SEI welcomes Ellen Ross as the new Solar Forward Program Manager

Mary Marshall leaves the role after four years of support for growing solar markets

SEI’s Solar Forward program is pleased to announce exciting transitions happening on the Team. After founding the program and growing it across the state for four years, current Program Manager Mary Marshall is stepping away from the program to begin her next chapter at Yale University in New Haven, CT, where she will be pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Management.

SEI’s first Solarize program was launched by a team of AmeriCorps VISTAs in Delta County. A member of this local economic development team, Mary was tasked with spearheading a statewide program to help transitioning rural economies complete the same initiatives. In her time with the program, there have been solar growth campaigns in 9 counties (and counting!), over 2.3 MW of new, installed solar, nearly 20 new jobs and 90 solar-related educational events throughout the state.

During her time with the program, Mary’s goal was to “bridge the gap” between cities and rural communities to ensure equitable access to solar energy. Progressive renewable hubs like Denver and Boulder have the funding and personnel to launch solar initiatives, but not every community has the same existing framework. Mary engaged industry experts to help build a Solar Forward toolkit, and acted as a program manager for Solar Forward, but also as a lead technical consultant helping communities across the state utilize this toolkit through weekly consulting meetings and local workshops. She also facilitated SEI scholarships to train local community members. Mary also spearheaded partnerships with state and national partners like the Colorado Energy Office, and she was featured in events for the American Solar Energy Society.

Mary will bring her current work into academia at Yale. She plans to study the intersection of policy and economics, and how it can be used to influence the equitable adoption of solar energy for all. From Mary: “It is incredibly difficult to put into words how much this program has meant to me over the years. The people I’ve met in every community have been so inspiring, and have truly given me purpose and passion as I move forward in my career. Thank you so much for touching my life and teaching me so much!”

The Solar Forward program is so fortunate to have Ellen Ross as the new program manager. Ellen was a program coordinator for Solarize Gunnison and has worked extensively with Solar Forward. Her first day will be on June 14 and Mary’s last will be on June 24. Please do not hesitate to reach out to solarforward@solarenergy.org with any questions about this transition period.

We plan to keep moving solar forward in the state of Colorado and beyond, and we look forward to doing it with all of you, the real solar movers and shakers of the state!

Meet Ellen Ross

Ellen is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. After serving as an Agro-forestry volunteer in the Peace Corps Guinea program, Ellen moved to Colorado and became an outdoor educator for two years. Ellen attended the Master in Environmental Management program at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, where she focused on building sustainable and resilient communities through renewable energy and efficiency. When she is not playing outside with her partner, Dave and dog, Hanes, she is probably knitting or reading. Ellen is currently learning to swim and ride her mountain bike. She knows that Tillamook Ice Cream is the best ice cream. She looks forward to bringing her enthusiasm for renewable energy and building community resilience to the SEI team.

Solar Forward news highlights over the years

Paonia solar non-profit team up for transition
Announcement of Colorado Energy office partnership

Solar Energy International is moving Solar Forward in rural Colorado
Podcast interview with Solar Forward’s manager, Mary Marshall

Colorado Mountain Town Counts on Solar for Resiliency amid COVID Concerns
Solar Forward program adapts the Solarize model with an off-grid program

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