Skinner is the Executive Director of the Cornell ILR Climate Jobs Institute.
Skinner is a nationally recognized expert in the labor and employment impacts of climate change, clean energy policy, and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Under Lara’s direction, Cornell has designed jobs-led climate programs for 8 U.S. states and helped form coalitions composed of labor unions, elected leaders, environmental organizations and industry experts in states like Texas, Illinois, New York and Rhode Island.
Skinner and Dr. Mijin Cha authored the 2017 report “Reversing Inequality, Combatting Climate Change: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State.” Skinner convened NY unions after Hurricane Sandy to develop a union and equity-centered climate agenda. The three-year research, education and policy process, started in 2013, helped spark the formation of the country's first union-led climate jobs organization with significant building trades and energy union – Climate Jobs NY.
The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative, now the Climate Jobs Institute is the academic and educational partner of the Climate Jobs National Resource Center. Skinner is a founding and current board of directors member for the Climate Jobs National Resource Center.
In the last ten years, Lara has written numerous book chapters, reports, and articles about how to build a strong, equitable clean energy economy. Lara has served as an advisor to unions, environmental organizations, legislators and industry groups on labor and climate issues. She’s also done hundreds of presentations on this topic at the request of labor unions, elected leaders, the environmental movement, and in academic settings. Lara has advised and engaged over a hundred students in her research projects over the past ten years and has taught a class - Work, Labor and the Climate Crisis – since 2012.
Lara has been featured in New York’s Labor Power 100 List for the last three years.
Lara serves on the NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) Just Transition Working Group, New York State’s Offshore Wind Technical Group, and the Workforce Advisory Council for the Department of Energy’s Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.
Dr. Skinner convenes the Climate Jobs 2050 Committee with Mike Fishman, President of the Climate Jobs National Resource Center, a group funded by Breakthrough Energy, to examine the jobs and economic potential of clean energy technologies like offshore wind energy, sustainable aviation fuel, long duration storage, green hydrogen and direct air capture.
Skinner began her career in labor working with Oregon’s Farmworkers Union (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste), the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center, and as an active member of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Local 3544. Skinner has worked for unions doing campaign research and policy development since 1999.
Skinner began working at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR School) in 2010 and started the Labor Leading on Climate Initiative in 2012. Skinner served as the Co-Director and Executive Director of the Worker Institute for five years. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.