Sheila Hollis: Remembering Barry Worthington

Dear USEA Family,

On Sunday, USEA will mark a solemn anniversary. Two years ago, on August 14, 2020, former USEA Executive Director Barry Worthington passed away unexpectedly. Barry was USEA; over his 31-year tenure, he built from modest beginnings the organization that now has over 120 members representing a broad spectrum of the energy industry. Because of his vision, USEA has worked in 104 countries across six continents.

I’ll never forget the moment I received the news of his passing. Like the hundreds of others who knew and loved Barry, I was stunned and overwhelmed with grief. He was a remarkable leader and a kind and wise friend to many.

A statement I made at the time still stands true today: Barry was a diplomatic yet unapologetic pragmatist. Barry circumvented political polarities. He sought common ground among stakeholders, and he valued partnership. His contribution to the domestic and international energy sector is unparalleled, and his vision and success for USEA - improving lives around the world - is the cornerstone of that legacy.

In April 2019, Barry testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a hearing about climate change and national security. His words encapsulate what he thought America’s - and by extension, USEA’s - role in the global energy neighborhood should be:

“How do we bring 1.5 billion people out of energy poverty? People, citizens of the world, who today don’t have access to electricity, don’t have access to transportation fuels, and at the same time aspire to the lifestyle that all of us enjoy.

“We need to deploy every type and every volume of renewable energies that we can. We need to deploy and take advantage of our vast resources of every variety of fossil fuels. We need it all and we need it to be affordable, we need it to be reliable, we need it to be sustainable. We need our energy supplies to contribute to energy security and we need our energy supplies to contribute to job creation.”

The incredible outpouring of condolences we received after Barry’s passing is evidence of his towering legacy. From nearly every corner of the earth, former colleagues paid tribute to him and remember him with great affection. He was a globe-trotting force and welcomed in various energy communities around the world.

Thanks to the support of our wonderful Board and dedicated staff, USEA has forged on in the way Barry envisioned. In fact, we have been relentless, working tirelessly to improve energy systems around the planet and to serve as a resource to foster the advancement of the entire energy sector. I know he would be proud of the work we are doing. After all, it is his vision and his mission that we are fulfilling.

We love and miss you, Barry.

Sheila Hollis
Acting Executive Director