Jodi Pincus – President/Executive Director
Jodi joined Rising Sun Energy Center in 2006. She is a leading expert on the green economy, youth employment frameworks, and workforce development. Under her leadership, Rising Sun Energy Center has developed innovative green training and employment models that are held as exemplars in both the national and international community. Jodi has participated in several policy groups, conferences, and task forces, and has been featured in the media, where she has shared her expertise on how environmental investments can create green jobs for disadvantaged communities while improving environmental quality for everyone.
Jodi is a thought leader and administrator with over 14 years of experience. She specializes in managing staff and programs using consensus building and conflict resolution, developing curricula, evaluating and analyzing outcomes, change management, and researching program methodology and effectiveness.
Born in South Africa and a former resident of Australia, Israel, and Mexico, Jodi considers herself a global citizen. She has committed much of her life to social justice and sustainability, and is dedicated to solving issues of social inequality and environmental degradation through innovative, proactive approaches. Jodi is a UC Berkeley graduate in Peace and Conflict Studies and holds an MBA from the Presidio Graduate School in Sustainable Management.
Abigail Leonard – Director of Development and Marketing
Abbey joined the Rising Sun team in June 2013. She has a background in diverse areas of nonprofit development and has contributed her expertise to the enhancement of funding at numerous Bay Area organizations. She has served as Development Director at Congregation Sherith Israel and as Senior Development Officer for the Capital Campaign at the Exploratorium. Abbey earned a BA in Fine Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Administration from San Francisco State University. She is a Bay Area native, a big sports fan and running enthusiast and currently lives in Oakland with her husband and son.
Shelby Sugierski – Regional Manager, Youth Programs
Shelby joined Rising Sun in 2017 from the commercial solar world. She is passionate about all things sustainable, and aims to use her life to spread a message of environmental stewardship far and wide. Shelby brings experience in marketing, renewables, outdoor education, and volunteer management to her role with Rising Sun. She received her B.A. in Public Policy and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Daryl Lambert – Regional Manager, Youth Programs
Daryl joined the Rising Sun team in March 2017, where he continues his commitment to serve and build more resilient and sustainable communities. He previously worked in volunteer management and disaster relief where he was fortunate enough to come in contact with individuals who were the embodiment of the best aspects of humanity on a daily basis. Prior to that he served as a Rural Community Development Facilitator in The Peace Corps in Latin America.
Born and raised on The Central Coast of California, Daryl received his bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Global Peace and Security from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s of Public Administration from Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. In his free time Daryl can be found enjoying the outdoors and everything that The Western U.S. has to offer with his partner and their dog, or planning their next international trip.
Ian Laettner – Program Operations and Data Manager
Ian is a native of the Bay Area, he grew up in Walnut Creek, California, and has family in the area. Prior to joining Rising Sun, Ian has worked at multiple non-profit organizations including GRID Alternatives, the International Rescue Committee, and the International Forum on Globalization. He has a Masters in International Relations from San Francisco State University, where he focused most of his studies on Climate Change and the hurdles that have been most difficult to navigate for policy makers. Some of his favorite activities include climbing, snowboarding, trivia challenges, and watching sports.
Roxana Bekemohammadi – Policy Associate
Roxana joined Rising Sun Energy Center in April 2017 as a Policy Associate. In her current role, Roxana advocates for Rising Sun’s policy positions related to workforce development, energy efficiency, economic equity, and climate resilience. Prior to joining Rising Sun Energy Center, Roxana worked in state government, advanced technology deployment, and workforce development. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Irvine and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. Roxana currently resides in Alameda and enjoys watching sunsets on the beach.
Starr Britt – Donor Relations and Event Associate
Starr joined the Rising Sun community in 2017. Rising Sun’s mission resonated deeply with her vision to promote sustainable and empowering solutions to underrepresented youth, women, and communities. Ms. Britt brings experience in managing local and national public relations, policy advocacy campaigns, and fund development initiatives around related issues such as mass incarceration, youth development, community health and public safety at organizations including Essie Justice Group, AIDS 2012 (International Conference on AIDS – US), and the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center. Just prior to joining Rising Sun, she spearheaded a statewide reproductive rights infrastructure project in Texas. As a SF-Bay Area native, Starr is excited to bring her talents, skills, and network to bear at Rising Sun. She currently resides in Oakland with her partner and two children. Starr enjoys laughing, dancing, film, live music, nature, and yoga to stay present and recharge.
