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Management Team

Student Energy’s staff are based in Canada and globally, and work to deliver our core programs: coordinating our global Chapters network, leading the Fellowship, Career Training, and Guided Projects cohorts, building our Energy System Map, and building partnerships across organizations.

Management Team

Helen Watts

Executive Director

Helen Watts is Student Energy’s Executive Director, a Forbes 30 Under 30 lister, on the Corporate Knight’s 30 Under 30, and is a recognized young clean energy and intergenerational equity advocate.

Since 2017, Helen has worked with Student Energy to empower tens of thousands of young people around the world to work on solutions for a clean and equitable energy transition. She co-leads the Solutions Movement, a UN-Energy Compact designed to support 10,000 youth clean energy projects by 2030. She led the development of the first Global Youth Energy Outlook with twelve young energy leaders to gather 41,000 youth perspectives on the energy transition by 2030. Helen co-founded Greenpreneurs, a training and grantmaking mechanism that has mobilized over USD100,000 in funding to youth-led climate enterprises, and she is regularly engaged by the international community on the role of youth in the energy transition.

Helen approaches the urgent, complex nature of the climate crisis with the belief that equipping young people with the tools and pathways to act is one of our most effective strategies. Advocating for youth inclusion at every level of decision-making processes, she has built a network of 47 partners across the climate-energy-youth ecosystem committed to empowering young people.

Angela Paley

Senior Director of Impact and Operations

Angela is Senior Director of Impact and Operations at Student Energy, leading on project management, data management, and operations of the organization.

Angela has years of experience in the environmental non-profit sector, working across communications, engagement, and policy. Before joining Student Energy, she was the Program Coordinator and Communications Specialist for Renewable Cities, an international program that supports cities through the transition to 100% renewable energy and energy efficiency. Based out of Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, she was responsible for organizing public events, stakeholder dialogues, regular communications and student engagement. Other previous stops include SFU Public Square’s Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver and the Recycling Council of British Columbia. She is also the co-director of Repair Matters, where she organizes regular repair cafes in the Vancouver area. Angela holds a BA in International Relations from UBC.

She can usually be found on the local trails, making a mess in the kitchen, or dabbling in a variety of outdoor activities.

Shakti Ramkumar

Director of Communications and Policy

Shakti is responsible for leading Student Energy’s research and communications team.

As an alumna of the Students on Ice Antarctic Expedition, Shakti is also part of the inaugural Climate Action Cohort, a two year program connecting local climate action to international climate policy. With the Cohort, she attended COP 25 in Madrid, with a focus on food systems and land use in relation to climate change. Shakti also served as the Director of Common Energy UBC, one of the university’s largest student sustainability organizations, where she worked with other student groups to successfully advocate for the university to include climate action and climate justice in its long-term strategic plan. Shakti holds a degree from the University of British Columbia, in Geography with an Environment & Sustainability concentration.

Abdullah Khair

Director of Global Partnerships

Abdullah is the Director of Global Partnerships at Student Energy, leading on building partnerships for the organization across our global network.

Abdullah is passionate about sustainable development, climate action plans in cities, the energy transition, circular economies, low-carbon fuels, community-led action, and intercultural affairs. With a background in Chemical Engineering, Abdullah is also passionate about collaborative models which aim to bridge technical concepts to social needs.

Claris Canta

Director of Programs

Prior to joining Student Energy, Claris worked as a project coordinator for a renewable energy firm in the Philippines. She has experience working on solar, wind, and geothermal power projects in varying stages of development. Claris holds a Masters degree in Energy Systems from the University of Melbourne. Her passion for clean energy and climate justice started when she participated on a calamity assessment fieldwork in southern Philippines, and saw first-hand the devastation caused by more frequent and more intense typhoons and their associated flooding.

When not working, she is most likely watching a comedy series, or going for a walk just to bump into someone else’s puppy.

Kristan Aho

Director of Finance

Kristan Aho is an experienced accountant with a strong background in the field for over a decade. With a degree in Environmental Studies, Kristan brings a unique perspective to her work, combining her financial expertise with her passion for environmental sustainability and stewardship. As a CPA candidate, she recently took the CFE in May 2023, further solidifying her commitment to professional excellence in accounting.

