GRID's "How I Got Here" Series: Leilani Sinclair


July 30, 2019
A smiling person, Leilani Sinclair, stands at the end of a row of team members on a GRID Alternatives project

This is the latest in series of regular profiles introducing the GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles team. 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 our longtime Development Consultant got to where she is toay: meet Leilani Sinclair.

For almost half of the time we've been operating in Greater Los Angeles, Leilani Sinclair has played her brilliant behind-the-scenes part making our case for support! Involved in grantsmanship, membership programs, proposals, and assorted nuts-and-bolts tasks of a development operation, she brings a level of insight into relational work that's not very common in her field. Besides helping organizations like GLA grow capacity, Leilani's a licensed marriage and family therapist who just completed her graduate work in Counseling Psychology. MFT studies have introduced her to worlds that encompass policy, politics, and even services in the community (like Teen Line, where she connected therapeutic help with those in need of it).

Leilani met GLA Executive Director Michael Kadish during an earlier era of L.A., when the Los Angeles Business Council was working on a feed-in tariff program several years ago. Their mutual interest in what she calls "the start of L.A.'s solar policies" was an issue to connect over, even during a time "when people used to think that solar was a passing fad!" Previously, the Santa Monica native's engagement with energy policymakers had been part of her job as she fundraised for public officials. She made a living, in her own telling, "as a fund-raiser for policies and people we need" who understood intersectional issues around justice.

When someone is a leader, Leilani knows, "you can have great politics." But, "I would really find I was most motivated and inspired by the ones who were good to people around them." That preference for positive environments was part of what convinced her to join GRID Alternatives in its solar mission. Her favorite aspect of consulting here today is being close to our staff on the ground, letting her watch policies reach the natural endpoint of their lifecycle: when their benefit reaches the community through program impact.

Our development consultant Leilani is most evangelical about the need to find work for the gifts that each of us possess. As a seasoned people manager herself, with a deep track record in capacity-building and politics, she sees plenty of reasons to stay engaged with the nonprofit world during her future adventures. She believes that her life's long-term calling could be shaping the way we develop mental health, especially in diverse communities like the ones right around us (Leilani herself is Chamorro, a member of indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands).

Meanwhile, Leilani continues to help our programs advance the cause of a just renewable energy transition. When not with grass-roots organizations, you can find her with her girlfriend at home in L.A. Along with Leilani's two teenage daughters and two kids she's raising with her partner, she loves political life and the daily foibles of her three cute chickens.