Christopher 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.
Sarah Pidgeon, Co-program Director; Director, GDL
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 600 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.
Karen Alsen, Director of K-12 Education
Karen Alsen is an environmental educator with diverse experience teaching science, sustainability, and arts programming to young people. She has taught and designed curricula for Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, City Science, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, Bronx River Alliance, Sustainable Learning, and LeapNYC. Through these organizations, she has worked with dozens of schools all over NYC. Prior to becoming an educator, Karen worked for Scientific American and Nature Publishing Group. In addition to her love of science and the natural world, Karen is a musician and has travelled abroad, performing and teaching workshops on songwriting. Karen holds an MS in Environmental Education from Antioch University in Keene, NH.
Geovani Caldero, K-12 Environmental Educator
Geovani Caldero joined Solar One in 2017 as an environmental educator with experience in teaching biology and environmental conservation in formal and non-formal settings. A graduate from New York University with a Masters in Environmental Conservation Education, Geovani was a conservation leader for the Student Conservation Association in New York City. He holds a B.A in Secondary Education with a major in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. While growing up in Puerto Rico, Geovani spent time outdoors in the natural world inspired by the traditional music of Puerto Rico. He loves to play Cuatro and Panderos because this music increases his love of nature and for his homeland.
Sarah Cooley, K-12 Environmental Educator
Sarah Cooley is an environmental educator with almost a decade of NYC public school science teaching experience. Sarah is passionate about helping both teachers and students understand the importance of our rapidly changing environment and how sustainability efforts can reach into multidisciplinary teaching and learning. Prior to becoming a teacher, Sarah spent time volunteering and coordinating educational efforts in in areas effected by natural disasters such as Haiti and New Orleans. Sarah became enthusiastic about sustainability at a young age, when learning about drought and water waste while growing up in southern California. Sarah holds a bachelor degree in both Sociology and Environmental Studies from UCLA and in her spare time loves making art, traveling and spending time with her friends, family and dog.
Amy Colorado, K-12 Environmental Educator
Amy Colorado joined Solar One’s Green Design Lab in 2017. She delivers in-school programming to NYC students and professional development training to teachers interested in climate change, sustainability, and environmental change. As a native New Yorker, she enjoys being able to work with schools all throughout the city promoting environmental literacy. Amy holds a Masters in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Rochester. Having previously taught for the New York Botanical Garden, American Museum of Natural History, and Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Amy has gained experience in hands-on, project-based learning. In addition to working with the Education team, Amy also assists with Solar One’s Green Workforce Training programs at Rikers Island.
Bruno Estrada, Environmental Educator
Selene Sandoval, Environmental Educator
Alex Nathanson, Solar Educator
GREEN WORKFORCE TRAINING
Max Levitzke, Director, Green Workforce
Max Levitzke joined Solar One in 2017 and leads the Green Workforce training program. He has had a passion for renewable energy since he was teenager and has done various work and research related to climate change, electric vehicles and the shift from fossil fuels to cleaner resources. Max studied Environmental Science and Business at the University of Missouri and graduated in 2013, with a move from the Midwest to the NYC shortly after. Before joining the Solar One team, Max worked in program management and operations at a renewable energy education start-up. He’s found great fulfillment in turning his excitement for renewables into a career that continues pushing for the growth of the clean energy industry through education, as well as providing those at need with sustainable job opportunities. In his free time, Max enjoys playing ice hockey, guitar and fine-tuning his cooking skills.
James Kinyanjui, 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 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, Instructor
Gary Smith came to Solar One in 2011 as the coordinator of Solar One’s Whole Buildings Education program where he helped buildings achieve energy savings and reduce their environmental impact through education, creating awareness, and encouraging behavior change. Gary joined Solar One’s Green Workforce Training program as an instructor in 2014. Gary is certified in BPI Building Analyst, BPI Multifamily Building Operator, and GPRO Operations and Maintenance . He has also completed Envirolution’s Win-Win Campaign for energy auditors. Prior to his work with Solar One, Gary served as an after school educator for Boys and Girls Harbor and taught GED math.
Joshua Vedder, Instructor
Joshua Vedder came to Solar One in 2012 as a Green Building Instructor. Josh teaches green building science, GPRO, and BPI Multifamily Building Operator as well as carpentry, plumbing and electrical. Formerly a trade school instructor, Josh has over ten years of experience in the building trades. During his first few years in the field, Josh was finishing up his degree from Dowling College as a pilot and had trained for two years as an electrical engineer. Josh is certified in BPI Building Analyst, BPI Multifamily Building Operator, GPRO Operations and Maintenance, and GPRO Electrical. Josh has spent many years volunteering and working with underserved youth. He found Solar One through Build it Green, where he still volunteers to this day.
EVENTS & STUYVESANT COVE PARK
Dina Elkan, Director, Events & Park
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.
Emily Curtis-Murphy, Park Manager
Emily Curtis-Murphy is the park manager at Solar One’s Stuyvesant Cove Park. She is a recent transplant to NYC from Northern New England, and her background in organic farming, environmental education, and fine art informs her vision of creative and sustainable urban land management. Emily is excited to further develop Stuy Cove as a dynamic engineered wilderness and to share her love of foraging, ethnobotany, permaculture, and restoration ecology.
