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Next Gen Energy Leaders


Lara Cottingham
City of Houston, Chief Sustainability Officer

With 13 years of communications and public policy experience, Lara is the Chief of Staff of the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department and the Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston. In addition to leading the Mayor’s Sustainability Office, Lara is the public face of ARA in the media as well as before City Council, industry stakeholders, and customers.

Prior to joining the City of Houston, Lara was a member of Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Houston office, providing strategic counsel in sustainability and social responsibility issues for a broad range of clients across the energy sector. Lara worked in Washington, DC and served as Communications Director for the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Vice Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus, as well as for congressional campaigns in Colorado, West Virginia, and Texas. She also produced a web-based reality show for CNN and served as a Government & Marketing Consultant for SXSW Interactive in Austin.

Lara attended the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated magna cum laude with degrees in History, Ancient History & Classical Civilizations, and Government. In 2013, she earned an MBA in Energy Finance and Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, where she co-founded the UT Energy Savings Fund.

Erin Hardick
Zpryme, Lead Research Analyst

Erin Hardick is the Lead Research Analyst at Zpryme, whose areas of research include digital transformation, grid modernization, renewables and DERs, transportation electrification, EVs, micromobility, and information and communication technology. She aggregates, analyzes, creates, and presents content that shows current trends in these areas. Erin also participates in thought leadership media as she conducts video interviews and emcees and moderates conversations for Zpryme events such as Energy Thought Summit (ETS), City of the Future (CoF), [email protected], and WE3. She co-hosts Zpryme’s On The Grid podcast. Erin is a recent graduate of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Accounting.