Andrea has been leading The Solar Foundation since the relaunch of the organization in 2010, starting out as the single employee. In those early years, it was just Andrea and a shoe-string budget. Andrea expanded the staff and budget within a few short years, and today, The Solar Foundation leads several multi-million dollar programs dedicated to advancing solar energy growth.
As President and Executive Director, Andrea sets the tone, provides overall management and strategic direction, and works closely with the Board to develop and implement high-level research and national educational initiatives to promote the expanded use of solar and solar-compatible technologies. The Solar Foundation’s major initiatives include the annual National Solar Jobs Census, which tracks job growth in the American solar industry; SolSmart, which helps local governments reduce barriers and open up solar markets; and workforce development programs to help the solar industry thrive.
Prior to The Solar Foundation, Andrea ran the City of Milwaukee’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar America Cities program, “Milwaukee Shines,” from 2008-2010. In this position, she helped Milwaukee implement policies aimed at increasing solar energy capacity, including the implementation of one of the nation’s first Property Assessed Clean Energy financing programs and the establishment of the Milwaukee Metro Solar Hot Water Business Council.
Andrea is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. At the University of Wisconsin, she earned her Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management and was awarded the highly competitive Center for Economic Development fellowship through the UW Consortium for Economic Opportunity.
Andrea Says: “I was fortunate to have been part of a generation that grew up outside — coming home only for meals and then heading back out to play in the creek, ride horses, ride bikes, and climb trees. Being in and around nature made me appreciate and want to protect it. In high school I was an active founding member of the student-led Save the Rainforest group, going to various high schools to talk about my experience in the rainforests of Belize. During my 20s and early 30s I was a social justice-seeking minimalist who travelled to some of the most remote and impoverished places throughout South and Central America, Spain, and Morocco. Much of these seven years abroad were spent working with rural cooperatives focused on women’s enterprise activities, sustainable farming, and the environment. But it wasn’t until I was living in Morocco, working as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the beautiful Anti-Atlas mountains near the Mauritanian border, that my life’s purpose became clear. I watched people’s health — even my own health — suffer from heavy indoor use of propane gas. Coupled with the fact that many rural women had to travel long distances to cut and haul wood, only to be burned as fuel, I knew there had to be a better way. Inspired by Desertec’s early claims in 2006-2007 that solar in the North African deserts could power the world and King Mohammed VI’s vision for rural electrification, I started planning, while in Morocco, to get a job that would allow me to drive adoption of solar in my backyard and eventually beyond. And I’ve never looked back.”