Christopher Collins, Executive Director
Chris Collins has helmed Solar One since 2004. A graduate of Holy Cross College and Albany Law School, Chris previously worked for 20 years as a litigator in both New York and California, specializing in complex commercial litigation, environmental litigation, civil rights, securities, elder abuse and many other areas of the law. After leaving the law in 1999, Chris worked as a Director at Oracle Corp. and as a Director of Risk Management at Sapient. Born and raised in the NYC area, Chris moved to San Francisco in 1988 and returned to New York to take the position of Executive Director at Solar One. He has had a long history of working with non-profit organizations, including being one of the founders of New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Services Center and the Callan-Lourde Health Clinic. He served as Co-chair of the LGBT Center between 1985 and 1989. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force between 1991 and 1996 and served as Board Co-chair between 1994 and 1996.
Esther Siskind, Director of Programs
Esther Siskind has fostered the growth of Solar One’s innovative initiatives since joining Solar One three years ago. Esther came to Solar One from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection where she managed a wide range of water, wastewater, and stormwater projects. She was a lead developer of New York City’s Green Infrastructure Plan that proposes green infrastructure and water conservation as integral components of a comprehensive strategy to address combined sewer overflows and defer large grey infrastructure investments. With a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Esther has worked for over 25 years as an environmental planner and brings a wide range of policy, project management, and technical skills to her job. She has also worked as a community organizer and co-founded a kids club that focused on learning about environmental issues and taking action to address them. Esther was born and raised in New York City and worked here for most of her career, bringing an in-depth knowledge of how to be effective and produce results in the City’s complex landscape.
Sarah Pidgeon, Director, NYC K-12 Education Program
Sarah Pidgeon joined Solar One in 2009 and saw the growth of Green Design Lab from a small scale pilot to its current reach of over 300 schools. Sarah is passionate about inspiring NYC students to bring sustainability into their schools and communities. Prior to joining Solar One, Sarah worked as an educator for several years at the Center for the Urban Environment in Brooklyn, where she taught classes in Urban Design and Ecology. However, her real passion for environmental education began during her childhood spent as a camper and staff member at Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskill Mountains, where she was first exposed to sustainable practices like composting food waste. When she is not busy teaching about all things sustainable, Sarah enjoys riding her bike, cooking, and drawing.
Fronsy Thurman, Assistant Director for Instruction
Fronsy Thurman has worked with Solar One since 2009. With over 10 years experience in sustainable development and the non profit sector, Fronsy brings a unique range of expertise to the education team. In addition to her extensive teaching experience, Fronsy was the lead developer and author of several curricula and training manuals for audiences ranging from K-12 students to adult learners and professionals, including much of the Green Design Lab curriculum. She has also managed a number of development projects in Southern and Western Africa. Past employers include the Center for the Urban Environment, GrowNYC and the US Peace Corps. Fronsy received her BFA from Pratt Institute and in her spare time, enjoys cooking, making sculptures and spending time with her son.
Alex Smith, Assistant Director for Sustainability
Alex Smith joined the Education team as an instructor in the Estuary Enrichment Program in 2009, and in September 2010 came on full time as an environmental educator. Alex got his start working with children as a camp counselor during summer breaks from high school. His interest in environmental stewardship began as a young child growing up on the east end of Long Island where he spent much of his free time outside, playing in the woods or enjoying a day at the beach. He is so excited to have the opportunity to share his knowledge with students throughout the five boroughs of New York City. In 2010, Alex completed his degree in Environmental Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts in New York City. In his spare time, Alex enjoys surfing, the occasional weekend of snowboarding and riding his bike around the city.
Karen Alsen, Educator
Karen Alsen is an environmental educator with diverse experience teaching science, sustainability, and arts programming to young people. She has taught and designed curricula for Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, City Science, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, Bronx River Alliance, Sustainable Learning, and LeapNYC. Through these organizations, she has worked with dozens of schools all over NYC. Prior to becoming an educator, Karen worked for Scientific American and Nature Publishing Group. In addition to her love of science and the natural world, Karen is a musician and has travelled abroad, performing and teaching workshops on songwriting. Karen holds an MS in Environmental Education from Antioch University in Keene, NH.