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.
Ellie Rizlenjani – CYES Campaign Coordinator
Ellie was born and raised in San Jose, California. Just recently she graduated from San Francisco State University where she received a BS in Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice, along with a minor in American Indian Studies. Ellie has cultivated connections with environmental and community advocacy through a handful of internships and by working with Rising Sun she hopes to gain an invaluable understanding of how a successful nonprofit thrives. In her free time she enjoys painting, reading, biking, and skateboarding.
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.
Alycia Ellington – CYES Campaign Coordinator
Alycia was born and raised in San Jose, California. She is a recent graduate from San Francisco State University where she received her BS in Environmental Science with a concentration in Natural Resource Management and Conservation. She is passionate about wildlife, the environment, and being outdoors. She has educational experience working with youth both in the field and indoors. During her free time she enjoys going on runs, reading, and binge watching her favorite show Grey’s Anatomy.
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.
Jeremy Gilbert – GETS Program Coordinator
Jeremy joined the Rising Sun Energy Center team in July of 2016. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley where he received his BA in Interdisciplinary Field Studies, with a focus in Food Politics. Jeremy has nonprofit experience working with the autistic community, organizing free international circus workshops for kids and community members and campaigning for environmental sustainability. He is committed to food justice and green energy alternatives. In his free time, Jeremy can be found planting new starts in his garden, camping or finding new outdoor places to explore with his wife.
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.
Hope Cupples – CYES Campaign Coordinator
Hope was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California and has always had a passion for the environment and the outdoors. She received a degree in Biology from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and has experience working in education. Her position at Rising Sun is the perfect opportunity to combine her love for the environment and her passion to give back to the community. In her free time she loves to travel, ride horses, and spend time outside.
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.
Dan Abrami – GETS Career Employment Manager
Dan comes to Rising Sun Energy Center with over 10 years experience in workforce services and employment training. Dan’s professional background includes developing/managing programs within community colleges, non-profit organizations, and government programs. Dan has also been an entrepreneur/consultant, providing workplace safety training and workforce services consulting. As a trainer, Dan is a authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer, DOT HAZMAT Trainer, and a Career Development Facilitator Instructor. In his spare time, Dan enjoys the beautiful Northern California outdoors with his wife and two boys.
Kimberlina Gomez- CYES Outreach Manager
Kimberlina first joined Rising Sun as a Summer Outreach Manager in 2016 and now serves as the CYES Outreach Manager where she oversees the community-based marketing and outreach. She has a strong passion for environmental research and advocacy, and in 2015 she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science from the University of the Pacific. During her free time Kimberlina enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling to national parks.
Michelle Mata – San Joaquin Outreach Coordinator
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
Senior Manager, Leadership Academy, 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.
Michael Balster, Member
Attorney, King Williams LLP
Michael Balster is an environmental attorney with King Williams LLP where he represents clients in rulemakings and adjudicatory proceedings involving federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations. He counsels clients on site investigations and remediation, and in air quality and climate change matters, including regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under AB 32, in particular, the California Cap-and-Trade Program. Michael worked as an environmental engineer prior to practicing law, and has been involved in the environmental and energy industries for almost 20 years.
Michael received his J.D. from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law (Order of St. Ives), and his B.S. from The Ohio State University.
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.
Ryan Young, Member
Contract Compliance Officer, City & County of San Francisco
Ryan currently serves as a Contract Compliance Officer with the City and County of San Francisco where he helps small businesses gain access to economic opportunities. In his previous capacity as Legal Counsel for Greenlining’s Environmental Equity team, Ryan lead Greenlining’s energy and climate advocacy before state bodies such as the California Public Utilities Commission, the Air Resources Board, and the California Legislature. His achievements include successfully advocating for the adoption of the world’s first Climate Dividend and the passage of SB535 (de León), both of which provide significant resources to those on the front lines of our climate crisis. In March 2013, Ryan was appointed by the California Air Resources Board to the AB32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. Prior to joining Greenlining, Ryan earned his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and his B.A. in Law and Society from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Previously, Ryan served a summer as a legal clerk in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and as an intern for the California Public Utilities Commission. Ryan is passionate about providing underserved communities with access to emerging clean technologies that improve both environmental outcomes and economic opportunities.