Otto Braided Hair, Jr. (Northern Cheyenne)
Co-Founder  |  Executive Director

Otto is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Lame Deer, Montana.  A Traditional Leader with an inherent responsibility to protect and preserve Cheyenne life ways, he has over twenty years involvement in consultations with tribal, State and Federal agencies in the National designations of various tribal historic sites. Otto is a descendant of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, and has played a leading role in the formation of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, opened in 2007 and administered by the National Park Service.  Otto has had nearly twenty years of involvement with Chief Dull Knife College; as a student, served on the board as a member and a Chair, and is now serving on the College’s Fund Board – a sub-committee for fundraising and investment. Currently, Otto serves as a Director of the Northern Cheyenne Fire Department, and a consultant to the Tribe’s Advisory Committee on Renewable Energy.



Chéri Smith (Mi’Kmaq)
Founder

Chéri is a descendant of the Mi’Kmaq Tribe of what is now Northern Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.  Her experience in the fields of renewable energy and environmental sustainability spans two decades and multiple sectors, including Private, Public, Higher Education, NGO, and within tribal communities.  She founded Covenant Tribal Solar Initiative in 2016, driven by the desire to honor her own Native American heritage by leveraging her knowledge to bring the life-changing economic and environmental benefits of solar to struggling indigenous communities within the United States.  Prior to founding Covenant Solar Initiative, Chéri was leading Workforce Strategy for Tesla, Inc., following her tenure as Head of Workforce and Training Development for SolarCity.  Since 2015, Chéri has played a part in over 4MW of solar development on Native American reservations.

From 2009 until joining SolarCity in 2015, Chéri was in private practice, providing solar workforce consulting, curriculum development, and project management services to colleges, universities, and governments, including the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, and served as an advisor for the following United State Department of Energy SunShot initiatives:  Solar Ready Veterans, Solar Instructor Training Network, and Solar Career Map.  From 2005 through 2009, Chéri served as Director of Education & International Workforce Development for the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), where she developed and managed ACORE’s corporate, educational, and citizen-outreach programs, including the Higher Education Committee on Renewable Energy, and green workforce programs, on an international level.

Chéri serves as an Advisory Board member for the Masters in Renewable Energy & Sustainability Systems degree program at the Pennsylvania State University, and as an advisor to the Yale School of Business and the Environment. She is a Cordes Fellow, and a current finalist for both the Ashoka Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, and MIT Indigenous Communities Fellowship.  She is also a Climate Leader, Trained by Climate Reality Project Chairman and former Vice President Al Gore.   Cheri lives with her family in occupied Narragansett territory, on the shore of present-day Rhode Island.


Cody Two Bears
Co-Founder

The Cannon Ball settlement of the Standing Rock Reservation, where Cody Two Bears grew up is in one of the poorest counties in the nation, and energy costs there are among the highest. Compelled to address this problem, in the wake of the #NoDAPL protests that gripped the area in 2016, Cody merged his cultural knowledge and desire for climate justice to create the organization Indigenized Energy. At the end of 2020, Covenant and Earth Island proudly welcomed Cody and the Indigenized Energy team as a sub-project of Covenant Solar Initiative.

Cody manages a 300-kilowatt solar farm on Standing Rock, the largest in North Dakota. His work centers on the collaboration of Western science with Indigenous traditional knowledge. At age 26, he was the youngest elected tribal council member at Standing Rock. In 2013, he brought President Obama to the reservation. It was the former president’s only visit to a Native American reservation in his two-term tenure. Instead of having the president address the community, the organizers had the community’s youth address the president and tell their stories.

Youth empowerment is also central to Cody’s work. He founded a program called Indigenized Youth which focuses on encouraging young Standing Rock Sioux tribal members to continue traditional ways of tending to the earth. They teach the children that renewable energy is just as attainable as iPhones and iPads — and it plays a big role in helping the community break cycles of poverty.


David Riley, PhD
Co-Founder | Director, Strategic Development

Dr. David Riley is a former faculty member at the University of Washington and the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering. His fields of expertise include sustainable building techniques, building energy efficiency, renewable energy systems, energy storage, and smart grid systems. David has secured over $18M in research and education funding over the course of his career from the US Department of Energy, The National Science Foundation and private foundations. David has been doing impactful work with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe for nearly two decades. He is considered a trusted friend of the Northern Cheyenne.

