Meet the Clean Energy Relief Team
Raina Russo, Executive Director and Founder:
A solar-community builder with a passion to drive change, Raina Russo is a civil engineer, an Israeli army veteran and a Climate Reality leader who has never shied away from the challenge to make our world a better place. In 2011, Russo created #SolarChat, the world’s largest online solar community. She has been named one of the Top 10 Women in Solar and a “Warrior for Our Planet.” Russo, launched Women4Solar in 2013, to address the critical need to bring a women’s perspectives to the forefront of the evolving solar industry. Women4Solar engages women in the industry with an objective to modify the industry’s status quo male-oriented mindset and allow for broader outreach, while acting as a bridge between advocacy and action by connecting solar-curious consumers with reputable solar installers. Russo believes there is an historic opportunity to change the tide in Puerto Rico while showcasing smart solutions on a world stage. Puerto Rico can lead the way to a brighter future for all!
Kevin Donnelly, Director of Business Development:
Kevin was the President & Founder of Speed Wire, a national technology deployment services company based in New York. Over the course of two decades, Kevin elevated the game in technology deployment by preparing a smarter, more professional workforce to handle growing customer demands. Kevin’s areas of expertise include sales, business development, marketing, operations management, relationship building, high volume recruiting, training program development, company culture, corporate strategy development and team building. Speed Wire’s customer base was a who’s who of the telecommunications, security technology, audio-visual and wireless broadband segments. Speed Wire was considered Verizon’s go-to engineering and installation subcontractor partner in the New York market for more than a decade, and played a major role in the initial launch and roll-out of the FiOS product. Ultimately, Speed Wire became the largest provider of smart home deployment services in the US via its’ partnership with AT&T Digital Life.
Dr. Amir Abtahi, Renewable Engineering Advisor:
Dr. Amir Abtahi is a world expert in the design of renewable energy systems. He is the Director of the Energy Laboratory at Florida Atlantic University, and President and CEO of GeoSolar Energy Systems, Inc., in Boca Raton, Florida. Amir started his work with Thermal Solar Panels in the early 1970's, where he tested a new panel patented by Dr. Shaw Buckley, a Professor at MIT. After completing his PhD at MIT, Abtahi moved down to Boca Raton, Florida, where he has been teaching and conducting research at Florida Atlantic University for 27 years. In the early 1980's solar electric panels, also known as Photo-Voltaic (PV) panels became commercially available. The application of this new technology became immediately obvious to Amir, who then installed the first PV systems in Venezuela for farms and hotels. In fact Abtahi designed and installed the first known application of PV for an Eco-Tourist Hotel in Pauhi, near the Brazilian Border. Dr. Abtahi has also well over 500 solar hot water and solar PV installations, both off-grid and grid-tie in the US, Canada, Mexico, South America, South Africa, Angola and numerous other countries around the World. Currently, he is designing PV Manufacturing plants, and solar hot water assembly operations in South Asia, and the Middle East.
Joy Hughes, Community Renewable Educator, Policy and Finance Advisor:
Joy Hughes founded the Solar Gardens Institute (solargardens.org) in 2010, to support education, policy, and finance for community renewable energy. SGI is a member of the National Community Solar Partnership supporting community solar policy for low and moderate income individuals, sponsored by the White House and the Department of Energy SunShot program. SGI’s education programs advise graduate students researching community renewables in the United States and China.
Ms. Hughes has presented numerous seminars on the topic for organizations including the Harlem Green Economy Forum, the National Council of La Raza, the Local Clean Energy Alliance in California’s Bay Area, the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, and the Global Environment Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
SGI has supported early-stage community solar project development under Colorado’s Community Solar Gardens Act and throughout the United States and Canada. Ms. Hughes has served as a consultant for the Colorado Energy office for a pilot community small hydroelectric project.
Ms. Hughes holds a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Applied Sciences from the California Institute of Technology and a Master’s in Computer Science from the California Institute of Technology.