Leveraging Professional Skills For Community Impact



Editor's Note: In recognition of Earth Day, we caught up with our Environment & Energy Circle Co-Chairs to learn more about how they became involved in Full Circle Fund. To read more from Jon Relyea, Environment & Energy Circle Co-Chair click here.


By Michael Spiegelman, FCF Environment & Energy Circle Co-Chair, Vice President, Studio Product Innovation at Netflix


My involvement started with a friend, Cassie Gruenstein, who is now the Chief Strategy Officer of Full Circle Fund. I moved to San Francisco in 2010, and was looking for ways to get involved in supporting local nonprofits. Cassie introduced me to Oasis for Girls, which helps girls from under-resourced communities learn life skills. We brought Oasis to a Full Circle Fund event to get help in marketing their programs, and I started meeting some of the Full Circle Fund members. I liked the idea of pooling our time and resources to help make more of a difference than I could alone.

The thing that stood out to me about being a Full Circle Fund member was being able to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, with a wide set of skills, towards a common purpose. After starting off focusing on Education work, I quickly joined the Environment & Energy circle, and was able to work with a lot of people who came from nonprofits as well as the private sector and shared a common set of passions: some people were interested in addressing climate change, others passionate about nature and the outdoors, and still others about regenerative food systems.

Some of the projects that have really stood out to me included a website redesign and focus on crowdfunding campaigns for RE-Volv, which helps other nonprofits to save money and reduce their carbon impact by going solar. I got to know the executive director, Andreas Karelas well, and later joined the Board. The next year we worked with WattTime, which uses innovative algorithms to empower people to choose clean energy for their electrical needs, as it became part of Rocky Mountain Institute and scaled up its mission. I work in the tech sector, at Netflix by day, so the ability to put the knowledge I’ve gained at work to help the world transition to clean energy is immensely gratifying.

It’s also been interesting to see how our work in the environmental and clean energy space has evolved. I think now many people believe that the threat of climate change is the biggest existential threat to humanity’s survival, and while any of our individual efforts are small, I’m inspired by how many people across the nonprofit sector, as well as the Bay Area community, are motivated to make change.

We’ve also seen a growing concern for environmental justice, to ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are not left out of being part of the solution. And finally, there’s a lot more focus on the intersection of areas like the environment, health and economic opportunity: our latest grant partner, Planting Justice, is a great example of an organization that’s aiming to create both a healthy environment as well as healthy communities.

Being part of the Full Circle Fund Environment & Energy Circle has given me the opportunity to focus on issues I really care about, like clean energy and a healthy environment, in ways that leverage a lot of my professional skills and connect me more to the Bay Area community. I’ve been able to meet a lot of amazing grant partners and members who are working to create a better, more just world--and that is truly inspiring.

To learn more about Membership, other Impact Areas and how to get involved, click here.


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