Carl Walter – GETS Career Service Manager
Carl previously worked as an organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), advocating on behalf of workers in low-wage industries such as janitors, security officers, airport services and special event staff throughout California. Carl also successfully organized public ballot initiatives on behalf of progressive campaigns in several states around the country. The first being a non-nuclear Renewable Energy Standard for his home state of Missouri. Carl’s current role at Rising Sun Energy is GETS Career Service Manager, where he’s focused on job development and job placement for program participants.Away from work Carl enjoys cooking, working out, playing sports and being near the ocean.
Roxana Rojas – Administrative Coordinator
Roxana recently joined Rising Sun in 2016 as administrative coordinator. She was born in the city of Salinas but was raised and has lived all her life in the Bay Area. Roxana graduated from Holy Names University where she received her BA in Psychology. When she is not working she enjoys being in the outdoors, going to A’s games and finding new places to eat.
Thupten Yarphel – Finance Manager
Tee joined Rising Sun in March 2011. He was born in India and moved to America in 2005. Tee has 19 years of accounting experience nine of which were in India working as an auditor for an NGO charitable trust primarily auditing schools and hospitals. After moving to America, Tee worked for distribution companies, non-profits, and local governments and is currently enjoying his time at Rising Sun. Tee has a BA in Accounting, is certified in Nonprofit Accounting and Quickbooks online certification.
Melvin Parham – GETS Associate Director
Melvin joined the Rising Sun team in July of 2011. He is a Graduate of Arizona State University where he received his BA in psychology. Melvin has more than eight years of experience as a Case Manager, helping individuals and families obtain housing, employment, shelter, and clothing. He has also taught life skills classes where clients learn about parenting, resume building, healthy boundaries, professionalism, and budgeting. Melvin has dedicated himself to becoming a resource to the community and loves to help everyone he encounters. Providing outreach and advocacy to people from all backgrounds is Melvin’s biggest passion, and he continues to set goals and strategies of how he can do more to reach out to others.
Julia Hatton – Director of Programs
Julia oversees Rising Sun’s current youth and adult programs, California Youth Energy Services (CYES) and Green Energy Training Services (GETS), and is responsible for identifying, launching, and overseeing new programs. As Director, Julia ensures coordination across programs and is responsible for the overall strategy, direction, and success of Rising Sun’s programs, under the leadership of the Executive Director. Julia has worked across industries in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, focusing on economic and community development and building collaborative public-private partnerships.
Prior to Rising Sun, she designed and implemented the Connecticut Efficient Healthy Homes Initiative, a weatherization program that provided residential energy efficiency, health, and safety upgrades to low-income families statewide, while sustaining green jobs. Julia graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University, and is an alumna of the Coro Fellows Program in Leadership and Public Affairs in St. Louis. In her free time, Julia loves to cook, read, and explore the outdoors with her husband, daughter, and pug.
Rachel Burns – Executive Assistant
Rachel started with the Rising Sun team in 2011 as an Energy Specialist (ES) with the California Youth Energy Services (CYES). She had such a great experience that she returned the following summer in 2012 as a Leader In Field Training (LIFT). Since then, Rachel has graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies focused on the Urban Environment from San Francisco State University and returned to Rising Sun in her new capacity in August of 2017.
Rachel is dedicated to contributing her personal and professional life to meeting zero-waste goals, combating environmental injustices, supporting local and sustainable food systems, and creating and dispersing environmental curriculum. She sees herself working towards goals in her role at Rising Sun in a variety of ways and is excited to continue her activism.
Her hobbies outside of the work space include tending to her vegetable garden, experimenting in the kitchen, and discovering great new places to camp and hike.
Travers McNeice – CYES Program Director
Travers joined Rising Sun in early 2011 as a Site Manager in San Mateo. Since then he has held several roles on the youth program team, and currently oversees the CYES and LIFT programs. Travers has a BS in Biology from UC Santa Barbara, and a MS from Oxford University in Biodiversity Conservation & Management. His background includes work in both education and resource management, in positions across Europe and Southern Africa. In is free time, Travers can be found skiing, hiking, camping, or running, enjoying the diverse environments of Northern California.
