Richenda Van Leeuwen

Managing Director, Empowering Clean Economies, Rocky Mountain Institute


Richenda Van Leeuwen is a global executive with over 25 years of international executive management experience. She founded and led the United Nations Foundation’s (UNF’s) work on energy access and its engagement with the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) initiative. A globally recognized expert on energy access, she built the UNF’s Energy Access Practitioner Network—a network of enterprises delivering clean power solutions to developing countries. From its launch in 2011, the network expanded rapidly, growing to a global network of over 2,300 members driving market-led finance and policy solutions for energy access in developing countries. In particular, the network focused on helping to connect companies to capital and addressing the issues required to help the sector scale.

Before joining the UNF in 2010, she worked at Good Energies, a global renewable energy private equity firm, where she led renewable energy investments in emerging markets. She was also a founding board member of the Good Energies Foundation, focusing on impact investing in renewable energy solutions for energy access and sustainable development. Previously, she spent nearly five years as Chief Executive Officer of Trickle Up, an international microenterprise development non-government organization focused on equity and training for women micro-entrepreneurs across the developing world.

Van Leeuwen joined the Rocky Mountain Institute in 2019, after three years of service to Global LPG Partnership as Chair of International Institutions. There, she led work on bringing clean cooking fuels and solutions—as part of the needed suite of energy access services—across Africa and in others parts of the developing world. During this time, she was also part of a three-person high-level Technical Advisory Group to the Energy Sector Management and Assistance Program (ESMAP) at the World Bank.

She is a sought-out global speaker on energy access, gender development, and poverty issues, and her career has spanned work on four continents. She serves on the board of SELCO India, a leading Indian solar energy social enterprise. She co-chaired a high-level technical committee for the World Bank Climate Investment Fund’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy program and is on the advisory boards of varied enterprises delivering clean energy services in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Van Leeuwen earned her BSc and MBA degrees from Durham University, United Kingdom.