Student Services Counselor
Saphire first came to Costa Rica in 2011 to immerse herself in the Spanish language and culture through study abroad. She was a Junior at the University of Kansas at the time. She made the move back to Costa Rica in 2012 after graduating a proud Jayhawk, and throughout the years has worked with individuals and groups of students during their studies in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Nicaragua and the United States. She is excited about bringing this passion to SEI as a Student Services Counselor, to ensure that students get the most from the courses and experience they are pursuing. In her free time, she officiates soccer matches, and enjoys the wildlife, mountains and the beaches of Costa Rica.
Office Manager/Executive AssistantLisa joins SEI as Office Manager and Executive Assistant. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in Environmental and Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Lisa began to fulfill a long-held desire to travel throughout the United States, meeting endlessly fascinating people and working in the field for the US Forest Service while hiking and camping in beautiful and remote landscapes. She gained much of her experience in office management and administration by starting her own storage business, assisting her husband with his construction company, and co-founding a public, Waldorf-inspired charter school on Colorado’s Front Range. Lisa is now settled in the North Fork Valley on a 30-acre farm, raising sheep and fighting for community rights with the non-profit she co-founded, North Fork Valley Community Rights Advocates.
PV Lab AssociateKristen is a Solar Sister, with a capital “S”. She follows the philosophy that since the sun is the source of all energy, we should look to it first to provide design guidance in our built environments. In 2012, Kristen graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, and set out to learn about passive solar strawbale construction, joining the Moab based non-profit Community Rebuilds in 2013, building homes for low income families. Thanks to their collaboration with Solar Energy International, Kristen landed a position as a work trader at SEI in 2014, where she greatly expanded her knowledge of energy, completing the Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems Certificate and Solar Business and Technical Sales Certificate. Shortly after, Kristen was asked to stick around to be SEI’s first Americorps VISTA, and spent the next year creating and implementing the Solarize North Fork Valley program in collaboration with the valley’s local PV installation company. This opened yet another door for Kristen to become a PV installer and later, designer and salesperson for the local company. In addition to PV work, Kristen has built two passive solar strawbale homes in Paonia over the past couple of years, and committed herself to an off-grid lifestyle, living on 300 watts of solar in her off-grid geodesic dome-home just outside of Paonia. Kristen is back at SEI helping run the lab yard with the best team ever!
Student Services CounselorKevin Sova is a retired Air Force Major who spent 23 years serving his country as a Developmental Engineer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Northern Arizona University, a master’s degree in Computer Science from Syracuse University, and 2 SEI Professional Certificates. When Kevin retired from the Air Force he wanted to follow his passion of renewable energy. He attended SEI in 2016 and completed both the Residential and Commercial PV Systems and Battery-Based PV Systems certificate programs. Kevin now works for SEI as a Student Services Advisor helping veterans and non-veterans chart their own pathways into successful careers in the solar industry.
Development AssociateDeirdre Morrison joins SEI to help build relationships and strategy for grant funds and development. She enjoys a generalist approach to skill-building, and has diverse community oriented background that enables her to connect to lots of different people. She built a tiny house, introducing herself to PV systems, and then taught women about using power tools and basic construction. Generally a quietly inquisitive character, she loves opening the door of unexpected connection. Picnics, swimming, building/creating, growing things, cultural immersion, and naps are a few of her favorite things. Her Celtic name was chosen by her mother after reading a poem, and though the consonants and vowels look a little confused, it is pronounced like dear-dra.
Student Services AssistantChristie is excited to have rejoined the SEI staff to provide a variety of shipping services from the Paonia headquarters, plus process Student Records of Completion and SPCP Certificates. Colorado has been her home for the past 40 years and she has just enjoyed installation of her 10.2kWp Grid-Tied PV system in 2018…long awaited and much appreciated!
Marketing & Communications ManagerAfter acquiring a bachelor degree in Graphic Design in 2007, Chris was introduced to the world of marketing, design and web development, where he has worked since. He brings an array of experience to the team, having worked in higher education, commercial sales and non-profit journalism throughout his career. Chris was first introduced to wind and solar power by his roommate when living out of a rustic safari tent in Kauai, Hawaii, and has had a growing interest in renewables ever since. He is eager to use his skills to see SEI succeed in making a difference in and around the world. In his free time he can be found wrenching on vintage race cars, mountain biking, playing music and hanging out with his wife and family.
