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CERTs welcomes six AmeriCorps Sustainability Project Coordinators

The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) partnered with AmeriCorps’ Climate Impact Corps to offer new opportunities to serve throughout Minnesota. We're thrilled to welcome the recently hired Sustainability Project Coordinators who will support community-driven projects, build local partnerships, encourage local environmental action, and provide education to help households decrease energy costs.

Aaron Backs - Metro region

Aaron BacksAaron joins the Great Plains Institute’s Communities team and supports Metro CERT on various projects that reduce energy burden for underserved communities. These include sharing energy- and money-saving opportunities with manufactured home parks, advancing solar equity for small and underserved businesses, and supporting the 2022 Metro CERT seed grant projects.
In May 2022, Aaron completed a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science at Macalester College. He has a strong interest in energy justice, especially in how the renewable transition can go beyond simply reducing greenhouse gas emissions to unworking deep and prevalent societal inequities. Looking forward, Aaron is interested in a career of environmental policy (he would like to talk if you have any advice!). In his free time, Aaron is an avid biker and cruciverbalist (crossworder) — and feel free to ask him for any book, music, or TV/movie recommendations!

Morgan Bliss - Northeast region

Morgan Bliss

Morgan Bliss joins the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships in NE Minnesota. Their work in Duluth and the surrounding northland region provides support for small-scale projects aiming to address sustainability needs in rural and other underserved populations. This includes the future Ei Roskaa composting facility in Finland, as well as the Forest Assisted Migration Project. 

In May 2021, they completed a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in policy and management at McDaniel College before moving to Duluth to complete an AmeriCorps VISTA term with MN SeaGrant. Aside from work, Morgan is still getting used to Minnesota winters, and cozies up inside with their many houseplants and terrarium, complete with isopod pets.

Dominic Erickson - Northwest region

Dominic Erickson

As Sustainability Project Coordinator for Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Dominic connects communities, small businesses, and nonprofits with resources they need to thrive. He researches ways sustainability and social equity projects can intertwine, and focuses on food insecurity in Greater Minnesota. He is intrigued by the ways people of different backgrounds send and receive new information, especially in the Midwest. He likes connecting with new people and chatting about the things they enjoy.

In 2022, Dominic graduated from Concordia College, majoring in Communication Studies and Multimedia Journalism. He was a writer and the editor of the school newspaper The Concordian, which brought him some of the most rewarding experiences of his life. Outside his position in RSDP, he is a devoted film enthusiast (he has a minor in Film Studies) and an avid folk rock listener (he loves anything from the 60s and 70s). He resides in East Grand Forks, and has lived in western Minnesota all his life.

Alejandro Nakpil - Metro region

Alejandro NakpilAlejandro joins the Great Plains Institute's Communities team with a focus on electric vehicles with Metro CERT for his 11-month term.

Guided by CERTs' commitment to inclusive access and opportunities for equitable engagement and participation in clean energy, Alejandro will work to accelerate the use of EVs and EV infrastructure as each continues to expand throughout Minnesota. He will focus on increased accessibility of EV resources for diverse and historically underserved communities by connecting with these communities to better understand their barriers to transportation electrification.

Alejandro earned a B.S. in Sustainable Systems Management and plans to apply his knowledge of systems thinking and analysis to ensure that his outreach efforts establish meaningful, long-term, and equitably beneficial connections between communities and the E.V. infrastructure system. Alejandro is passionate about advancing the green economy and using green infrastructure projects to strengthen communities. In his free time, Alejandro enjoys the outdoors, reading, and going to concerts.

Jordan Sligar - Central region

Jordan Sligar

Jordan joins the Clean Energy Resource Teams in the Central region and supports various projects to reduce energy burden for underserved communities, with a focus on food shelves. These projects include sharing energy- and money-saving opportunities with food shelves and their clients, advancing energy equity for underserved communities, and supporting home energy efficiency efforts. 

In August 2022, Jordan completed a B.S. in Environmental Science at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was involved in campus sustainability. He plans to apply his experience in sustainability to ensure that his outreach efforts establish meaningful, long-term, and equitably beneficial connections between communities and CERTs. Jordan has a strong interest in energy equity in the clean energy transition and using green infrastructure projects to strengthen community resilience.

In the future, Jordan is interested in a career in community resilience development with a focus on addressing environmental risks.

Jordan moved from Texas and is settling into a previously unknown level of cold. Aside from his position with CERTs and adapting to the weather, Jordan enjoys backpacking, going to concerts, longboarding, and playing board games in his free time.

Katilynn Swanson - Southeast region

Katilynn SwansonKatilynn Swanson is serving as an AmeriCorps Sustainability Project Coordinator for Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.

Every summer since she was a child she and her mother have cared for an extensive garden, and her experience in her backyard with the bees and the peas, grew into an interest in the environment leading her to a minor in Environmental Studies. She graduated with a B.A. from Luther College in spring of 2022 where she majored in Sociology and studied the intersection between sociological institutions and systems, policy, and social justice. While in college she was fortunate to study in Norway despite the pandemic, during which she experienced Norwegian closeness to nature.

Having been raised in Minnesota, she decided after completing her studies to learn about local action in her community and took this position. In the future she plans to return to university for a master’s degree in public policy.

In her free time she dotes on her one-to-many spoiled cats and practices violin, and she is looking forward to returning to the wheel in the clay studio down the road.

Watch for news and stories to come from these ambitious and talented coordinators! 

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