Rachel participates in case development, conducts legal research and writing, and applies her expertise in utility policy across cases.
SELC has an ambitious and necessary mission to advocate for both the environment and the people who live, work, and play in it.Rachel James
“This people-anchored approach to addressing environmental challenges is what drew me to SELC. It’s what draws me to environmental work generally, people. The locally based solutions developed here in the South will no doubt benefit those across the nation. I’m inspired by this worthy mission, and thrilled to be part of the SELC team.”
She moved to Virginia from Hawai‘i, where as a staff attorney at the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission, she worked on the integration of energy justice into energy planning processes, distributed energy resources, electrification of transportation, energy efficiency, and grid service purchase agreements. She was honored as one of Hawaii Business Magazine’s 20 for the Next 20 in 2021.
During law school, Rachel also worked full-time as a project manager for converting vehicles’ internal combustion engines to hydrogen fuel cells. She worked for a small solar developer after law school.
Rachel grew up in southeastern Arizona, about 30 minutes north of the Mexico border.
“I am most excited by SELC’s work with the Monacan Indian Nation to save Rassawek,” she said. “Coming from Hawai‘i, where a vibrant Native Hawaiian community is gaining support and increasing settler awareness, I came to Virginia hopeful to see environmental work being done in close coordination and support of Native peoples. Learning about this recent victory for the Monacan people encourages and excites me for what lies ahead.”
Rachel and her family live a short drive from Pocahontas Park, which she calls “a magical place.” Each week, she visits “to enjoy the beautifully kept trail system that takes me through forests and over streams, introduces me to dancing doe and skittering squirrels and all together wraps me up in awe and wonder.”
- Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, staff attorney
- J.D., University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law; certificates in Native Hawaiian law and environmental law; Hawaii State Bar Association Environment, Energy, and Resources Section Award
- M.A., Hawai‘i Pacific University, with honors, global leadership and sustainable development
- B.S.B., University of Phoenix
- A.A., Cochise College
- With SELC since 2022