After earning his PhD at Penn State in 1994, David joined the faculty at University of Washington in the Department of Construction Management, where he developed a focus in sustainable construction and green building design. Upon his return to Penn State in 2000, he established an integrated research and education program in sustainable housing called the American Indian Housing Initiative (AIHI) in which students from multiple universities collaborated in the design and construction of sustainable structures and solar energy on American Indian reservations. From 2005 to 2013 David served as the Director of the Center for Sustainability at Penn State (now the Sustainability Institute). In 2005-07, Dr. Riley led the Penn State entry in the Department of Energy 2007 Solar Decathlon Competition. This effort led to the development of the MorningStar solar home, a teaching and research facility located on Penn State’s University Park campus and the GridSTAR center at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. David is currently leading the design and implementation of multiple pilot projects for CSI, and is also leading strategic planning and development.


Daniel East
Co-Founder  Director, Technical Operations & Training

Daniel brings to the team over 8 years of experience in the PV industry and over 15 years of experience in the construction trades. His experience ranges from being the third employee in the successful startup of Zep Solar, to managing the growth of SolarCity’s Operations training department by over 10X, and to building and deploying the workforce development strategies for Tesla’s Solar Roof product launch. He has helped to develop new product suites, created the training collateral to launch them, and then molded the workforce to take pride in the quality craftsmanship that is necessary for a product to be successful. On the training front he has developed the new hire onboarding program for over 5,000 employees across 20 states, managed the growth of an award winning multimedia e-learning curriculum, started a leadership development training program that has been conducted for over 1000 Tesla employees, and launched 6 regional training centers around the US. While Daniel has worked to scale large PV installation companies, he has also worked with many smaller organizations in developing communities. He has worked with GivePower, Grid Alternatives, and Solar Energy International on both domestic and international projects. Some of those projects include launching products in Australia, leading off grid installations in Haiti, and managing projects for the Northern Cheyenne in Montana. He has worked in an advisory role for the Department of Energy’s Sunshot initiative and GivePower’s strategic advisory board. While his experience boasts technical training development endeavors around the world, he truly believes it is the human element that makes an operation successful. Building powerful quality craftsmanship and safety standards is a cultural undertaking. Daniel brings sensitivity, humility, and a passion for human empowerment, to interweave state-of-the-art solar training programs with Native culture so that they may both be successful.



Warren Hammond

Logistics Advisor

Warren is a seasoned and talented solar operations manager.  He garnered his experience through his years on the roof at SolarCity as an installer and, then, Crew Lead, before being promoted by the executive team to launch construction and solar operations in the key Mid-Atlantic region.  After much success as a Regional Operations Manager, he was again promoted to take over the New York region, and manage operations there during a period of rapid growth. 

In his most recent position with Palmetto Solar, Warren has been successful in revamping the solar construction and operations systems and processes.  Warren is a wizard at establishing solar operations in brand new geographies, which entails developing a pipeline of qualified installers where there often are none.  He adeptly manages the entire solar deployment life-cycle, from the pre-design process, to construction for the installation, and everything in between:  Maintenance, alteration, repair, and replacement of solar systems, as well as managing complex equipment inventory, and ensuring profitability, efficiency, and safety of a solar operation. 

Warren studied Sustainable Technology at Appalachian State University. He grew up in North Carolina, adjacent to the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, and counts his experiences with tribal members as some of the most influential in his life.  Recently, Warren was an integral part of a project to install 100kW of solar atop the Tribal Capitol Building of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, offsetting 40% of the Tribe’s energy use for the building, and serving as inspiration for future renewable energy development on the Reservation.


Vanessa Braided Hair
Director | Advocacy & Community Organizing

Vanessa is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Southeastern Montana.  She is a co-founder of ecoCheyenne, a grassroots environmental organization which provides community outreach to support development of a robust, resilient, and diversified new “green energy” economy, with investments targeted to improve the quality of life on the 440,000-acre Northern Cheyenne Reservation in remote southeast Montana.

ecoCheyenne was founded in November of 2012 to protect Cheyenne homelands, create jobs, and support local economic development. In 2013-2015 ecoCheyenne and National Wildlife Federation, with support from Honor the Earth, worked to raise awareness on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation about preserving sacred lands, inspiring more than 250 Tribal members to contact public officials.

The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation has open-cast coal mines on three sides and a new coal mine was proposed for the fourth side of the reservation. The Tribal Government has long fought against the encroachment of these mines on their sovereign land, similar to other battles played out by Native Americans and indigenous people across the world, wanting to protect their land from fossil fuel extraction. In March of 2016, Arch Coal announced that it would withdraw its permit application for the Otter Creek coal mine proposal. The company had pursued this site for nearly 40 years, with plans to mine more than 1.3 billion tons of coal, exclusively for export to China.

