Laura E. Stachel, M.D., M.P.H. the co-founder and medical director of WE CARE Solar, is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with fourteen years of clinical experience, holding an M.D. from University of California, San Francisco and an M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from University of California, Berkeley. She is a DrPH candidate at UCB; her dissertation centers on emergency obstetric care in Nigeria. Laura is the Associate Director of Emergency Obstetric Research in West Africa for the Bixby Center for Population Health and Sustainability. She is leading a MacArthur Foundation project on We Care Solar Suitcase usage in Nigeria and Uganda, and was co-investigator for a collaborative Population Council study that assessed the standard of maternity care in Nigerian state hospitals. Laura serves on the Editorial Board for the Berkeley Wellness Letter, co-chairs a international working group on Energy and Health for the UN Foundation, and lectures at the UCB School of Public Health. E-mail: laura_ at _ wecaresolar.org.
Hal Aronson, Ph.D., the co-founder and Director of Technology and Education for WE CARE Solar, has been teaching renewable energy in the Bay Area and around California for thirteen years. He co-created Solar Schoolhouse, bringing solar curriculum to schools throughout California. He also created California Youth Energy Services, a service learning program that now employs one hundred youth a year as energy-efficient retrofitters. Hal leads professional development workshops for educators, and developed training programs at Solar Richmond and Solar Energy International. Hal creates project-based learning and curriculum for students of all ages and designed the Solar Suitcase. Hal installed the first legal residential solar electric system in Santa Cruz County (in 1983). He obtained his Ph.D. in environmental sociology from UCSC; his dissertation focused on environmental justice. Email: hal_at_wecaresolar.org.
Stasia Obremskey, Director of Finance, has over twenty-five years of experience providing financial and strategic consulting services to organizations in the U.S. and Asia. Most recently, she served for two years as interim CFO for Posit Science Corporation, a company developing brain training software clinically proven to improve cognitive performance. She is affiliated with Webster Pacific a San Francisco-based firm that provides strategic and financial consulting for entrepreneurs.
While living in Asia for a total of seven years, Ms. Obremskey worked in both the public and private health care sectors in nine countries. Her public health care worked focused on policy and economic implications of the AIDS epidemic in Asia. In the private sector, she worked with U.S. companies to explore healthcare service opportunities in Asia including hemodialysis, home health care, emergency medical care, diagnostic laboratory services, and other hospital-related services. In addition to her consulting work, she has extensive experience as a member of several non-profit boards where she has held a number of leadership positions. Ms. Obremskey holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in finance, from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.
Jane Coyne, Director of Operations, recently returned to San Francisco after 9 years working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Doctors without Borders. She is a graduate of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (’88) and received a Masters in Business Administration from the Kellogg School at Northwestern (’96). She worked for 15 years in a variety of analytical and project management positions for both small and large manufacturing companies (HP, Nike, Dell, etc) with an emphasis on supply-chain optimization.
In 2003, she chose to leave the corporate world and began working for MSF as a field logistician. She has since worked in Uganda, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. Initially her work focused on logistics which includes all the things necessary to provide medical services – building construction, electricity, water, sanitation, etc. Eventually her role transitioned to project and then country operation’s management.
In July 2009, she was appointed as Program Manager for MSF France. With her team based in Paris, Jane managed operations in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Kenya, and Georgia.
Brent Moellenberg, Lead Engineer, is a mechanical engineer who especially enjoys working in the renewable energy field. He has over 15 years of engineering industry experience, in of range of disciplines including renewable energy, MRI hardware design, agriculture testing, and computer hardware/software engineering. Beginning in 2005, Brent devoted much of his spare time to Engineers Without Borders, with whom he travels regularly to help with sustainable power systems within the developing world. He has also created remote solar monitoring solutions, currently used in both commercial as well as developing world settings. Brent was our lead engineer when we traveled to Haiti and Liberia is working on improving the design, installation and monitoring of our robust, portable solar suitcases. He is our lead engineer for our 201a Nigerian deployments and our 2013 Southwest Uganda installations.
