Climate Corps Program Mentors Sustainability Leaders

By:Shelby Sugierski

October 12, 2015

Bay Area Climate Corps Fellows 2015

Editors Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

When you envision a future powered by solar and other renewable energy sources, what do you see? If you’re like me, you see a world where the business of everyday life is carried out in a way that is harmonious with, rather than harmful to, the environment.

SunPower recognizes the intrinsic link between solar and sustainability and is committed to being a leader in both. Through distinctions such as being the only solar company to be a member of the Circular Economy 100 to producing the world’s first and only solar products to achieve Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver recognition for panels manufactured in Mexico and in France, SunPower is constantly seeking ways to benefit the planet through its business.

SunPower partners with Climate Corps Bay Area

SunPower’s dedication to sustainability is reflected in its partnership with Climate Corps Bay Area (CCBA), through which SunPower employs five full-time climate fellows for 10 months. 

CCBA, a program created and facilitated by the nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations, places qualified recent graduates from college and grad school or those simply looking to gain entry into the sustainability field, with local governments, nonprofits and businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. CCBA aims to help fellows develop professionally within a structured program while also supporting local climate resiliency projects.

This year’s SunPower fellows are Ellen Lomonico, Eric Dyer, Caitlin Lutz, Sam Valeriano and myself, working in Commercial Marketing, Product Management, Sales and Distributed Generation Project Management. Each fellow gains valuable work experience leading and supporting projects within their department and learning what it’s like to work in a fast-paced, high-tech environment where cross-functional collaboration and teamwork are essential to success.

CCBA Fellow projects include creating a website for SunPower’s educational programs, installing SunPower® solar systems and increasing external communication efforts that highlight SunPower’s commercial customers.

A testament to SunPower’s commitment to fighting climate change and supporting young professionals in solar, the group of five SunPower fellows comprises the second largest cohort of the 22 CCBA partner organizations. Other participating employers include San Mateo County, Alameda County and the City of Oakland, all of which have shown their commitment to sustainability by going solar with SunPower!

Imagining solutions to climate change

As a CCBA Fellow at SunPower, I am thrilled and proud to be working at a company that is a leader in both solar and sustainability. Similar to my Climate Corps colleagues and many professionals of my generation, I dream of being part of a global team that imagines and implements solutions to climate change issues.

Even with a strong commitment to this dream, it was difficult and discouraging to look for a job after graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Public Policy. After so much hard work in school, it felt like no one was willing to give me an opportunity to apply my experience and begin to make a difference.

The partnership between CCBA and SunPower is providing the perfect bridge between my completed education and the professional world of sustainability. Principally, it offers the elusive and all-important “foot in the door” both at SunPower and in the solar industry. And, the professional development focus at CCBA allows me to explore different departments, conduct informational interviews and develop skill sets that are not directly related to my position.

At first, I was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t landed a permanent job right out of college, but I quickly discovered that working at SunPower as a CCBA fellow is the single best step I could have taken for my professional career. I work for the most innovative solar company in the world, and I will emerge from these 10 months with industry know-how, a remarkable network and an enhanced resume.

In a word, I am optimistic. In solar, the sky is literally the limit. I am so glad to be part of the innovative energy solutions that SunPower is constantly creating, and I am proud to have joined the corporate effort to responsibly address climate change and environmental degradation. I appreciate the fact that SunPower is making an investment in a brighter future for the planet and for my generation.

© 2015 SunPower Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  SUNPOWER and the SUNPOWER logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of SunPower Corporation in the U.S. and other countries as well.  Cradle to Cradle Certified is a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.  Cradle to Cradle Certified is a multi-attribute certification program that assesses products and materials for safety to human & environmental health, design for future use cycles, and sustainable manufacturing.