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K. Harley McDonald named San Diego chapter Woman of the Year by Women of Wind Energy

K. Harley McDonald, Senior Business Developer
Iberdrola Renewables

K. Harley McDonaldWhen I was working in Central America and the Caribbean as a marine and terrestrial archaeologist, I had no idea I would be pursuing a career in renewable energy development a short time later. But looking back, it was the perfect stepping stone.

I was very lucky during my tenure as an archaeologist to work on some amazing sites, including Mayan sites in Belize, Taino sites (the native inhabitants that met Christopher Columbus) in the Dominican Republic, and Spanish treasure ships and pirate shipwrecks throughout the Caribbean. The work entailed anything from excavating royal Mayan burials and ballcourts, exploring caves to document the rock art, diving in cenotes (sinkholes) to bring up the artifacts the Taino dropped into the well as offerings to the Gods, and dredging the ocean floor to uncover shipwrecks. The transition to renewable energy came after becoming a consultant for the oil and gas industry to assist in siting underwater pipelines across the Gulf of Mexico to avoid shipwrecks. I realized I liked working in the energy sector. The difference was that I wanted to do something that I believed in and was near and dear to my heart: renewable energy.

Now having developed wind and solar projects for nearly 10 years, and having joined Iberdrola Renewables in 2010, I was surprised and humbled to be named by the San Diego chapter of Women of Wind Energy as their Woman of the Year for 2013. In their announcement, they touted my permitting and regulatory achievements in San Diego County, and my leadership of wind and solar development efforts throughout the state.

As a developer of some high profile projects in large media markets, in a state as complex and with as rich a renewables history as California, my name can be out in public a lot, but I feel that it’s simply part of my job. I have found that, whether consciously or subconsciously, I have surrounded myself with friends, family, and co-workers that all love nature and understand that the climate is changing. Each one of us needs to do our part, whether our efforts are big or small.

“We are very pleased to honor K. Harley McDonald as our 2013 Woman of the Year,” said Mary Anderson, WoWE San Diego Chapter steering committee member. “With her exceptional leadership in both thought and action, tireless advocacy, and grace under pressure, Harley serves as a model for a renewable energy industry leader and is most deserving of this honor.”

I assure you when someone who I respect as much as Mary says such kind words about my work, my first thought is to hide under a table, but as I said before, working on high profile projects in large media markets doesn’t always lend itself to channelling your inner wallflower. Instead, I focus on the fact that I’m trying to do something to help combat climate change and that the attention sometimes comes with the territory.

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