Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Covenant Tribal Solar Initiative
Chéri Smith (formerly Chéri Faso-Olf) is CEO/Founder of Covenant Tribal Solar Initiative. Her experience in addressing climate change and struggling economies with renewables spans two decades. Her specialties are Solar Capacity Building and Energy Planning, Project and Program Development, Policy, Finance and Workforce Development. A descendant of the Mi'Kmaq tribe of Maine/Canadian Maritimes, she has made it her life's work to deploy this expertise for the benefit of indigenous American communities.
At SolarCity, Chéri led workforce development and training initiatives, as well as the coordination of community, academic, and government stakeholders in the massive effort to identify and train the 1,400 employees of the 1 GW solar manufacturing plant in Buffalo, NY, and Tesla's Battery Gigafactory in Sparks, NV.
From 2009 - 2015, Chéri was in private practice, providing renewable energy and energy efficiency project consulting services to colleges, universities, and governments, including the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), and US Department of Energy SunShot initiatives: Solar Ready Vets, Solar Instructor Training Network, and Solar Career Map. From 2005 - 2009, Chéri served as Director of Education & Outreach for the American Council On Renewable Energy, where she developed and managed ACORE’s corporate, educational, and citizen-outreach programs, on an international level.
Chéri was Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, Solar Campus Initiative, a completed project of Earth Island Institute, as well as a Climate Leader, Trained by Vice President Al Gore. She serves as an Advisory Board member for the Masters in Renewable Energy degree program at Penn State, and has served on the Core Education Advisory Committee for SEIA's Solar Power International. In 2017 Chéri was awarded a Cordes Fellowship, in recognition of her solar economic development work on behalf of Native American tribes.