CYPRESS CREEK CELEBRATES WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
April 3, 2018
In honor of Women’s History Month, we embarked on a month-long initiative to recognize the women that make Cypress Creek great. Cypress Creek and the solar industry are dedicated to seeing the number of women grow in all areas of the workforce. We believe that diverse backgrounds and viewpoints make us a stronger and more innovative company.
We invite you to read about some of the exemplary Cypress Creek women that power solar. Click below for personal narratives from just a few of our leading women.
Based in Gilbert, South Carolina, Laurie Lee runs the show on several Cypress Creek construction sites as an EPC Project Manager. Initially studying to be a paralegal at Midlands Technical College, Laurie’s career path took a new course when she started a family and began to work full time in construction. Despite “life getting in the way,” she remained committed to making a positive impact through her work. After 25 years of marriage with Joe, during which they became partners in their own construction company, life surprised Laurie again. Laurie and Joe made an unexpected move to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It was in the U.S. Virgin Islands that Laurie found her calling to work in renewable power. Upon her return to the states, she took a job as an assistant construction manager in solar energy, but was looking for a role with greater responsibility. Once more, life had its way of guiding her down a new path and Laurie joined Cypress Creek. At Cypress Creek, Laurie feels she has been given the tools, flexibility, support, and trust to get the job done at a challenging 5 MW project in central North Carolina. While working at this challenging site, there was no electrical permit until just one month before the project needed to be placed in service. Laurie’s positive attitude and ability to think creatively helped get the project over the finish line on time!
Life Lesson: Working in construction as a woman is about being fair and showing care for your crew. Once people get to know you and understand that you are on their side, all that will matter is getting the job done.
Adel is a Senior Project Finance Analyst based in San Francisco. She is also a Spring 2018 fellow with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, an organization dedicated to empowering young professionals for careers in clean energy. A Political Science and French major at the University of Arizona, Adel’s dream of pursuing a career in advocacy transformed into an interest in international development. Post-graduation, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work in global business and climate change-oriented investments. After moving to the Bay Area in 2015, she decided it was time to squash her fear of the quantitative and enrolled in calculus, statistics, and chemistry classes while continuing to work in climate change lending.
Making the world a more equitable place through solar energy drives Adel. She is not only breaking barriers by advocating for women in finance, she is also building bridges to connect her passions with Cypress Creek’s mission and culture. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and brought down more than 80% of the island’s power grid, Adel couldn’t help but think about the transformative power of solar energy and set in motion expansive donation campaign within Cypress Creek, ultimately raising over $53,000 for GivePower and Empowered by Light to build high-quality, distributed solar in the local communities that need it most!
Life Lesson: Challenge yourself. By shutting down the self-doubt, you’ll grow more than you think. Take that leap of faith.
In her role as Cypress Creek’s EPC Controller, Regina Laessle establishes controls around financial processes that protect the company and its stakeholders. She likes to say that accounting found her and not the other way around! The work she is doing now makes her feel fulfilled, despite her original plan to study communications and journalism while at Ohio University. After an unexpected move to San Francisco, Regina began as a teller at a savings and loans company, where she worked up the ladder to land in the back-of-house corporate accounting. During this time, she also met her husband and had two children, moved around a bit, and began working in real estate development and accounting.
Regina believes her career truly took off when she turned 40, shortly after she completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management at the University of Phoenix. The decision to finish school and hone her skills was challenging. Regina was raised as the youngest of five siblings in a family that discouraged higher education. Nonetheless, it was through raising her own daughters and experiencing new environments that she realized education was critical to her growth as a person and a professional. Furthermore, as a woman, and especially as a woman of color, working her way up led her to gradually see that she too could achieve an executive role. For Regina, the past year at Cypress Creek has reminded her of the energy and passion that she felt at the beginning of her career.
Life lesson: Be thankful. Unapologetically take time when you need it, then go hard and do your absolute best. Expect there will be failures but keep going because there will be wild successes too!
Based in San Francisco, Caroline works to expand Cypress Creek’s opportunities in Western Markets as a Policy Manager. As an undergrad at University of Virginia, majoring in Economics and Foreign Affairs, she became interested in energy and environmental economics. While in school, she secured a business development internship in utility scale energy projects, thanks to the power of networking and being in the right place at the right time. This led to a full-time offer with a small utility scale solar developer. Navigating the endless world of acronyms and complex and changing renewable energy concepts was challenging at first. However, by finding an amazing mentor she thrived and ultimately made the move to Cypress Creek due to how impressed she was by the company’s commitment to getting as much solar in the ground as possible.
Being in policy means that Caroline often works across the industry with people who have decades of experience. As Caroline has continued to learn and expand her knowledge about the energy sector, she has gained the confidence to speak up during relevant discussions. Caroline was recently elected to the SEIA-Oregon’s Board of Directors and is looking forward to representing Cypress Creek’s policy interests.