Rachel Yanda, Project Coordinator, holds a BA with a concentration in Labor History from Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to joining WE CARE Solar, she worked as a researcher for unions in both San Francisco and New York City, where she participated in on-the-ground advocacy for members as well as undertaking long-term strategic operations. She has since developed a passion for maternal health, and is excited to participate in the work of WE CARE Solar while also working as a volunteer doula at San Francisco General Hospital. Email: rachel_ at _ wecaresolar.org.
Carol Weis, Lead Instructor, has led PV installations and trainings in Sierra Leone and manages our Solar Ambassador Program for We Care Solar. Carol has been a PV-trainer with Solar Energy International since 1998. She writes and updates Solar Energy International’s PV and Advanced PV curriculum and instructs in both the hands-on and online workshops. Carol also organizes SEI renewable energy trainings for other institutions and organizations. Through her work in the industry, Carol has traveled internationally to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Haiti, and Mexico. Carol is the co-founder of SEI’s Solar Sisters group, a discussion forum for women working in, or aspiring to be part of, the renewable energy industry, and leads our We Care Solar Women Ambassadors Program. Carol is a licensed electrician. Her credentials also include: NABCEP Certified PV Installer Cert #: 093006-33, and ISPQ Master PV Trainer Cert #: US-0016.
Ilinisa Hendrickson, M.P.H., holds a degree in Sociology from Swarthmore College and a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. She has extensive experience consulting for public health programs focusing on maternal and child health, from local and state health departments to public health research studies and community clinics. Ilinisa is helping us collect and analyze data on our Solar Suitcases in the field.
Board of Directors
Laura Stachel M.D., M.P.H., Chair. See bio above.
David Bank, M.S., Vice Chair, is founder and CEO of Impact IQ, Inc., a media venture serving impact investors with incisive editorial and actionable data. Through ImpactIQ.org and ImpactSpace.org, the open impact data initiative, Impact IQ is narrating the historic shift in capital toward a sustainable and inclusive 21st century economy. Previously, as vice president of Encore.org (formerly Civic Ventures), David led the campaign to establish encore careers as a new category of work capturing boomers’ passion for social purpose. As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, David covered the Internet, software and Microsoft and launched the paper’s philanthropy beat. His book, Breaking Windows, was named one of the “Best Business Books of 2001” by the Harvard Business Review and Amazon.com. David holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He was a 1996 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
Jane Adams, Secretary, is Communications Manager in charge of web, video, photo, and print materials at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, a mission-driven non-profit in Oakland, CA. As a technology reporter for the Boston Globe, she covered the software industry. Jane has been a contributing editor at Health and Parenting magazines and is co-author of a book on the mental health industry, The Last Time I Wore A Dress, that won a Lambda Literary Award. At San Francisco State University, she earned an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and was the recipient the Clark/Gross Award in the Novel and the National Intro Award of Associated Writing Programs. She holds an A.B. in government from Harvard College.
Karina Garbesi, PhD, is Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at California State University, East Bay. She is currently on leave from CSU to work full-time at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on projects related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. With an interdisciplinary background in physics, environmental engineering, energy, economics, and policy, and a passion for social justice, Karina takes a broad approach to environmental problem solving. She earned a B.A. in physics from University of California, Berkeley (with high honors), and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from the same institution. She was a 1992 Switzer Fellow and a 2000 Leadership Grant recipient.