Wells Brown – Senior Program Manager
Before being hired as Regional Manager in 2013, Wells served two summers as the Site Manager for Oakland and Berkeley with Rising Sun Energy Center’s California Youth Energy Services program. Wells graduated from Miami University with a BS in Urban and Regional Planning and Environmental Sciences Principles and Practices.
In his current role as Regional Manager, Wells will draws upon his previous youth development work experiences, as well as his community development experience with Peace Corps, The Gambia. As Regional Manager, Wells’ responsibilities include recruitment, hiring, training, staff supervision and program development for the CYES program. Wells is an avid outdoorsman with a deep rooted respect for nature. In his free time he loves to hike, backpack and climb in the Eastern Sierra.
Justina Caras – San Joaquin Outreach Lead, Youth Programs
Justina became part of Rising Sun in the spring of 2016 as the Community Outreach intern for the San Joaquin Region and later as the Summer Outreach Manager for the Tracy site. Now, she serves as the Outreach Lead for the San Joaquin Office. Justina is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. She has been a Stockton native her entire life and takes pride in giving back to the community. Justina is devoted to empowering youth and educating the local community on environmental sustainability. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family and cooking.
Alejandro Castelan – Regional Manager
Prior to joining Rising Sun, Alejandro worked for organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco and Juma Ventures, implementing programs for High School and College age youth in the areas of education, workforce development, financial literacy, and healthy lifestyles. Alejandro has been in Youth Development for seven years, working directly with young people who come from a low-income, first generation background, and youth of color. Alejandro also volunteers with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights as a Spanish interpreter for asylum seekers and child migrants. He has always been passionate about helping youth knock down barriers in order for them to increase their chances of success. Alejandro is a graduate from UC Berkeley where he majored in Political Science. He enjoys cross country running, reading comics, and hanging out with his cat Little Bear.
Delilah Leval – Grant Coordinator
Delilah began supporting fund development at Rising Sun in 2016. Her past work includes wildlife surveys in San Francisco Bay marshes, public presentations for city officials on affordable housing and climate change, and incorporating the valuable youth voice into long-range city plans. Her master’s thesis on highly cost effective methods to “green” the typical home in Richmond, CA lead her to discover Rising Sun’s exemplary programs. Delilah’s education in Wildlife Biology (UC Davis) and City Planning (Cal Poly SLO) helped her develop a 360-degree view on wise and just natural resource usage, and a decent ear for identifying birds. Delilah’s family ties to Afghanistan give her a refugee’s perspective on life in the United States, and an appreciation for the diverse people and welcoming culture of California. She enjoys taking time to hear stories of spiritual enlightenment from all faiths.
Darren Kumar – San Joaquin Regional Manager, Youth Programs
Darren first worked for Rising Sun Energy Center in 2011 as the Site Manager in Fremont for California Youth Energy Services (CYES) summer program. In the late summer of 2014, Darren took a permanent staff position as a Regional Manager for CYES. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and currently is still pursuing his education to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at California State University Stanislaus.
Darren has experience working for state government, but has spent most of his professional young career working in the non-profit sector, with organizations focused on “At Risk Youth “. Darren holds a passion for youth empowerment and thrives to make a positive impact that will make a difference. He is originally from Modesto, CA but has branched out to reside in many different cities statewide from Sacramento to Los Angeles. Darren enjoys spending his free time traveling, with family, and cheering on his favorite sports teams.
Philipp Miller – Director of Operations
Phil joined Rising Sun in 2015 as a Regional Manager for the CYES program, transitioning to his current role in early 2016. His professional background is in energy efficiency and renewables, public education, youth development, and non-profit management. Phil worked for Playworks where he spearheaded program expansion into middle schools. He taught high school in Berkeley and Oakland and, more recently, directed residential energy efficiency and classroom-based renewable energy programs across Arizona for the Environmental Education Exchange. Phil holds a B.A. in History from U.C. San Diego and an M.A. in Education from U.C. Berkeley. Away from work, he enjoys eating burritos with his wife and three daughters at Oakland A’s games.
