Women in Solar: Erica Cook

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March 01, 2019

When Erica Cook’s cousin mentioned an upcoming employment event in her community, she didn’t expect it to kickstart a career in solar. Erica, recently widowed and the mother of small children, was eager to find more ways to support her family.

The event turned out to be an orientation at I Am My Brother’s Keeper (IAMBK). GRID Alternatives and IAMBK have worked together for years, referring trainees back and forth for their different programs. Erica’s hardworking and curious nature immediately caught the attention of IAMBK’s class facilitator and she was referred to GRID Alternatives as a way to get some hands on experience.

Erica hit the ground running -- smart and passionate, she picked up solar basics remarkably fast. Soon she was up on the roof, shining bright among her training cohort. Although she’d never worked in construction, Erica gathered her innate strength and focus and set out to learn as much as possible. When an opportunity for a Construction Assistant position opened at GRID via LISC AmeriCorps, Erica was a natural fit.   

“It’s so fun working with new people every day,” Erica says.  “Plus I’m so interested in solar, environmental literacy, community based employment, environmental justice and helping low-income families.”

At GRID she says she feels like she has found all of that.

Erica has learned all of the steps of inspection and site surveys, as well as solar installation and has easily stepped into a leadership role, now she is passing her knowledge on to new solar trainees. “I remember being in their shoes,” says Erica.  “So I’m happy to help.”

Erica says she’s so excited about the growing solar industry. “It’s a great place to be! And I’m looking forward to staying in it.”

AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.