Beyond professional pursuits, Kristan finds joy in various hobbies that fuel her creativity and well-being. Whether it’s nurturing a vibrant garden, exploring the great outdoors, or immersing herself in captivating storytelling, she strives to maintain a well-rounded lifestyle that enriches both her personal and professional growth.

Michelle Balderston

Assistant to the Executive Director

Michelle is Student Energy’s Assistant to the Executive Director.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Theory and Production from Western University. Though her career began in the radio broadcasting industry, her passion for the planet and interest in living more sustainably encouraged her to pursue a certificate in Advanced Environmental Management from the University of Toronto.

Prior to joining the Student Energy team, Michelle has volunteered for a number of environmental non-profit organizations, assisting with communications, campaign development, and other administrative needs.

In her spare time, Michelle enjoys diving into a good book, learning new languages, and analyzing astrological birth charts!

Grace Young

Mentorship and Events Manager

Grace Young is a young settler-Canadian woman from traditional unceded territory in Mi’kma’ki, what is currently called Halifax, Nova Scotia. She recently completed her MA in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Western University and sits on the Youth Advisory Board for REES Community. REES is a simple and secure online reporting platform for reporting sexual violence that can be tailored to the diverse needs of public spaces.

Grace is a proud Student Energy Alumna, and Student Energy’s Programs Ecosystem played an essential role in her graduate studies. Grace’s research analyzes how young Canadians are organizing to shift power away from fossil fuel production and participating in the climate movement more broadly. She is passionate about community building and interested in addressing the unique challenges facing young women entering the sector and finding their place within the energy transition.

Grace’s favourite place is the grocery store or the coast. She loves to be outside, cook, swim, and create!

Angelina Smolynec

Fellowship Manager

Angelina is the Manager for Student Energy’s Fellowship Program, a 10-month virtual program providing core energy systems education and leadership skills for young people to take action on the energy system.

Prior to joining Student Energy, Angelina worked on climate and biodiversity programs in both Canada and the UK. Angelina holds an MSc from the University of Edinburgh where she conducted research on the political and societal implications of increased renewable energy development.

Outside of work, Angelina enjoys spending time around trees, completing jigsaw puzzles, and reading fiction. Send book recommendations!

Julie Boyce

Career Training Manager

Julie is the Manager of Student Energy’s Career Training program. She is passionate about using her Social Work education to work towards energy justice. She believes that by supporting youth through enhancing their skills, raising critical awareness, and advocating for meaningful opportunities, that their lives and the lives of their communities can be positively impacted. In her practice she uses a client centered approach that uplifts youth as resourceful, resilient and experts on addressing the energy transition and related climate crises.

When she is not working she is focused on creating safe spaces for community to process environmental grief and mental health due to the climate crises. She can also be found exploring the beautiful Rocky Mountains as she connects to nature through adventure.

Vaughn-Xavier Jameer

Senior Chapters Associate

Vaughn is Student Energy’s Senior Chapters Associate. Vaughn leads the coaching and mentoring of our Global Chapter community, resource development for participants and coordinates growth strategies for the program. He became part of the movement in 2017 at the International Student Energy Summit in Mérida, Mexico. Inspired by the event, Vaughn established his own Chapter at the University of the West Indies, and has remained deeply involved in the Student Energy community since.

Ifeanyi Ohanyere

Guided Projects Manager

Ifeanyi is passionate about clean energy and sustainability and actively advocates for a just and sustainable planet. He believes that youth empowerment is a strong enabler of climate action. Prior to Student Energy, Ifeanyi worked as a sustainability consultant, helping organisations to integrate sustainability into their business strategy and communicating their progress by reporting in line with global reporting standards.

Ifeanyi has made contributions to climate education through the Green Talk Series; a monthly conversation on the latest developments around climate change, energy and the environment. He has actively represented youth voices in high-level conferences, like the COP26, calling for increased youth participation in decision-making around energy and climate issues. Ifeanyi has a flair for capacity development and is a Student Energy Leaders Fellow, a UPG Sustainability Leader and a Climate Reality Leader.

Outside work hours, Ifeanyi loves to watch football, spend time with family and friends, read books and listen to good music and personal development podcasts.

Robert Burns

Manager of SevenGen Energy

Robert is the Manager of SevenGen Energy, he assists the SevenGen Youth Council in supporting Indigenous youth advance a sustainable and equitable energy future.