PV Curriculum DeveloperAmy found her way to PV in sunny Arizona, as part of an interest in off-grid sustainable living and natural building. She began drafting residential PV systems in 2005, and made an appearance in residential-scale wind power manufacturing as a drafter and document control specialist until 2008, when she moved to California where the PV industry was blossoming. She jumped right in and started designing residential systems, and eventually found herself designing and coordinating multi-megawatt commercial-scale PV projects. She took every opportunity to get out of the office and onto the roof, and in 2011 she became a NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional. With special interests in large-scale utility interconnections and multi-use land projects (utilizing landfills, parking lots, etc. for PV), she has worked for several industry-leading companies on projects in multiple states. Amy has a deep love of sharing her knowledge and experience through education and is thrilled to be a part of the SEI Curriculum Development team, in addition to her independent PV system design and consulting work. She can also be found playing and teaching fiddle and singing traditional bluegrass and country music in the San Francisco Bay Area.
PV Curriculum DeveloperAlejandro is an SEI alumnus with almost 10 years of experience in installation and commissioning of telecom equipment. He studied Electronic Engineering at the Technological Institute of Costa Rica but eventually decided to change to a more environmentally conscious industry. In 2014, Alejandro completed a master’s degree in Renewable Energies where he first learned about solar energy. Soon after, he started pursuing SEI ́s Battery-Based Photovoltaic Systems Certificate, where he did a work-trade to help him complete the program. After finishing the certificate program, he joined the SEI PV Curriculum Development team. Alejandro is very interested in intentional and sustainable communities in rural areas, believing solar energy to be a big part of the development of these types of agroecological households and settlements. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outside with his family, cooking and sports in general.
Student Service AssistantLara is excited to have recently joined the SEI staff as Office Manager, where she ensures operations run smoothly for both students and office staff. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, she later began a migration through many states and eco-systems with the National Park Service. She can handle 100 degree changes from negative 20 degree wind chills in New York to 120 degree days at Joshua Tree National Park. Joining her college sweetie after decades apart, she is now happily enjoying a balance of climate in the beautiful North Fork Valley of Colorado. Lara and Nathan co-own the Stone House Inn in Crawford where she enjoys greeting visitors from around the world just as she does during SEI classes. When not working either job or assisting with endless construction projects at the Inn, Lara enjoys family time with Nathan’s daughter Jillian and their 3 cats, and various hobbies such as gardening, crocheting and jewelry making.
Director of Curriculum Development and InstructionSarah Wilder is SEI's Director of Curriculum Development and Instruction. Sarah has been working in the solar energy industry since 2003, when she began her career as an entry-level solar thermal installer. Since that time, Sarah has filled many roles in the industry, from PV installer to project manager to co-owner of a solar installation company to training and technical support manager at a large PV module manufacturer. She is a NABCEP-certified PV Installation Professional and a licensed Oregon Limited Renewable Technician. Sarah holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University. In her free time Sarah can be found in some beautiful outdoor space with her family, diligently working on house projects, or relaxing with a cold beer and some good folk music.
SEI Curriculum Translator and Developer
Co-Director, Middle East and Africa ProgramMichelle joined the SEI team in 2016, working to share SEI’s mission and knowledge with the growing solar community around the world. Throughout her career, she has worked with nonprofits and NGOs dedicated to sustainable development through community empowerment. She has focused on building capacity for the sustainable agriculture and renewable energy industries throughout the US and now the world. Through her role at SEI, she is dedicated to collaborating with international partners and providing access to high quality technical training to individuals with a passion for renewable energy.
