Our Team

Robert A. Freling - Executive Director

Bob has been the Executive Director of the Solar Electric Light Fund since 1997. Under his leadership, SELF has installed over 550 solar energy systems in 25 countries, making it one of the world’s leading nongovernmental organizations that designs and implements solar energy-based solutions for those living without access to electricity. An early advocate of access to energy as being essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he is widely considered an authority on the subject of energy poverty. During his tenure he has broadened SELF’s mission and vision to address the implications of energy poverty in developing countries. In 2000, he developed the Whole Village Development Model, an innovative approach for using solar energy to help communities improve their health, education, food and water security, and economic development programs. In 2003, SELF completed its first “Whole Village” project in Nigeria, utilizing solar energy to provide electricity for health clinics, schools, street lights, mosques, homes, micro-enterprise centers, and electric pumps that deliver fresh water for drinking and irrigation. A native of Dallas, Texas, Bob received a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Studies from Yale University and a Masters degree from the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California. In 2008, Bob received the King Hussein Leadership Award from Her Majesty Queen Noor.

Jeff Lahl - Project Director

As project director, Jeff combines a strong and varied management background, solar expertise and international development experience to lead all of SELF’s unique and challenging projects. He has had overall responsibility for implementing SELF’s fieldwork in Haiti, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Benin, South Africa, Lesotho, Nigeria and Bhutan.

Previously, he worked in the solar energy industry as a system designer and specifier, as well as a community college instructor. He first became involved with solar electrification for international development as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1993-95 when he managed the Kingdom of Tonga’s solar electrification program. Jeff’s career in solar started over 20 years ago when he founded a company that designed and built solar homes.

Karen Allen - Director of Development

Karen brings 30 years of development and public affairs experience in conservation and wildlife to SELF. Before joining the team, she was the National Advancement Director at Chimp Haven where she raised funds to house and care for more than 200 retired biomedical chimpanzees living at the sanctuary. Prior to Chimp Haven, she ran her own fundraising and communications consulting firm. Among her clients were the African Wildlife Foundation, the Smithsonian’s Environmental Research Center, and the National Zoo. She has also served as Public Affairs Director at Conservation International, and has consulted on the development of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, serving on its Advisory Board for 20 years. Her work at SELF brings her full circle to her early career when she spent time in the bush in Central and South America, where she witnessed first-hand the consequences of energy poverty.

Darren Anderson - Project Manager

Darren is a Solar Designer, Installer, Trainer, and Master Electrician with extensive international experience. He has worked and led solar projects in over 10 different countries and joined SELF in 2010 after leaving his position as Co-Founder and Technical Director at Sungrid Ltd, a solar manufacturing and distribution business in Australia. He holds an MSc in Renewable Energy from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, a Diploma in Integrated Environmental Planning Technology from Selkirk College in Castlegar, BC, and a Certificate in Electrical Trades from BCIT in Burnaby, BC.

Jean-Baptiste Certain - Project Manager, Haiti

Jean-Baptiste (“JB”) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of SELF’s solar projects in Haiti for schools, health care facilities, water facilities, agricultural projects, and solar streetlights in transition camps. While living and working in Haiti since 2011, JB has been responsible for the local coordination of all projects, logistics, interactions with partners and Government, and the hiring and supervision of installation crews of 12 or more technicians. In 2009, he completed training with the Solar Energy International (SEI) focusing on Rural Electrification for the Developing World and Sustainable Development for Rural Communities courses. Upon completing his studies, he spent six months living in Sabana Grande, an indigenous rural community in northern Nicaragua where he was involved in manufacturing solar modules, designing and installing PV systems in local schools and households for Grupo Fenix. A native French speaker, JB is fluent in Spanish and English and is also conversant in Haitian Creole.

Lisa Esler - Finance Director

Lisa is Certified Public Accountant and has 15 years’ experience in financial management of international projects and programs. After working with Price Waterhouse in Moscow, Russia she spent 10 years working with the Eurasia Foundation as Controller and then Director of Internal Audit. She is fluent in French and Russian.

Jeff Korcan - Design Engineer and Project Manager

Jeff is a design engineer and project manager, bringing to SELF over two decades of experience in designing large manufacturing systems and managing large construction projects for both U.S. corporations and the U.S. government. He has managed the installation phase of several large projects in Haiti for SELF during 2011 and 2012. Having a long standing interest in the renewable energy field, Jeff transitioned to the solar industry in 2006 after relocating to Maui, Hawaii, where he worked with several solar contractors designing and installing solar electric systems. He is an engineering graduate of West Point.

Claudalex Lauture - Senior Technician, Haiti

Claudalex is a photovoltaic (PV) designer, installer, and electrician from Haiti. He is responsible for installing and maintaining SELF’s PV systems in the Central Plateau, Artibonite, and Southwest Coast regions of the country. Over the 10 years that he has worked with SELF in Haiti, Claudalex has led Haitian teams through PV installation projects, worked with mini-grid PV systems, and has served as an on-site staff member who responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of PV systems.In 2018, he was a team leader in the project Katansama village solar system in Colombia. Prior to SELF, he worked as a solar technician at Raymag S.A. and as a PV designer/installer at Green Energy Solutions. Claudalex studied Electromechanical Engineering at Universite GOC and Electrotechnique at Centre de formation technique professionnel Haiti Tec.

Board of Directors

  • Robert A. Freling

    Executive Director
    Solar Electric Light Fund

  • Jonathan W. Postal

    Founder & CEO
    Nikola Power

  • Mary Green Swig

    President & Chief Executive Officer
    Mary Green

  • Steven L. Swig, Chair

    President Emeritus & Co-founder
    Presidio World College

  • Freeman J. Dyson (In Memoriam)

    Professor Emeritus
    Institute for Advanced Study

  • Roger A. Enrico (In Memoriam)

    Former Chairman & CEO
    PepsiCo, Inc.

  • Larry Hagman (In Memoriam)


SELF.org - Powering a brighter 21st century.

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Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 25 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rain forest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.

Contact Us

2021 L Street NW Suite 101-344
Washington, DC 20036

+1 (202) 234-7265