GRID is honoring Black History Month and Black Futures Month by celebrating Black Achievement at GRID -- in February and all year. Follow along as we introduce GRID staff members whose work and influences are driving our vision of a just energy future.
Meet Dominic Paul-Baha (Dom), GRID Mid-Atlantic’s Workforce Training Supervisor. Dom started out as a job trainee with GRID, and now is a leader, teacher, and mentor to individuals participating in GRID Mid-Atlantic’s job training program, Solar Works DC.
How did you come to GRID?
I came to GRID through DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program (GZEP). I was just looking for something different, and I was seeking some extra money to enjoy some of my hobbies. I had a change of heart when I actually did the work. The first installation - I will always remember it. The homeowner - we saved him a lot of money. His bill ended up being one dollar. I felt like I was making a difference by seeing the homeowners’ smiles, and hearing what they were planning on doing with the money they were going to save. This is what motivates me at GRID. It built confidence in me. In that moment, I made a commitment to give someone else the same opportunity that was given to me.
My favorite part is seeing the success stories afterwards. We run a training program, and hearing how people have advanced in life and have grown, it gives me motivation, seeing that growth in others.
During the 2018 Spring cohort, there was a trainee that said to me that he was a hands-on learner. He didn’t think he could pass the class because of the book work and OSHA tests. I told him, ‘You lost already if you think that way,’ and I gave him motivation to always think positively.
Then I saw him pass, graduate, get his certificate, then he was employed. Then I heard about him buying his own car, his own house. And knowing where he came from - I know the type of environment he grew up in - he grew up a few blocks away from me. I loved to see him going from saying “I can‘t do it” to actually doing it.
Who is a current Black history-maker that people should know about, or has influenced your work?
Well, officially, it’s my boy Obama. I try to model myself after him, especially with the speeches, because I have to talk to people and give them motivation. He put that swag on it. I try to mimic him in my tone, so they know I mean business. And Michelle, too. Barack Obama is not Obama without Michelle.
Solar Works DC, obviously. With the way the world is going now, we need this more than ever. Times are hard, people are losing jobs, homes, careers, family members, so the time is now to make the change we want to see on this planet. We are doing it a mixture of virtually and limited in person, so that people can stay safe, and so that people can get this training.
You always get to see people grow. I started my career here, so I’m really excited about other people having their chance to start their career. Just knowing that excites me.
I’m excited to see more women in solar in our training cohorts. I’m excited that we are building out those connections more, and I’m looking forward to having a Women in Solar build again.
What is your vision for an environmentally just future?
I hope my vision becomes actuality. I hope this wakes everybody up and we can all come together, there are bills getting passed, it’s time to get solar.
I just want to see everybody come together, in a time of need, and really help people, - to make it to where everyone can access solar, and to make it educational. It needs to be put in schools. The longer we delay it, the more our children will have to do. Climate change is real. We’ve seen the wildfires in California, we need to put things aside and step up and make some changes. Make this world better than when you left it.