María Pía Day
Marketing & Communications Manager Latin AmericaPia works as Marketing and Communication Manager for the SEI Spanish Program. With a degree in advertisement and a background in social responsibility and innovation, she helps spreading SEI mission across Latin America. She is committed to share SEI mission to empower people, bussiness and communities with renewable energy education with the spanish speaker community. Helping them to improve their life standards, providing better access to education and new job opportunities, improving health and security conditions and developing a more sustainable world. As she joined SEI, she was rapidly amazed by the energy and vast experience of it passionate team and started working closely with the Marketing and Business Development Team to help increase the awareness of the Spanish Program into the Hispanic community. Pia lives in Salta, Argentina with her husband Joaquin and her son Milo. Their home is far from the city as they enjoy being surrounded by nature. On her free time she likes to write, take jazz dance classes and go swimming.
Solar Forward Program ManagerMary Marshall is the Program Manager for SEI's Solar Forward program, which provides technical consulting for solar market development in rural communities. As a former AmeriCorps VISTA at SEI, Mary worked on community outreach efforts in Delta County aimed at diversifying the local economy through solar, including spearheading Solarize Delta County Farms, a campaign which brought resources on renewable energy and energy efficiency to agricultural producers and rural businesses in Delta County. During her time as a VISTA, Mary also worked with the local County governing body to apply for, and receive, a bronze SolSmart designation as a part of the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative. This award recognizes communities who have taken positive strides toward fostering a strong solar market. Mary has past experience in television news working at shows such as NBC’s Dateline, Nightly News with Lester Holt, MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts and working with Tom Brokaw in his research unit. An avid outdoor-enthusiast, in her free time you can find her training for ultramarathons in the foothills of the Rockies around Denver.
PV Curriculum Developer and InstructorRoger is a member of SEI's PV Curriculum Development Team and a workshop Instructor. He has had a long-time passion for solar energy - beginning with Mom's clothesline back in the 70's. Since 2002, after a summer of workshops and some hands-on work with SEI, Roger has worked full-time in the PV industry, predominantly in California, and has been a NABCEP Certified PV Installer since 2007. He began as an installer, later working as a foreman, site superintendent and project manager, primarily on grid-direct systems - from small residential to 1 MW commercial systems. He has also performed solar-specific site analysis, troubleshooting, quality assurance and operations and maintenance tasks on thousands of PV sites. Roger is passionate about spreading the understanding and usage of solar power, in addition to teaching best practices for safe, high-quality, NEC compliant PV installations. Currently enjoying the fine food, culture, small waves and bike-friendly routes of the San Francisco Bay Area, Roger can be found late at night playing hockey at Oakland Ice, under 300 kilowatts of PV.
PV Curriculum DeveloperWill began working in the renewable energy industry in 2005 as an installer for small East Coast integrator. During more than ten years with that company, which eventually became RGS Energy, he took on many roles. After starting as an installer, he worked in sales, design, and project management, and he eventually became the Director of Construction for the East Coast. Will has experience in wind power, solar thermal, and all scales of PV, although he has primarily focused on residential systems. He is passionate about implementing high quality, code compliant installation techniques. He is a NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional and was previously a NABCEP Certified Solar Heating Installer. Will is now spending his time developing curriculum for SEI and teaching at Vermont Technical College. In his free time, Will can be found working with his wife and young daughter on their homestead in central Vermont, which features an off-grid strawbale house.
Spanish Program Student Advisor and CoordinatorPaulina is originally from Chile, has lived a few years in Colorado and has recently moved to Paonia . She enjoys being surrounded by nature, wildlife, and all the green in Colorado's western slope. Paulina received a degree in Industrial Design and has always been interested and passionate about renewable technology;one of her first projects as a student was to build a solar tent. Paulina is currently a Spanish Program Student Advisor and Coordinator. She enjoys coordinating and helping students and people from all over Latin America. When she is not working at SEI, Paulina enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking dance classes.
Development DirectorA native Western Pennsylvanian, Marla fell in love with nonprofits and the environment when she was only a teenager. Inspired by her high school’s Interact Club and the Youghiogheny River, Marla quickly developed a deep passion for charitable work and the great outdoors. This resolve stuck with her through college, driving her to earn her BS in Environmental Systems Engineering while chairing a student-run nonprofit that fought pediatric cancer. After a pit stop in Corporate America, Marla joined the SEI family first as a student and volunteer, and now as an employee. At SEI she marries her passions of people and the planet by fundraising to develop SEI’s outreach programs and share its vision, one dollar at a time. On the side, Marla can be found providing environmental consulting, working with her local solar PV installer, and trying desperately to harden up her soft hands as she tends her garden and sheepishly grabs eggs from protective hens.
