Hasta la Raíz: The Roots of Latinx Clean Energy Professionals

September 2023

Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15 to recognize and celebrate the generations of Latinx Americans who have enriched our nation and society. This year, we sat down with Latinx staff to talk about their culture and how it’s shaped their interests and careers.

Jeanne Web

Jeanne – Guatemala

How did your culture or upbringing influence your career interests?

I’ve always had a deep appreciation for nature and animals. Mayan culture’s vision of man is that we are a part of nature, not separate from or dominant over it. So, that’s part of what drew me to work in sustainability.

Having grown up seeing lots of poverty and people in need, the concept of working toward widespread prosperity and the fundamental ability for people to lead a decent, dignified life has always been important to me.

In addition, a big draw for me to work in San José and the Bay Area is the richness of heritages. We all lead much more interesting lives by sharing and learning about so many other cultures.

How else do you connect with your culture?

I sponsor two young girls in Guatemala to provide means for family costs like schooling and medical needs. Educating girls is essential to ensure the prosperity of families.

I also enjoy reading books in Spanish and travel to Guatemala to visit my family regularly.

Staff Photos Edits lch

Saraí – Mexico

How did your culture or upbringing influence your career interests?

Our culture places a lot of value in helping others, so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I wound up in public service. Moreover, I have the privilege of working on communications and programs that are focused on lifting up the communities that need it most. In San José, due to a history of redlining and other discriminatory policies, that includes much of the Latino community that I grew up in. This is a full circle moment for me to be a voice for my community.

Spanish is my first language, so I’m lucky to have the opportunity to keep it in good shape by helping customers with their bills, attending community events, and giving presentations in Spanish.

How else do you connect with your culture?

I love listening to Latin music and going to concerts like Bad Bunny and RBD. It’s interesting to see genres I grew up listening to go mainstream.

In my day-to-day life, I love supporting Latinx-owned businesses and am fortunate to be quite in tune with my culture through spending time with my family and consuming Latinx content online.

Marcos Web

Marcos – Mexico

How did your culture or upbringing influence your career interests?

I think growing up in Guadalajara gave me a great appreciation for nature. There, I noticed so much concrete and trash tarnishing the beautiful landscapes. When I moved to the Bay Area, I was in awe of the forests and protections that are in place to preserve the natural environment. I’m an avid hiker now. Growing up, I didn’t even know hiking was a thing.

I’m lucky to be in a role where I can help people learn about the importance of clean energy and sustainability and implement programs to help them reap the benefits. As part of my work, we prioritize communities that are predominantly of low income and of color and seek solutions to make sure they don’t get left behind.

Favorite Mexican tradition?

I enjoy the fun New Year’s traditions like sweeping up cash for prosperity and rolling around suitcases for good travel fortune.

Laura

Laura – Mexico

How did your culture or upbringing influence your career interests?

Being raised in the Mexican-American culture taught me to care about people and help them in the best way I can. This has carried over into my work as I educate the community about things that can be complicated to understand and equip them with the tools they need to thrive. I have had an extensive and rewarding career in government because I truly want to make a difference by offering services, creating programs to enhance the community’s quality of life, and helping community members from various cultures navigate ways to obtain answers to their questions.

Favorite Mexican dish?

Chiles rellenos because my Suegra (mother-in-law) who was from Nayarit, Mexico, made the best homemade ones. She would make them at my request and hide them for me or should I say, save me some, from the rest of the family.  

Favorite Mexican tradition?

That’s difficult because there are so many. I would say listening to Mexican music, cooking traditional meals, and sharing stories of our family’s history are my top three. These are all so important to maintaining our cultural values and traditions and passing them on to my children.  

Leticia

Leticia – Mexico

How have you been able to connect with your culture in your career?

Before working in this lovely department, I worked for El Aguila Magazine, a Spanish-language publication, for over 25 years in San José. I was blessed to work with the community and offer not only advertising solutions for their businesses, but also put on events to celebrate traditions that brought the community together. It was a lovely way to learn and stay connected to my culture.

Favorite Mexican dish?

There are many, but my top three are pozole, chiles rellenos, and mole de olla.

Favorite Mexican tradition?

Since my dad has passed away, I decided to really incorporate, “Día de los Muertos,” an incredible teaching moment for my kids to understand that our loved ones never die – they live on, especially when we celebrate and remember them.

Lilly Web

Lilly – Mexico

How did your culture or upbringing influence your career interests?

I was always surrounded by nature in my mother’s hometown in Mexico. The beauty of the land sparked my interest in natural sciences.

Favorite Mexican dish?

Pipián and mole poblano. My Abuelita tried to teach me how to make mole poblano so that I could bring the tradition to the States. I’m not so sure I remember all of the 50+ ingredients, but my arm muscles grew from hand grinding chiles for over two hours!

Gallery

  1. In Puebla, Mexico, Lilly awards her grandparents her college diploma in recognition of their sacrifices.
  2. Leticia’s children honor their grandfather, Rogelio Vargas Gonzalez, and his memory at a Día de los Muertos ofrenda.
  3. Laura with her children at a Mexico-themed party. She shares Mexican traditions with them to keep the culture alive through generations!
  4. Saraí takes a selfie with a 7-foot tall Mona Lele at San José’s El Grito event, a Mexican Independence Day celebration.