Michelle Vigen Ralston

Regional Network: 
Chesapeake Regional Network
Class Year: 
2015
Position: 
Principal and Owner
Organization: 
Common Spark Consulting
Location: 
Berkeley, California

Michelle Vigen Ralston is the Owner and Principal of her own consulting firm, Common Spark Consulting, providing thoughtful and inclusive leadership towards a clean energy future. She facilitates public and stakeholder engagement, and provides research and strategic advocacy on behalf of her clients. Common Spark Consulting also supports organizational development and strategic planning efforts for not-for-profit organizations.

Prior to launching her own business, Michelle was the Senior Policy Manager with the California Efficiency and Demand Management Council where she represented the organization's 80+ member companies in their state energy efficiency regulatory and legislative affairs. She was actively involved in the California Public Utility Commission proceedings around energy efficiency, distributed energy resources, cost-effectiveness, and integrated resource planning.

Michelle's career has led her across the country. Before landing in California, Michelle led energy policy and regulatory affairs for Montgomery County, MD, including advocacy for the state energy efficiency standards, implementing their commercial benchmarking law, commercial PACE financing, and launching the Montgomery County Green Bank. Michelle has also conducted research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and led programming with the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships Clean Energy Resource Teams.

She is a recipient of a 2011 Archibald Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship which supported leadership training and outreach around community-based social marketing as an approach to achieve sustainability goals in Minnesota communities. Michelle is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program, and is a regular speaker on behavior change, policy, and financing topics, including a regular lecturer with the Columbia University Earth Institute Sustainability Practicum Series.

Michelle earned a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Policy specializing in energy policy and community development. She holds a B.A. from Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota. Beyond her energy-related passions, she is also a yoga instructor, avid backpacker, and (emerging) succulent collector from her residence in Berkeley, CA.