Patty Monahan

(’91), ENERGY FOUNDATION

“If you feel passionate about your work and do good for the world, you may be surprised by the opportunities life hands you.” Patty Monahan (M.S. Land Resources, Class of ’91) understands the importance of coupling exploration with direction to find your career path. After graduating with a BS in Environmental Studies from UC-Berkeley, Patty set off to work for the Environmental Protection Agency focusing on reducing air pollution in California. Through this work, she discovered a desire to improve her educational background through a graduate degree in an energy discipline.

While investigating her options, Patty came across UW-Madison and the EAP program. She visited campus and knew she found the interdisciplinary program she sought. Patty stated very matter-of-factly that “Climate Change was and remains the single biggest problem facing our world and energy is a major piece of the puzzle.”

Upon graduation, Patty decided to return to California and began work as a research associate for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for a few years followed by a return to the EPA. However, after five years in the governmental sector, Patty wanted a change of scenery and so she joined the Union of Concerned Scientists as an analyst eventually working her way up to California Director and Clean Vehicles Deputy Director. Her research mostly focused on the intersection of transportation and climate policy. She acknowledges that “working in the non-profit sector allowed me to be more creative and critically approach governmental policies in an effort to improve them.”

Patty currently works for the Energy Foundation continuing her research as the Transportation Program Director. Over the years, she observed the growth in the climate change field throughout her career. As something with experience in both the government and non-profit world, she realizes there are many approaches and perspectives to addressing climate change. Finally, Patty encourages students to be aware of the many opportunities before them and take advantage of them.