and simply, do your best, and you’ll find most often your best is more than enough. 

What are you proudest of in your professional life? 

I'm most proud of my drive to keep growing and challenging myself by creating and pursuing new opportunities. 

Any other passions?

Kathleen also volunteers with Evergreen, getting her hands dirty once a month by removing invasive species and planting native ones. She explains that it's extremely therapeutic to rip out invasive plants and replace them with native ones!

By Stephanie Landers, Communications and Public Relations Advisor for the Ontario Waterpower Association and WiRE Advisory Committee Marketing Lead