Online Course ManagerWith a background in electronics and IT consulting, Scott began studying renewable energy technology in 2008. Soon after, he discovered SEI and took his first few Solar PV courses and was hooked. Quickly realizing that he was living in one of the most solar friendly states in the U.S. (Massachusetts), Scott made the transition into the industry taking a job as a PV Project Manager and Technical Sales Person for a local installer. During his career, Scott has been involved with the design and sales of numerous residential and small commercial solar PV systems, and has earned NABCEP Certification as a PV Technical Sales Professional. While continuing to work in the field as an independent consultant, Scott has come full circle and is now the Online Course Manager and an Instructor at SEI.
Student Services CounselorMonique’s passion for helping others and belief in renewable energy makes her right at home at SEI. Watching her son's eyes light up with excitement while he ran along side the installation crew performing a solar PV installation on her own home, she knew solar energy is the future. Her formal education includes a Master's degree in Counseling and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. As an academic and career counselor serving community college students, she has dedicated over 10 years of her professional life to helping people realize their academic, career, and personal aspirations. In her personal life she enjoys spending time with her husband and little boy Ethan exploring and going on adventures.
Director of Campus and Hands-On TrainingPete Mueller joined the SEI team in February, 2015 as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. Pete has worked with SEI to develop initiatives including Solarize North Fork Valley and the High-School Outreach program. He lives in Paonia on an 8-acre farm with his husband and dog, Luna. Pete previously worked for the National Park Service for 8 years as a Ranger, and now calls Paonia his permanent home. He works to keep the Paonia campus looking great and the Hands-On training program the best in the world. Outside of SEI, he can be found distance running by summer and cross-country skiing by winter. He is thrilled to be part of such a wonderful team in a place he loves.
SEI Instructor and Curriculum DeveloperKaro's background is in Mechanical Engineering from Universidad de Costa Rica, but has been dedicated to the electrical side of the PV industry since 2009. She started out as a PV project manager for Costa Rica´s utility in 2009. Since then she has worked in regional PV market development for Latin America, renewable energies and energy efficiency for developing countries, and PV system design, inspection and commissioning at residential and industrial levels. In 2015 she founded Ingeniería Fotovoltaica SRL in Costa Rica to provide engineering services for PV projects. The company specializes in NEC based design and installation review, field inspections, and commissioning processes based on IEC standards. Karo is a technical trainer and curriculum developer for Solar Energy International since 2013, and is a certified NABCEP Installation Professional since 2015.
PV Lab Manager
Director de Programa HispanoMatthew Harris has more than 17 years of experience in the renewable energy and sustainability fields. Educated in architectural design with a focus on restorative and regenerative principles, Matthew holds a vision of a built environment focused on the story of place. These ideals run parallel with the mission and vision of SEI whom Matthew joined in 2004. In his time with SEI Matthew was the initial lead project manager on the planning and development of SEI’s 7-acre Renewable Energy Training Facility in Paonia, CO, co- coordinated SEI’s Green Building program, and helped to launch SEI’s Programa Hispano, which he now serves as its Director of Business Development. The Programa Hispano aims to establish SEI as a leading renewable energy training provider for Spanish speakers, with a focus on Latin America. Matthew and his team have brought SEI’s Spanish training’s to over 6 countries including online learning, training over 3,000 Spanish speakers since 2013. Matthew lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Alexis, two cats Magic and Percy, and his six solar cookers. When Matthew is not working to fulfill SEI's mission he spends time as an Improvisational comedian, playing soccer, spending time in Colorado's beautiful mountains, and drinking Yerba Mate.