Robert is from the Gitxsan and Heiltsuk First Nation and is currently in his final year of Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia. Having spent the last ten years in youth programming and community development his focus has been on building relations. Understanding the conflicts of living in two worlds, Robert grew up outside of his community and has been navigating the connection to his nations and living in western society. Currently a participant in the Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle, his writing has focused on Indigenous resistance, exploring identity and the relationship to our ancestors. Bending space and time to understand our relationship to kin, community and land. An advocate for Indigenous youth, as manager of SevenGen Energy he is focused on supporting the next generation of Indigenous youth stewarding our relationship to land.

Piper Stump

Global Community Manager

Piper is the Chapters Coordinator, where she leads the on-boarding, coaching, and integration of global university chapters within Student Energy.

Piper graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Natural Resource Conservation and a specialization in Global Perspectives, and currently resides on the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations traditional unceded territory (also known as Vancouver, British Columbia). She aims to empower youth from all backgrounds within the sustainable energy sector and is passionate about climate justice and environmentalism.

Outside of her work you can find Piper trail running, back-packing, or in search of delicious foods.

Pauline Adalid

Communications Manager

Pauline works in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

She is the Communications Manager at Student Energy, overseeing our communications strategy, growing our digital reach, and executing creative communications projects that engage our global community of youth. With training in journalism and nonfiction filmmaking, she joined the organization to help advocate for equitable changes in the environmental sector through impact storytelling and content creation. Before joining Student Energy, she was a Video Journalist for a media broadcasting company in the Philippines.

Outside of work, you can find her doing a bunch of outdoor activities, spending time at the local library, or hanging out with her loved ones. She loves freediving and photography.

A E Persaud

People & Culture Manager

A E is Student Energy’s Manager of People and Culture. Their approach to the field traditionally known as Human Resources makes use of liberatory frameworks rather than a reliance on punitive systems often embedded into organizational practices.

Before joining Student Energy, A E worked in the Hospitality Sector for over 16 years. In 2020, they began working as a community organizer focused on Labour Rights for restaurant workers.

A E also has a background in Documentary Filmmaking and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University.

Brett McMillan

Systems Project Manager

Originally from Treaty 6 Territory near Edmonton, Brett has worked in sustainable development and youth engagement with audiences across Canada for 10+ years. Brett loves working with teams to understand the impact they want to have and figuring out the best processes for moving that change forward. Education, collaboration and facilitation are cornerstones to his professional path. When he’s not talking about the Sustainable Development Goals, you can either find Brett hiking in the mountains, tending his balcony garden or playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Jasper Mallonga

Data and Information Systems Manager

Jasper works on Student Energy’s data and information systems, making sure that we take care of the data we work with and we are able to maximize it to deliver high-impact programming.

Jasper discovered his drive to push the just energy transition forward while pursuing his mechanical engineering degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman when he joined Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Renewable Energy Boot Camp. This ignited passion and his inclination towards data led him to his involvement as a Founding Board Member at Reboot Philippines and his current role at Student Energy.

Outside work, you’d find Jasper either with his camera, his computer, his telescope, his friends, or any combination of the four. Hand him a karaoke microphone for a surprise!

Ailette Cordova

Senior Information Designer

Ailette Cordova is a Design & Media Associate at Student Energy. As part of the communications team, her responsibilities involve designing new web assets, analyzing web data to enhance website performance, contributing to social media campaigns, and effectively conveying Student Energy’s Theory of Change.

Her profession has developed in public institutions and private companies, growing her experience and knowledge in editorial, branding, data visualizations, photography, illustration, multimedia design and UX / UI and web development.

She graduated as a graphic designer and finished a master’s in Communication Design with a pathway in Information Design. She has collaborated with Climathon CDMX since 2017 till this day.

If you want to know more about Ailette’s work or profile, click the links below.

Ailly Sheehama

Fellowship Associate

Ailly is Student Energy’s Fellowship Associate.

Ailly studied Law and holds a master’s in international oil and gas law and policy from the University of Dundee, Scotland. She has vast experience in the energy field, working with NGOs, international organisations, government and the private sector. She is also part of the Global Support Team of the SDG7 Youth Constituency of the Major Group for Children and Youth and is passionate about just energy transition related issues.

She enjoys traveling and reading in her free time.

Nina Seime Bot-Timothy

Career Training Coordinator

Nina is a lawyer specialised in renewable energy tech and policy. She currently works with Student Energy’s Career Training Program as a Project Coordinator managing the Practicum Projects portfolio of the program. She is very passionate about empowering young people with the skills and knowledge needed to enable them make inputs in the energy transition.

