Energy Student Leaders Association (ELSA)

Energy Leaders Student Association (ELSA) – Making Connections Among Energy-Focused SPEA Students, Alumni, and Professionals

The Energy Leaders Student Association (ELSA) is the student organization at SPEA for those interested in the energy field. We are a dynamic and active group, focused on enhancing connections and knowledge about energy issues. ELSA is an organization that is open to all and has no member dues. We’re excited to welcome members from SPEA’s Energy concentration and beyond, including anyone interested in sustainability, climate change issues, and the environmental impacts of our energy system.

Throughout the year, we host a variety of events aimed at developing critically thinking professionals in the energy field. These have included field trips to nuclear and solar power plants and a recent visit to MISO, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the electric transmission system in the central U.S.

As the Vice President of the group, I work with the Executive Board to develop opportunities like these. We have a number of exciting events in the works for this year, including a visit to IU’s new photobioreactor and a discussion with Hoosier Energy, the area’s rural electric generation and transmission cooperative. We also host panel discussions with energy professionals and networking events with alumni who work in energy. Additionally, we highlight opportunities to hear presentations of interest on campus, for instance through the Environmental Policy Seminar Speaker Series.

The current ELSA leadership has also developed a biweekly Happy Kilowatt-Hour event, where students interested in energy can meet to socialize and take the conversation beyond what we learn in the classroom. Each Happy Kilowatt-Hour features a new topic at the forefront of the evolving energy system, from issues like energy democracy and energy poverty to battery technology and new tariff design for distributed energy resources. The events usually include a podcast or a short article or two for students to check out before the event, which help to inform the discussion.

In addition to enhancing conversations and community within the SPEA family, ELSA is working to forge cross-school connections with like-minded groups at IU’s Maurer School of Law and Kelley School of Business. These include the Environmental Law Society, the Kelley Energy Club, and Net Impact.

The ELSA Board also highlights internship and job opportunities for its members, posts about interesting energy news on our Facebook page, and fosters connections with alumni via a new ELSA LinkedIN group. This last group is a project ELSA is developing this year, working to add as many of our student members and alumni as possible, so we can begin to facilitate connections and grow the relationship.

We welcome anyone interested in energy issues to join us for one of our events or connect with us on Facebook or via email at!

Matt Flaherty is a second year dual MPA-MSES graduate student focusing in energy.

By Matt Flaherty
Matt Flaherty