PV Electrical DesignerKyra brings extensive experience in PV project planning and design including full project plan-sets, project site analysis, production analysis utilizing PV SYST, layout design, system design, interconnection feasibility, and drafting support. B.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Financial DirectorPaul Gibb escaped corporate life in Austin, Texas, for western Colorado in 2000. Since then, he has been helping small businesses and nonprofits with their finances while enjoying the rural lifestyle of Paonia. Paul has consulted with more than a dozen organizations of varying size and at different stages in their evolution. Paul hooked up with SEI in 2006 and signed on as Financial Director in 2008. When not crunching numbers, Paul chases around his twin 10-year-old sons and provides free labor to his wife's organic farming operation. Paul is a graduate of Boston University (MBA) and Colgate University (BA).
Training ManagerJess is thrilled to combine her passion for sustainability and education with her compulsion to organize and color code in her position as Training Manager. Jess works closely with the PV Team, Student Services Team, and SEI Instructors, overseeing daily operations, logistics, and scheduling. Jess has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Gettysburg College and a M.A. in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University. Before joining the SEI team, Jess coordinated an outdoor educational program for the Museum of Northern Arizona and managed the Literacy Program for Delta County Library District. She loves meeting all the students and alumni of SEI and is inspired by their commitment to a more sustainable world. In her free time, she can be found trail running, gardening, or floating on the Colorado River with her husband and their two sons.
Director of Marketing and CommunicationsChris Turek has more than 15 years of marketing, online learning, and educational technology experience working with organizations all over the world. As a marketing and educational technology consultant, Chris has guided corporate, government, and non-profit organizations to effectively adopt new media strategies and online learning technologies to spread their message. He is a Sam Houston State University alumnus with a Bachelor's of Business Administration degree in Information Systems Management and Graduate-level studies at Texas A&M University in Educational Technology. When he isn't buried in his laptop and Solar Energy International's Online Campus, Chris and his wife, Monique, and his son, Ethan are out exploring the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain area. If he isn't on the ski slopes you can find him landing trout (catch and release, of course) at the beaver dams on McClure Pass between the Carbondale and Paonia, Colo., Solar Energy International (SEI) offices.
PV Curriculum Developer and TrainerBrian Mehalic is a NABCEP-certified PV professional and IREC-certified PV instructor with over 12 years of experience designing, installing, servicing, and inspecting all types and sizes of PV systems. He began his career as Lead Installer and Project Manager at EV Solar Products in Arizona, where he was directly responsible for the design and installation of over 150 photovoltaic systems, ranging from residential off-grid to commercial grid-interactive. For the past several years he worked as Project Engineer for O2 Energies in North Carolina, advising the developer on system design, modeling performance, and performing quality assurance inspections on over 23 megawatts of ground-mounted PV. Currently he is a curriculum developer and instructor for Solar Energy International and North Carolina State University, a frequent contributor to SolarPro and Home Power magazines, and an independent consultant providing services ranging from system design and quality assurance inspections to commissioning, troubleshooting, and maintenance.
PV Curriculum Developer and TrainerJoe Villacci specializes in system design, installation methods, and performance verification of solar electric systems. He works as technical trainer and curriculum developer for Solar Energy International and is responsible in part for development of SEI's PV training facility. Joe also provides design review, commissioning, and troubleshooting services through his company, OnSight Solar Electric Services. He is an IREC Certified Master Trainer/PV and NABCEP certified PV installation professional. Joe spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors and is an avid rock climber. Joe Villacci, IREC Certified Master TrainerTM for PV Installation Professional
PV Curriculum Developer and Trainer
Laura Walters has been a member of SEI's PV Technical Team since 2006, updating SEI's internationally recognized PV training program curriculum. From creating the technical diagrams, to working on SEI's PV textbook series, and helping develop the exercises, quizzes and powerpoint presentations, she is busy ensuring SEI's materials are held to a high standard. She has a degree in Environmental Science with a focus on renewable energy and climate change from Dickinson College. She started the college's sustainability program, which is now being emulated across the country, by writing sustainability into Dickinson's strategic plan. In addition to curriculum work, she has taught Native American trainings, Solar In the Schools installations, and PV Lab Week an online PV courses. Her passion lies in international off-grid solar work, and she has recently completed trainings in Uganda and Mexico. In her free time she loves exploring new areas- locally and abroad!
Laura Walters, IREC Certified InstructorTM for PV Installation Professional