Benefitting the Environment and the Economy: The 1 Hotels Fellowship Experience

Mar 03, 2021
Bonnie (far right) with the 2019-2020 E2 1 Hotels Fellows at their Kick-Off Conference

The 1 Hotels Fellowship at E2 supports early to mid-career businesspeople who seek to tackle pressing environmental issues through projects that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Six selected fellows will receive $20,000 each and work with E2 staff and advocates to design and implement their projects for the 2021-2022 program cycle. E2 welcomes all project proposals aligned with our mission. Individuals who do not consider themselves traditional business people are still encouraged to apply.

Bonnie Gurry is a 1 Hotels Fellow working to build GreenPortfolio, an online platform that helps individuals use their personal finances to fight climate change by streamlining the process of selecting financial products that invest in renewable energy. We enjoyed talking with her to learn more about the program and get some application tips.  

1. What inspired you to apply for the 1 Hotels Fellowship?

While I was working to help develop renewable energy projects for New York State, I saw that institutions and other large financial entities were able to invest in wind and solar assets. I wanted to have these assets in my personal financial portfolio – not only to support the generation of clean energy but for the diversification and return that these types of assets provide. I started researching the various options available to individual investors and found that while there were good options, you had to spend a lot of time doing your due diligence. 

I realized that other people were looking for the same types of green investments and might want this type of information as well. When I heard about the mission of the 1 Hotels Fellowship – projects that benefit both the economy and environment – it felt like a perfect fit. I wanted to make it easier for everyone to use financial products to take steps towards a clean energy future where the majority of our energy comes from renewable energy sources. 

2. What is a typical week like for a 1 Hotels Fellow? 

This fellowship is structured to give you both the freedom and support that is needed. They trust that you are passionate about the project you are working on and are going to do your best to bring it to fruition. At the same time, they connect you with environmentally-minded business leaders and subject matter experts in the E2 network as well as within the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 

Through this network, I was able to reach out to a variety of individuals with deep backgrounds in climate finance as well as people who were just passionate about the subject matter. Receiving their feedback and input would not have been possible without being accepted to this program. As GreenPortfolio transformed from a spreadsheet to a website and newsletter with a growing number of subscribers, I was able to continually receive support from the E2 team whenever I needed it. 

3. What did you enjoy most about the fellowship?

This fellowship was instrumental in broadening my professional network, connecting me with so many interesting and talented people. I was able to gain advice from experts in the climate finance field and learn from other fellows working on their own projects. Having the support of E2 and the 1 Hotels Fellowship opened so many doors. People wanted to learn what I was working on through the fellowship and how they could help. The fellowship also provided me with a coach whose feedback and guidance was indispensable as my project progressed. 

4. How has your fellowship experience influenced your current work?

Prior to this fellowship, I worked in renewable energy and business intelligence in varying capacities over the years. In some ways, my project proposal for the 1 Hotels Fellowship was a natural extension of these activities – a database of ways the average person could invest in renewable energy production. As the fellowship progressed, the project turned into a company – GreenPortfolio: an online platform that helps consumers use their personal finances to fight climate change by streamlining the process of selecting funds, credit cards, and bank accounts that invest in renewable energy. The fellowship was supportive of whatever direction I took the project and was happy to provide guidance however they were able. 

5. What tips would you give others applying to the 1 Hotels Fellowship?

I would encourage anyone with an idea that benefits both the economy and the environment to apply. This fellowship is unique because of the diverse backgrounds of the people in the program. It doesn’t matter where you work, what level of education you have, or where you’re from – all you need is a novel idea. It is rare to find a program that is so flexible and mission-driven. I think it is one of the strengths of the fellowship and why anyone who is interested should submit an application.

Bonnie Gurry is currently co-founder of GreenPortfolio and research director at an investment firm. She previously worked in renewable energy developing projects for New York State and as an analyst with BASF’s Clean Energy division. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University, a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from CalTech, and an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business. 

Interested in applying? Bookmark the 1 Hotels Fellowship at E2 to your ProFellow account.

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