The Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 relied on the knowledge and expertise of this elite group of energy leaders to provide feedback and recommendations in determining the inaugural 40 Under 40 list.
Denise Abdul-Rahman, President and CEO, Indiana Green Outreach
Denise Abdul-Rahman is the President and CEO of Indiana Green Outreach, specializing in environmental and climate justice policy, research, engagement, and public relations. She is the Environmental Climate Justice Leader and Executive Board Member for the NAACP, Indiana State Conference. Denise is an Indiana Clean Air Ambassador for EarthJustice, 50 States United for Healthy Air, and Post Carbon Energy Reality and an Executive Board Member for Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana and serves on a local city task force. Denise served 25 years as a Community Reinvestment Act Banker, a contractor for Housing and Urban Development. She served in the United States Army and is a Foreign War Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Denise has a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in healthcare management from Indiana Wesleyan University. Connect via LinkedIn.
Dr. Said Al-Hallaj, CEO and co-founder, All Cell Technologies
Dr. Said Al-Hallaj is the CEO and co-founder of All Cell Technologies, LLC and a Visiting Research Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Said co-authored the book Hybrid Hydrogen Systems, has published over forty peer-reviewed journal papers, and is the co-inventor of eight issued patents and numerous pending patent applications in the areas of renewable energy, energy storage and conversion, and water desalination. He recently founded NETenergy, which won the top prize at the 2015 Clean Energy Challenge and second place at the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge. Said holds both a bachelor’s and master’s in chemical engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Connect via LinkedIn.
Lauren Bigelow, Ph.D. CEO, Growth Capital Network
Lauren Bigelow is the CEO of the Growth Capital Network (GCN). GCN serves the innovation, community health and philanthropic communities with strategy, analytic, and evaluative services for measuring impact and ROI. Lauren has spent 15 years in the innovation and technology space and has managed multiple programs for entrepreneurial community. Prior to GCN, she was the North American Commercial Director for New Energy Finance, and from 2004 – 2008, she was the Managing Director of the Cleantech Group. She holds a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Michigan and a master’s and doctorate from Northwestern University. Connect via LinkedIn.
Sarah Backhouse, Director, Sustainability 50
Sarah Backhouse is Director of Sustainability 50, private community of senior-most sustainability executives from Fortune 500 companies, and Founder of Future360.tv, an online video platform showcasing sustainable innovation. A former TV host and environmental journalist, Sarah has credits on CNBC, BBC, PBS, Fine Living, Discovery Channel, Planet Green, and Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality. Connect via LinkedIn.
Renee Clair, Strategy Manager, Johnson Controls – Building Efficiency
Renee Clair is a Strategy Manager for Johnson Controls’ Building Efficiency business. She leads Building Efficiency’s open innovation effort, facilitating partnerships between external entities and internal stakeholders to drive profitable growth. Renee joined Johnson Controls in 2002 as an Associate Marketing Manager and has held various marketing and strategy roles in the Building Efficiency business. Prior to joining Johnson Controls, she worked as a consultant in Computer Science Corporation’s Supply Chain Solutions practice. Renee holds a MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin. Connect via LinkedIn.
Marguerite Clark, Vice President, GDF SUEZ SA
Marguerite Clark has over 30 years of international business and innovation experience, mainly focused in the energy and environmental sectors. Marguerite serves as the Vice President of Business Development- Infrastructure Division and heads-up GDF SUEZ’ innovation efforts in North America. Since joining GDF SUEZ in 1994, Marguerite has served as: Director of Research and Development for SUEZ Environment – SITA where she later created and became Director of the Environmental, Sustainability and Quality Department; Vice President of Strategic Accounts for the GDF SUEZ International Sales and Marketing Division; and Director at GDF SUEZ University, running the Executive Strategic Think-Tank and Executive development programs. Prior to joining GDF SUEZ, she was the European Director of Business Development and Technology Transfer for Westinghouse, Environmental Division in Germany. Connect via LinkedIn.
