Influential Leaders

DeAndrea Salvador

Founder and CEO, Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI) and JouleScout
Recognition Year(s): 2019
School: The Belk College of Business, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Location: United States

DeAndrea Salvador has brought recognition to the issue of high energy burdens locally, nationally, and globally through her nonprofit, Renewable Energy Transition Initiative.

DeAndrea Salvador leads change within the energy sector, especially for low-income families affected by High Energy Burdens. Salvador has estimated that some low-income families can spend more than 20 percent of their income on energy bills, and she believes that households shouldn’t have to choose between heating their homes and eating their next meal.

Thus, in late 2013, Salvador founded her own nonprofit, the Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI), with the mission to sustainably decrease the energy costs of low-income families and to fight High Energy Burdens. While establishing the organization, she sought out innovative funding sources and was selected as a member of the SEED20 Class of 2014, an initiative that identifies and helps fund innovative ideas for addressing significant social challenges in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Not only is Salvador making a positive impact through RETI, but she is also influencing the conversation about energy locally and worldwide. Her dream of educating low-income households about how to reduce their energy costs grew quickly, and soon she was sharing her dream across the Charlotte community through public events and programs.

Salvador was interviewed in a feature on High Energy Burdens published in the Atlantic in 2016 and has published several articles on the topic in a number of prominent magazines. In 2017, her vision of an Energy Action Week in Charlotte came to fruition with the first annual Energy Hero Community Festival, complete with a city proclamation from the mayor.

Salvador’s vision also garnered the attention of the world-renowned TED Fellows program. In January 2018, she was selected as a TED 2018 Fellow—an honor earned by only 20 people worldwide. Her TED Talk, “How We Can Make Energy More Affordable for Low-Income Families,” presented in April 2018, was featured on the home page.

As a TED Fellow, she has been able to raise awareness of the need for affordable energy significantly. In turn, her recognition as a TED Fellow has brought positive attention to her organization and to the communities that are underserved. She is creating dialogue around the issue of affordable energy for families and helping to identify solutions.

Salvador is fully committed to helping future business leaders. At her alma mater of University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charolotte), she has been a guest speaker, sharing her insights with undergraduate and graduate students, speaking about tenacity and perseverance as an entrepreneur. Salvador has also offered her mentorship to UNC Charlotte students.

Salvador was recognized as a UNC Charlotte Outstanding Young Alumna in 2018 for the impact she is making in the community, and she is a 30 under 30 award winner of the Charlotte Black Chamber of Commerce. Through her swift actions and visionary leadership, Salvador is a role model for future business leaders in the Belk College of Business.