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Get to know Jonathan Willson MERL'15

October 6, 2020 

Hometown: Middlebury, VT

Jonathan Willson MERL'15

Program at Vermont Law School: Master of Energy Regulation and Law (MERL)

Year graduated: 2015

Current position and company/organization: Senior Development Manager, Walden Renewables

Why VLS?: I chose VLS because of the flexible, online MERL offering. I was working full-time as a paralegal at a litigation law firm in Vermont as I decided whether to pursue a JD or MBA as the next step of my career. I knew my goal was to get into renewable energy as this industry began to really blossom and VLS seemed well-positioned to provide the education I needed to break into the energy industry.

Why the MERL?: I chose the MERL because of the specialized regulatory curriculum. I analyzed the MERL vs. JD and MBA degrees that I felt would help me enter the renewable energy market and felt that the MERL would provide a unique and marketable education. I saw that the program had a very high employment rate within the energy sector and a tight-knit group of alumni. This alumni network is what landed me my first development position at Ranger Solar!

What do you love the most about your current position?: I'm a capitalist at heart, and thus, I love working in the private sector to deliver clean energy solutions that can reach scale at very low costs.  My work takes me all over the country to directly work with landowners, regulators, and other stakeholders to affordable, utility-scale renewable energy. A day in the life could be standing in a corn field with a dairy farmer looking to retire without selling his farm before hopping on a flight to New York City or San Diego to meet with investment banks that supply project or tax equity financing. Every day is different!

How did your VLS experience impact or influence where you are today?: Vermont was an early adopter of distributed solar, so VLS was well-positioned to help me break into this industry. The connections I made at Vermont Law, especially the alumni network, launched my renewable energy career.  The marketability of the MERL also confirmed my decision to forego JD and MBA programs.