Born from a fierce passion for renewable energy and protecting the world's beloved ecosystems, the employees of Elemental Energy formed Twende Solar: a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to empowering energy-deficient populations with renewable energy systems. Twende, meaning “let’s go” in Swahili, is indicative of the organization's proactive capabilities and dedication to sustainable development worldwide. Operated and supported by solar PV industry professionals, Twende bridges the gap between renewable energy experts and energy-poor communities.

Empower energy-deficient communities by implementing renewable energy systems in the world’s most neglected areas.

A world with sustainable energy for all is achievable. Renewable energy is the solution for eliminating poverty, strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems, and achieving a more equitable society. 


Twende Solar - Board of Directors - John Grieser

Founder + Board President

John Grieser, Elemental Energy

Armed with an education in Renewable Energy Engineering, John started Elemental Energy in 2010 as a means to make the biggest impact on the "front lines" of sustainable energy. Specializing in solar photovoltaic systems, John works with clients in Portland, the greater Pacific Northwest, and internationally, to help find creative solutions to their energy needs. John’s passions lie in utilizing his professional experience and skills to: increase access to energy and communication; spur education and entrepreneurialism abroad; promote worldwide renewable energy implementation.

Twende Solar - Board of Directors - Brandon Little

Founder + Board Treasurer

Brandon Little, elemental energy

Brandon’s interest in renewable energy began during his college days—while studying pre-med with the goal of becoming a surgeon, he ran a side business focused on investing stock in the sustainable energy industry. This belief transitioned into a full-fledged interest when he realized that, solar, rather than medicine, was the dominating force for change that he wanted to be a part of. With that, he returned to the Oregon Institute of Technology to earn a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering. After working at Elemental Energy for several years and participating in multiple international solar PV installations, Brandon joined John Grieser in forming Twende Solar.


Executive Director

Marissa Johnson, twende solar

Marissa brings 15 years of experience in teaching, program design, advocacy and project management, and has studied and traveled globally. Her nonprofit and advocacy experience includes Education Minnesota, Bloomington Federation of Teachers, National Inventors Hall of Fame and Minnesota Reading Corps. She began her career as an elementary classroom teacher in the Bloomington Public School system. Marissa has a Bachelor's of Science degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, along with advanced studies at Portland State University, Hamline University, and Universidad de La Sabana in Bogota, Colombia.

Twende Solar - Board of Directors - Chris Baker

Board Vice-President

Chris BakeR, HDR Engineering

A graduate of Oregon Institute of Technology's Renewable Energy Engineering program and current Project Engineer at HDR Engineering, Chris has extensive experience in renewable energy, energy storage and power design. Having organized numerous domestic and international engineering projects, Chris's knowledge and technical skill are an unparalleled asset to progressing Twende's mission of electrifying energy-poor communities worldwide.

Twende Solar - Board of Directors - Mike August

Board Director


Mike August has worked in startups and large multinationals within the solar PV space industry since 2005. In addition to his extensive business management and development background, Mike brings international PV experience ranging from projects in Central America, China, Palau to Puerto Rico. Most recently, Mike volunteered on Twende Solar’s 26kW PV install on the Stephen Mazujian Middle School in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Twende Solar - Board of Directors - Max Christian

Board Director


With over 20 years experience as a solar operations executive, international project developer, and innovative green builder, Max Christian brings a plethora of insight and global connections to Twende Solar’s mission. After playing a key leadership role in growing a successful solar integrator in Colorado, Max recently moved to Peru where he is a consultant supporting community development, renewable energy and climate change mitigation initiatives.

katie martin.jpg

Board Director

Katie Martin, imagine energy

With over 10 years of solar management, design, and project logistic experience, Katie helps to ensure each Twende Solar project goes off without a hitch. An avid traveler and passionate solar warrior, Katie first became involved with Twende Solar for its 26kW PV install on the Stephen Mazujian Middle School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

Join Twende Solar's Board of Directors

Interested in supporting Twende Solar through a leadership position? Twende Solar is always looking to expand and strengthen its board of directors with renewable energy advocates and industry professionals. Please fill out the form below to inquire about open board positions or ways to help strengthen the organization. 

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