By Taran Lucker
Leticia Colon, CEO and founder of Energy Efficiencies Solutions, comes from a family that has a history of helping Connecticut’s Latino community. Colon looks to help Hispanic adults further their education through the Your Education Success (YES) program, and is a true inspiration within the Latino community.
Can you please introduce yourself and explain your connection to the Latino community?
My name is Leticia Colon, and I am the CEO and founder of Energy Efficiencies Solutions, a full-service energy conservation company. We are based in Windsor and primarily serve the state of Connecticut. I am also president of Green Eco Warriors Inc., a nonprofit Youth Initiative that fosters leadership skills, scientific inquiry, scholastic success and environmental stewardship among young people. I have authored nine educational children’s books, two of which are bilingual.
My connection to the Latino community stems from my family history, heritage and passion to uplift the community through education and opportunity. My father was a longtime community leader in Hartford and instilled in me a deep sense of pride for our state, its residents and Latinos.
My great aunt Maria Colon Sanchez was affectionately known as la madrina (the godmother) of the Hartford Puerto Rican community. She served on the Hartford Board of Education. In 1988, she became the first Hispanic woman elected to the Connecticut General Assembly. My mother worked predominantly with at-risk youth in Connecticut and encouraged both my brother and me to always give back and help us others move forward. Throughout my career, I have taken every opportunity to support my Latino community through the creation of educational programs, mentoring and support for Latin business owners.
How has your past inspired you to become involved with the Latino community?
Engaging the community and making a difference was always important to my family. Our parents set the example for us. They were incredibly strong role models who had to persevere in a world that was very different than the one we live in today. Seeing them work hard to achieve success and the respect of the community greatly inspired me.
I have a strong sense of pride for my culture, yet I found growing up with parents of different racial backgrounds was challenging for me. I did not speak Spanish and often felt left out when my family and friends spoke Spanish. At the same time I lived in a small, predominately white town where I was one of two Puerto Rican children in my entire school. Learning to overcome these challenges has ultimately become a great asset in my ability to work with the Latino community, as well as the business community.
As I grew into adulthood, I was able to learn more about my culture and my family history. I felt it was important to experience Puerto Rico to see where and how my family lived. This has helped me become even more connected with my culture and gain confidence in my future.
Even as a child I knew I wanted to be involved with youth and the community. I have always leaned toward service, education, and advocacy for at-risk populations. I find great joy in helping others reach their potential and love sparking personal and professional growth in those around me. I have mentored many Latino adults through the Hartford Hospital-based Your Educational Success (YES) program, which I developed to help adults begin or return to college. The YES program coordinates community service projects in the Hartford area and engages adults in positive behavioral modeling and study peer groups to increase educational, individual and professional success. In addition, I was honored to be the proponent of and operational manager of the ESL and adult education programs at Hartford Hospital. These programs helped over 200 employees gain critical work and life skills.
What is Energy Efficiencies Solutions involved in, and how has it developed over the years?
Energy Efficiencies Solutions (EES) is a woman-owned full service Energy Conservation Company. Our company is comprised of individuals with a diversity of work experience and cultural backgrounds, which allows us to have an exceptional workforce. We provide comprehensive residential and multi-family building energy usage evaluations. We help homeowners and residents save energy through the coordination of conservation measures and home energy assessments. We make home visits to complete energy assessments. We focus on insulation, heating and cooling systems, water saving measures, and lighting services. Our mission is to provide Energy Efficiency Solutions and Energy Saving Measures, coupled with excellent customer service.
In a typical home assessment, we review any all means of saving energy. We provide on-the-spot improvements through air sealing and the installation of bulbs that are environmentally friendly and save money and energy. This can lowers utility bills by over a $500 a year in one visit. This program is supported by the CT Energy Efficiency Fund and can be offered at a low cost. Many Latinos aren’t aware these energy conservation programs are subsidized and that they pay into the fund. As a people, we should be taking advantage of these programs to save energy and make our homes and apartments more comfortable and safe. Excessive energy use relates directly to air pollution and impacts asthma rates. Asthma rates in Latino children have risen significantly in CT and across the nation. If we can lower the use of fossil fuels and make small behavioral changes, we can make a huge positive impact on the environment and human health at the same time.
EES was founded in 2010 with a small team of Building Performance Institute certified Energy analysts. Today, we employ a staff of over 18 full-time employees. We also partner with licensed and insured contractors to provide Solar energy, Windows and Insulation services to increase comfort, energy savings, and safety in homes. We are a vendor of Connecticut Light & Power and The United Illuminating Company.
This past July, we were the first CT based Company to be nominated for the National Energy Award. We are a strong member of the CT community and support workforce development. We are a member of the Workforce Solution Collaborative of Hartford, CT and in June of this year we were awarded the Capital Workforce Partners, Workforce Star Business of the year award. We are the highest ranked Energy Conservation company in customer satisfaction in the state of CT. Our fast growth and success was evident in our revenue, which surpassed a million dollars in 2013. As we grow, our intention is become a leader not only in providing energy solutions, but in creating local employment opportunities, and supporting our local economy.
Green Eco Warriors, Inc. is a non-profit which provides energy conservation education to youth across the state of Connecticut. We started in 2007 with the vision of increasing recycling awareness and responsibility. Our mission is to motivate youth and community to fight for our planet’s survival. Our strategy uses books, videos, and live presentations to help change how we use energy. We believe that education and replacing energy usage habits will decrease energy usage, carbon emissions, decrease pollution in the air and water, and increase human health. We have recently partnered with EESmarts, a CT CL&P and UI energy education program to provide our educational programs to as many Connecticut youth as possible.
What advice for success do you have for Latinos?
As a Latino, mother of five and business owner, I am aware of the challenges we face daily; whether in the home, school or on the job. Latinos have much to offer our state and the nation as a whole. We are a diverse people with many positive attributes. I am continually amazed by the strength of our people and am often inspired by my peers and other Latino community leaders.
I would like to see more of my peers continue to grow and develop into stronger community based roles. It is so important to reach out and give back to those who have not yet found their way. We have a calling and duty to ourselves to continue to strive to be all that we can. Every day is a new opportunity to invent yourself.
The keys to success that I can share are:
1. Don’t under estimate yourself. You can always do more if you set your mind to it.
2. Create a plan, write it down and take small steps each day to reach your goals
3. Never give up! Always think it is possible because if you believe it, you can achieve it.
4. Be positive and don’t be afraid of hard work. Most opportunities come disguised as hard work.
5. Be grateful and express your gratitude daily, you will feel better and people will be drawn to your sense of passion for life.
Most importantly, “expect the best and deliver the best.” Life is an amazing adventure and I try to look at every moment as an opportunity to learn. I have had to endure difficult situations but I feel the difference between success and failure is the ability to not take “NO” as an answer and instead be tenacious. Live with passion, share your gifts and don’t fear your own greatness.