State Graduate Builds International Energy Business from New York City For Tracy McKibben, the road to owning her own international energy consulting company ran through Institute. A self-described small town girl from Georgia, she always wanted to be a lawyer while she was growing up. Today, McKibben is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of MAC Energy Advisors, LLC, a consulting and investment company that assists clients on renewable energy and clean technology investments. Based in New York City, McKibben’s company conducts business throughout Europe and Africa, and is looking to develop more business in the United States. For McKibben the path that started in Jackson, Ga., has always been about broadening her horizons and having the confidence to do so. “I grew up in Jackson, Ga., about 30 miles south of Atlanta,” McKibben said. “At the time, it was a small town where it seemed like everyone knew everyone.” She always wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer. When it came time to apply to colleges, her SAT scores came to Institute because she had inadvertently entered the school’s code to have her scores sent to WVSU instead of another school. This proved to be a happy accident as McKibben was contacted by the University. Even though she had never been to West Virginia before, she liked what she heard and decided to become a Yellow Jacket. McKibben received a presidential scholarship to attend WVSU and lived on campus in Sullivan Hall during her four years in Institute. “I made a lot of really close friends,” she said. “I am still very close to a number of friends that I made in school.” Even though she graduated from State in 1991, she said that she and her college friends stay in close contact and return to campus every few years for Homecoming. On campus, McKibben was active in student government, and also served as a cheerleader for the football and basketball teams. In addition, she was active in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which she credits for her lifelong interest in community service.
McKibben graduated from State with a degree in political science before continuing her education at Harvard Law School. “It was very competitive, applying and being admitted to Harvard Law,” she said, “but I was able to compete and fit in well. I thought I received a very good grounding, a very good education at West Virginia State. It gave me the foundation to go on and have a very successful career.” Following graduation from Harvard in 1994, McKibben served as a law clerk for one year for U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, before going to work as a corporate litigation counsel for the global law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, LLP in the group’s Washington, D.C. office. McKibben was with the firm for six years before going to the U.S. Department of Commerce where she served as the Director of Executive Secretariat for the Office of the Secretary from 2001-2002 and Special Counsel for International Trade and Investments from 2002-2003. She left to join the White House where she served as the Director of European Economic Affairs and European Union Relations for the National Security Council from 2003 through 2007. She left public service to become the Managing Director and Head of Environmental Banking Strategy at Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. before seeing the opportunity to start her own company. McKibben founded MAC Energy Advisors, LLC in 2010 because she enjoyed working in the renewable energy sector and sensed lots of untapped market potential. “I thought I would be a lawyer. And I did it,” she said. “I’ve always believed in taking chances and going after things that interest me. That is necessary for the entrepreneurial spirit. Did I think I would be running a business? No, I thought I would be practicing law, but my business has continued to evolve.” While much of her work has been overseas, she sees great potential for renewable energy in West Virginia, and perhaps, more specifically, opportunities that WVSU can take advantage in the future. “Companies who rely heavily on coal will have to adjust their business models, and this is a real opportunity for the state to focus on,” McKibben said. “How do we embrace this changing energy environment to best position our citizens to take advantage of that? Making sure you’ve got the type of workforce that companies would be able to use if they came here. West Virginia State could benefit from that by educating the students who are going to have to work in a future that is very different than it is today.” While she has lived and worked in New York City for several years, she has a special place in her heart for Institute and the State campus. She spoke so fondly of the University that her niece, Tabetha Davis, also chose to attend WVSU. “We were both at Homecoming this year,” McKibben said of returning to campus during the fall of 2015. “It was refreshing to come back and see the growth of the University. The campus is gorgeous. I was very proud to be back.” Vo l u m e 4 : 2 0 16 | 07