Ceasar Nash, Park Maintenance
HERE COMES SOLAR
Noah Ginsburg, Co-program Director; Director, Here Comes Solar
Noah joined Solar One in 2016, where he directs the Here Comes Solar program that seeks to spur the adoption of solar within NYC’s under-served market segments. From 2009-2011 Noah was a Solar Ombudsman at the City University of New York, working with the City to identify and address barriers to solar in NYC. In 2011 Noah moved to California to work as data analyst and technologist with leading solar startups including Sungevity, Sunrun and most recently OnGrid. While in California Noah volunteered as a Team Leader on more than 40 solar installations with GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer that serves low-income homeowners, and earned his NABCEP PV installation certification in 2014. Noah is passionate about clean energy and the equitable distribution of its benefits within our society. Originally from Michigan, Noah moved to NYC in 2006 to complete a year of Americorps service, working as a mentor and tutor at a middle school in East Harlem. He completed his undergraduate degree in Renewable Energy at Hunter College and currently lives with his family in Washington Heights.
Angelica Ramdhari, Director, Resilient Solar
Angelica joined Solar One’s Here Comes Solar program in 2014 to coordinate the 1-4 family solar program. Angelica now managers Solar One’s resiliency programs (PV+energy storage). Angelica first got involved in renewable energy efforts at the University of Florida, where she helped start the Neutral Gator program to green the University’s athletics program and facilities. This project created energy reductions for low-income residents, which were then certified into carbon offsets that were applied to football games and other campus sporting events in order to make them carbon neutral. She then moved to New York to become involved with larger-scale urban green energy projects, first working on Con Edison’s energy efficiency programs for small businesses and later transitioning to small-scale solar energy installations in 2011.
Juan Parra, Community Solar Program Manager
Juan joined Solar One in 2017 to implement solar projects in low to moderate income communities. Originally from New Jersey, Juan attended Boston College where he discovered his interest in environmentalism through a senior year elective, Black and Green, which focused on how the movement has played out in underserved communities. Upon graduating, Juan began working at EnerNOC, an “energy intelligence” company, specializing in energy efficiency software, demand response programs, and procurement. At the end of his five year tenure at EnerNOC, Juan worked on their Utility Operations team, creating and maintaining relationships with utility partners in North America. Juan stayed in Boston for three years after graduating and then moved back “home” to the NYC area. Outside of work, Juan enjoys running, cooking, and reading about urban planning and architecture.
Anika Wistar-Jones, Affordable Solar Program Manager
Anika Wistar-Jones has been making solar accessible to low-income New Yorkers since joining Solar One in 2016. She joined Solar One’s Here Comes Solar team after working in the environmental movement throughout New York and New England. As a grassroots organizer with Environment America she led campaigns against climate change and fracking, and in the political realm, she organized campaigns for Senator Markey in Massachusetts and Senator Murphy in Connecticut and worked for Senator Sanders in his Washington, DC office. More recently, she’s helped grow mission-driven solar and energy efficiency start ups in Vermont and New York. Born and raised in Vermont, Anika attended the United World College in Duino, Italy, and Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT, where she got her start in the environmental movement. When she’s not at Solar One, Anika can be found hiking in the woods, dancing in the streets, or getting lost in far-off places. She is passionate about environmental justice and the color blue.
Derek Nelson, Senior Associate, Resilient Solar
Derek joined Solar One in 2017 to implement solar PV+energy storage projects. Prior to joining Solar One, Derek spent four years in San Francisco with SunEdison and the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program. At SunEdison, he managed the company’s solar and wind Renewable Energy Credit portfolios, and monitored SunEdison’s energy projects across the country. With the Sierra Club, Derek supported litigation seeking to replace fossil fuel-fired generation with renewables along the West Coast and conducted policy research for this litigation and other campaigns. Derek came to the Sierra Club after graduating from Columbia University with a degree in Sustainable Development and Evolutionary Biology of the Human Species. At Columbia, he received travel fellowships to study low-carbon agricultural intensification in Kenya and hydropower development in Thailand. Derek also co-authored a report on the carbon impacts of global livestock production for the UN and spent three years researching primate evolution at the American Museum of Natural History. Outside of the office, Derek is a musician and hapless Mets fan.
Marigo Farr, Multifamily Solar Program Manager
Marigo joined Solar One in 2017 to facilitate rooftop solar projects with multi-family market rate buildings and to develop Here Comes Solar’s long term revenue model to ensure that services for low-income communities remain accessible. Marigo’s educational background is in Community Development and Applied Economics and she is recently trained in Solar Photovoltaic Design. Before Solar One, she worked with the Advocacy Institute to support a range of social justice campaigns in New York, and as a policy consultant with the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative on a universal healthcare campaign in Vermont and a fair development plan for the City of Baltimore. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Marigo is passionate about public policy and addressing inequities in an urban environment. In her free time, she’s a poet and songwriter, and enjoys time with friends and farmland in the Hudson Valley.
