Department of Energy mentor inspires mentees to make a difference in energy efficiency Meet Cedar Blazek

Department of Energy mentor inspires mentees to make a difference in energy efficiency

Cedar Blazek is a Science and Technology Policy Program (STP) alumna and now Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) mentor. She is supporting workforce development in energy management. (Photo Credit: Cedar Blazek)

Before Cedar Blazek was guiding budding scientists as a Department of Energy (DOE) mentor she was learning to love science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a child by admiring the beauty of nature, the planet and its complex ecosystems. She was determined to make a difference and earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental policy from Williams College.

After college Blazek worked for the Center for EcoTechnology, a non-profit where she learned the ins-and-outs of energy efficiency. She performed energy audits on homes and businesses. Eventually, her passion for the environment and newfound skills in energy led her to work with the DOE as a contractor. However, she also wanted to continue her education, and realized becoming a DOE fellow would help her gain even more experience.

“I was supporting the DOE as a contractor when I learned about their Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowships,” said Blazek. “The more I learned, the more I realized a DOE fellowship provided a lot of freedom and ability to contribute to the agency and office in a meaningful way. I applied and spent a year and a half supporting the DOE Building Technologies Office as an ORISE Science, Technology and Policy Program (STP) fellow.”

During her fellowship Blazek was able to sharpen her skillsets and collaborate with stakeholders, which was an excellent learning experience. Her own mentor, Amy Jiron, was always there for her and supported her interests. Blazek is proud that she had a strong female leader to look up to and admired how Jiron completed her mission-driven work with positivity.

Department of Energy mentor inspires mentees to make a difference in energy efficiency

Blazek is passionate about energy management and being there as a resource for her mentees. (Photo Credit: Cedar Blazek)

Then, after her fellowship ended, Blazek continued working with the DOE and wanted to give back to the STEM community in a meaningful way. She decided to become a mentor like Jiron, citing that “it all comes down to people” in the energy efficiency field. Being able to support workforce development as a mentor gives Blazek a way to contribute to the DOE mission and help shape the future of energy management.

Blazek’s mentees are a part of the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). FEMP was created to support federal, contract and private sector stakeholders in the federal energy field, helping participants build essential skills in energy and water usage, which contributes to their environmental stewardship. FEMP provides energy leadership to the country by identifying and leveraging government best practices. Blazek directs her mentees in varied ways to meet the mission of FEMP. For example, combining both clear, direct goals with enough leeway for mentees to also act independently. This balance between structured and unstructured research is an integral part of her mentoring style.

Not only does Blazek enrich her mentee’s education, but mentees bring something new to the table too. All of her mentees are different and come from varied backgrounds, and each has unique knowledge and interest in the energy sector, bringing together multiple trades to FEMP.

“The most rewarding experience for me as a mentor is watching the participants achieve success after their program is completed,” said Blazek. “I’ve gotten to watch multiple participants I’ve mentored move into high-profile federal positions where they are serving our country and making a difference every day.”

Blazek’s time as a past participant and a current mentor have both been rewarding, and she encourages others to apply to ORISE opportunities like FEMP. Beyond work and mentoring, Blazek loves to bike, snowboard and see live music, but STEM will always remain one of her biggest passions.

From the ORISE Featurecast: Episode 11, Cedar Blazek on government working together for a sustainable future

Cedar Blazek is training program manager for the U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program, which helps other agencies in the federal government meet their energy and water efficiency management goals. The training program offers accredited courses to help anyone, whether in government or not, learn how to manage their environmental impact. In this conversation, Blazek and host Michael Holtz discuss the importance of her work and of sustainability, her previous experience as an ORISE Science, Technology and Policy Fellow at DOE, and her evolution from the world of science policy to training in energy efficiency.

Listen to this episode Transcript for this episode


The FEMP Program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy. ORISE is managed for DOE by ORAU.