She enjoys building systems that last, and nurturing relationships/ partnerships with like-minded people who use their skill-sets to build projects, organisations and people.

Before joining Student Energy, she worked with renewable energy companies as a policy and compliance professional, managing regulatory compliance, business practices and executing contractual obligations. When she is not working, she loves to travel, listen to music and enjoy each day to the fullest!

Connect with her on LinkedIn!

Andrea Balcázar

Senior Fellowship Associate

Andrea is a Sustainable Development Engineer graduated from the university Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico who is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Corporate Social Responsibility. She has been involved in Student Energy since 2018 as student in the Chapter of her university. She has been working towards a sustainable energy transition focusing on sustainable development, youth empowerment in the energy sector, environmental responsibility, women in engineering, and others which lead to her receiving the Mujer Tec Award 2021 in the environmental category.

Andrea holds experience in entrepreneurship, project management, performance indicators, logistics, data analysis, water management, sustainable communities development, and has a deep passion for social responsibility, project development, and corporate sustainability.

Outside of work, Andrea enjoys cooking, gaming, playing piano, and spending time with her family.

Cherise Gilfix

Finance Coordinator

Cherise is Student Energy’s Finance Coordinator, ensuring the accuracy of our accounting records and financial reporting, among other things.

She is a dedicated advocate for education, with a focus on promoting both functional and financial literacy. Cherise holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and is currently a CPA candidate pursuing her professional designation.

Outside of work, you can find her enjoying the outdoors with her dog or curled up with some tea and a stack of sci-fi novels.

Ryan Sojnocki

Fellowship Coordinator

As a Fellowship Coordinator, Ryan works with a range of teams to provide coaching and support during their time in the SE Fellowship program. Ryan’s passion for supporting solutions to environmental and social problems has followed him throughout his career and undergrad. During his time completing an undergraduate in Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, Ryan launched his first company and became heavily involved in the entrepreneurial incubators at the university. Ryan is very passionate about the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit – and is looking to help accelerate the global transition to sustainability.

Sara Fontaine

SevenGen Operations Coordinator

Sara Fontaine is an Anishinaabekwe who currently works at Student Energy as the SevenGen Operations Coordinator where she assists the SevenGen Youth Council in their duties of making clean energy education and opportunities accessible and inclusive to Indigenous youth and communities across the nation. She worked as a Liaison Officer for her reserve where she focused on land use studies, environmental assessments and negotiations with proponents on their traditional territories. Sara believes Indigenous voices belong at the forefront of environmental protection as they have the Indigenous knowledge of sustainability and their identities are rooted in caring for the land. Sara’s position within Student Energy is empowering youth to use their voices to ensure Indigenous inclusion in the clean energy transition. She believes environmental protection should be top priority for all peoples and encourages us to all come together to protect the earth and its invaluable resources.

Oluwadabira Abiola-Awe

International Partnerships Associate

Oluwadabira is Student Energy’s Ventures and Capital Campaign Associate designing the Ventures entrepreneurship program and working with our capital campaign team fundraising to support youth-led projects globally.

Before Student Energy, Oluwadabira was a part of the operations team at one of West Africa’s largest indigenous biofuel companies where she worked to support women and youth in Sub Saharan Africa start and scale businesses in clean energy.

Oluwadabira has represented her country at United Nations Environment Programs TUNZA where she joined other young people from across the world in high-level dialogues that shape the local environment and climate policies today. In 2020, she became an ambassador of UNESCO’s August Project in Nigeria.

Outside work, Oluwadabira loves to organize special projects for youth in her community, spend time with family and listen to great gospel music.

Rodala Aranya

Global Parternships Coordinator

Rodala is a settler from Treaty 6 territory which is the traditional lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Métis nations – (Saskatoon) and currently resides on un-ceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory (Ottawa).

Rodala works as the Virtual Partnerships Assistant at Student Energy, where she provides additional support to the Partnerships portfolio. Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Carleton University in Global and International Studies, Rodala is specializing in Global Development with a minor in Economics.