Alan Saldich, M.B.A., Treasurer, has held a variety of leadership roles in marketing, finance, and operations at eight startup companies over the last 22 years, and is currently V.P. of Marketing at Cloudera. Prior to that he was vice president of product marketing at Riverbed Technology, a 1,400-employee public company that develops high performance IT infrastructure solutions based in San Francisco. He ran product marketing at Riverbed from 2002 when he was the first employee hired by the two founders, until late 2009. By then, it was a global public company generating about $400 million in annual revenues. Alan holds a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Spencer W. Weisbroth, Esq. is an attorney in San Francisco. Through his firm, Weisbroth Law, Spencer advises a variety of entrepreneurs, businesses, and non-profits. His practice is focused on complex business transactions and business formation and structural planning. He has a diverse background in the law, business, media and the arts. He is credited on numerous award-winning public radio documentaries, and has won a Peabody Award for his legal services. In the past, Spencer was Business Affairs Director for the Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet, and was a founding member and Director for Starter Fluid, a $32M venture capital fund, and was an attorney in the Business Affairs office of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Spencer holds a JD degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, and a BA, with dual majors of Political Science and Journalism, from the State University of New York.
Advisory Board Members
John Danner, J.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., Senior Fellow, Lester Center of Entrepreneurship, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
Gigi Goldman, M.B.A., Serial entrepreneur and Strategic Business Consultant
Kathryn Johnson, Past CEO, Health Forum
Kristina Johnson, Ph.D., CEO, Enduring Energy, Former Undersecretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy
Dan Kammen, Ph.D., Director of Renewable Alternative Energy Laboratory, Professor of Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley
Malcolm Potts, MB, BChir, PhD, FRCOG, Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, University of California, Berkeley
David Merkoski, Design Director creates new consumer experiences while helping organizations integrate design thinking into their operations and planning. Most recently, Executive Creative Director of frog design’s San Francisco Headquarters, David worked across multiple design crafts – interaction, industrial, service and brand – collaborating with creative, engineering and executive leadership teams to develop and deliver innovative products and services to market. David’s passion for emerging technologies and market dynamics (categories, disruptions, trends) have given him insight into relationships between behaviors and beliefs and how they can influence consumer experiences and the organizations that produce them. He is currently collaborating with non-profits and startups active in clean tech, smart grid and renewables.
Patrick Maguire, Systems Engineer, is a structural engineer with nearly five years’ experience living and working in developing countries. His first trip to Africa lasted 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, where he taught physics, managed construction projects and set up a tiny solar electric system to power his laptop. Patrick then joined Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) as a technical logistics manager in South Sudan, where he supervised new construction, maintenance, water treatment, and power supply for nine months before joining an outbreak response team tasked with traveling to remote areas to evaluate and treat epidemics. Patrick moved to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, where he lived for over a year setting up tent-camp clinics, managing the construction of a new maternity hospital, and later constructing and supporting cholera treatment centers. Patrick now works as a designer of rooftop solar electric systems in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Christian Casillas, holds a PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. He has worked as an engineer designing off-grid power systems in New Mexico, Nicaragua, and Colombia, and has served as a technical advisor since 2006 for blueEnergy, a non-profit in Nicaragua that builds wind and solar systems for rural villages. Christian’s doctoral research was focused on understanding how economic, environmental, and social benefits resulting from diesel-powered electricity grids could be improved through the integration of renewable energy technologies in rural communities. He evaluated our remote monitoring systems in Nicaragua. Christian holds a B.A. in environmental engineering from Harvard and an M.S. in applied math from Johns Hopkins. E-mail: cecasillas _ at _berkeley.edu
Ali Nazar serves as the Information Architect for We Care Solar. In this role, Ali uses his startup and technology experience to create and optimize systems that allow We Care Solar to better organize and scale our operations. Ali has over 15 years of experience in helping high growth organizations succeed via process and technology excellence. Currently, he serves as the Vice President of Technology for Wiel Brien LLC, a private equity firm based in Oakland that is revitalizing communities hardest hit by the economic downturn. Ali’s career has also seen him co-found a successful software-as-a-service company, be a programmer and product manager at an explosive growth network service provider, and help start an adventure and internet training camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for underprivileged children. Ali’s passion to combat maternal mortality springs from his wife and his roots in Central and South Asia, and the strong belief that the best way to help that part of the world is to nurture and educate its women.
