Ben Kelahan spent more than two decades in state capitols and local communities across the country engaged in coalition building, grassroots organizing, government relations, and community engagement before co-founding ReNew Mexico in 2019.
After working within the renewable energy sector to inform and organize local communities around the economic, employment and education system advantages of hosting wind and solar projects in their municipalities, Ben’s passion of building a statewide coalition driven to deliver renewable energy projects and transmission brought him to New Mexico. He believes in the power of local grassroots voices to fulfill the state’s potential to be a proven leader and model for other state’s with renewable energy goals.
As an action-oriented campaign manager and field operative, he has advised some of the world’s leading energy companies on state and local land-use permit approvals, legislative issues and development strategies throughout the country. Ben has worked to build a robust renewable energy economy across the West, including New Mexico, Wyoming, and Colorado, in addition to many states in the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Chelsea Norman is the Outreach Director for ReNew Mexico. For the last 5 years, she has worked on a variety of renewable energy campaigns around the country geared toward building community support for wind and solar projects. She is a new resident of Albuquerque and is looking forward to exploring and building relationships in New Mexico. You can reach her at Chelsea@ReNewMexico.org if you’re interested in becoming more involved with the organization.
Arcelia Isais Gastelum
After receiving her bachelor’s in environmental science and biology, Arcelia moved to New Mexico to pursue her passion for working with communities to move towards a cleaner environment. Since moving, she has advocated for statewide renewable standards as well as local efficiency measures. She hopes to see our state take advantage of our abundant renewable resources and lead the nation in a more secure and resilient future. During her free time, she enjoys coffee, crocheting, and adding chile to all her meals.
Danielle grew up in Bosque Farms, New Mexico in Valencia County. From an early age, she was passionate about working with young girls of color getting involved in leadership roles around science topics. With a lot of support and scholarships, she went to Eckerd College in Florida getting a BA in Geoscience with minors in Environmental Studies and Philosophy. Attending Eckerd College, Danielle was a Co-Founder of a social justice club, Latinos Unidos, the first club to reach Latinos on campus. Over the next free years, she became involved in political and environmental aspects seeing where they intersected. Now back in New Mexico with her cats, she has grown even more passionate about climate change and bringing an equitable system of sustainability to future generations.
A Note From Our Founders
We formed ReNew Mexico after years of working in the renewable energy sector, frustrated by growing misinformation around clean energy projects and dedicated efforts to prevent renewable energy projects from being developed and their benefits delivered to local community economies without delay.
We have been inspired by a critical moment in time where there is great economic and environmental urgency to engage in practical efforts and solutions. The proverbial “straw” came as we watched our country’s fearful youth lead the world in discussions about the impacts of climate change and the challenges they will have to address, that added to what we’ve seen in terms of economic need in communities throughout the country and acutely in New Mexico. We knew then it was time to do something different to affect change now.
Each of us has spent the majority of our careers working to permit renewable energy projects. We’ve seen firsthand that, for many communities around our country, the threat of losing an entire school system, the family farm, and generations of economic opportunity is a constant reality. Those threats motivated us to work tirelessly to help communities use the power of their own voices to push decision-makers to approve renewable energy projects so that everyone could benefit.
We are always proud to drive through communities in which we’ve worked to see turbines spinning and solar cells sun-bathing. But, in truth, we’ve worked in too many communities that never received the positive impact renewable energy can provide. And that’s because, for one reason or another, something stood in development’s way.
We created ReNew Mexico because we feel responsibility to make sure our outreach and advocacy for renewable energy projects actually results in benefit in New Mexico’s communities. And we know that with a strong, diverse, multi-sector coalition of renewable energy allies, every renewable energy project in New Mexico will make it across the finish line.