Our Team

Andrea Axel, Executive Director

ph: 206.267.2212 | email: andrea at sparknorthwest.org

Andrea is passionate about bringing clean energy to the Pacific Northwest and partnering with communities experiencing inequity to develop solutions. Prior to joining Spark Northwest Andrea directed a statewide social justice grant program at the Legal Foundation of Washington. She is an attorney who has represented multinational corporations and also low-income families seeking affordable housing. Andrea is experienced advocating for systemic change, building public-private partnerships and bringing communities together to align strategy around common goals. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan and her B.A. from Stanford University. She is also a graduate of the Equal Justice Leadership Academy, which hones advocacy skills to address racism and poverty. A native of Oregon and long-time Seattle resident, Andrea loves exploring the region. On weekends you might find her hiking in the Cascades, walking her dog on Alki Beach or sampling a fresh hops brew in Eastern Washington.

Amy Bettle, Project Manager

email: Amy at sparknorthwest.org

Amy manages Spark Northwest’s Solarize and Energize programs, leading group purchase programs for solar and energy efficiency. She also conducts community education on renewable energy and advocates for policies supporting a just transition to clean energy. Most recently, Amy worked at the World Food Prize Foundation to coordinate an international conference on global food security formulated to drive food systems discourse and transformation. She collaborated with stakeholders across sectors and geographies to convene diverse thought leaders and mobilize policy action. Prior, she served Peace Corps Zambia as an Agriculture and Forestry Extension Agent until the global Covid-19 evacuation. As a Gilman Scholar, Amy conducted a research project for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy. The project evaluated the sustainability of commercializing in vitro meat, and Amy focused on the environmental impacts of this nascent technology. Amy graduated from Iowa State University with a double degree in Environmental Science, B.S. and Event Management, B.S. Outside of work, Amy enjoys building community through cooking, outdoor exploring, coordinating mutual aid, and organizing for racial and climate justice.

Mia Devine, Project Manager

ph: 206.267.2213 | email: mia at sparknorthwest.org

Mia manages multiple clean energy projects including our Rural Renewables Program. Mia has over 16 years of experience working in the renewable energy industry conducting technical feasibility studies of utility-scale wind farms, due diligence reviews of wind turbine supply and maintenance contracts, project management of proposals and budgets, and hands-on installation of residential solar and wind power equipment. Most recently, Mia worked with wind project developers, government agencies, multinational corporations, investors, tribal communities, and utilities at the global consulting firm Det Norske Veritas. Mia also co-founded a national group encouraging the participation and advancement of women in the wind energy industry and completed volunteer work in Central and South America where she helped to install and maintain solar electric lighting systems in rural communities. Mia holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Grinnell College and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When not at work, you can find Mia tending either her urban farm in Seattle, or her rural farm in Bellingham.

Lou Finazzo, Project Manager

Ph: 206.328.2441; email: lou at sparknorthwest.org

Lou has worked on social and environmental justice issues as a research analyst in Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program and as a campaign organizer in Michigan. He is excited to contribute to the empowerment of marginalized communities in his role evaluating utility grant applications for community renewables projects. Lou is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy & Governance with concentrations in analysis & evaluation, public financial management, and environmental policy. Outside of work, you can find him exploring the outdoors, playing music with friends, and frequenting local coffee shops and diners.

Gwen Heisterkamp, Finance and Operations Manager

ph: 206.328.2441 | email: gwen at sparknorthwest.org

Gwen manages the internal functions for our team, including finance, operations and human resources. Her 15-year career in the environmental sector spans a variety of roles within non-profit organizations and public agencies. Most recently, Gwen spent nine years at the NW Energy Coalition, where she managed the organization’s finances, operations and grants. She has also worked as an environmental educator, a salmon-recovery planner, a volunteer coordinator, a native plant nursery manager and an outreach coordinator. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies/Environmental Education from Huxley College at Western Washington University. In her spare time, Gwen can be found practicing and teaching yoga, gardening in her community p-patch, and exploring the great outdoors.

Katherine Leggett, Communications & Development Director

email: katherine at sparknorthwest.org

Katherine is passionate about social and environmental justice issues. Prior to joining Spark Northwest, she co-led a statewide grassroots campaign that mobilizes people to advocate for climate and racial justice bills during the WA State legislature. She has produced and directed advocacy videos for community organizations and has directed award-winning, social justice documentaries. She has worked in the corporate sector managing digital marketing strategies. She has a MA in Communications from Stanford University and is a ’22 cohort member of Leadership Tomorrow. She and her partner are raising two energetic girls and a pandemic puppy.

Essex Lordes, Project Manager

email: essex at sparknorthwest.org

Essex comes to Spark Northwest with years of experience advocating for underserved communities most impacted by systemic oppression, including conditions resulting from environmental injustice. His career began in the SF/Bay Area where he was a community organizer with San Francisco Pride At Work and has spent the past decade advocating for the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color LGBTQ communities. Most recently, Essex served as a project manager and grants database manager for Social Justice Fund NW. With much excitement, Essex will use his experience to support underserved communities as they transition to renewable energy. Essex was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and holds an AS in Behavioral Sciences focused on Public Health from City College of San Francisco. Essex is also a DJ, a foodie, and the proud caretaker of 20+ house plants.

Veena Prasad, Program Director

email: veena at sparknorthwest.org

Veena’s career started as an engineer and project manager in the corporate sector at Procter & Gamble, before she earned her MBA to become an entrepreneur and focus on social impact work. In 2013, she founded Project Feast, a successful nonprofit that prepares refugee and immigrant cooks for jobs in the food industry. Her passion for environmental sustainability was renewed when she co-designed her family home in Seattle to meet the highest green building standard. That experience helped her understand how green technology and clean energy can positively impact families, communities and the planet. She is committed to finding and helping scale tangible solutions that move the needle on clean energy and equity. Veena holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from University of Washington Foster School of Business. She is mom to twins in third grade. In her spare time, she is an amateur gardener, learning and practicing the principles of permaculture. Originally from India and having lived in the US Midwest and in Germany, Veena has called Seattle home since 2007.

John Seng, Policy Manager

email: john at sparknorthwest.org

John has worked on climate justice issues in Oregon and Washington, organized with Minnesota 350, and conducted research for a food justice organization in Minneapolis. John is eager to help Spark Northwest advocate for a just clean energy transition that transfers power and wealth to low-income and BIPOC communities. Outside of work he is a runner, climber and visual artist who loves exploring the incredible old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Working With You

Attend an Event

Spark Northwest provides educational events to community members to support renewable energy project development.

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Got a project idea ready? We may be able to assist with your community project. Click below to see what services we offer!

Find More Resources

Spark Northwest provides publications, guidebooks and web tools that help communities pursue clean energy projects.