Caring For Our Common Home

The Driving Forces Behind Greenpower

A Social & Spiritual Imperative

Greenpower is a movement to give communities local control over their energy production and lead the transition from greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources—like coal and oil—to locally produced green energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, and biomass. We help people go from apathetic resignation to energized action, and live with compassionate respect for our common home. We see this movement as humanity’s single most important social and spiritual imperative.

In 2016, inspired by Pope Francis’ call to “care for our common home,” and by the very real crisis our planet is facing, our parent organization, the Romero Institute, launched Greenpower. Our movement is expanding across California. Five community-based clean energy programs already serve 430,000 customers, and three more are set to come online in 2017.

Three Core Campaigns

First, we’re combatting the coming environmental protection rollbacks proposed by the Trump administration by forming effective local coalitions. By banding together in our communities, and by acting locally and collectively to preserve natural resources, we can protect the planet for generations to come.

Second, we’re mobilizing public support for Community Choice Energy programs and working with elected officials to make them effective. These programs provide local, green energy alternatives to existing investor-owned utilities. We started in our own backyard in 2016, focusing on the central California region made up of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties. 

We’re helping establish Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP), which will be the largest CCE program in California.

Third, we’re partnering with large, established organizations, like churches and schools, to help them reduce their energy usage and implement planet-friendly power. These organizations are primed to take action, allowing us to quickly maximize impact. Because we see caring for the Earth as a spiritual imperative, churches across the region have already joined us, installing rooftop solar and appealing to their parishioners to join the Greenpower movement.

A Romero Institute Initiative

For over 30 years the Romero Institute has combined public education, grassroots organizing, and high-impact legal services to create social change. Our name honors Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador and, like him, we seek justice for the most marginalized and voiceless among us. We take action where our objectives have the potential for large scale impact, and  embrace new ways of thinking that promote a consciousness of unity and cooperation.

The Romero Institute launched the Greenpower climate initiative in 2016 to take action on Pope Francis’ call to “care for our common home.”

The Greenpower Team

Sara Nelson

Romero Institute Vice-President and Executive Director

Sara has co-lead the Romero Institute since 1992, and has over forty years of nonprofit leadership, grassroots organizing, national education, and fundraising experience. She was the director of the Karen Silkwood Fund, executive director and co-founder of the Christic Institute, and the executive director of the State of the World Forum in San Francisco. She was the national labor chair for the National Organization for Women and a member of the California Commission on the Status of Women. She holds a BA in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Daniel Sheehan

Romero Institute President and General Counsel

Daniel has co-lead the Romero Institute since 1992. A Harvard-trained attorney, his work for the last forty years has placed him at the center of some of the most important legal cases of our time. His lawsuits have involved the Watergate and Iran-Contra Scandals, the Pentagon Papers, and the killing of Karen Silkwood. He is former chief counsel of the Christic Institute and the Office of Social Ministries for the Jesuit Order.

Benjamin Eichert

Greenpower Director

Benjamin's passion for social justice organizing began over twenty years ago. Right after high school, he and two friends bought an old van and drove from Albuquerque to Nicaragua volunteering in rural communities. Following that trip, he co-founded Big Noise Films and directed the award-winning documentary, "Zapatista." He has worked as an organizer and contract negotiator with the New York State Nurses Association and was the field director for US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s successful reelection campaign in 2012. Benjamin studied political science at Brown University.

Daniel Nelson

Romero Institute Secretary-Treasurer and Deputy Director

Daniel oversees all Romero Institute departments and helps decide strategic direction for the organization. He has over 15 years of experience as a deputy director, organizer, researcher, and writer. He holds a BA in political theory from Harvard College and an MA in social science from the University of Chicago.

Jennifer Wilkie, Esq.

Development Director

An attorney who has recently rejoined the Romero Institute as our Development Director, Jennifer returns after a 12-year stint pursuing law and public policy work in Washington, San Francisco, CA, and Charlottesville, VA. She has worked as a writer, a public interest lobbyist, and a litigator. She brings her passion for social justice issues, constitutional law and public policy to her work in developing and securing Romero’s various projects. She holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco.

Jesse Phelps

Press Relations

Jesse contributes written content and guides our content strategy. An award-winning journalist, PR pro, and business development specialist, he has decades of experience writing, editing, and developing relationships between people and organizations. He loves working with people of heart and intelligence on meaningful projects. Jesse holds a BA in film from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Jon Conway, PhD

Director of Science and Research

Jon has served as Greenpower’s Director of Science and Research since April, 2016. He is an environmental scientist and educator with experience in climatology, Earth science, botany, pedology, marine biology, toxicology, pollution studies, and nanotechnology. He earned his B.S. in Ecology & Evolution from UC Santa Barbara in 2011, and his Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara in 2015.

Kelsey Hill

Social Media

Kelsey facilitates social media for the Romero Institute's various projects and provides assistance in written communication. A recent alumna from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in History, she was previously the editor for the illustration and opinion desks at the UCSC campus newspaper.

Chris Sheretz

Website and Tech

Chris manages Romero’s websites, database, and audio/video library. He holds a BA in astrophysics, and a minor in electronic music from the UC, Santa Cruz.

Simone Cardona

Website Editor and Program Associate

Simone curates information and advocacy content for the Romero Institute's various websites, while also assisting event and program development. Her passion for climate action and environmental justice drives her work and activism. She earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minor in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. Since 2010, Simone has been an active community organizer and artist in Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Omar Perez

Monterey Bay Area Organizer

Omar is a Salinas Native who has a passion for social justice, human interactions and community building. He has seen the importance of empowering historically disenfranchised communities through civic participation and community involvement. Omar was the field director for Congressman Jimmy Panetta and sits on the Salinas Police Community Advisory Committee. He co-founded Bear Republic Consulting to empower his community through political engagement. Omar received his BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and his MSc in Group Processes and Intergroup Relations from the University of Kent, Canterbury.

Sonja Robinson

San Diego Clean Energy Organizer

Sonja’s views of social justice could be easily contributed to learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Gandhi from her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Shiptoliver-El from San Diego, CA. Sonja brings a perspective to grassroots organizing derived in the fundamental structure of Organizational Change Development and Project Management gained from her experience with a global consulting firm. While working at the firm she became involved in the local office Green Team and became the editor-in-chief for the monthly newsletter. Her experience continued working with a faith-based nonprofit healthcare system where she contributed change improvements impacting policy and project implementation. In recent years, she has been devoted to community-based concerns as a community advocate in San Diego, CA. She is currently active in many community-based organizations as a member and in team leadership roles. She remains motivated to help the greater good in a full progressive spectrum.

Leslie Austin

Clean Energy Organizer

Leslie advances our Greenpower initiative by making connections and partnering with local communities to foster coalescence and support for renewable power. Making a difference in an interconnected world matters most to Leslie. Through a variety publishing industry, marketing, and community roles, including serving as an elected school board trustee, Leslie works to connect with diverse groups to contribute toward the common good. Concurrently, Leslie works as an organizer for political candidates and initiatives and serves on the board of the Northern Monterey County Community Foundation. She studied liberal arts at California State University, Fullerton.

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