In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to celebrate women in the clean energy industry who are helping accelerate EV adoption. We sat down with Samantha Ortega, Government Relations Manager at ChargerHelp!, an EV charging reliability management company, to discuss the company’s origin story, female entrepreneurship, and their workforce development support.
Here is that interview, edited for length and clarity.
Shakaya, Gen180: Hi Samantha, thank you for joining me today. My name is Shakaya and I work with Generation180, and I’m here to learn a little bit more about ChargerHelp. So let’s kick it off. At Gen180, we are really big fans of your organization, but there might be some of us who are unfamiliar with the organization, so I’m wondering if you can tell me a little bit more about ChargerHelp and your role directly.
Samantha, ChargerHelp: Thank you, Shakaya. And it is a pleasure to be here with you today. ChargerHelp is a technology company that enables technicians to diagnose and repair and maintain electric vehicle charging stations. We’re supporting the repair and resolution of the hardware and software for Level 2 and DC fast chargers. We’re helping increase the reliability of the charging stations so that the EV driver has confidence in the charging infrastructure and can have a seamless charging experience—and also we’re providing support in the workforce development of maintenance technicians in low income communities. I am able to provide different perspectives and best practices in keeping the infrastructure operable and ensure that when local, state, and federal government create different policies and programs, that they put equity in the forefront of those efforts.
Gen180: Wonderful, wonderful. Especially around infrastructure—as individuals make that transition to EVs, we want them to be more comfortable in the community as they learn how to charge their electric vehicles. So, I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about the origin story of ChargerHelp. Right. So why did it start? What’s your mission?
Samantha: So we’ve definitely come a long way since the company was founded. ChargerHelp started in early 2020, so right before the pandemic. Kameale Terry and Evette Ellis are the co-founders of ChargerHelp, and they set out on a mission to create a company with strong core values, based on equity and inclusion. Kameale, our CEO, worked for a software company where she led multiple EV deployment projects, which gave her insight into the EV industry and partnered with Evette, our co-founder and Chief Workforce Officer, who has 20 years of workforce development recruitment, training, and placement experience through the Department of Labor’s Job Corps system. They both set out on this venture to create an opportunity for local individuals to participate in the clean tech industry. The company has grown now, where we have manufacturers, established EV charging companies, utilities, fleet operators, and even municipalities as customers.
Gen180: Oh wonderful! For individuals outside of organizations that work on clean energy, what’s the best thing you would want someone to know about ChargerHelp?
Samantha: Well, Shakaya, there’s so many things that I could mention, but to give you some insight, I want to highlight our field service technicians. We have the best technicians working for ChargerHelp all throughout the US. They work through various weather conditions and environments. They’re always communicating with each other and giving each other insights and feedback on what they’re working on. So the support that they have for one another is amazing to hear and see as they may be working on the same issue across the country. When they have an opportunity to snap a photo of their working location for the day and share it with the team, it becomes worthwhile with all the work that we’re doing externally, and so our technicians are helping improve the reliability of the charging stations and supporting the industry and creating those sustainable standards.
Gen180: Great. What’s something we might expect from ChargerHelp within the next year, or what are some fun plans you have in the works?
Samantha: We’re very thrilled that we’re seeing major changes on the federal level with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and other bills that will support the manufacturing of parts here in the US. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the recently-released final rule for the NEVI Formula Program. We’re excited to see that minimum standards were developed to ensure the long term reliability of charging stations along federal highways. We will continue to work with states and utilities to ensure that best practices are adopted. Our technicians are doing an amazing job in capturing data to help solve those issues.
We’ll also continue to support in the workforce development and training for local folks, and we recently announced the partnership with SAE International’s Sustainable Mobility Solutions to support the training and credentialing for those existing skill sets.
- ChargerHelp! technicians taking part in an EV workforce training lesson
Gen180: Wonderful, fun things. I want to touch on that vocational training component a little bit more and wondering if you can share one of your favorite success stories around teaching individuals and technicians?
Samantha: Partnerships are very important at ChargerHelp, and what we see as a continued success to private charging companies is connecting with local workforce development organizations to establish accessibility to training and equitable pathway for disadvantaged communities to participate in the clean tech industry.
“What we see as a continued success to private charging companies is connecting with local workforce development organizations to establish accessibility to training and equitable pathway for disadvantaged communities to participate in the clean tech industry.”
So just last year, in partnership with LACI, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and Tritium Charging, we hosted the first all-women EV charging maintenance technician cohort in Los Angeles. It’s a mouthful, but a very amazing workforce development training that we had. Women were able to learn about an industry that is predominantly male, and they learned about a completely new industry, how to repair the charging stations. They were able to tour the Tritium facility and also learn about other skill sets that they could reapply in other parts of the industry, such as administrative support and project management.
Gen180: Great. What would you say are your hopes about our clean energy future, either personally or professionally?
Samantha: I would say that the commitment that states are making to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector is one of the largest CO2 emitters, but we have seen many states issue executive orders to address climate change and to allocate resources, and with the electric vehicle supporting infrastructure, the legislators are focusing more on equitable access to reliable chargers and not just the deployment of the chargers, so knowing that we have states moving towards these goals and that we can breathe cleaner air every day makes it all worth it.
Gen180: I agree. Okay, so thank you so much, Samantha, for coming to hang out with me. I have one last question for you, and it’s… do you drive an electric car?
Samantha: Shakaya, I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t currently, but definitely working in the clean tech industry and being more conscious about the impact that I make has shifted the decision. So whenever I travel or take a vacation, I definitely rent and test drive different models of electric vehicles, and it is honestly a great experience.
“Whenever I travel or take a vacation, I definitely rent and test drive different models of electric vehicles, and it is honestly a great experience.”
Gen180: Wonderful. Well, as you shop around and test drive, Generation180 does have a Going Electric pledge, so if you feel excited, I encourage you to sign it, and it’s just you pledging to go electric next month, next year, or five years.
Samantha: Awesome, will do! Thank you.
Gen180: Thank you!