Interview with an Expert: Samantha Brook

July 30, 2020 — Sun Tribe

Samantha Brook - Expert in Solar - Sun TribeSamantha Brook – Associate Director, Client Partnerships

Samantha Brook, one of the original members of the Sun Tribe team, is an avid hiker and mountain biker, having spent her college years in Colorado. Samantha is a well-loved member of our leadership team, serving as Associate Director for Sun Tribe’s Client Partnerships Department as well as the head of our Inclusion & Diversity Taskforce.

Here Sam answers a few questions about her work at Sun Tribe:

 

What do you like best about working at Sun Tribe?

For me, it’s the culture and the people that make Sun Tribe a special place to work. Sun Tribe has built a team that is both smart and kind – it’s the type of place you’d encourage a friend or a really talented professional connection to apply for a job, because you know they’re going to be valued.

A big part of that is making sure people have the ability to speak up and pursue what they’re interested in outside of the scope of their role. And when possible, we can even make that work a part of their job description so what they’re being measured against and what they’re passionate about line up much better. This is something that takes effort, and we’re open about when we fall short.

Sun Tribers at the ribbon cutting for a solar project.

But one of the best things about Sun Tribe is that we’re always honest and striving to be the best company we can be. That starts with being the best and most caring teammates that we can be.

I remember seeing this most clearly in my first few weeks at Sun Tribe, when I went to a presentation with members of the Executive Team. As I was sitting there, I kept thinking: “I’m so glad I’m on this team, and I can’t wait to help it grow.”

 

Sun Tribe’s work is obviously connected to sustainability and the environment. What has that meant to you?

Well I’m the kind of person who spends most of their time outdoors – whether that’s hiking with my dog Duncan, camping with friends, or playing on the Sun Tribe softball team. So for me, this is an issue that’s always been personal. And being able to tie a personal issue to my professional life has been really rewarding.

Now more than ever, we have governments, businesses, and community members who are thinking more about where their energy comes from, and just about everyone agrees that the future is going to be powered by clean energy. Our job at Sun Tribe is to bring part of that future into today, because we know that solar can have huge benefits.

Samantha Brook - Sun Tribe Leader with DuncanTake something like pollinators, which are an essential part of any ecosystem. At Sun Tribe, we built Virginia’s first Gold Certified Pollinator Solar System as part of the program run by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. We did that because we believe strongly that we can support local ecosystems while also helping our partners get affordable solar.

 

We’re in a moment when diversity and equity are on everyone’s mind. How is Sun Tribe addressing these issues?

This is something we’ve been thinking about for a while – over a year ago, we launched an Inclusion and Diversity Taskforce at Sun Tribe, and helping lead that group has been one of the most rewarding parts of my work so far.

We wanted a format to start important and often difficult conversations across the company, because while those conversations were already happening organically, it was critical to have an official platform, and to give everyone a voice. What’s made it work so well is that it draws from a range of different teams across the company: we have members of our field operations team, project managers, engineers, developers, and others, all working to share different perspectives. And during this COVID-19 pandemic, this connection across teams has been even more important.

But it has to be more than just talk. The Inclusion & Diversity Workforce has an annual budget that we can use to take our work from the page to reality, and we’re in the middle of surveying the entire company to see how they would feel about different work we’ve identified as having potential impact. There’s so much to keep thinking about, and we know there’s so much work to do. But it’s great to be at a company where we take these issues seriously and look for ways to make everyone a part of the conversation.

 

You’ve lived in some great places: Boulder, Texas, The Hague. How does Charlottesville stack up?

Samantha Brook - Sun Triber Visiting the Netherlands

I loved living in Boulder; you have such easy to access all of the incredible nature, and it’s a great community. I also loved living in the Hague – it was a cool opportunity to live and work with people from all over the world.

Living in Charlottesville has been a great next move. I’m never more than 10-15 minutes from a trail or river, but all in a community where culture is celebrated. There really is something for everyone: whether it’s the university, the growing tech industry, the environmental community, or the thriving local music scene.

It’s the kind of city where you can feel anonymous when you prefer, but it’s also pretty common to run into people you know when you’re walking on the mall or you’re at a show. That kind of community really matters. I bought a house this year, and it’s in a tight-knit neighborhood where people really know and respect the history of the place.

There are so many different sides to Charlottesville – you’ll get to see all them if you’re willing to look. It’s also close enough to Richmond where you can enjoy everything that city has to offer.

 

Sam and Duncan during a Sun Tribe meeting

Anything else to add?

Come work at Sun Tribe! Seriously: once we’re back in the office, you’ll get to hang out with the best office dog, Duncan (he’s pretty great).


 

 

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