Story by Zenia Montero, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alumna, San Joaquin Valley Region
I served in the inaugural class of CivicSpark as an AmeriCorps Fellow in the Central Valley of California from October 2014 to September 2015. During my service year, I learned so much about the Central Valley and I became passionate about addressing the environmental issues that impact its local communities. As a CivicSpark fellow, I assisted Central Valley local governments in implementing energy projects after analyzing their energy use.
Since my CivicSpark graduation, I have become determined to tackle climate change issues as an energy professional and as a Master of Public Administration graduate student at Columbia University. I have held several project management and consulting positions: I worked as a Local Project Leader for D.C.-based non-profit Alliance to Save Energy and helped school districts in the Southern California Edison region in employing energy efficiency strategies. I also worked as a consultant for two different solar companies in the Los Angeles area. In May 2016, I moved across the country to New York and I began my Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy degree program at Columbia. I was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship and was given a full-tuition grant and an internship with Columbia University’s Earth Institute. All of these opportunities would not be possible without CivicSpark!
Zenia Montero graduated with honors from the University of California in Los Angeles in 2012. She majored in Political Science with a concentration in American Politics. Moreover, she had two minors in Environmental Systems & Society and Civic Engagement. In the fall of 2011, she was a legal intern at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she applied her knowledge of federal environmental laws and regulations. Prior to CivicSpark, she worked as a paralegal, fighting homelessness in Los Angeles with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Superior Court. She also advocated workers’ rights at the Law Office of Kelly Y. Chen, assisting in over 40 cases and class-action law suits. In her spare time, she likes to travel and improve her Spanish and Korean language skills.