Staff Spotlight: Meet Ambessa and Alexandra!


November 19, 2019
IMAGE: Alexandra Shade and Ambessa Cantave

This month is a two-for-one staff spotlight highlighting the two new faces of our Workforce Development Team! Meet Ambessa Cantave, Workforce Development Manager and Alexandra Shade, SolarCorps* Workforce Development and Volunteer Fellow. Both fueled by GRID's emphasis on equity, they look forward to working together to provide more job training opportunities in 2020.


Ambessa: He/ Him

Alexandra: She/Her

How did you come to GRID?  

Ambessa: I entered the sustainability field in 2007 when I co-founded Grind for the Green, a non-profit that trained youth of color to produce solar-powered community hip-hop concerts. After a few years my partners and I dissolved the company and I went on to be a Green for All Fellow, environmental educator and lifestyle marketing consultant. During that time I took it upon myself to learn about all the Bay Area organizations that are making strides in environmental advocacy, job creation and education, and of course I learned about GRID Alternatives. Fast forward to the summer of 2019, when I was looking for a new place to bring aboard my passion for equity and empowerment, GRID had an opening that closely matched my profile so I applied. The rest as they say is history.

Alexandra: When I was a sophomore, I became passionate about socially and environmentally conscious work after I took a class focused on learning how to design and create compact, robust, low-cost systems for generating electrical power to meet household-level needs in developing countries. That’s when I decided I wanted to learn more about sustainability and spent the next two years exploring projects in renewable energy, STEM education (for youth), climate policy, and international development. I learned about the importance of technological innovation, stable employment, and distributional equity in the context of sustainable development and I graduated this year with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a concentration in Sustainable Development and Innovation. When I found GRID Alternatives, I was immediately interested because it almost feels like an extension of what I studied in school. GRID shares some of my personal values of collaboration, community, and positive action. And the Workforce Development Fellowship combines a lot of my core professional interests: inclusive technology, project management, skills teaching, and humanitarian work.

What GRID value most resonates with you? 

Ambessa: Equity. As I come from what can be labelled as an underserved community, I have dedicated my professional life to levelling the playing field. 

Alexandra: Equity. As an engineer, I want to increase access to technology and work on projects that solve real world problems in a way that promotes environmental justice. And as a woman of color, I’m really excited to work towards building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry for technical careers. 

Favorite GRID moment?

Ambessa: Observing the look of empowerment on the faces of trainees on installs.

Alexandra: At one of my first installs, the homeowner provided lunch that was a feast of homemade Eritrean food. They even roasted their own coffee beans for us!

Fun Fact about you:

Ambessa: I like to rhyme, create music and I am a bit of a serial founder :)

Alexandra: I won a turkey every year in elementary school. (Feel free to ask me about it!)


Did you know that 1 in 5 GRID staff is a SolarCorps Fellow? Applications for the 2020-2021 cohort will open in early 2020 with positions starting in April! 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.