GRID's "How I Got Here" Series: Julianne Hadfield

This is the latest in a series of regular profiles introducing the GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles staff. In their own way, each member of our team brings a passion for renewable energy to the day-to-day work of Los Angeles' most socially-minded solar company. Here's how one of them got to that point: Julianne Hadfield, Workforce Development Grants Program Specialist.

Julie is a California native, and lived the last nine years in San Diego County before making the formal jump north to join the Greater Los Angeles community as Workforce Development Grants Program Specialist. Part of a large family, with three adopted siblings and another biological sibling, she's invested time and energy in some passions that she shares with many other Californians: she's involved in the arts, a talented writer, and a lifelong learner. While she didn't always intend to leave her mark on the growing California solar industry, she's already been able to contribute to GRID Alternatives in several different ways prior to accepting this role! We're excited to share part of the story of how she got to GRID.

It's a story that started a few years back, when Julie was utilizing her undergraduate education and her first graduate degree to do meaningful work in education for adult learners. "My first career was in teaching English as a second language," she explains. Sometime prior to 2018, Julie reached a point where her TESL background was no longer a match with the professional goals in her future. So she sought out opportunities that were available through online learning, and she eventually committed to a fully-online master's degree program in Engineering Management and began heightening her own understanding of technology.

It was apparent to her almost immediately that she would need direct more experience working with technology in order to have the right jobs waiting for her at the end of her degree (planned for completion in 2021). A VolunteerMatch search led her to local organizations that did positive work, from building homes to refurbishing computers. But GRID Alternatives stood out and was making a positive impact close to home. Intrigued by solar technology, Julie became a volunteer with GRID Alternatives San Diego and began using the volunteer portal to rack up hours of experience installing.

As her knowledge grew with time, spending three or more days a week in the San Diego warehouse turned out to be a great way for Julie to get exposure to more of GRID. She was particularly intrigued by our SolarCorps Fellowship work, which allows individuals with entry-level ambitions in the industry to spend a year serving community members and growing their own energy skills alongside GRID staff. Although SolarCorps (which has benefited from a multiyear funding relationship with Bank of America and receives funding from the Corporation from National and Community Service) was an exciting fulltime opportunity, Julie waited to become a Fellow and started commuting to Downtown Los Angeles for an internship with GLA's Project Management operation in summer 2019.

Subsequently, Julie paired her competencies in the project management world with the experience she had developing skills for diverse learners in order to become a SolarCorps Workforce Development Fellow with GRID SD's Workforce Development. Helping people in the San Diego area with skills and employment through all of 2020 (and much of 2019), she quickly saw that her team's success demanded meticulous attention to detail and planning. "That's how we'll be able to train people, stay organized, and reach the capacity we'ved dreamed up at GRID," she predicts, pointing to our mission of making clean energy technology and its benefits accessible within communities facing issues around economic and environmental justice. During SolarCorps, Julie tried to dip her toes in a every area she could—and when the pandemic put many of GRID's in-person activities on hold, she took on more leadership at GRID SD in order to plan a series of online industry talks (which were particularly effective for trainees who wanted to get ready for the solar industry, but were looking for a diverse set of careers that might not include installation).

With that year as a SolarCorps Fellow under her belt, Julie is back in DTLA for her first month of service in a newly-created GRID GLA position focused on Workforce Development funding, tracking, and deliverables. She's learning more about her Los Angeles department and responsibilities every day! "But from what I'm gathering, I'm the grants project manager looking specifically at the administrative side of it," she explains. Just as our mission to develop the next generation of the solar workforce has evolved over time, our program is growing bigger in complex and exciting ways, and Julie's got all the skills we need to keep us running a dynamic training program in the challenging times we're faced with (especially with her own comfort around online engagement tools). As GRID GLA marches forward, opening up opportunity for communities that deserve it most, we hope that you'll keep an eye out for Julie's work. She'll be keeping things in great shape behind the scenes, and continuing her own adventures as a learner at GRID!