Celebrating Black Achievement at GRID: Wanda Lee-Stevens

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 Wanda Lee-Stevens. Wanda started as GRID's Talent Acquisition Manager in June 2018 and is now our Talent & Acquisition Director for Headquarters in our Oakland, California office. Wanda is passionate about community and making folx feel like they belong are seen, heard and appreciated.

How did you come to GRID? 

GRID found me. I was a seasoned HR/Recruiting professional who had taken a hiatus to pursue my passion for books (in between lay-offs). I had opened a bookshop, which is distinct from a bookstore. In my shop, called BOOK YOUR LIFE, you came there to make books. I was inspired to do this after publishing my book, 50 Years of Assimilation, From the Midwest to the Wild West and All the Blackness & Whiteness In Between. I would get different requests from friends and strangers to assist them with publishing their books and one thing led to another. We offered workshops and writing clinics for kids and adults and the goal was to teach folx that you can also author your own books/life.

GRID reached out to me (May/June 2018), because of my recruiting and prior solar company experience and after meeting Katie Kerr [VP of People and Culture] and the team, I was sold. Also, because of the mission of working for economic and environmental justice instead of working just for profit, I was intrigued. I worked my bookshop on the weekends, allowing friends to use the space during the week as an office collective. And then I eventually closed it in September 2019, to focus on GRID full-time and my writing.

What is your favorite part of what you do at GRID?

THE TEAM!!! COLLABORATION IS SIMPLY THE BEST! And I had never had such a smart, generous and collaborative professional experience before, except for the one job when I led a division of recruiters at Kaiser Permanente and fostered team. Barring that job, no other workplace offered me this level of high impact collaboration.

The team culture at GRID for me is, “We want to learn from each other, everyone has something to offer.” And for the most part, everyone feels seen, heard, and appreciated.

The other really, really cool thing about GRID is that almost everyone has a side-hustle or some really cool talent(s). GRID is living “bring your whole-self to work”, it is not just a tagline for promotion. I have been supported with my writing and folx are anticipating my next book coming soon (spring 2021). More later on that, stay tuned. The point is, you don’t have to hide your other interests. They get that people have full lives.

Who is a current Black history-maker that people should know about, or has influenced your work?

My daughter, August L. Stevens, is a current Black history-maker that influences my work every day. She is a third year UCSC student and due to the pandemic, I have had the awesome opportunity to be in earshot of the work she is doing at school. Listening to her ‘run things’ is just so very special and keeps me smiling throughout the day. (She is a Political Science and Film double major and a talented singer-songwriter and musician. She is currently the President of the African American Theatre & Arts Troupe (AATAT), the Assistant Producer of the Culture Arts & Diversity Resource Center, a member of the UCSC NAACP Chapter, and on on the Art’s Dean Student Leadership Board, and former Awardee of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Student Research Fellowship. She is on the frontlines of justice and equality and is very outspoken and active on campus and in life. Prior to UCSC, she won a grant and hosted 5 seniors from her high school Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) to attend the March For Our Lives (stop gun violence rally) in Washington D.C., and so many more events, it’s hard for her helicopter mom to keep up.)

What’s one thing GRID is working on now that you’re really excited to see happen this year?

Scaling Workforce Development and all of the EID (Equity, Inclusion, Diversity) work. GRID is uniquely positioned and proven to help train the next generation of energy workers. We are reaching folx that have been historically left out of emerging technologies and renewable energy career paths. And it will take many hands to get us to sustainability. Additionally, GRID is doing amazing work with our implementation of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity and creating work environments that are not only racially and ethnically diverse and sustainable, but also highly collaborative and creative.

What is your vision for an environmentally just future?

I wrote about it in my alma mater’s magazine, University of San Francisco “USF Magazine” Dec. 2020. The subject was ‘The Future’ and my piece is on how to imagine an anti-racist world. The environment of racism, once dismantled and healed, will allow for all of “HUE”manity to evolve to a better purpose of environmental sustainability and a more just future for everyone. The reality is, the planet doesn’t need us to be saved, we need to behave better to save our existence on the planet. So either we do better as a collective--or perish collectively.