How Asking “How Can I Help” Shaped Nate Kinsey’s Journey in Public Service

For Nathaniel (Nate) Kinsey, being a member of the SFPUC’s citizens advisory committee (CAC) has been an opportunity of giving back to the community. It started with one question, “how can I help?”

Two years ago, Kinsey was appointed by the Mayor to represent a large San Francisco water user, when he worked for the San Francisco Unified School District’s Sustainability Office as the District’s Energy Manager.

His responsibilities included the implementation of the District’s Prop 39 Clean Energy Jobs Act energy efficiency funding, management of the District’s energy and water utility budget, and for reviewing Proposition A school modernizations to ensure the projects work towards achieving the District’s 2040 Carbon Neutrality and Zero Net Energy facility goals.

Nate Kinsey (right) reviewing adaptive leadership principles at Clean Energy Leadership Institute 2019 San Francisco Fellowship Orientation.

Kinsey served as the CAC’s Power Subcommittee Chair, where he fostered positive relationships between the SFPUC’s Power Enterprise and pushed the enterprise to do its part in meeting state climate goals that is inclusive of all communities.

“By lending my thoughts, opinions, knowledge to the CAC and staff in the hopes of creating a more sustainable water, sewer, and power system for the residents, workers, and visitors of the city I called home was a fulfilling experience,” said Kinsey. “It was an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Serving on the CAC allowed me to learn about new topics, dig in on the nuances of the city’s 100-year-old power system, and collaborate with SFPUC staff in ways I would never have. I am proud to say I feel like the full CAC and Power Subcommittee accomplished a lot during my tenor.”

Nate Kinsey (left) handing out rewards at the Run for Clean Energy 5K in May 2019 with Clean Energy Leadership Institute Executive Director Liz Ramsay Dalton (right).

Outside of work and the CAC, Kinsey served on the leadership team at the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) a non-profit dedicated to empowering the next generation of clean energy leaders through leadership and educational training programs. Kinsey recently started a new position at the California Public Utilities Commission on developing and implementing Building Decarbonization policies to help California meet its climate change goals.

Kinsey shared some of the highlights during his service on the CAC included collaborating with the SFPUC on the roll out CleanPowerSF, Our City Our Power marketing campaign to simplify education of how power is provided to different city customers, and meeting and getting to know other CAC members and especially the other members of the leadership team.

Nate Kinsey (left) teaching history of energy efficiency at Clean Energy Leadership Institute’s 2018 December deep decarbonization event.

For someone who would be interested in getting more involved with their community or local government, Kinsey advised to first ask, “how can I help?” as there are often ways for individuals of all ages and capacities to become involved.

“Identify an issue that you are passionate about and spend 15 minutes researching what your community or local government is doing to address that. City governments and local organizations across California and the United States are diligently working on many issues, including one that you might be passionate about, I guarantee it,” shared Kinsey. “Once you find an advisory committee or organization working on that issue, get engaged! Show up at a meeting, email the executive director, volunteer at an event, or simply vote on that issue.”

Nate Kinsey (right) presenting to members of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute.