by: Andrew Mascelli
It all began in the TIDES booth at the 2012 AFCEA West Conference in San Diego. The TIDES Project was already familiar with both Day & Night Solar and the Sirona Cares Foundation, but this event was going to be a singularly memorable one for Melinda Kershaw and Michelle Lacourciere. It was at this annual conference, in this TIDES booth that the two of them would meet for the first time. In an important success story for both sustainable development and the STAR-TIDES Network, these two executives (Melinda Kershaw is the Director of Marketing for Day & Night Solar, Michelle Lacourciere the Founding Director of the Sirona Cares Foundation) and their respective organizations would come together to develop a new product capable of meeting energy and budgetary demands needed for the Sirona Cares Foundation’s work, including deployments into such energy distressed areas as Haiti and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Day & Night Solar first opened their doors in 2009 as a small southern Illinois company looking to meet the demands of the growing solar contracting market. Since then, they have expanded across the United States, providing “complete, turnkey, photovoltaic system solutions including financing, securing available grants, installation and superb follow up.” Day & Night Solar pride themselves on the relationships they build with their partners and clientele and believe that the benefits of these connections are demonstrated in their field products. The Sirona Cares Foundation was established in 2010 with the deceptively simple goal of providing economic empowerment that is both locally sustainable and ecologically responsible for communities in need, such as in Haiti. With a talented group of board members overseeing the work and a dedicated network of financial support, the Sirona Cares Foundation is on the cutting edge of humanitarian assistance.
Michelle and Melinda had both spent time working with the TIDES project prior to their meeting – Michelle had spoken at length on potential energy solutions in Haiti with the David Becker, TIDES Director (and fellow Sirona Cares Board Member) and Dr. Linton Wells, the TIDES Founder. Melinda had met Sam Bendett, a TIDES Research Analyst, at the 2012 Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Bendett “was pleased to discover that both their organizations were committed to cost-effective and high caliber disaster relief solutions,” and eagerly invited Day & Night Solar to join the STAR-TIDES Network.
The benefits of their newfound working relationship are clearly on display. Director Lacourciere describes their developing collaboration as a “huge success”. She goes on to say “Day & Night was able to design equipment with Sirona that meets the energy requirements and cost requirements necessary for the program Sirona runs to be self-sustaining.” Director Kershaw was similarly pleased with the growing collaboration between the two groups, stating “Day & Night Solar is thrilled to be part of what Sirona Cares has developed.”
At the time of the writing of this article, the two businesses were energetically continuing their collaboration. A recent visit by Director Lacourciere to Day & Night Solar in St. Louis elicited excitement and praise for their ongoing work: “I just visited the solar station which is fantastic at Day & Night Solar in St. Louis. The design was tweaked to reduce the number of parts and I think it’s under 20 parts now, very exciting. Last week I got to see and hold the new Ti Soley kit, and it is also incredible. It’s compact and can be carried on the head; all of the cheap parts like the meter were removed and new systems put in their place (red, yellow, green lights). It’s a more robust kit…” The two organizations are eagerly awaiting the deployment of these systems to the island of Ile-a-Vache off the cost of Haiti for field use.
Since their first propitious meeting in San Diego, both Day & Night Solar and the Sirona Cares Foundation have strengthened their relationship with the TIDES Project by participating in Technology Field Demonstrations at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. in October of 2013. The organizations stay in regular contact, with TIDES determinedly finding and disseminating new information and opportunities for collaborative efforts amongst its network constituents. The 2014 AFCEA West event this previous February was another propitious one for their collaborative efforts as the two organizations opened talks with the Mexican Embassy to the United States to explore opportunities to extend their products into rural Mexican communities suffering from power deficiency problems.
Business relationships can be difficult waters to navigate. Especially in an area as sensitive and fast-paced as disaster relief and development more effort and focus needs to be given to promoting collaboration and idea-sharing. Day & Night Solar and Sirona Cares are high caliber organizations that both contribute substantially to the humanitarian assistance environment. Thanks in small part to the connective network fostered by the TIDES Project, their mutual excellence can now be pushed even further in what looks to be a very fruitful collaborative relationship.
Andrew Mascelli is a TIDES Intern at the Center for Technology & National Security Policy at National Defense University