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The Precourt Institute for Energy is part of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

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Change of leadership at Precourt Institute for Energy’s advisory council

Jay Precourt has stepped down as co-chair of Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy Advisory Council. Ira Ehrenpreis has taken over as new co-chairman with Michael Morgan.

Jay Precourt, BS ’59, MS ’60, has stepped down from co-chairing the advisory council of Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy. At the request of the Precourt Institute’s leadership, Ira Ehrenpreis, MBA/JD ’96, has agreed to take on the leadership position, working with continuing co-chair, Michael C. Morgan, BA/MA ’90. Jay Precourt co-founded the institute in 2009 with the other primary donors: the husband-and-wife team of Thomas Steyer, MBA ’83, and Kat Taylor, MBA ’86. The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy is part of the Precourt Institute.

Jay Precourt, co-founder of Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy

“When it comes to the Precourt Institute, there’s really only one father, and that’s Jay Precourt,” said Arun Majumdar, dean of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability and a former director of the institute. “Jay has always been there to provide us with support. He cares about our success, and cheers for us when we achieve it.”

The Precourt Institute became a part of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability when the school opened in 2022.

Ira Ehrenpreis, new co-chair of the Precourt Insitute's advisory council

“Meanwhile, the institute will be extremely well served by Ira, who will now co-lead the advisory council with Mike,” Majumdar said at a recent dinner in honor of Precourt and Ehrenpreis. “His deep experience as an early-stage investor in clean energy and sustainability startups will provide insight for the institute’s research strategy. His work with the GSB and other Stanford schools will benefit the Institute’s role as a connective tissue for our school with Stanford’s other six schools.”

During the dinner, the interim director of the Precourt Institute, Roland Horne, presented Precourt with a plaque honoring his support of the institute. “We hope this is something that you can look on fondly and understand the respect and affection that we have for you personally and for your contributions,” said Horne.

Precourt spent his career as an executive in the energy sector. He was CEO of Tejas Gas Corp. and led Hermes Consolidated, ScissorTail Energy, and Hamilton Energy Group as President or CEO. Precourt also serves on the advisory council of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and on the Hoover Institution’s Board of Overseers. He founded the Vail Global Energy Forum in 2012, which transferred from Colorado to the Stanford campus in 2018. Precourt earned an MBA from Harvard in addition to his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford.

“I can't tell you how gratified I am,” Precourt said at the dinner.

“But it's time for me to go swimming on the beach and stop traveling and take things easy,” he said with a smile. “I don't have any difficulty taking my nap in the afternoon and falling asleep at night because I know that the Precourt Institute is in very good hands,” said Precourt. He offered particular gratitude for building the institute to former Precourt Institute faculty directors Franklin “Lynn” Orr, Sally Benson, Majumdar, and Yi Cui, as well as John Hennessy, who was Stanford’s president when the institute was founded. Precourt also honored the advisory council’s founding chair, the late George Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, among other postions in the White House cabinet and in business that he held during his career.

Michael Morgan, continuing co-chair of the Precourt Institute's advisory council

“I'm delighted that Ira was willing to take on the job with Mike,” said Precourt, who will continue as a member of the Precourt Institute’s advisory council. “Ira’s been on our board, very wisely and quietly making great suggestions.”

“He knows university life, university research, and the commercial world,” Precourt explained. “We're very lucky to have that combination in Ira.”

New co-chair

Ehrenpreis is the founder and managing partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm managing more than $1 billion in assets.  DBL invests in companies that can deliver a “double bottom line,” prioritizing both profits and social or environmental benefits. Ehrenpreis serves on the board of directors of Tesla and supports DBL’s investments in numerous  portfolio companies including, among other notable startups, Planet and SpaceX. For several years, Ira served as the chairman of the Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum, and he is the founder and chairman of the annual World Energy Innovation Forum. Ehrenpreis also served for many years on the advisory board of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs. He earned his bachelor’s degree at UCLA, in addition to his Stanford degrees.

“I spend my days searching for great entrepreneurs, and the best days are when I meet a successful serial entrepreneur,” Ehrenpreis said. “Someone who's done it before, reached the top of a mountain, and then decides to devote time and resources on a new endeavor.”

“And I remember meeting Jay for the first time and thinking how much admiration I have for him deciding to climb a new mountain here with Stanford,” he added.

“A hallmark of a great entrepreneur is to have that vision before so many others have it,” Ehrenpreis said, “And when Jay made the commitment to go on this journey with the Precourt Institute, the need was not as obvious as it is today.  Today so many people spend every day in a career in energy having been supported and inspired by what Jay created here.”

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