As a result of Vanessa’s and ecoCheyenne’s efforts, in 2016 and 2017, the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council adopted a series of unprecedented resolutions, eschewing fossil fuels and, instead, endorsing green energy.  This led to Arch Coal’s withdrawal of their 40-year-old, embattled application to mine and build a railroad through their sacred lands.


Janet MacGillivray Wallace (Muscogee/Creek)
Public Policy & Legal Advisor

Janet is a descendant of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma.  She is an environmental attorney and social change activist. She founded and directs The Seeding Sovereignty Project, birthed at Standing Rock, to amplify the role of indigenous knowledge for environmental justice. She has more than a decade of public interest and social change activism fighting environmental injustices and a track record of successful campaigns. Currently she is Co-Director of the IMatter Campaign where she is leading  youth advocacy and mobilization on climate change, a staff attorney at Women’s Earth Alliance focusing on the impacts of geoextraction and false climate solutions’ impact to indigenous communities, and an active blogger on global environmental, human rights, and indigenous issues.

Janet’s work for nonprofits spans a range of environmental issues. At the Natural Resources Defense Council she focused on water, and as Senior Attorney for Riverkeeper, the N.Y.-based environmental litigation group, she worked for the cleanup of the PCB-contaminated Hudson River and fought corporations including GE and Monsanto. At Environmental Defense Fund she fought deregulation of genetically modified foods in the Biotechnology Program and helped bring a constitutional case on right-to-know and protective thresholds for commercial labeling. To better understand the human health impacts on vulnerable populations, she served as Policy Director of the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment and as Executive Director of Blacksmith Institute she traveled internationally to clean up polluted communities whose health was impacted. She next worked as a researcher and writer for Robert F Kennedy, Jr. on the book “Crimes Against Nature” and went on to found and serve as executive director for two nonprofits, Urbangreen, that addressed urban environmental issues, and Make A Ripple, a youth based nonprofit.

Prior to that, her work in government includes the United States Department of Justice where she helped prosecute the first case under the international ocean dumping statute and supported litigation against Exxon regarding the Exxon Valdez spill.  As a Superfund Attorney in Region II of USEPA she worked to enforce cleanups of contaminated communities, with emphasis on stricter standards most protective of human health.

Janet’s passions include corporate accountability and subsidized raiding of indigenous people’s global natural resources, youth catalyzing, and cross-fertilizing issue areas to tap synergies that build and diversify constituencies.  Janet is former board member of the Wallace Global Fund and Rainforest Action Network.



Kali Aukley

STCK DESIGN

Kali is a visionary and highly committed professional. As Executive Director of STCK, she brings an extensive background in providing high-level leadership and services within the nonprofit and small business sector.

Her training in integrative medicine and program development led to work for international research organization, Bioversity International, where she designed and implemented community-based development projects in Kenya and India. Her work was largely focused on harnessing first person perspective of rural farmers via Photovoice and facilitating critical discussions surrounding women’s health and awareness for neglected and underutilized fruit species.

Kali has observed global health issues around the world and recognizes the need for efficient and comprehensive solutions–starting with awareness. With a M.S. in global health/social marketing and B.S in public health/behavior change, Kali brings the science lens to marketing and design for STCK’s purpose driven clients.

What inspires Kali most, is carrying the public health torch of her late father who dedicated his life to bringing clean water to millions. When she is not scrolling through spreadsheets, you can find her studying herbs, enjoying nature, or relaxing with family and friends.


Kathleen Van Gorden Morse
KVG COMMUNICATIONS

Communications Consultant

Kathleen is a marketing strategist with over 25 years of experience partnering with clients in arts, energy, technology, and healthcare. Most recently, she was a member of the executive leadership team for a national non-profit dedicated to improving care and supporting vital research for people with rare blood disorders. Previously, she partnered with one of the world’s largest utilities, to significantly evolve their marketing approach and increase participation in energy efficiency programs.

Kathleen has held positions at boutique advertising and marketing firms, served as assistant director of public relations for The Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and served on community boards and committees. As a strategic consultant, Kathleen is currently supporting client partners with communication strategy, PR and media relations, social media, executive and employee communications and corporate branding.


 


Lisa Shulock

Management & Operations Consultant

Lisa is an independent consultant working with organizations contributing to a clean energy future. She led sustainable energy education and workforce development initiatives at Penn State at the Navy Yard from 2014-2018. Prior to that she was a consultant at two design and consulting firms, Re:Vision and Kitchen & Associates. She also serves on the Living Futures Community Council. Lisa has her MBA from Yale University and B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont. Lisa is passionate about sustainability and the power of community to transform the world.

©[2018] Covenant Solar Initiative, a Project of Earth Island Institute, 501(c)(3) Made with  in Oakland, CA

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