The purpose of the regional Job Training Organization (JTO) Task Force is to ensure that the voices and interests of job training organizations remain at the forefront of the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing program’s job training efforts and that trainees have a meaningful and career-advancing experience.

The JTO Task Force meets quarterly to discuss benefits, challenges and opportunities for job trainees and job training organizations and make recommendations to the SOMAH Program Administrator. The Task Force bylaws, purpose, and meeting notes can be found under Meeting Notes and Bylaws. Members of the inaugural cohort serving from the beginning of 2020 through the end of 2021 are listed below. The new JTO Task Force cohort will be announced in March 2022 and will serve a two-year term from Quarter 1 2022 through Quarter 4 2023. 

Jon Caffery (Chair)

Regional Director of Employer Engagement for Energy, Construction and Utilities in the Orange County Region

Jon was the owner of Caffery Electric Inc. and First Priority Mortgage, Inc. from 1985 to 2007. After the mortgage industry fell into disarray, he began consulting work for the College of the Desert, which blossomed into a new career. He then moved to Hawaii and began working for the University of Hawaii as a grants administrator. Jon returned to the Coachella Valley in 2014 and joined the College of the Desert as a regional grants director.

Jon earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colorado Christian University and a master’s degree in adult education from Auburn University. He is currently a doctoral candidate for education leadership and management at Capella University.

Manuel Vasquez (Vice Chair)

Journeyman Steamfitter with the United Association Local 230 in San Diego, California, and Executive Board Member of Building Justice SD/ Homework

Manuel serves as a community organizer with Homework, a community-based organization that supports the re-entry community. Homework offers life skills classes to those just coming home and introduces them to careers in the building trade unions. Manuel is passionate about mentoring others. Being personally impacted gives him a connection to the individuals he works with on a daily basis. Over the years, Manuel has worked hard to create a good rapport with representatives from the different unions associated with the building trades to change the narrative when it comes to the term “formerly incarcerated” instead of “ex-felon.” By freely sharing his own journey and creating a blueprint for success for others to follow, Manuel brings authenticity when dealing with the men and women looking to better their lives and venture out into the world.

Edward Ruiz

Adult Education Photovoltaic Instructor, East Los Angeles Skills Center

Edward is an instructor at East Los Angeles Skills Center in Los Angeles Unified School District’s Division of Adult and Career Education. Edward is a former electrical contractor, college professor, licensed electrician and a credentialed career technical educator. He works with disadvantaged communities and students of all types through LAUSD by teaching photovoltaic installation and design for over 13 years for a NABCEP-approved provider. He has worked with the Homeboy Industries Solar Panel Training Program for more than10 years helping the re-entry population find their pathways to work in the renewable energy and construction industries. After many workforce collaborations with GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles and other contractors, his work experience in building training models is extensive and successful. He also has developed an integrated education and training model using solar technology for teaching English as second language students technical language acquisition at LAUSD.

Senait Forthal

Executive Director, OC Goes Solar

Senait is the executive director of OC Goes Solar (OCGS), a 501(c)3 community-based organization. OCGS focuses on reducing barriers and increasing access to renewable energy to all homeowners in Orange County, especially in underserved communities. Senait is a founding member of the organization and was instrumental in assisting over 200 homeowners to go solar through the group discount program. She is a trained solar professional with five years of consulting experience both in solar and energy efficiency. A lifelong environmental/climate justice advocate, Senait serves her community as a trained Climate Reality Leader, an appointed member of the City of Irvine's Green Ribbon Environmental Committee and a member of Orange County Environmental Justice.

Wes Olson

Instructor, Green Building Construction Program, Center for Employment Training — Oxnard

Wes has over 30 years of experience in the construction field. He has held his California State General Contractors (B) license since 1998 and has been self-employed since 2000. He started his construction profession after high school as a laborer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has worked as a carpenter, plumber and electrician and solar installer since the early 1980s. He returned to school and received his degree in construction technology at Ventura College and in turn acquired his contractor’s license. He currently works as an instructor with CET in Oxnard, CA, teaching the Green Building Construction skills class. He also volunteers with his students with GRID and Habitat for Humanity, having helped build over 16 homes.

Cesar Montemayor

Instructor, Proteus Inc.

Cesar is a solar design and installation instructor at William Maguy School of Education, a division of Proteus Inc. in Visalia, CA, a nonprofit organization that provides services to low-income and other program participants. He has worked in the green industry for the past nine years as an instructor, solar installer and weatherization technician. His experience includes inspections, weatherizing homes, teaching NABCEP concepts, creating lessons to encourage student engagement and instructing students in designing solar arrays and stalling modules. He is an advocate for his students and encourages them to learn as much as possible to better their career opportunities.

Eddie Ahn

Executive Director, Brightline Defense

Eddie is the executive director of Brightline Defense, a legal and policy nonprofit dedicated to environmental justice in California. His workforce development expertise and analysis of federal constitutional law has also assisted multiple municipalities in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Eddie also serves on the San Francisco Commission on the Environment, which sets policy for the SF Department of the Environment, as well as the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a state planning and regulatory agency with regional authority over the Bay Area. He began his nonprofit career as an AmeriCorps worker and after-school programmer in Oakland Chinatown. Eddie received a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a B.A. from Brown University. He is also a member of the California State Bar.

Stuart Cooley

Professor, Santa Monica College

Stuart is a former professor of renewable energies at Santa Monica College (SMC) where he taught courses as part of the Sustainable Technologies Program, which prepares both young adults and returning workers with skills for careers in clean energy technologies, including solar PV installation, solar design, solar sales and marketing, solar finance and energy efficiency investments. Prior to SMC, he was an energy efficiency engineer within the City of Santa Monica’s Environmental Programs Division where he aided the city on efficiency projects, a thermal energy storage project and continuous promotion of renewable energy including the start of Solar Santa Monica, a city program to add significant capacity on local rooftops.

He has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Hawaii with specialization in renewable energy engineering and received his bachelor’s of science in physical science from the University of Maryland-College Park. He also serves on the USGBC-LA Board.

Mitchell Smith, Ed.D

Senior Technical Training Director, Young Community Developers, Inc.

Born and raised in NYC, Mitchell understands the challenges that urban areas face, and gives insight to the teaching methodologies that must be in place for students of all ages to succeed. He has degrees from the University of Massachusetts in educational leadership. In May 2010, Mitchell made a career change and began to work within the solar industry, challenging and training displaced workers to pursue careers in the solar industry.

Mitchell believes that effective training should be at the forefront of every discussion concerning our viable future. Currently, he is senior technical training director for Young Community Developers, Inc., a nonprofit organization inspiring and empowering residents in the southeast sector of San Francisco through job readiness training and employment counseling. He manages curriculum and instruction for their staff and customers.

Meeting Notes and Bylaws

Notes on future proceedings will be posted on SOMAH's website each quarter.