Tenzin Dolkar joined McKnight in March 2021 as a Midwest Climate & Energy (Climate) program officer. Dolkar works to shape and guide the trajectory of the Foundation’s climate initiatives. She oversees and develops grant portfolios that support efforts to build power through partnership, aligning McKnight’s climate and equity goals.
Prior to McKnight, Dolkar served as a climate advisor to the City of Minneapolis through a Natural Resources Defense Council partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. In that role, she worked with the city’s Office of Sustainability and Department of Public Works to accelerate transportation and building initiatives aimed at high-impact reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. These initiatives included the city’s blueprint for achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and, through a statewide better buildings code, net-zero energy as the standard for all new commercial buildings by 2036.
From 2016 to 2018, Dolkar served as a senior policy advisor to Governor Mark Dayton on transportation and agriculture. She authored Governor Dayton’s executive order on self-driving vehicles and partnered with thousands of Minnesota farmers to develop the state’s Groundwater Protection Rule. In 2017, Governor Dayton appointed Dolkar to serve as Minnesota’s State Rail Director, overseeing public-private rail projects and developing rail safety and freight economic policies.
Dolkar was born in Odisha Phuntsokling, a Tibetan refugee settlement in eastern India, where she grew up farming and learning about water-scarcity and community-based environmental solutions. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in international studies with a minor in social work from the University of St. Thomas.