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!