Staff Spotlight: Community Development & Tribal Manager Lisa Castilone

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February 01, 2021
Development and Tribal Manager Lisa Castilone

Lisa Castilone’s journey with GRID Alternatives began 11 years ago. She originally applied to an ad through Craigslist, was hired and started working out of the San Diego Office because the Inland Empire Office had not been established yet. Her background of over 10 years in the nonprofit industry was a great fit for her new role as Outreach Coordinator with GRID. 

She was supplied with office equipment, marketing material, and a list of leads that she was charged with the responsibility to help spread the word about GRID’s no-cost solar program.

“I was living in a small mountain community at the time. We only had a slow dial-up Internet, so I used to drive to Temecula to use my mom’s internet,” Lisa recalled. Despite some challenges in the beginning, she successfully strategized ways to find people who qualified for GRID’s no-cost solar program, including contacting city governments and affordable housing developers. The service areas of Inland Empire were split between her and a former GRID staff member. She was responsible for everything within the boundaries north of the 215 freeway to the Arizona border. She successfully found a development in Palm Desert called, The Desert Rose Community. They had a homeowner’s association and a city that was very progressive about their renewable energy goals, which the state required cities to complete to transition to clean energy. Lisa was instrumental in helping launch an effective marketing strategy to outreach to low-income families. Out of 161 homes, 152 qualified for GRID’s no cost solar program. That was the starting point to Lisa’s work at GRID. A year later, Regional Director Bambi Tran was hired as Executive Director. They worked out of her garage before opening GRID Alternatives Inland Empire regional office. A construction team was later formed, and Dan Glasow was one of the first construction hires. 

“Serving homeowners and my community over the years has been a blessing. I’ve served over 800 families and met with countless nonprofits, community organizations, city officials, and tribal leaders; all dedicated to serving the low-income sector in their communities. This ‘boots-on-the-ground’ outreach I have done has allowed me to share the good news about the benefits of GRID solar, including saving money on electric bills, while protecting the environment by using solar to reduce air pollution,” said Lisa. 

Outreach for the GRID IE Tribal Program began in 2011 and Lisa really felt compelled to be involved.  She said the Native American communities rarely get programs such as GRID’s in their tribal communities. Large pockets of rural Native American communities are eligible for solar through the Single-family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH) overseen by California Public Utilities Commission. She began travelling to these areas to meet with and build trust with these tribal communities. To date, the Inland Empire region has over 380 homes that have been solarized in tribal areas. 

“It makes me feel good about the work that I do here at GRID. We have always worked as a family. Our success has never been based on individual efforts, but the collaborative effort of GRID IE as a team which makes a difference in the communities we serve,” said Lisa. She shared that due to the Inland region experiencing extreme temperatures, this results in exorbitant high electric bills that forces some families who live on a meager $800 a month to have to pay energy bills as high as $300. This is a heavy burden on these low-income families. 

Lisa is a mother of six children and in addition to working for GRID, she was one of the first to receive no-cost solar as a staff member through GRID. She considers herself an advocate for GRID! “I have had the privilege to work with many great people and watch this program evolve over these years. Now, people are coming to us as partners and supporters that are looking to GRID as a leader in the renewable energy industry. It is great to see the hard work pay off. I am really proud to work at GRID Alternatives Inland Empire,” said Lisa.