Jennifer DeCesaro, Technology-to-Market Director, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
Jennifer DeCesaro serves as the Director of the Technology-to-Market Program in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In this capacity, she works across EERE to identify and address challenges related to the commercialization and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies as well as looking at how to educate and develop a supporting workforce. Prior to her current role, Jennifer served as a Special Advisor for Renewable Energy and Transmission in the office of the Secretary of Energy and as the Market Transformation lead for the DOE’s SunShot Initiative. In this capacity, she directed a broad portfolio of activities at the local, state and utility levels to reduce PV system costs and eliminate barriers to solar market development. Connect via LinkedIn.
Alyssa Dwyer, Global Marketing Director, Ecomagination, General Electric
Alyssa Dwyer is a Director for GE Ecomagination, a program that focuses on the development of solutions that offer customers the capability to enhance resource productivity, reduce environmental impact, and improve business performance. She is responsible for supporting the development of GE’s global Ecomagination strategy, supporting product and service innovation, coordinating cross-business solutions and partnerships, and driving the commercialization of new technologies and business models. Alyssa has worked with GE for 9 years. Prior roles in GE include the Director of Global Marketing at GE Corporate, as well as a number of commercial roles in the GE Capital business. Prior to GE, she held a number of leadership positions in finance and business development in the consumer goods, biomedical and finance industries. Alyssa has a BA from Carleton College. Connect via LinkedIn.
Amy Fredregill, Manager of Resource Planning and Strategy, Xcel Energy
Amy Fredregill is Xcel Energy’s Manager of Resource Planning and Strategy for the Regulatory Affairs department serving MN, ND and SD. With nearly 20 years of experience in policy, energy and environmental issues, Amy has served as Executive Director for the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System, the Vice President of the Cooperative Network, and held positions as a legislative aide for the US Senate and a researcher for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. She has travelled internationally to consult on several USAID partnerships, most recently in Mexico to assist with federal energy reform. Amy serves on the board of MAP for Nonprofits and was previously appointed by Governor Dayton to the board of the Center for Rural Policy and Development. Connect via LinkedIn.
Kimberly Gibson, Communications Manager, Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow
Kimberly Gibson is currently managing communications for LIFT Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, a national institute funded by Department of Defense and focused on ensuring that the United States is the world leader in the application of innovative lightweight metal production and manufacturing technologies for lightweighting land, air, and sea transportation. Kimberly comes to LIFT from EWI, North America’s leading independent materials joining technology organization. As Director of the Energy Center, she partnered with companies of all sizes to accelerate technology development from prototype to commercialization with a special focus on the manufacturability of advanced energy technologies. As Assistant Energy Advisor to former Ohio Governor, Kimberly led implementation of Ohio’s $150 million Energy Job Stimulus package deploying low interest capital into Ohio energy companies for technology maturation and scale up activities. Connect via LinkedIn.
Ashley Grosh, Environmental Affairs, Wells Fargo
Ashley Grosh is the Vice President and Environmental Affairs Business Initiatives Manager for Wells Fargo, where she manages a $100 million environmental philanthropy program for the company’s sustainability initiatives and goals. Ashley helped launch two national grant programs – the Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program and the Clean Technology and Innovation grant program- and co-led the development of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator – a five year, $10 million philanthropy program that provides clean building technology startups with technical and financial assistance to advance commercialization. She serves as a popular speaker, judge and mentor for accelerator and business plan competitions across the country. She serves on the national board of the Cleantech Open, and the Investment Advisory Board for the National Renewable Energy Lab. Connect via LinkedIn.
Amy Heart, Senior Manager of Public Policy, Sunrun
Amy Heart is the Senior Manager of Public Policy with Sunrun, Inc, a national rooftop solar financing and installation firm. Based in Milwaukee, WI, Amy works with the Alliance for Solar Choice in advancing strong rooftop solar policy across the Midwest. Prior to joining Sunrun in 2014, Amy was the Sustainability Program Manager with Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, where she directed the city’s solar program, Milwaukee Shines. Amy worked with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Stevens Point, Wisconsin where she also served on the City Council and co-chaired the city’s eco-municipality task force. Amy is a graduate of UW-Stevens Point and Marquette University Law School. Connect via LinkedIn.