Omni Hastye- GETS Case Manager
Omni is a resident of Hayward, Ca. And a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University. In Febuary of 2017, she recieved a Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. She is excited to be working with the GETS team, where she will have the opportunity to assist people overcoming barriers to employment. She is an all around people person and really enjoys working with people. Omni likes to spend her free time traveling, painting and making furniture.
Thomas Chapman – Program Operation Manager
Thomas joined Rising Sun in early 2015, bringing with him experience in developing and implementing systems to streamline day-to-day operations. He is currently involved in coordinating the logistics behind Youth Programs and ensuring that the distributed site offices have the infrastructure they need to operate smoothly. In his free time, he can be found traveling, exploring the Bay Area and looking for great places to eat!
Lindsey Roark – CYES Youth Programs Assistant
Lindsey first worked for Rising Sun as a Summer Outreach Manager in 2015 and is now returning for the 2017 season as a Youth Programs Assistant. She is currently studying to get her graduate degree in Environmental Management at the University of San Francisco, where she is focusing on renewable energy policy and climate change. Lindsey was inspired to go back to school due to her work with Rising Sun’s California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program, and hopes to incorporate her new knowledge into her role with Rising Sun, helping to inspire and create a more sustainable Bay Area.
Tamara Rockett – GETS Case Manager
Tamara was born and raised in San Francisco, and now resides in the East Bay. She’s thrilled to join the adult program as the GETS Program Assistant, where she can be a support to people eager to gain the skills they need to find sustainable work in the green and union workforce.
Patrick Brown, Board Chair
Leadership Director, Greenlining Institute
Patrick Brown was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. He is rooted to the organizing and social justice history of both his family and his community. After receiving his BA in political science with a minor in environmental studies at DePaul University, he began working with OAI, Inc. Patrick was engaged in workforce development with OAI, Inc for 11 years. He has designed, facilitated, developed and evaluated successful job training programs across the country. His experience training environmental health and safety courses to the formerly incarcerated has informed his belief in transformational change. Patrick has worked diligently to create more resources and opportunity so that all populations have access to livable wage work. Patrick continues to support the work of the EPA Brownfields Job Training Program, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences MWT program and Greencorps Chicago. In Patrick’s current position as the Sr. Manager of the Leadership Academy at the Greenlining Institute, he continues to focus on leadership development. He and the team design and implement leadership development for five different programs focused on creating opportunity for young leaders of color. He is particularly proud of is work directing the Health Equity Fellowship. This fellowship program prepares young leaders of color by work in philanthropy to improve the health of all Californians’. Patrick is a connected and spiritual artist and activist with a strong voice for equity. Since relocating to Oakland you can find Patrick planting a garden, meeting up with friends by Lake Merritt, studying at the East Bay Meditation Center and lifting his voice with the choir at the East Bay Church of Religious Science.
Jennifer Vega, Marketing and Graphic Design Coordinator
Jennifer joined the Rising Sun team in March of 2016. As a proud East Bay native, giving back to her community is a main priority. Her role at Rising Sun allows her to provide a local voice for positive environmental and social changes. Jennifer is also a proud wildcat and graduate of California State University, Chico. She earned her degree in Communication Design, with a focus on Media Arts. While living in Chico, she worked in social services and in freelance media production. Jennifer is fascinated by world religions and is passionate about social justice. Outside of work you can find her at local art galleries, admiring people’s creative expression and love for the arts.
Emilio Camacho, Member
Advisor, California Energy Commission
Emilio Camacho, Esq. is Chief of Staff to Commissioner David Hochschild at the California Energy Commission, where he is responsible for managing the office in the areas of renewable energy, research and development of technology, energy efficiency, and power plant siting. He oversees all legal, legislative and policy matters, administrative functions and manages staff for the Commissioner’s office.
In addition, Emilio serves as an Advisor to Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller on California-Mexico Issues and to implement the California-Mexico Energy MOU signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and the administration of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Prior to joining the California Energy Commission, Mr. Camacho served as an Attorney at the California Office of the Legislative Counsel, providing legal advice to the Members of the Legislature and the Governor of California, in the areas of energy, environmental law, public utilities, water law, and public resources.
