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thumbs_chriscollinsChristopher Collins, Executive Director

Chris Collins has helmed Solar One since 2004. A graduate of Holy Cross College and Albany Law School, Chris previously worked for 20 years as a litigator in both New York and California, specializing in complex commercial litigation, environmental litigation, civil rights, securities, elder abuse and many other areas of the law. After leaving the law in 1999, Chris worked as a Director at Oracle Corp. and as a Director of Risk Management at Sapient. Born and raised in the NYC area, Chris moved to San Francisco in 1988 and returned to New York to take the position of Executive Director at Solar One. He has had a long history of working with non-profit organizations, including being one of the founders of New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Services Center and the Callan-Lourde Health Clinic. He served as Co-chair of the LGBT Center between 1985 and 1989. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force between 1991 and 1996 and served as Board Co-chair between 1994 and 1996.

thumbs_esthersiskindEsther Siskind, Director of Programs

Esther Siskind has fostered the growth of Solar One’s innovative initiatives since joining Solar One three years ago. Esther came to Solar One from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection where she managed a wide range of water, wastewater, and stormwater projects. She was a lead developer of New York City’s Green Infrastructure Plan that proposes green infrastructure and water conservation as integral components of a comprehensive strategy to address combined sewer overflows and defer large grey infrastructure investments. With a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Esther has worked for over 25 years as an environmental planner and brings a wide range of policy, project management, and technical skills to her job.  She has also worked as a community organizer and co-founded a kids club that focused on learning about environmental issues and taking action to address them. Esther was born and raised in New York City and worked here for most of her career, bringing an in-depth knowledge of how to be effective and produce results in the City’s complex landscape.


thumbs_head-shots-024Sarah Pidgeon, Director, NYC K-12 Education Program

Sarah Pidgeon joined Solar One in 2009 and saw the growth of Green Design Lab from a small scale pilot to its current reach of over 300 schools. Sarah is passionate about inspiring NYC students to bring sustainability into their schools and communities. Prior to joining Solar One, Sarah worked as an educator for several years at the Center for the Urban Environment in Brooklyn, where she taught classes in Urban Design and Ecology. However, her real passion for environmental education began during her childhood spent as a camper and staff member at Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskill Mountains, where she was first exposed to sustainable practices like composting food waste. When she is not busy teaching about all things sustainable, Sarah enjoys riding her bike, cooking, and drawing.

Alex Smith, Assistant Director for Sustainability

Karen Alsen, Educator

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james150James Kinyanjui, Lab Site Coordinator / Instructor

James Kinyanjui joined Solar One’s Green Workforce Training program in 2010. He teaches and develops training curricula that aim to be enjoyable as well as educational – and has the utmost fun doing it! James is certified in BPI Building Analyst, BPI Multifamily Energy Efficient Building Operator, GPRO Operations and Maintenance, and GPRO Electrical. Coming out of the IT industry, James graduated from DeVry University in 2007 with a degree in Network Communications. For three years he worked in computer network administration in both New York and Seattle. Teaching is something that James has always enjoyed doing. During high school, James volunteered at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York as a math tutor. In college, James held tutoring sessions for math and physics, and taught ABE math at two of Seattle’s correctional facilities. Back in New York, James volunteered at Strive for tutoring sessions in GED-Math prior to working for Solar One. The ability to share his love and appreciation of math and technical subjects is a major focal point and passion in his work.

Gary Smith, Whole Buildings Coordinator/Instructor

Joshua Vedder, Workforce Training Instructor

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Dina Elkan,
Director, Communications & Events

Dina Elkan has managed a myriad of arts, events and communications programs since joining Solar One in 2007, after an eclectic career in arts administration, music and theater performance, web and graphic design, and event and arts production. Born and raised in downtown Manhattan, she graduated from the High School of Performing Arts with a degree in music performance and attended Barnard College. After leaving the hallowed halls of higher education, she re-immersed herself in the downtown art scene, working with groups such as Bad Neighbors, Protean Forms Collective, ABC No Rio, Gargoyle Mechanique Lab, the Bowery Poetry Club and Magbana Drum & Dance. As a member of King Missile III, she performed in venues throughout NYC, the US and Europe, releasing six albums over a period of ten years. She is also an avid crafter, crocheter, sewer and maker, often using recycled or organic materials.


liza.450Liza Mindemann, Park Manager

Liza joined Solar One in the spring of 2015 and took over as the manager of Stuyvesant Cove Park in the spring of 2016 bringing fifteen years experience in the field in a variety of capacities including garden design, installation and management. Growing up in New Hampshire, the majority of her childhood was spent outdoors learning through exploration and adventure, the habits of the natural world. This instilled a life-long connection and love of the earth that eventually led her to pursue a career in horticulture. Her favorite thing about gardening is that it touches on many elements, including the aesthetic, creative and conceptual coupled with the physical, scientific and practical. It is Liza’s vision to draw from elements of her own childhood so that students of all ages can have hands-on experience with nature in this urban environment where such opportunities are not as readily accessible. Current projects at Stuy Cove include turning part of the park into an interactive outdoor classroom where visitors can explore, experiment and interact with the native plants of the park to develop their own connections to the natural world.

Chris Fowler, Park Maintenance

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Jennifer Silkowitz, Senior Outreach Coordinator

Evelyn Ellis, Outreach Coordinator


0018dd4Christopher Neidl, Director, Here Comes Solar

Chris Neidl, a founding staff member of Solar One, rejoined the organization in 2014 to head its innovative community solar initiative, Here Comes Solar. Chris has led a diverse, high impact career in the solar and renewable energy space for over a decade, working as a residential solar installer in Northern California; a solar educator and policy advocate in New York City, and as an off-grid energy project manager and advisor in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most recently, Chris spent three years based in India serving as the country program manager for Arc Finance, a not-for-profit organization that makes modern energy affordable and available in rural communities worldwide by fostering linkages between the microfinance and off-grid energy sectors. Prior to joining Arc in 2010, Chris served as the Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator for Solar One. Chris has also served as an adviser on solar energy-related policy matters for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the New York State legislature, and the New York City Council. Chris earned his BA in Urban Geography and Planning from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and his MA in public policy from New York University.

Angelica Ramdhari, Program Manager, Here Comes Solar

Mike Weiss, Site Analyst

Noah Ginsburg, Multifamily Program Manager, Here Comes Solar

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thumbs_helen-panels_72-1_0Helen Hooke, Director of Administration and Operations

Helen Hooke has been responsible for the behind-the-scenes- smooth functioning of Solar One since 2009. Helen brings 20 years of experience to Solar One from her work as Director of Finance and Administration of the Law Firm of Hollyer Brady Barrett & Hines LLP and Secretary and Director of the Winfield Foundation.  She has a BA from Smith College, and Certification as a Non-Profit Accounting Professional from the Financial Management Association.  She also has a Certificate in PV Installation from Solar Energy International, and designed and built her solar-powered home.  She is originally from Rochester, NY, and studied at the Eastman School of Music Preparatory School.  She also writes, performs, and records in the field of music with her original group The Deadly Nightshade, as a side musician on violin, and with her own band, the Helen Hooke Band, and has her musical work released on many recordings and CD’s.  She is an avid gardener.

Nancy Weber, Operations Manager

Lena Zeng, Bookkeeper

Roberto Rodriguez, IT Technician


Trupti Doshi, Grant Writer

Deana Hare, Grant Writer