The Life & Legacy of Kate Goldstein

You’re just going to have to be yourself. You’re not very good at being anyone else…Sometimes you just have to go for it, even if you don’t believe in yourself.”
-Kate Goldstein, 1986-2014

On June 22, 2014, the NESEA community learned that Kate Goldstein had died in India at the age of 28. Kate was working with the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) to install solar panels in the remote village of Phey. Kate was a PhD student at the MIT Building Technology department and a NESEA board and lifetime member.

Like all those close to Kate, the members of the NESEA community were devastated. For all those who worked with her, Kate was a brilliant, inspiring, and caring individual. Her passionate leadership and commitment to NESEA, her work, and the world will be sorely missed. Below are some of the sentiments NESEA members shared with us.

Click here to support the ValleyGives Campaign for the Kate Goldstein Fund for Emerging Professionals.

“After working with Kate on several BE Conferences and on the NESEA Board, I had no doubt in my mind that she was going to be someone who would become known and loved by an enormous body of people. I had assumed that, with her intense drive, her intellect, her focus, her heart, her moral compass and her desire to do good in the world, that she would certainly become a national or international force for movement into a world that would work better. I thought she was unstoppable. I really did.

The NESEA community and everyone that knew her shares a great loss, but what I am feeling right now is the loss for those who did not yet know her. The people closest to her certainly know how much she will be missed, but the rest of the world cannot possibly comprehend how great her potential was for being someone who was fearlessly on her way to creating positive change for this planet. May she inspire all of us to to find answers, to be kind and to keep doing the good work that was so important to her.”

-Marc Sternick

One thing I truly admired about Kate was her powerhouse ability to motivate others and bring them together, as well as her incredible love and appreciation for NESEA. If anyone ever questioned the brilliance, innovation, creativity and lovability of the NESEA community, Kate’s enthusiasm put that question to rest. I am thankful for the amazing spirit she brought to NESEA and to all her work- inspiring always!”

-Jess Lerner

I first got to know Kate in the spring of 2008 when she was an undergraduate at Brown (one of Kurt Teichert’s students) and she was organizing the student-run Brown is Green conference. In dealing with her on the conference it was hard to believe she was still an undergraduate. Much more recently we Skyped regarding a project I was working on through the Resilient Design Institute; she was anxious to help.

Her tragic death is so sad—at just the age of my older daughter. Our NESEA community will miss her sorely, and the broader energy-efficient, green community will be the poorer for the absence of the many contributions she would surely have made over the coming years and decades.”

-Alex Wilson

Kate’s passing is truly a tragedy. NESEA is an organization peopled with exceptional individuals, and in this group Kate stood out. She was unique and exceptional; from her was the promise of great things. It seems typical that she was helping others in India when this accident occurred. Kate Goldstein had the ‘passion.'”

-Jim Vann

“Kate was someone who I looked up to. She was smart, out-spoken, interesting, & always contributed something useful and insightful to the discussion. She was also kind & encouraging to folks just getting involved. She was a rock-star. She will be greatly missed.”

-Brian Legg

“She worked for me for several months during the summer of 2008. She had recently graduated from Brown. She did a number of analytical tasks for me, any one of which would have taken me weeks to accomplish. Kate finished them in days. She was a lovely woman, curious, brilliant, fit, with a delightful personality. She came as close to the embodiment of the term ‘alternate source of energy’ as anyone I have met.

The candle burned bright with that one. I miss you Kate.”

-Ev Barber

Kate’s death hits too close to home for a variety of reasons. For the past few years, many in the NESEA community have been bracing 

themselves for the loss of some of our founders, as we celebrate our 40th anniversary. The passing of pioneers and teachers like Richard Gottlieb remind us that many of those who founded this organization are not going to be with us forever. Who among us would have guessed that we’d lose so prematurely one of our rising stars, a woman younger than many of our daughters?

Many of us from the NESEA community who have paid tribute to Kate have celebrated her accomplishments, her intellect, her passion and her potential—her sheer firepower as a student, teacher and challenger of the status quo within our community. We speak of her potential as a great building scientist and practitioner who was destined to change the world.

My experience of Kate relates neither to her expertise nor her NESEA star power. Rather, it relates to her heart, which she wore freely upon her sleeve, to the dismay of some who prefer to keep their NESEA relationships ‘at arms length!’

In NESEA, and only in NESEA, Kate found her professional family. A few years ago, as author of our year-end fundraising appeal, Kate wrote:

“There is only one place where I have found myself, and to be quite honest, I would have lost that self, had it not been for this place. I have needed this family to remind me that it is okay to be a cowboy. I have needed this family to reinforce what I once knew so firmly about myself. The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is that place and that family. . . . NESEA sustains me. Above all, it has been a place of shelter and a place of mentorship. And I have watched so very many others my age, and those in all stages of their journey, find this solace and guidance here. . . . NESEA is the shelter of our community.”

Kate often referred to me as her “NESEA mom.” I was glad to serve periodically as her mentor and sounding board. Our nurturing relationship was, however, reciprocal. I remember being cared for by Kate on several occasions—when she gave up her bed for me as I crashed at her apartment to attend a conference in Boston during a period of austerity; when she prepared a lunchtime feast for us as several board members converged at her house to brainstorm how we could expand the “NESEA choir;” when she shared her loving puppy, Zeke, with us at our board 

meetings in Greenfield; when she told me with delight that she was tapping into her limited savings to become a Lifetime NESEA member; and when she proudly introduced me to her mom, who was in the front row of the “Women of Green” event at BuildingEnergy 11, on her 25th birthday.

Kate was a light. Her accomplishments were extraordinary for a person of any age. But what will always stand out for me is her extraordinarily big heart.”

-Jennifer Marrapese

“Kate’s loss is a terrible thing for her family and friends, and to our network of people who saw this bright young star and wondered how far she would go. Everyone that came in contact with her was amazed that she absorbed knowledge faster than she talked, and asked the next question before you made your next statement. She was also so incredibly sweet to the people around her, just a wonderful kid that made us all see that the next generation was indeed going to save us.

It is a sad day for the NESEA world. She is indeed, one of our great athletes dying way too young, and remembered by A.E. Housman.”

-Andy Padian


Please follow this link to view Kate’s presentation at “Women of Green” in 2011, contributed by Andy Padian.

"Every day I work really really hard.

But every day, I also run 10 miles.

Every day, I gossip with my Mom.

Every day, I spend time outside.

Every day, I talk to Thelma who serves me my ice coffee, and Fritz and Guy who swipe me in at the gym.

And every day, I look around in awe, just like I did when I was 2 years old.”

- Kate Goldstein


To An Athlete Dying Young

A. E. Housman, 1859 – 1936

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.




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