Eli founded Sangamon Solar in 2018 in order to help his community take ownership over their energy production, to make going solar simple, and to provide homeowners with an enticing return on investment. Prior to founding Sangamon Solar, Eli worked analyzing renewable energy and waste management technologies used throughout the US Dairy Industry. Eli enjoys hiking, canoeing local rivers, reading, and volunteer at organizations such as the Prairie Rivers Cleanups and Illinois People's Action. 

Elijah Smith, Project Developer & Founder


Shir Ahmad Popalzai , Project Manager and Foreman

Shir was born in Afghanistan and studied Electrical Engineering at Kabul Polytechnic University. Shir worked as an Electrical Quality Assurance Engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan from 2014 to 2019. Prior to joining Sangamon Solar, Shir worked  two years in the residential solar space, giving him more than 100+ installations of roof and ground mounted experience. Shir is OSHA 10 and NABCEP PV Certified.


Kristian Hopkins, Project Coordinator

Kristian is a soon-to-be double graduate of the University of Illinois with degrees in Biology and Natural Resources. His experience working with government bodies, non-profits, political campaigns, and other organizations as well as his connections to the community bring a unique perspective to the company. Kristian enjoys hiking, kayaking, and volunteering at local forest preserves and spending time with his dogs Paulie and Pancake. 


Armani Latham, Journeyman Solar Installer

Armani has been on the front lines of logistics and supply chain management for over five years. Prior to joining Sangamon Solar, Armani was an operator and auditor for several regional distribution companies. Under Armani's expertise, homeowners can rest assured their roof is being handled carefully and safely. Armani enjoys writing, making music, and spending time with his daughter. Armani is Osha 10 Certified.


Jacob Lieb, Journeyman Solar Installer

Jacob has been on the front lines of modernizing our communities via internet installation and road construction for over six years. Prior to joining Sangamon Solar, Jacob was an operator and foreman for hundreds of miles of fiber optics installations throughout the United States. Jacob enjoys spending time with his fiancé, walking his dog, and fixing up his house. 

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Billy Nixon, Journeyman Solar Installer

 Billy graduated from the University of Illinois in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in 2016. Since then he has had a complementary background of environmental management and protocol development. Using these skills he has managed, advised, and participated in wildlife survey projects throughout Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois. Billy enjoys canoeing, traveling, camping, and reading.