Chris Nichols is the Senior Program Director for Groundswell where she oversees Labs programs. Groundswell Labs programs drive research that expands solar access for low-income communities; advance equity, inclusion, and community wealth building for all our neighbors; and develop data and technical structures to support resilience with justice. Chris has driven innovation in clean energy programs and policies for more than 30 years in Federal, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. She brings strong management and energy strategy skills to Groundswell, with vision, passion, and a deep network of similarly devoted clean energy professionals to accelerate collaborative work for expanded clean energy services.
Prior to joining Groundswell, Chris served the US Department of Energy in both the Solar Office and as DOE’s Director of Workforce within Secretary Moniz’s Job Strategy Council. Joining the SunShot Initiative in 2011, she managed DOE’s national Solar Instructors Training Network and created both the “Solar Ready Vets” training program and Veterans in Energy retention program. Outside of her work with Groundswell, Chris also supports NRECA in developing solar resilience for rural low-income communities, and in shaping cybersecurity tools for rural cooperative utilities. Earlier in her career Chris managed national communications for both EPA and DOE in building the Energy Star® program. At the US Department of Labor and Department of Energy, she updated “green” training for YouthBuild and created clean energy workforce credentials for weatherization and solar workers. She created SunEdison’s “City Tour for Solar” to advocate municipal-scale community solar investments in 2008.
Chris believes in building community. For more than 30 years, she has volunteered in feeding programs across DC, coached youth soccer and baseball, led Girl Scout troops, and Sunday school programs. Currently, Chris serves on the board of the Potomac RiverKeeper Network, which fights for clean drinking water, and the Prince Georges Running Club, where she is a certified running coach.
She holds a black belt in tae kwon do and enjoys participating in marathons and triathlons, gardening, beekeeping, brewing beer, and volunteering locally to improve jobs, equity, and access for working families. She loves her spouse and their two daughters, who fondly remind her not to praise her own cooking too much. She earned Bachelor’s degrees from Duke University in English, History and Psychology, and an MBA from the R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.