Laura E. Stachel, M.D., M.P.H. the co-founder and executive 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. Laura is the Associate Director of Emergency Obstetric Research in West Africa for the Bixby Center for Population Health and Sustainability. She was the P.I. on 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 is a staff researcher at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at U.C. Berkeley. She serves on the Editorial Board for the Berkeley Wellness Letter and co-chairs a international working group on Energy and Health for the UN Foundation. E-mail: laura_ at _ wecaresolar.org.
Hal Aronson, Ph.D., the co-founder and Director of Technology and Education for WE CARE Solar. He is co-director of We Share Solar, the educational program that empowers youth to learn about solar energy and build Solar Suitcases for schools and orphanages. Hal has taught renewable energy in the Bay Area and around California for over 13 years. He co-created Solar Schoolhouse, bringing solar curriculum to schools throughout California, and 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 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, Finance Advisor, 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. Stasia lived in Asia for a total of seven years, working 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.
Robin Wolaner, Interim COO, is an executive with broad experience in startups and managing companies. Most recently, she was the CEO of Vittana, a nonprofit which pioneered higher education loans in the developing world, and she remains on Vittana’s board after the company’s partnerships were absorbed by Kiva. She is the author of Naked in the Boardroom: A CEO Bares Her Secrets So You Can Transform Your Career (Simon & Schuster 2005). In 1985, she founded Parenting magazine, the most successful magazine launch of the decade and later sold to Time Inc. Parenting’s founding is documented in one of the most popular case studies by Harvard Business School.
Her career encompasses publisher of Mother Jones Magazine; heading magazine development for Time Inc.; CEO of Sunset Publishing; executive vice president of CNET; founding TeeBeeDee, a social network for people 40+; and advising early-stage tech startups. She has been on the board of directors of Credo Mobile, the social-impact company formerly known as Working Assets, since 2000. Robin holds a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.
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 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 has been our lead engineer since 2010, when we traveled to Haiti. He has been installing Solar Suitcases, training technicians and conducting field research in Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda and Ethiopia. Brent has been instrumental in improving the design, installation and monitoring of our robust, portable solar suitcases.
Christina Briegleb, MPH, International Program Manager, has 10 years of experience developing and evaluating large global health projects, conducting mixed-methods research, and managing diverse teams. Prior to joining We Care Solar, Christina worked with a handful of universities and non-profit organizations managing health programs and research in Australia, Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, and Tanzania. Most recently she worked with UCSF in Global Health. She holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of New South Wales.
Selome Tewoderos, Project Coordinator, holds a BA with a concentration in Human Biology from Stanford University. Born and raised in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, Selome came to the United States when she was fourteen. Selome is passionate about women’s health and addressing health care disparities.She has five years of public health experience, including m-health projects with the CDC, and work on HIV/Aids prevention in Ethiopia with Johns Hopkins University CCP. In addition to her interest in improving health care, Selome has experience in international business operations and has worked in Ethiopia, the Middle East and Asia. Email: selome_ at _ wecaresolar_dot_org.
Ilinisa Hendrickson, M.P.H., Senior Consultant, helps We Care Solar with grant writing and health research. Ilinisa 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.
Gigi Goldman, MBA. Co-Director, We Share Solar. After a decade of working in marketing and general management for classic consumer goods at General Mills, Inc and Minnetonka Corp on cereal brands and fragrance products, Gigi Goldman launched her own SBA-backed consumer products company, Gianna International Inc. (GII), focused on international trading and sourcing custom designed products directly from producers in Asia, and Central and South America. Embracing the concept of social business, Gianna International, Inc. now supplies products made by indigenous South American tribes to FEED, an organization which sells products that “help feed the world” through the World Food Program.
In addition to serving on the We Care Solar board, Gigi also serves on the advisory board for Pasand, a Dell Grand Prize winning organization dedicated to providing health education to young women in India. She serves on the board for McCarter Theatre Center, a Tony Award winning regional theatre. She currently resides in Princeton, NJ with her husband, Jim Goldman, former CEO of Godiva, and two children. Gigi received her BA in English Literature from Carleton College and her MBA in Marketing from the Carlson School of Management. Gigi has traveled extensively throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.
Hannah Roodenrijs, student intern, is a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular Environmental Biology. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in environmental conservation and sustainability. Last year, Hannah took a gap year and travelled through Europe for 8 months then spent two months in Ghana volunteering. She is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing organization.
Board of Directors
Laura Stachel M.D., M.P.H. See bio above.
Gigi Dekko Goldman, M.B.A. See bio above.
David Bank, M.S., Board 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 a senior reporter covering student health at EdSource Today. Previously, she was Communications Manager at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, a mission-driven non-profit in Oakland, CA. Jane is a former staff reporter for the Boston Globe, where she covered social services and technology. 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, Vice Chair, 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.
Maame Afon Yelbert-Obeng, M.A. Born and raised in Ghana, Maame is a consultant on international development, gender and leadership. She has worked as a Program Officer for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at the Global Fund for Women, and is Board Member and co-chair of the Bay Area Regional Advisory Committee for African Women’s Development Fund, USA (AWDF-USA). Maame is actively involved with the Global Women’s Leadership Network as a graduate, and coordinates the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa program. She was the Africa Program Director for Women’s Earth Alliance, a program of Earth Island Institute. In addition to being a committed advocate and passionate leader, Maame is a dynamic singer and recording artist. She just released her second album, called Ekome. Maame holds a Masters Degree in Human Rights, Gender and International Policy Studies from Monterey Institute of International studies.
Advisory Board Members
Kandeh Yumkella, U.N. Special Representative to Sustainable Energy for All, Former Chair of UN-Energy, and Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization
John Danner, J.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., Senior Fellow, Lester Center of Entrepreneurship, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
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
David Levine, Ph.D., Professor of Business, Haas Business School, University of California, Berkeley
Malcolm Potts, MB, BChir, PhD, FRCOG, Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, University of California, Berkeley
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.
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.
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.
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.