James McCallen served as part of the inaugural Climate Ready Hawaiʻi AmeriCorps VISTA cohort that is helping Hawaiʻi adapt to climate change impacts. After his services as the Energy Affordability Specialist at the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office (HSEO) he worked as the Committee Clerk for Representative Lowen for the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. In his role, he assisted the HSEO in projects involving energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, and public education to help Hawaiʻi achieve a resilient clean energy economy. Along with the cohort, he worked on projects for the State’s Climate Commission and its members to incorporate equity and anti-poverty strategies into climate change mitigation and adaptation.
James served as a Health Volunteer with the Peace Corps (2017-2019) in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. In Vanuatu, he primarily worked on issues of hygiene and sanitation, non-communicable diseases, and managed the design and planning of a sustainable, clean running water system for a community of 125 people.
James has a Master of Public Health, with a concentration in Global Environmental Sustainability and Health, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. While obtaining his MPH, James worked as a Health Policy Fellow in the Maryland General Assembly, where he collaborated with state policymakers and community organizations on issues of environmental sustainability and zero waste policy.
James holds a BS in Biology and a BA in Chinese Language & Culture from Wake Forest University. He is originally from Long Island, New York.
- Social and Climate Vulnerability Framework: James works alongside consulting partners from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UH) to lay the groundwork for a statewide social and climate vulnerability framework. For this work, James developed a comprehensive briefing paper analyzing existing geospatial social vulnerability, and Oʻahu-specific climate, poverty, and energy burden index tools. The paper details best practices from each tool and contextualizes their usefulness for the future Hawaiʻi framework. He also analyzed the types of data indicators most commonly used in social and climate vulnerability frameworks to support the next stages of the project and assist UH partners in understanding vulnerability indicator data gaps, especially gaps at the most granular, localized level for Hawaiʻi.
Clean Energy Wayfinders: James supported HSEO's development of the Clean Energy Wayfinders program, which will train young local professionals in clean energy and community outreach and engagement to help their communities navigate Hawaiʻi's energy ecosystem. He helped to design the program structure, apply for grants, present the program to government and community partners, and strategize the program's launch. The Wayfinders program has received funding for its first year as part of the Kupu ʻĀina Corps program.
- Energy Equity Hui: James currently represents HSEO on the newly formed Energy Equity Hui, a working group of public and private partner organizations dedicated to prioritizing equity for LMI and vulnerable residents within the energy sector in Hawaiʻi.
- Energy Financial Assistance Resources: James developed a comprehensive guide of all energy financial assistance resources available in Hawaiʻi for low-to-moderate income residents, which can be found on the HSEO website. This resource will be used to develop future community outreach and engagement initiatives, with the main purpose of connecting residents to the appropriate programs to reduce their energy utility bills and increase their access to renewable energy options.
James' work is further highlighted in the HSEO's Spring Newsletter.