Rep. Chuck Isenhart, Iowa House of Representatives, District 100
Rep. Chuck Isenhart is serving his fourth term in the Iowa House of Representatives. He is the ranking member on the Environmental Protection Committee, and serves on the Economic Growth Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. Chuck’s past or current professional activities include the Labor and Employment Relations Association, National Business Coalition on Health (Government Affairs Committee), Iowa 2010 Strategic Planning Council (Development Committee), Iowans for a Better Future Board of Directors, the Governor’s 21st Century Workforce Council and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Customer Council. Chuck owns his own small business, Common Good Services. He earned a B.A. in political science and mass communications from Loras College and a M.A. in journalism from Marquette University. Connect via LinkedIn.
Justin Kaster, Founder, 2100 Advisors
Justin Kaster is an innovation strategist and entrepreneur who enjoys working with fun people that fearlessly pursue their big ideas. He enjoys spending quality time with his lovely wife Jane and beautiful daughter Genevieve. In 2015, Justin founded 2100 Advisors, a specialized advisory practice focused on disruptive innovation that empowers people and organizations to design the future. Previously, Justin co-founded and served as the Executive Director of Cleantech Open Midwest, a leading emerging business accelerator and led the launch of the Midwest Innovation Summit, a premier annual conference focused on resource innovation. He currently serves as the advisory board chair for Cleantech Open Midwest. Recognitions include 40 Under 40 award from Minneapolis Saint Paul Business Magazine and Twin Cities Business magazine’s 2011 list of “200 Minnesotans You Should Know.” Connect via LinkedIn.
PJ Lee, Managing Partner, EverStream Energy Capital Management
PJ Lee is the Founder and Managing Partner of EverStream Energy Capital Management, a global asset management firm that invests in sustainable energy and innovative infrastructure. Since 2012, PJ has helped to grow assets under management to over $400 million and has led investments in new and rapidly growing solar power markets including Chile, Mexico, Japan and the Philippines. He has helped pioneer new financial markets for renewable energy and led the effort to create TerraForm Power and TerraForm Global- two of the largest YieldCos in the renewable energy industry. Previously, PJ was a founding member and senior portfolio manager with Black River Asset, where he invested in several start-up renewable energy companies including SunEdison, now one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world. Connect via LinkedIn.
Antonio López, Ph.D., Executive Director, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
Dr. Antonio R. López is the Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). Born in Gary, Indiana and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Antonio received his doctorate in Borderlands History at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has written extensively on anti-poverty and anti-racist social movements in Chicago. Antonio has contributed to human rights, environmental justice, and economic justice struggles in Chicago and on the U.S./Mexico border. Prior to joining LVEJO, he coordinated a mentorship program for youth incarcerated at Illinois Youth Center, St. Charles, and contributed to the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce. Connect via LinkedIn.
Dick Munson, Director, Midwest Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund
Dick Munson is Midwest Director of Clean Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, based in Chicago. He is the author of five books, including From Edison to Enron, which recounts the history of electricity and suggests an innovation-based vision for the power industry. Connect via LinkedIn.
Jane Park, Director of Business Strategy and Technology, Commonwealth Edison Company
Jane Park is the Director of Business Strategy and Technology at ComEd. She is responsible for directing strategic business planning, shaping tech enhancements to web, mobile, voice, and social media, developing new products, services, and collaborations as they relate to demand response and dynamic pricing, and shaping customer experience enhancing projects. Previously, Jane served as Chief of Staff to ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore. Prior to this role, she was in-house counsel to Exelon Corporation, first as Assistant General Counsel for Litigation and then working with ComEd’s General Counsel, where she oversaw a wide range of ComEd-specific legal matters. Prior to Exelon, Jane was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. She has a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Connect via LinkedIn.
