This month’s spotlight shines on Katherine Muller, our Renewable Energy Consultant based in Greenville, SC. Katherine is, as she puts it, a 4th generation native, born and bred, of Greenville. Katherine had an idyllic childhood; her father was a cardiologist, with his practice in Greenville, and happily married to Katherine’s mother, Lucy. Katherine has a brother as well. The family placed a high premium on education, travel, and civic involvement, giving back to the community in one way or another, with church and Sunday school featuring prominently in each week. Katherine lost her beloved father within weeks of her high school graduation. Her mother went on to remarry years later and Katherine’s family continues to be happy and close knit, with family in Greenville, Charlotte, and Asheville.
Katherine studied international economics and political science at Vanderbilt University with a big focus on Spanish as well. She spent a summer studying in Madrid and one in London as well. This paid off when she was selected to be Student Director for Vanderbilt’s International-International-Studies-in-London Program. Graduating from University of South Carolina with a Masters of International Business Studies, fluent in Spanish, Katherine headed into an internship study of macadamia nuts for an agricultural export bank in Costa Rica. Here she was able to mingle with both the local aristocracy as well as small farmers. The passion for all things international and seeing the world has never stopped. From trekking to the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal, to scuba diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to a month long 300 km transverse of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, the desire is nourished as often as possible.
The love of the natural world began for Katherine on nature walks with her grandmother. This love has blossomed into a passionate desire to protect the environment and as well, to address climate change, the great moral issue of our time. Katherine’s understanding of the climate crisis deepened significantly during her time working for the Alliance for Climate Protection’s Repower America Campaign, now called Climate Reality Project. It was here that Katherine came to understand how energy- its derivation and use- is at the nexus of so many problems and opportunities. Solar energy is, of course, a big part of the solution to climate change. Katherine has chosen to work for a sustainable planet and for climate action. With the change in law regarding solar energy in South Carolina in 2014, there are now robust financial incentives to encourage people to invest in solar. By working with Sundance, Katherine feels that her professional life is in tandem with her values and that each solar system installed is a “vote” for a sustainable planet. Katherine sees the potential for great change, a solution to climate change, with action. Participating in the public activities of the UN’s COP21 Climate Talks this past December, in Paris, gave Katherine great hope for our future.
Katherine is newer to Sundance, joining the team in February, but you can see what an extraordinary woman she is and what a great team we will make! Let’s see what Katherine has to say to our standard list:
Three words that best describe you: Passionate, persistent, and adventuresome
Listening to: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Up From Below
Reading right now: Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island
Favorite scent: Don’t really have one, but something like fresh cut grass or maybe gardenias
Favorite pastime or hobby: Hiking, exploring outdoors and traveling. It’s wonderful not to know what’s around the next corner, or a bend in the road. Photography, movies and, yes, Facebook as a way to keep up with far-flung friends.
Favorite meal: “Mile High Nachos” from Chicora Alley in Greenville, or anything from The Purple Onion in Saluda, NC
Favorite word: Brilliant, in the British sense of the word
Least Favorite word: Fracking
Last movie: The Man Who Knew Infinity
Person or philosophy most admired: The person I would most like to meet is Elon Musk, followed by Dr. Paul Farmer, Founder- Partners in Health, Haiti
Favorite quote: “Think Globally, Act Locally” is one of them
Inspiration to share: The greatest capital is human capital. It’s your friends who make your world. Ideally, I strive to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am, who inspire or bring out the best in me, or who make me laugh. Not always possible, but life is too short to be around mean or petty people if you can help it. Oh, yes- and, practice gratitude as there is so much to be thankful for.