4 minutes with…Corinne Young, Chief Advocate, re:chem

November 9, 2014 |

youngTell us about your organization and it’s role in the advanced bioeconomy.

Launched in 2013 by an elite group of global leaders, re:chemTM was born out of necessity to spearhead US policy for rapid deployment of the renewable chemical industry and resultant cross sector manufacturing growth. Re:chem has emerged as the go-to sector voice (distinct, separate from biofuels), driving access to capital, speed to market, ROI.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

With our hard won Farm Bill language expanding Loan Guarantees, success prying open grants, and collaborating with EPA, re:chemTM has garnered a reputation for leading renewable chemical policy and winning coalitions. As a singular voice resolutely focused only on renewable chemical priorities, our mission is to enable access to capital and speed to market to drive this fast moving sector in the US. A seismic shift is occurring as the high value renewable chemical sector scales and delivers ROI for step-change manufacturing and superior product performance, cost competitive and advantaged to petrochemical incumbents. US policies have lagged, as other regions vie for this highly sought after sector in the global transition toward a competitive low carbon “new economy.” Re:chemTM’s specific priorities over the next 12 months are securing parity in: the tax code with a renewable chemical production tax credit, USDA 9003 loan guarantees, DOE/USDA grants, and EPA regulatory approvals.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?

The renewable chemicals industry has delivered price, performance, jobs and a step change in manufacturing. Now time urgent for Feds to step up with modest low hanging fruit actions to level global playing field: renewable chemical production tax credit, loan guarantees, EPA regulatory parity. Window is rapidly closing as industry lured abroad.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the advanced bioeconomy, what would you change?

Reverse butt-backwards biofuels first policy. Barring military dictatorship (Brazil model), need viable economics, tangible ROI business models from here & now renewable chemical platforms, which can then pull through and cross subsidize fuels and value chain maturation. Also robust support for US competitive, industrial feedstocks: corn, oils.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the advanced bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?

As a recovering public servant, vexed the US is losing the global race for this growth engine. Launched re:chemTM to fill void and time urgent need for a change agent wholly and decidedly focused on renewable chemicals. Shrewdly, if the US doesn’t get it quickly, we in the sector have global prospects in expanding markets and value chain segments!

Where are you from? 

South Shore, MA: born, raised in a culture forged by Mayflower Compact of self reliance and communal responsibility, innovation and new world orders. Determined to de risk and accelerate passage from the old to the new economy with renewable chemicals. Lessons of the Commons: sustainable resource use inextricably linked to economy prosperity.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway? 

BS Political Science, PR Minor, International Affairs, Bridgewater State University, MA. Inaugural congressional internship changed life course from anticipated Foreign Service after infected with “Hill fever”. Graduate Degree MPA, focus international sustainable development, Presidential Management Fellow, Arts Admin Fellow, Flash Scholarship.

Who do you consider your mentors. What have you learned from them?

Personal: My parents, who inculcated respect and awe for nature, perseverance and belief in dreams, and expectation to find my passion and make a difference. Four brothers for keeping me grounded.

Political realm: Schooled by legislative lions and legends, in spirit of comity not comedy, by gone era when did not denigrate each other nor our democratic institutions, respected public service: Senator Ted Kennedy, Congressman Joe Moakley (Tip O’Neil’s protegee), and Congressman Bill Delahunt.

Professional, courageous, gracious and successful women: Grace Williams Mason, Presidential Management Fellow mentor at Department of Interior, and Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In.

Academic: Prof. Arch Dotson, Cornell University and Prof. Shaheen Mozaffar, Bridgewater State University — no words can thank them for their unfailing and life changing support, generosity of spirit, brilliance, and yes, provocations.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?

As we say in dressage, forward movement. Surviving breast cancer after launching my own firm that was tailored to an up & coming nascent sector, during the worst economic collapse since the Depression, learned to live fearlessly, in color, with a purpose. Vest in humanity and common sense of voters when treated with equanimity. To remain authentic and sane playing inside the beltway, take job seriously but not myself — remember Ted Kennedy’s advice that it’s amazing what can be accomplished in DC if don’t care about who get’s the credit, only about getting the job done for those we serve. Tough lessons from 10-years on the Hill: lead with moral compass and long term view (despite naysayers, non stop campaigns, uber partisanship); keep friends close and enemies closer; know what fighting for, line in sand, and if it’s crossed, don’t be afraid to fight, make sure to win; our political system is only as good as those who serve and engage — find your passion, serve and engage.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry? 

Earthly, simple pleasures. Equestrienne dressage now, former 3-day eventer during younger days in VA-MD hunt country; gardener, kayaker, outdoor enthusiast — anything that allows me to play in dirt, water, reconnect to the earth; locavore foodie — quality food, coffee, wine essential; travel B&B & historic inns; languages, history.

What 3 books would you take to read, if stranded on a desert island?

1. Instructional book on how to build a boat from resources on a desert island;
2. Book on how to survive, garden, hunt and cook from resources on a desert island;
3. Enormous blank notebook, to journal about adventures and escapades of life on a desert island.

What books or articles are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?

The Digest, daily! Greenwire/E&E perfunctory. Buoyed by waves of renewable chem reports projecting double digit compounded growth, tech and performance breakthroughs, commercial and strategic partnerships, investment rounds, IPOs, jobs and unforeseen innovation catalyzing new markets such as 3-D printing, green building, light weighting cars, etc.

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?

Favorite US city is DC — still unjaded and inspired by ideals, what has been and can be accomplished, how much an individual and citizens can still make a difference despite big money. Plus its a gorgeous city, and the Mandarin is my home away from home, impeccable service with aplomb.

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Category: Million Minds

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