Jacqui Patterson, Director of Environmental and Climate Justice, NAACP
Currently the NAACP Director of Environmental and Climate Justice, Jacqui Patterson, MSW, MPH, has served as a trainer, organizer, researcher,, and policy analyst on international and domestic issues including women’s rights, HIV&AIDS, violence against women, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson authored multiple articles including: “Jobs vs Health: An Unnecessary Dilemma”; “Energy Democracy, Black Lives Matter, and the NAACP Advocacy Agenda”, “Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue”, “And the People Shall Lead: Centralizing Frontline Community Leadership” and more. She serves on the Boards of Directors for Center for Story Based Strategy, Institute of the Black World and US Climate Action Network, as well as on Steering Committees for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate and Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics. Connect via LinkedIn.
Jean Redfield, President and CEO, Next Energy
Jean Redfield is the President and CEO at NextEnergy, a Detroit non-profit organization founded in 2002 whose mission is to accelerate advanced energy technologies, businesses, and industries. Jean’s experience includes multiple leadership roles at DTE Energy (1994-2001) and consulting roles at McKinsey and Company (1988- 1994). Her work has primarily been setting strategy, leading major change initiatives and supporting companies as they transform through major dislocations in their respective industries. She has worked in various industries in the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, and China. She also serves as co-owner and CFO of Fordsell Machine Products. Connect via LinkedIn.
John Regan, Managing Director, Energy Foundry
John Regan has over 25 years of experience within the IT, energy, and venture industries. He has played key roles in early and growth stage venture capital firms, investing at the intersection of IT and energy with particular emphasis on advanced materials, renewable energy and software applications, and as an active investor and Chairman of several start-ups. Prior to joining Energy Foundry, John was a Managing Director at Illinois Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, and is a founding member of the Illinois Emerging Technology Funds. Previously, John was Managing Director of Keystone Venture Capital and was an early member of Apex Venture Partners, a Chicago-based venture capital firm focusing on technology and business services. He started his career at General Dynamics. Connect via LinkedIn.
Amy Skoczlas Cole, Principal, S3 Strategies
Amy Skoczlas Cole has worked at the nexus of business and environment for 20 years. She specializes in working with businesses to innovate approaches to sustainable development challenges. Most recently, she was the Vice President for Sustainability at Pentair, a Fortune 500 company with deep expertise in water and environmental technologies. Previously, she served as eBay’s senior most sustainability leader. Amy co-founded and served as Vice President of Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, one of the first concerted efforts to reconcile the business and environment divide. She currently serves on the board of directors of The Great Plains Institute, and the advisory board for University of Minnesota’s Ensia magazine. Amy holds an MBA from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s in environmental policy from Vanderbilt University. Connect via LinkedIn.
Bren Smith, GreenWave Executive Director and owner of Thimble Island Oyster Co
Called a “visionary” by Barton Seaver, Director of Harvard’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program, Bren pioneered the development of 3D ocean farming, designed to restore ocean ecosystems, mitigate climate change, and create blue-green jobs. A lifelong commercial fisherman, his work has been profiled by CNN, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, and The Atlantic. He is a current fellow at Ashoka, Echoing Green, and the Clinton Global Initiative. Connect via LinkedIn.
Larry Ward, Executive Director, Michigan Conservative Energy Forum
Larry Ward serves as the Executive Director for the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, an organization formed in 2013 for the purpose of providing a conservative voice to Michigan’s energy policy discussion. For the past 15 years, Larry has successfully run statewide political campaigns and served as the Political Director for the Michigan Republican Party. He has a long history of conservative activism via his consulting firm, Republican Advisory Services. Ward’s political leadership is matched by his commitment to his community, serving in his 13th year for the Williamston Community School Board of Education. Ward was appointed in 2012 by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System Board. Connect via LinkedIn.