Life Lesson: Take every and any opportunity to learn, be it a new skill or new insight. It will never be a waste of time!
Kellie Macpherson is Cypress Creek’s Vice President of Compliance. Kellie’s role as a thought leader in regulatory compliance is something she would have never imagined as a freshman in college, just weeks after 9/11. Both as a Political Science student at Whitworth University and subsequently working in nonprofit management, she focused her energy on understanding and seeking to improve the world. Early in her career, she dreamed of attending law school and then building electrical systems in third world countries. It was in 2010 that she began to delve deeply into the world of compliance as a consultant, during which time she sought to become as knowledgeable as possible about regulatory compliance. She tapped into her interest in law and desire to do good through studying existing energy standards and implementing corporate compliance programs for renewable energy leaders, with the purpose of ensuring the success of operating assets and project pipelines.
Kellie is now leading the creation of Cypress Creek’s control center, which will soon be one of just four solar control centers of its scale operated by a solar-only company. Her favorite thing about solar is how positive it is. Although there are always challenges, she is able educate and pioneer, all while creating opportunities for development.
Life Lesson: Being young and a woman doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about. The attitude you bring into the work is what you get back.
Based in Cypress Creek’s Asheville office, Jackie Graham is a Project Engineer with a passion for water resources. From elementary to high school, she found her math classes to be the most challenging and rewarding and always had a strong interest in environmental causes. As an incoming freshman at Florida State University, Jackie was interested in social sciences. During the orientation, the tour guide advised the group to avoid the curriculum which involved college-level math. Without realizing, Jackie internalized the offhand comment and avoided challenging math courses until she realized that is was required to pursue further education in Economics. After embracing calculus and statistics, she found an opportunity to apply herself with a research position in the Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Florida. Eight years later and two undergraduate degrees under her belt, Jackie sought the Professional Engineer License while working as a water resources professional.
Jackie’s biggest break came when she moved to Asheville, and took a leap of faith in applying to a job at Cypress Creek. Being a Project Engineer means not only evaluating and anticipating problems, but also creating sustainable and innovative solutions. When securing the footprint for a solar project, Jackie makes sure that the land is suitable for infrastructure, in addition to minimizing environmental impacts and ensuring environmental protections.
Life Lesson: Don’t be afraid if something appears to be overwhelming at first, simply work hard and be patient. All things become more manageable with time and experience as you become more competent and knowledgeable.
Heidi Soto is a Database Developer based in Cypress Creek’s Santa Monica office. She works to integrate the many applications and systems we use under one cohesive structure. Raised in San Gabriel Valley, and as the daughter of first generation immigrants from the Philippines, Heidi sought to meet and exceed her parents’ expectations. Through high school, and even after earning a Biochemistry degree from UCLA, Heidi was convinced she would be a doctor. Post-graduation, she began working at a medical research company and found herself frustrated with the disorganization and redundancy in data she was sifting through.
By chance, Heidi’s boyfriend (now husband) suggested she read a book on database engineering. After reading just two chapters, she discovered an innate ability to tinker with software and database development. She went on to discover her love for solving the puzzles that abounded in the applications and systems needed within organizations. She made the career switch to database development and has never looked back. Prior to joining Cypress Creek, Heidi worked as a Database Specialist, Programmer/Technology Consultant, Senior Developer, and a Senior Structured Query Language (SQL) Architect in a variety of industries. Now a mother of two boys, she is a glad to be at a workplace that supports balance. For Heidi, remaining inquisitive enables her to resolve whatever problem lands on her desk.
Life Lesson: Go with the flow, you’ll notice everything has a way of working out for the best.
As Cypress Creek grows, Lydia Boinest’s role as a Quality Control Technician on our EPC team is essential in ensuring the highest standards across all our project sites. Lydia originally began studying architecture at UNC-Charlotte. When she learned about the technology involved in renewable energy, especially solar and wind, she found herself drawn towards a major that did not exist at her university. Transferring to Appalachian State University at the beginning of her sophomore year provided her with the tools to satisfy her intellectual curiosities. She quickly found her place in the Appropriate Technology major. At times, it was challenging to be in the only women in her classes and one of only three women in her program. However, her circumstance pushed her to create a Women of Appropriate Technology and Sustainability Association on campus, which succeeded in bringing together and empowering 22 women who shared her passion for renewable energy.
Shortly after graduating, Lydia attended the Clean Tech Energy Summit at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she heard Megan Nelligan speak about working at Cypress Creek. This encounter pushed her to find out more about our team. As a QC Technician, Lydia finds herself constantly learning as she reads through meticulous manuals and develops improved reporting processes. By creating a better way to track progress in the construction field, where there are hundreds of things going on at once, she works to guarantee better and more standardized results.
Life Lesson: Don’t let what you don’t know intimidate you. Seek opportunities to advance your skills and always stand up for yourself.
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