Gretchen Bradley, Senior Solar Program Associate
Gretchen joined Solar One in 2019 to assist with the Community Solar Program, and help develop it’s initiatives to make solar available for low to moderate income communities and renters. Prior to joining Solar One, Gretchen worked as a residential solar project manager for 3 years. Her interest in solar and the environment comes from her educational background at Marist College where she studied Environmental Policy and had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Costa Rica to study the nation’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. In her free time, Gretchen enjoys hiking in the Hudson Valley, reading, and playing rugby.
Patrick Owusu joined Solar One’s Here Comes Solar program in 2019 to ensure low income housing residents know that green energy alternatives are not only available, but affordable and accessible. Patrick is a born and raised New Yorker from Washington Heights and a graduate from Brooklyn College, obtaining a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Sciences. While in school, he found a passion for fighting to improve New York City’s environment in ways great and small. Whether it was a campaign calling to keep NY fracking free (2014), organizing waterside cleanups, or helping New Yorkers understand how to dispose of household waste with DSNY (2017-2018), his track record shows a mind geared towards a sustainable future. For the times that Patrick isn’t deftly working to further his career, you can find him at the gym, at a downtown bar, hosting a home-brewed D&D session, or relaxing in a park; contemplating the world with a smile.
José Tulio Gálvez Contreras, Solar Research Associate
José joined Solar One in the spring of 2019 to assist with project management and develop solar research. He is culminating his doctoral studies in Public and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement. His dissertation focuses on the intersection of environmental justice, workforce development, and the green economy. José holds two master’s degrees, one in public and urban policy and one environmental law and policy. He brings over a decade of expertise in sustainability planning, small business development, community organizing, and political engagement. José enjoys nature, meditation, martial arts, dancing, food, and new friends and adventures. He is creative, community-oriented, and extremely passionate about the work that he does at Solar One.
Michael Weiss, Solar Site Assessor
Mike joined Solar One in 2015. His background in carpentry, restoration, electrical systems, materials and environmental sustainability led him to his passion for solar energy. He was introduced to NYC Solar through the installation of a solar system at his own self-managed co-op where he took an active role in the PV interconnection and metering arrangement of the building’s electricity. Mike continued to explore the world of solar technology and policy and loves his role advancing New Yorkers’ abilities to generate clean energy and contribute to New York City’s electrical generation and distribution system. At Solar one, Mike traverses the City to analyze buildings for solar feasibility and consults on a variety of projects, providing technical expertise on topics ranging from solar energy system design to creative metering and distribution of solar energy credits in order to maximize savings for Here Comes Solar program participants. Mike lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn with his family.
Richard Bundy, Technical Design Consultant
Richard served five years as an Aviation Electrician in the US Navy before earning a BS in Geographic Information Science from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the solar power industry in 2008, working on approximately 140 commercial, industrial and residential PV projects in roles ranging from installer to construction manager. In 2013, he moved to New York City to study for a MS in Construction Management at NYU. While studying, he led the design and construction of four PV systems in Brooklyn and Queens for a local developer. Richard joined the Solar One team early in 2016 and has been working primarily on the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Solar & Battery Backup project as a technical advisor and system designer.
NEW YORK CITY RETROFIT ACCELERATOR
Currently managed by Here Comes Solar staff.
NYSERDA CLEAN ENERGY COMMUNITIES PROGRAM
Nicole Joseph, NYC Clean Energy Communities Coordinator
Elissa Knight, NYC Clean Energy Communities Coordinator
Elissa joined Solar One in 2018 as a Clean Energy Communities Coordinator where she works with the buildings team at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to help coordinate and accelerate City agency action through Executive Order 26 and 1.5 commitments. Prior to Solar One, she worked as the Director of Sustainability at utiliVisor where she was responsible for developing qualifying projects for NYSERDA’s Real Time Energy Management program, evaluating sub-metered usage to generate tenant invoices and analyzing data to determine patterns of energy use in buildings. She received her M.S. in Sustainability Management from Columbia University and holds an undergraduate degree from Boston College where she majored in Environmental Geoscience and also competed on the track and field team. Outside of the office, Elissa enjoys baking and staying active by running and taking different workout classes around the City.
Deana Hare, Philanthropy Specialist
Barbara Lerman-Golomb, Philanthropy Specialist
OPERATIONS & ADMINISTRATION
Helen Hooke, Director, Fiscal 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 Director
Lena Zeng, Fiscal Assistant/Bookkeeper
Michael Barry, Communications and Design Manager
Michael Barry is the Communications and Design Manager for Solar One. In addition, Michael has worked as independent marketing and communications consultant for Princeton Creative for over 15 years. Michael has worked with organizations ranging from large corporations and non-profits to small businesses, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs. He holds an MBA in Marketing from Post University and is a frequent lecturer, instructor and author. Michael specializes in developing branding and communications strategies utilizing both traditional and digital techniques to help organizations reach their ideal audiences. A longtime advocate of sustainability and economic and social justice, Michael is very happy to be helping Solar One realize their mission of bringing solar power, green energy education and workforce development to urban communities.
Nicole Green, Contract Compliance Officer
Roberto Rodriguez, IT Technician