Rodala’s passion for climate advocacy and environmental justice began in 2018 when she was awarded a Leacross Foundation scholarship to embark on Student On Ice Foundation’s Arctic expedition. Following her trip, she has worked with Youth Climate Lab, a youth-led global NGO accelerating climate solutions, on their communications portfolio. In university, Rodala has served as Vice President of Communications and Media for her Student’s Society.

In addition, Rodala has gotten heavily involved with her university’s chapter of Engineers without Borders Canada, an international development nonprofit that seeks to address the crucial causes of poverty and inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa. She recently finished a presidential term for the 2020 – 2021 year. This summer, Rodala co-founded Kids4Climate, an inquiry-based virtual summer camp for kids in Ottawa hoping to equip future climate leaders with the basic skills and resources they need to create an equitable, sustainable, and resilient future.

In her free time, you can find Rodala repotting her plants, going on hour-long walks everyday or picking up a new book!

Aidan Warlow

Communications Coordinator

Aidan joins Student Energy from a varied background in digital communications, online-community management, and graphic design/multimedia production. He earned both his BA and MA from the University of Western Ontario in Media Studies, has worked in a variety of organizations including ecological non-profits, video game development, and other human and community service roles, specializing in communications. Personally, Aidan is an avid reader of sci-fi and fantasy, a collector of tattoos, and an accomplished visual artist. He contributes to Student Energy’s Communications team from his home in Toronto, Ontario.

Gemma Patey

Research and Youth Engagement Coordinator

Gemma is a settler from the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe, Wendake, Haudenosaunee, Attiwonderonk, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (Georgetown, ON) and is currently living on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory (Ottawa).

Gemma has a background in progressive politics, student affairs, and political and environmental organizing. Climate justice, decolonization, and community care are always at the centre of her work. In 2021, Gemma co-founded a climate camp aimed at getting children involved in climate activism. One of her core beliefs is that young people are the root of all changes that will blossom in our society.

Gemma holds a bachelor of Global and International studies, with a specialization in Global Politics, from Carleton University. In her free time, she can be found with some hiking boots on, a paint brush in her hand, a protest sign above her head, and/or a coffee by her side.

Yazan Zamel

Guided Projects Coordinator

Yazan Zamel is a dedicated advocate for clean energy and equitable energy access, with a profound passion for technology, sustainability, and community service. He was recently named as Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 in 2023. Prior to joining Student Energy, Yazan worked as an environmental researcher at the Transportation and Air Quality Research Group, Energy Efficiency Consultant, and Sustainability Research Assistant.

Through his role at the Sustainable Engineers Association, Yazan reached to more than 2500+ post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) by executing and hosting international and regional sustainability conferences, career fairs, and educational programs to mobilize and inspire youth for climate action. Yazan is also an alumni of the Student Leaders Programme (SLP) hosted by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). His responsibility with Student Energy is primarily to support the Guided Projects. Outside of work, Yazan enjoys spending time with his cat!

Rajeshwari Sriram

Chapters Coordinator

Rajeshwari is the Chapters Coordinator, where she supports global university chapters with their endeavours in the sustainable energy space.

She currently resides on the shared traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples (also known as the Region of Waterloo). Rajeshwari holds a Master’s degree in Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto. She has a passion for climate justice, conservation and sustainability, and hopes to empower the youth of today to become climate conscious leaders.

Outside of work, Rajeshwari enjoys reading, gaming, trying out delicious food, and spending time with her ndugu (her miniature schnauzer Charlie).

Meredith Adler

Senior Advisory

Meredith Adler is Student Energy’s Senior Advisory. She oversees the strategy and operations of the organization as it continues to build a movement of students across the world committed to a sustainable energy future. Prior to taking over this role in 2015, Meredith acted as the Global Community Manager for Student Energy, where she developed the chapters model and managed online content and communities.

Meredith is passionate about community, energy, and strategy. She thrives in dynamic environments and loves to build bridges between solutions and people.

Prior to joining Student Energy, Meredith was Communications Coordinator for Clean Energy Canada where she project-managed the Tracking the Energy Revolution report series and kept all communications trains running on time. Before that, she could be found doing anything from running a youth trail construction crew in the Cascades, to coaching a campus tours team, to working on youth leadership programming in Latin America. A degree in Geography from The University of British Columbia kickstarted Meredith’s obsession with energy and environmental policy.

If you can’t find Meredith in the office, she’s probably off on a mountaintop or hanging off the edge of a rock face somewhere – with her trusty dog Yoshi in tow.

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