Mike Strykowski is co-director of The Solar Way Forward, a solar design, education and consultation firm. As the former Renewable Energy Education Manager for Solar Living Institute, Mike designs solar electric systems, curriculum, and teaches around California. He works for PG&E doing renewable energy trainings, and engaged in off-grid and on-grid PV design, wind energy, micro hydro, solar thermal and whole house energy efficiency for Real Goods. Mike provided solar electric design and consultation for solar powered schools in Africa through “Paths to Native Africa.”
Melissa Densmore is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research India, where she studies the use of mobile phones for data collection and maternal health education, and other health-related domains. Prior to joining Microsoft Research, she completed her PhD in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, an ethnography of the changing uses of information technology within a health financing project in Uganda. She has been actively working in the space of technology and development since 2004. Her past projects include long-distance wireless links for tele-medicine in India, and an open source tele-consultation platform for doctor-to-doctor communication in Ghana. She has been involved with We Care Solar since its beginnings, and currently leads our mobile device research in Eastern Uganda. She holds an MSc in Data Communications, Networks, and Distributed Systems from University College London, and a BA in Computer Science from Cornell University. E-mail:melissadensmore_acm_dot_org.
Laura Walters has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with a focus on renewable energy and climate change from Dickinson College, PA. She got involved with renewable energy when she arranged for a solar electric system to be donated to her high school. Since then she has taught hundreds of people about the benefits of renewable energy, successfully elevated sustainably to be a defining characteristic of Dickinson College’s Strategic Plan, and has helped create solar electric installation and maintenance educational materials that are used around the world. Currently, she does curriculum development and graphic design for Solar Energy International’s renowned solar electric curriculum and textbook. She is helping We Care Solar to design curriculum and training manuals for our Solar Suitcases.
Almaz Negash, M.B.A., is the founder and Managing Partner of Entwine Global, where she consults with businesses and educational institutions on international trade, economic development and sustainability. She has served as the director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and is a founding member of the Global Women Leadership Network of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Almaz has over sixteen years experience forming global strategic partnerships, and brings to WE CARE Solar her expertise in business management, corporate social responsibility development, and global development.
The Population and Reproductive Health Partnership (PRHP) is an NIH-funded collaboration between the UC Berkeley Bixby Program and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH). The purpose of this five-year partnership is to enhance the capacity of key departments at ABUTH in Zaria, Nigeria to conduct community based research leading to innovative solutions to maternal mortality and morbidity. The PRHP carried out a baseline demographic and reproductive health survey and exploratory ethnographic fieldwork in three communities in Northern Nigeria. This fieldwork has emphasized the importance of reducing delays and improving the quality of emergency obstetric care in local hospitals and health centers.
Kofan Gayan Hospital, directed by Dr. Habila Muazu, is located in the city of Zaria in the state of Kaduna, Nigeria. This hospital provides care for dozens of villages in and around Zaria, which has a population of greater than 1,000,000. Kofan Gayan Hospital provides medical and surgical services, and is the referral hospital for a number of primary care clinics. Under a 2007 mandate from the state government, this hospital provides free medical services for obstetric and pediatric patients.
The Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research, under the leadership of Dr. Fatorma Bolay, partnered with WE CARE Solar in 2011 to study the effects of our Solar Suitcases on maternity care. Twenty solar suitcases were delivered to Liberia in 2011, and WE CARE Solar installed the first fourteen in rural clinics in March 2011. Capacity building classes were held in Bong and Lofa counties, and midwives were trained in solar electricity and solar suitcase maintenance.
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies (SAFE). Founded by Jacqueline Cutts, SAFE creates collaborative participatory reproductive health programs in Eastern Uganda. In 2011, SAFE brought 21 Solar Suitcases to the Uganda, in partnership with AMREF and White Ribbon Alliance.
eHealth Nigeria. eHealth Nigeria, founded by Evelyn Castle and Adam Thompson, designs and implements eHealth systems and software to work in Nigeria’s difficult computing environment. We are partnering with eHealth Nigeria to conduct needs assessments of health facilities in Kano and Kaduna states, and to install, lead trainings, monitor and evaluate our Solar Suitcase program in Nothern Nigeria.