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Founder & Managing Director of Vanguard Solar Services Rick DeFino ’07 ‘Enlightens’ Society of Skeptics
Paula Hong '16

Not a day seems to pass when our society isn’t reminded of the harmful effects of climate change. Forest fires frequent civil populations and global temperatures reach new, unfortunate highs. At the upcoming Skeptics on Tuesday, September 19, Blair students will get to hear from a leader and former Blair student who is trying to help make the world a better, cooler place: Rick DeFino ’07.

Upon graduating from Blair, Mr. DeFino went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in international relations and economics, political science and government at St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Aspiring to travel the world, Mr. DeFino researched and accepted global professional opportunities whenever he could. Between 2013 and 2015, Mr. DeFino traveled to countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, where he not only gained professional experience but also cultural awareness as well.

“At Skeptics, I plan to talk about my path from Blair and what I learned while at Blair, my travels visiting over 60 countries around the world, and the founding of my solar company,” said Mr. DeFino in a pre-event interview. “I’d like to elaborate on how I developed my leadership style and my thoughts on the evolving renewable energy industry, my work on developing solar microgrids for containerized hydroponic installations. I’d also like to explain the policy and congressional bills that have allowed my industry to succeed and what the future may hold for renewable energy and sustainability.”

While working in Australia and New Zealand for nearly two years, Mr. DeFino began to rapidly develop his professional skills and education in renewable solar energy. After running successful branches of the companies he worked for at that time, the Blair graduate took the calculated risk to return to the United States and eventually build his own business, Vanguard Solar Services in Denver, Colorado.

Today, Vanguard Solar Services proudly serves as Colorado’s premier commercial and industrial solar installation company, while their additional business model of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) maintains the production and health of renewable energy assets. Vanguard Solar Services manages and repairs the 1,300+ solar installations of the Denver Housing Authority and other solar assets of publicly-traded companies while building brand-new solar installations for building owners and municipalities.

Having had the opportunities he did to travel the world, Mr. DeFino has accrued a vast arsenal of life lessons that have influenced his professional ones.

“It is a privilege to be on the other side of the podium and communicate my perspective and lessons learned since graduating from Blair 16 years ago,” said Mr. DeFino. “It is an honor to share my past, my values, my irregular path and the choices that have led me to the career and life I have built for myself with the school that was so formative.”

“A life lesson I’ve learned is that you should never become paralyzed by your own fear. Repetition in taking chances, believing in your own ability, cultivating comfort with the unknown allows you to achieve incredible things.”

All are welcome to hear Mr. DeFino speak in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

History of Skeptics

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.


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