Welcome to our May installment of our Staff Spotlight feature, where we share a brief interview to introduce you to some of our amazing staff members here at GRID Bay Area! This month, we are introducing you to our SolarCorps Construction Fellow, Emily Goldenberg! Emily is passionate about making the Bay Area a better and more accessible place to live, and hopes that her example will inspire others to take action on the causes they care about. Read on to learn more about Emily, including what inspired her to speak before hundreds of people at City Hall!
How did you come to GRID?
I wanted to make a career change into renewable energy, and the first for-profit company I looked at had more than half its staff come from GRID’s SolarCorps Fellowship program, so I became curious and wondered, “What’s this GRID place?” After checking out GRID’s website, I fell in love with the mission. I had worked with social justice issues while volunteering with the homeless in San Francisco, and kind of dabbled in volunteering with environmental justice organizations, but never found a place that combined both these causes like GRID. I visited the website on a Wednesday, attended the volunteer orientation on Thursday, and completed my first install on Saturday. Two weeks later, I started an internship in the Construction department. I’m a dive-in-and-start-swimming kind of girl when it comes to making decisions about my life.
What GRID value most resonates with you?
Positive action. I spent many years of my life signing petitions, giving money, or giving my time to causes that I believed in and to the change I’d like to see. Serving as a SolarCorps Fellow is my first time committing myself full-time to an organization that creates that change everyday. I want to be a role model for people and tell them that they can pursue new opportunities at any stage in their lives. I never thought I would be where I am at 50, but there’s a place for everyone in the fight for social justice. It’s never too late.
Favorite GRID moment?
I think what made me want to be here was my first install. I’m scared of heights, and at one point, even looking down at stairwells scared me! Before my first install, I very shyly let the GRID staff know that I was scared to work on the roof, and they were so nice and accommodating. They let me work on the ground and taught me to bend conduit and do the electrical side of things. The way that our staff teaches other people empowers them so much, and I experienced that first hand. After lunch, the roof and ground teams switched, and I said I’d try to work on the roof the second half of the day. I put my fear on my back, climbed the ladder, and handled it. It was so liberating! I don’t know if I’d say I’m still afraid of heights - but I definitely have a deep caution! Flat roofs are definitely my favorite!
Fun fact about you?
I’m very shy - but I don’t let it stop me from meeting new people and getting things done! Once I spoke at City Hall about the housing crisis in San Francisco, and the thing that got me to stand up in front of 500 people was my son by my side and my deep belief in what I was saying. I am very passionate about affordable housing, and would love to empower everyone in our cities to become homeowners!
Did you know that 1 in 5 GRID staff is a SolarCorps Fellow? Applications for the 2018-2019 cohort open next month! Click here to learn more about the program.
GRID Alternatives is grateful for the generous support from the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS). The SolarCorps Fellowship Program is made possible with additional funding from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Bank of America.