At the local level, Emilio serves as an Energy Commissioner for the Berkeley Energy Commission and as an Environmental Commissioner for the Community Environmental Advisory Commission at the City of Berkeley.
Emilio is the first in family to graduate from high school and attend college. He earned an A.A. from Santa Rosa Junior College; a Philosophy A.B. from the University of California, Davis; a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law; and an Energy and Emerging Technologies Professional Certificate from Stanford University.
Mandeep Dhindsa, Member
Branch Manager, Wells Fargo Bank
Tyi Johnson, Member
Administrator, Community Energy Services Corp.
Tyi joined the Board in 2015. She graduated from the second Berkeley cohort of Rising Sun’s Green Energy Training Services (GETS) program, and is the first program alumnus to serve on the Board. She is a program administrator at Community Energy Services Corporation, SmartLights, and an energy assessor for the Alameda County Green Business Program. She previously served as a crew member and office assistant for Rising Sun Energy Services, the organization’s social enterprise.
Melissa Koenigsberg, Member
Melissa relocated to the Bay Area from Washington, DC, in 2012 after serving four years in the Obama Administration as the Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. She has extensive policy and administration experience at the federal level, notably in the area of conservation. During her tenure at the Department of the Interior, she worked closely with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and she served as the Secretary of the Interior’s representative on the Federal Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Conservation Services Corps. Furthermore, she was actively involved in the launch and implementation of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, and worked closely with the White House on that effort. She remains passionate about providing more resources and opportunities to engage youth in environmental conservation and the outdoors. Prior to her service at Interior, Melissa spent eight years as a senior campaign and political fundraiser. Some of her roles included acting as the Chief Financial Officer and Finance Director for the Denver Host Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Finance Director for Martin O’Malley’s successful campaign for Governor of Maryland, and Finance Director for Ken Salazar’s successful campaign for United States Senator. She has a strong record of delivering successful campaign finance and fundraising goals for numerous U.S. Senate, Presidential and Gubernatorial Campaigns. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She resides with her son and husband in San Francisco.
Jennifer Martinez, Member
Senior Counsel, Hanson Bridgett
Jennifer represents private and public employers in federal and state court litigation and before administrative agencies regarding discrimination (including race, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, and disability), harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, wrongful termination, and numerous other types of employment law matters. Jennifer also handles complex wage and hour class action litigation (including off-the-clock claims, meal and rest period violations, exempt misclassification, and contractor misclassification) in both federal and state courts, as well as other representative and collective actions under the California Private Attorneys General Act and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Within the past year, Jennifer second chaired a state court jury trial, obtaining a complete defense verdict for her client on a claim of disability discrimination and failure to accommodate.
In addition to her litigation practice, Jennifer counsels employers on a wide variety of employment issues, such as hiring practices, employment policies, disability accommodations and leave administration, employee and contractor classification issues, employment contracts, enforceability of covenants not to compete, leaves of absence, terminations, and reductions in force. She specializes, in particular, in advising start-ups, early stage companies, and technology companies. In addition to general advice and counseling, Jennifer handles sensitive harassment and whistleblower investigations.
Jennifer also has considerable merger and acquisition experience, assisting clients in structuring corporate transactions to minimize employment-related risks and maximize the value of the transaction from an employment perspective. Jennifer assists clients with post-transaction issues as well, including integration, policy compliance, employee leveling, and restructuring.
Prior to joining Hanson Bridgett, Jennifer practiced in the employment litigation and employee mobility practices at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto.
Zach Franklin, Member
Chief Strategy Officer, GRID Alternatives
Ben Rivera, Member
Business Representative, SMART Local Union No. 104
Ben has over 30 years of experience as a Union Sheet Metal Worker. He completed a 5 year apprenticeship and since then has successfully held positions from apprentice to Construction Manager for the Northern California Division of a National Contractor. In Recent years he has enjoyed being the Training Coordinator for the Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 and SMACNA’s Joint Apprenticeship in the East Bay. He currently holds an Officers position for the Local. Ben has continued to improve and share his skill sets in Management, Leadership and Mentoring, working with individuals and groups in and around the Construction Industry.