Ketchikan’s Kiera O’Brien named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list

Ketchikan’s Kiera O’Brien has been named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 7:32 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Born and raised in Ketchikan, Kiera O’Brien loved every minute of growing up in the Southeast Alaskan town.

“For me, hiking, fishing, being out in nature — those are some of my favorite things in the world,” she said.

It also made her appreciate where she lived and inspired her to pursue a career in clean energy.

“As everybody in Alaska knows you are just so well acquainted with nature and the way of life,” O’Brien said. “You’re dependent on your environment and so, you naturally notice changes in it when they occur ... and the idea that those resources could be restricted, depleted, not available for future generations is what inspired me to get involved in climate advocacy and renewable energy broadly.”

It was her childhood experience that helped play a role in inspiring O’Brien’s work in the climate sector, which recently put her on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, a title she was not expecting but is honored to be a part of.

“Honestly, I found out about it — I was flying for a work trip, so I had just landed in Raleigh, North Carolina, for a site visit, and saw the coverage on Twitter before I saw the email that I had been chosen for the award,” she said.

O’Brien works specifically with offshore wind and solar energy, but said when it comes to getting involved, opportunities are everywhere.

“I guess my main advice would be if you don’t find the opportunity that you think you can contribute the most in, you should create it yourself,” she said.

Of all places to make a difference, O’Brien said Alaska is ground zero. When she’s not back home in Ketchikan visiting family, O’Brien can be found in Washington, D.C., where she works as a federal public policy representative for TotalEnergies.