Ben Passer joined the McKnight Foundation in September 2021 as a senior program officer for the Midwest Climate & Energy program. He oversees and develops significant grant portfolios that support efforts to build power through partnerships, aligning McKnight’s climate and equity goals to advance solutions to the climate crisis.

Ben brings six years of experience working on issues related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and beneficial electrification, with an emphasis on their intersection with racial equity and environmental justice. He came to McKnight from ትኩስ ኃይል, where he directed energy advocacy work that secured regulatory results at the Public Utilities Commission and policy change at the Minnesota State Capitol. He spearheaded the creation and growth of Fresh Energy’s Energy Access and Equity program, and led the organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism initiatives.

A licensed attorney and member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Ben holds a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Minnesota and a juris doctor from William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law). He serves as vice chair of the board of የአየር ንብረት* and is on the national board of GRID Alternatives. In his free time, Ben enjoys traveling, cheering for the Miami Heat, and spending time with his wife and their two dogs.


*As is standard with McKnight’s conflict of interest policy, Ben recuses himself from any funding conversations regarding Climate Generation, a current McKnight grantee partner.