ICAST’s AmeriCorps VISTA Program: Meet the VISTA Members

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In January 2021, ICAST was approved by AmeriCorps to be a host site for Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) members. ICAST brought on five VISTA members to provide database development, community outreach, data analysis, research, and more. Their passion and experience help ICAST reduce multifamily affordable housing (MFAH) tenants’ economic and energy burdens, preserve affordable housing, and fight climate change.   

 ICAST VISTA Members 

 

Valerie Spina 

Blockchain Researcher 

Valerie joined ICAST in August 2021 to pursue her passion in blockchain technology. She conducts research and analysis on blockchain in the energy industry for the Information Technology Department and is assisting ICAST in understanding this exponentially growing field of decentralized computing and applications. “ICAST has given me the opportunity to sit in a huge space of possibility and potential in green energy tech and sustainable systems, and an expanding ecosystem of new solutions that positively remedy the inequalities of our society. I am excited to be a part of a dichotomy of technology and social impact.” Valerie notes AmeriCorps was a strong organization to tie an investigational role like this to, and she hopes to see more nonprofits look to fund high-value, innovative research roles like this one. “Nonprofits are the boots on the ground for some of the most important missions in our communities,” she said. “The data and insight they have is valuable to a whole world of solutions, academics, and collective knowledge.”  

Valerie is enjoying her time at ICAST among the other VISTA members, is enjoying her new home in Denver, and looking forward to simply continuing her work here. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University where she focused on tech policy and social enterprise startup/development.  

Adam Hemauer

Technical Services VISTA 

Adam joined ICAST June 2021 to work in the Programs and Technical Services Department as a Technical Services VISTA. His current focus is calculating and analyzing energy savings achieved through ICAST’s green retrofits to MFAH properties. “I’ve definitely enjoyed that everyone who I’ve worked with has been super willing to help where I’ve needed it, make themselves available if I have questions, and generally just be really awesome teammates. Also, pretty much everyone has genuine interest and passion about the work that we are doing!”  
 
Adam is an experienced community organizer for environmental and sustainability issues and is passionate about environmental justice and affordable transit. He received his Bachelor’s in Environmental Policy from Washington University, St. Louis.  

Nicklaus Watson 

Internet of Things (IoT) Contributor VISTA 

Nicklaus joined ICAST in August 2021 and works with the Information Technology Department to support ICAST’s pilot project to catalyze the adoption of very high-efficiency (VHE) technologies in MFAH. His current focus is monitoring smart sensor technology installed at the sites and helping create a functional database that can collect and organize all of the data in one location. “Moving across the country from Indiana to Colorado was quite the challenge, but being a part of AmeriCorps, and knowing that I would be working at an organization that prioritized sustainability made the decision easy. The AmeriCorps VISTA program has shown me that so many opportunities are out there, and ICAST was the single perfect opportunity for me to showcase my skills as an IoT Specialist. Everyone that I have been in contact with within the organization has been more than helpful, pleasant to work with, and displays the same desires in environmental and social sustainability.” 

Nicklaus received his M.S. in Sustainable Management from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. 

Zachary Mahroum 

AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer – Outreach & Policy Specialist 

Zachary Mahroum joined ICAST in August of 2021 to work with the Business Development Department. He currently researches policy related to electric vehicle charging in MFAH, and how ICAST can take advantage of such policies for future projects. “What I enjoy about working at ICAST is how helpful everyone is when you have a question or you feel stuck on a project you have been working on.”  

 Most of Zachary’s experience has been in the policy world working on elections, both local and federal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Auburn University and is currently pursuing his Master’s in International Development with a specialization in Public Diplomacy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.  

Maddy Unger 

Marketing Outreach VISTA 

Maddy joined ICAST in June of 2021 and spends most of her time with the Marketing and Business Development Departments. She currently contributes to the organization’s website, finds buyers for ICAST’s generated carbon credits, and researches future utility markets for energy efficiency programs across the country. “ICAST has given me real-world experience in communications and sales, and with essential software that will prove invaluable for my future professional goals. AmeriCorps has given me the opportunity to try out different fields of work so that I can better understand how my career might evolve.” 

Maddy has experience in the nonprofit sector and is passionate about urban sustainability and environmental equity. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Urban Planning from Colorado College.  

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