Dr. Espanola Jackson Energy Justice Award Winner Announcement

Charles Callaway of WE ACT for Environmental Justice named awardee in the 2022 Dr. Espanola Jackson Energy Justice Award.

New York, New York–– Vote Solar is proud to honor Charles Callaway, an outstanding energy justice hero, with the 2022 Dr. Espanola Jackson Energy Justice Award (formerly the Solar Justice Award). Over 700 members of the public and an awardee committee composed of Vote Solar staff members and external partners who were close to Dr. Espanola Jackson named Charles Callaway, Director of Workforce Development for WE ACT for Environmental Justice, winner.

The award celebrates the legacy of a tireless community and environmental justice leader, Dr. Espanola Jackson, by recognizing leaders of color who serve as a model of environmental justice leadership and inspire us all to work toward a just clean energy transition. The award is given to those that are long-time leaders in their communities, dedicated to improving health and well-being in their community through clean energy, strong coalition builders, work at the intersection of racial justice & clean energy access, work both to stop the extractive polluting energy economy and bring health, jobs, and savings to their community via clean energy opportunities, and influence the state or local energy policy agenda through direct grassroots advocacy.

“I’ve seen Charles’s work first-hand for years – he’s a community leader and mentor, as well as an ambassador for the Environmental Justice movement,” said Stephan Roundtree Jr., Deputy Program Director, Northeast of Vote Solar and former co-worker of Charles at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Charles’ work to organizing job training, and to build economic power with workers in the solar space is a blueprint for a more just and clean future. Charles is a pioneer in this work and richly deserves this honor.”

As the Director of Workforce Development at WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Harlem resident, Charles utilizes his long history of working with and leading empowerment programs throughout Harlem. At WE ACT, Charles has recruited and trained more than 2,000 people in 30 hours of OSHA and 32 hours of asbestos handling classes, along with over 100 certified solar installers. As a result, more than 200 of those trained now have jobs, including 138 community members working in construction and 78 in the solar industry. Charles has also been instrumental in developing the solar workers cooperative, SUNS: Solar Uptown Now Services, with his solar trainees. Together, they have installed 14 megawatts of solar power to date. Charles previously served as WE ACT’s Director of Organizing, pivotal in organizing residents around significant issues in the community and helping them understand the importance of advocating on the community’s behalf. Charles also worked with the Mother Clara Hale Community Taskforce and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build Harlem’s first green bus depot. 

“I have seen Charles’s work first-hand for many years. He is a real people-person and is a great mentor to young people and ambassador for the environmental justice movement,” said in an anonymous comment left during public voting. “Training young people to get green jobs helps solve our environmental and economic problems at the same time. In this work, Charles is a pro and wholly deserving of this honor.”

Charles Callaway will be honored with a short film to highlight their story, work, and accomplishments, premiering in December. Further, Charles’ choice of organization will receive $10,000 from Vote Solar and have the option to receive up to 10 hours of support from Vote Solar’s philanthropy team to build their fundraising capacity and connections.

This year’s finalists included: Yesenia Rivera, Executive Director, Solstice; Kristel Porter, Shimekia Y. Nichols, Executive Director, Soulardarity; Mari Rose, Coordinator of the Reclaim Our Power: Utility Justice Campaign; Masavi Parea, Coalitions & Trainings Director, Chispa Arizona; Johana Vicente, Chispa National Senior Director, Chispa League of Conservation Voters; Ean Thomas Tafoya, Colorado State Director, GreenLatinos; Nicole Horseherder, Executive Director, Tó Nizhóní Ání; and Arturo Massol Deyá, Fundador y Director Ejecutivo,  ‘Casa Pueblo.


About Vote Solar

Since 2001, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access across the United States. A 501(c)3 nonprofit with more than 94,000 members nationwide, Vote Solar advances state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy and achieve a more environmentally just society. By identifying and accelerating solar solutions in legislatures and public utility commissions in over 20 states, Vote Solar works to combat the climate crisis, lower energy costs for ratepayers, reduce harmful pollution, and build a brighter, cleaner, more equitable future.

Learn more at www.votesolar.org.

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