Judy Dorsey is the founding President and Principal Engineer of Brendle Group, an impact-driven, people-centered sustainability firm that solves complex sustainability challenges through practical planning, robust engineering and analysis, and actionable implementation. Over the past 22 years, Judy has grown Brendle Group into an award-winning consulting group with impact areas focused on transformative energy and water solutions, resilient and regenerative systems, and symbiotic relationships between the natural and built environments.
Judy also serves on the advisory board for Colorado State University’s Energy Institute and is co-founder of Colorado C3E, an initiative to advance women in clean energy. She is a member of the American Solar Energy Society, the Association of Energy Engineers, and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. In 2005, she helped launch the Colorado Clean Energy Cluster and form the vision and key implementation projects for FortZED as well as other cluster initiatives, including the International Cleantech Network (ICN). Judy has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. She resides with her family in Colorado’s first LEED home.
To me, success is measured in positive impacts on people and relationships. As a woman engineer and mom, I hope to help other women engineers achieve both their professional and life aspirations.
What’s the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome as a woman in your career?
As a woman engineer, I strive to break down barriers for future generations. Part of breaking down these barriers is busting myths that women aren’t as technically qualified as male engineers or that we aren’t as committed professionals due to family commitments. Some of these stereotypes are especially hard to address since women are so underrepresented in engineering. In fact, we have less market access, making women-owned engineering firms federally designated as disadvantaged. At Brendle Group we work hard to thrive as a business despite these market disadvantages. While it can be beneficial to some of our customers that Brendle Group is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, it can also feed the notion that women are less than equal to our male counterparts. As an entrepreneur, that presents a bit of a quandy and a challenge to navigate.
What are you proudest of in your career? What has been your biggest success?
To me success is measured in positive impacts on people and relationships. As a woman engineer and mom I hope to help other women engineers achieve both their professional and life aspirations. I started Brendle Group when I was in the third trimester of my pregnancy with my son, Andrew. Throughout my career, I’ve tried to be a role model for successfully managing work and family, and have proven it’s possible to have both. I’m proud to be able to help women and people in general positively look forward, and reach their desired goals. It makes me happy to see other women engineers at Brendle Group balancing families successfully. And I’m also happy to share that my son is now an electrical engineer serving as a Peace Corps volunteer and my daughter, Maggie, is pursuing a degree in ecology. Life comes full circle.
What do you want your legacy to be, whether in your workplace or in life?
From raising my two children with my husband Dan, I’ve learned it takes a village to accomplish your goals. It’s the same for clean energy and gender equality. Personally, I want my legacy to include the relationships I’ve built and the impact I’ve made as a role model for my family and all women. Through these relationships, I want my legacy to be a piece in the big picture of closing the gender gap and creating a more sustainable future.
What inspirational experiences do you have that you wish to share for women wanting to pursue clean energy as a career path?
My inspiration comes from the long lasting and sustained impact I’ve shared with my community. As an engineer focused on clean energy consumption and sustainability, I’m both technically challenged and professionally rewarded by pursuing positive sustainable solutions. The most inspiring part of this career is reaching goals and the satisfaction of having hard work make a positive impact, not just on myself but also for the larger community.
What new projects are you working on that you wish to share?
Brendle Group has several projects that we’re working on at the moment. Currently, we’re very excited to be conducting a Climate Vulnerability Assessment in Bozeman, Montana. We’re also growing and innovating on our partnership with Xcel Energy through Partners in Energy. Through this offering, Brendle Group helps participating communities develop a plan that identifies their energy goals and maps out how they can be achieved. We’re also continuously helping various partners and customers in the private sector achieve their net zero energy and water goals.
What one thing would you change about your workplace in order to make it more equitable?
At Brendle Group, equity is one of our core values, essentially running through our DNA as a company. However, there is always room for improvement. At Brendle Group, equity applies to both men and women. For example, we’re currently looking into paternity leave for new dads because we recognize that the importance of work and life balance for long and successful careers. We’re also piloting alternative work opportunities for individuals nearing the end of their career (we call this an Encoreship), part-time employment, and sabbaticals.
Thinking about what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Growing up, I was very energetic and definitely a classified risk taker. Knowing what I know now, I would advise my younger self to embrace failure with open arms, and stomp out perfectionism. Nobody is perfect and it is important to learn from failure to grow as a person.
How do you think C3E can encourage more women to pursue a career in clean energy?
Right now, the stories and interviews campaign that the C3E website is introducing is a very powerful tool to encourage more women to pursue a career in clean energy. These stories show that women are already influencing the Colorado clean energy economy and breaking down gender barriers across a wide range of jobs and clean energy sectors. Beyond these stories, it is essential to work with employers to continue breaking down barriers to recruiting and retaining more women into their ranks. C3E can also work with employers to put more women in Colorado board rooms. C3E is a very powerful network that connects employers with exceptional talent – without gender bias.