Going Green: Irish America Honors Environmental Executives


Winning the Race
Diarmuid O’Connell, Vice President of Business Development,
Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors designs and sells high-performance, super-efficient electric cars. Their cars join style, acceleration, and handling with advanced technologies to make them the quickest and the most energy-efficient cars on the planet. The Tesla Roadster moves not only under its own power, but ultimately free of the existing and increasingly troublesome petroleum-based infrastructure. With a range of over 200 miles on a single charge and a supercar level 3.9 second 0-60 mph acceleration time, the Roadster is proof that the combination of passion and technology can deliver a truly groundbreaking automobile.

Diarmuid O’Connell joined Tesla in 2006, and currently serves as the vice president of business development. Before joining Tesla, Diarmuid served as chief of staff for political military affairs at the U.S. State Department, where he was involved in policy and operational support to the U.S military in various theaters of operation.

Prior to his tenure in Washington, Diarmuid worked in corporate strategy as a management consultant for Accenture, as a founder of educational software developer at Real Time Learning, and as a senior executive with both McCann Erickson Worldwide and Young and Rubicam.

Diarmuid has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, a master’s degree in foreign policy from the University of Virginia, and an MBA from Kellogg. He lives with his wife and two children in the Bay Area and escapes to the mountains whenever possible. Diarmuid is a fourth-generation Irish American with roots in Cork, Kerry and Mayo. On his Irish heritage, he says, “Wherever I’ve traveled or worked in the world, my Irish heritage has given me entrée into networks of active, engaging and committed communities of interest.”

The Power of Knowledge
Dara O’Rourke, Founder,
GoodGuide, Inc.

GoodGuide provides information about the environmental, social, and health performance of products and companies to consumers at the point of purchase (through web and mobile apps). They present this information through innovative visualization tools, facilitating learning, sharing, and contributing information to friends, families, and broader communities, and providing simple means for users to send signals to companies.

Dara O’Rourke is an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-founder of GoodGuide, Inc. Dara’s research focuses on systems for monitoring the environmental, labor, and health impacts of global production systems.
Dara has served as a consultant to international organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and a wide range of domestic and international non-governmental organizations. He has degrees in mechanical engineering, political science, and energy and resources, and was previously a professor at MIT. 

Born in Dublin, Dara became a U.S. citizen at age 12. His father’s family is from Roslea, County Fermanagh, and his mother’s from Belturbet, County Cavan. He says, “I’m very proud to be Irish and am continually inspired by Ireland’s culture and achievements. I personally inherited the ‘gift of the gab’ and a love of debate from my Irish parents.”


Producing Alternative Energy
Dr. Jason Pyle, Founder and CEO, Sapphire Energy

The goal of Sapphire Energy is to be the world’s leading producer of renewable petrochemical products. The team has built a scientifically superior platform that uses photosynthetic microorganisms to convert sunlight and CO2 into carbon-neutral alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. This domestic crude oil can be produced at massive scale on non-arable land.

Dr. Jason Pyle, founder and CEO of Sapphire, holds an appointment as adjunct professor of bioengineering at Vanderbilt University where he has worked to develop cross-disciplinary programs of biological and engineering research. He was named Innovator of the Year (2006) by Frost and Sullivan, and holds numerous pending and issued patents in the engineering and biological sciences and has worked in diverse cross-discipline areas such as nanofabrication, optical engineering, and structural biology. Dr. Pyle holds a PhD in molecular and cellular physiology and an MD from Stanford University, and received degrees in optical engineering and physics from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Pyle, whose Irish roots lie in Co. Donegal, says, “Beyond my own heritage my wife is second-generation Irish. She’s a Staunton from County Mayo. Her father, Vincent, came to the U.S. as a young doctor. His story reminds me that all our families came to this nation at one point largely because of great hardships. We have a lot to be proud of.”