Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 relies on the knowledge and expertise of this elite group of energy leaders to provide feedback and recommendations in considering 40 Under 40 nominees.
Denise Abdul-Rahman, Environmental Climate Justice Chair, NAACP Indiana
Abdul-Rahman holds a BS in management; MBA in healthcare management and a health informatics designation from Indiana University School of Informatics. Abdul-Rahman’s body of work is centered around reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in order to stop the Climate from Changing. She facilitates the inclusion of the perspectives of people of color, vulnerable and low income, to employ a Theory of Change that will bring about a Deep Decarbonization and a Just Transition. Abdul-Rahman has successfully organized over 85 attendees from across the Midwest to the United States Environmental Protection Agency at Region V. She employed Just Energy Campaign, strategy that was instrumental in stopping the burning of coal and the campaign was crucial in the defeat of Distributed Generation, House Bill 1320. She serves on the Climate Justice Alliance Steering Committee, People’s Climate Movement Steering Committee, COP 21 Delegate, and a RE-AMP Network Steering Committee Member.
Emily Achler, Director of Marketing and Communications, Clean Energy Trust
Emily Achler serves as Director of Marketing for Clean Energy Trust. She is a
communications professional, digital content strategist, and social media expert with years of experience in the digital media industry. At Clean Energy Trust, Emily leads the team in the annual Clean Energy Challenge effort and helps launch new program areas like Illinois Clean Energy Fund and the Cleantech Innovation Bridge. She oversees all of Clean Energy Trust’s outreach, messaging, digital properties and social media with a focus on communicating with a broader audience about energy, innovation, economic growth, and creating a sustainable future for the next generation. She has a B.A. in International Affairs and Geography from The George Washington University.
Dr. Said Al-Hallaj, Chairman and CEO, Allcell 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 2nd place at the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge. Said holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Chemical Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and a doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Alex Bozmoski, Director for Strategy and Operations, RepublicEN/Energy and Enterprise Initiative
Alex Bozmoski is the director for strategy and operations at the Energy and Enterprise Initiative. Prior to joining Energy and Enterprise Initiative at its inception in 2012, Bozmoski spent four years as an entrepreneur developing rural energy projects in East Africa as well as consulting on energy and climate policy for think tanks, consultancies, and a major development bank. He has also worked on several federal and gubernatorial campaigns for GOP candidates. In his spare time, Bozmoski designs and teaches e-courses on energy policy and environmental economics for developing-country officials and practitioners. He has a BA from Georgetown University (summa cum laude) and an MS from the University of Oxford.
Renee Clair, Energy and Sustainability Program Manager, Johnson Controls
Renee Clair is an Energy and Sustainability Program Manager for Johnson Controls’ Building Efficiency business. She manages global energy and sustainability thought-leadership programs and maintains relationships with key trade associations, non-governmental organizations and other program partners. 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 B.A. degree in marketing from the University of Wisconsin.
Sara Hochman, Managing Director, Energy Foundry
Sara Hochman leads venture investment activity for Energy Foundry, an early-stage venture capital fund based in Chicago. As an investor, strategic adviser and coach, Sara has a personal passion for working with entrepreneurs to solve their hardest challenges. Prior to Energy Foundry, Sara co-managed a new advisory practice for energy startups at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, where she helped secure over $300 million in non-dilutive funding. Sara also held roles with GE Energy and a leading environmental conFtysulting firm, GaiaTech. She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Emory University.
Tyler Huebner, Executive Director, RENEW Wisconsin
Tyler Huebner is the executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a state-based renewable energy advocacy nonprofit focused on advancing wind, solar, bioenergy, hydropower, and smart energy usage. He was named among the 2015 Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 recipients. Prior to joining RENEW Wisconsin in 2013, his career experience includes managing grants and grantees in the low-income weatherization program at both the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Wisconsin Division of Energy Services, and as a consultant for ICF International. He holds engineering degrees from the University of Iowa and Stanford University.
Rep. Chuck Isenhart, House District 100, Iowa House of Representatives
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. Rep. Isenhart’s past and 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. Rep. Isenhart 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.
Pari Kasotia, Deputy Director, The Solar Foundation
Pari Kasotia serves as the Deputy Director of The Solar Foundation, a bi-partisan, non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. In addition to her business acumen, Pari has strong expertise in renewable energy markets, energy efficiency, and biofuels. She is the Founder and CEO of Unfolding Energy and was named a 2015 Midwest Energy News’s 40 Under 40 Leader. Previously, Pari led the Iowa Energy Office by providing oversight on multi-million dollar federal energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association and has previously served as the member of the Iowa Energy Center’s Advisory Council. She holds an MBA from Drake University, MPA from Indiana University-Bloomington, BA from Drake University, and is a certified Project Management Professional as well as Certified ScrumMaster.
Justin Kaster, Founder and CEO, 2100INC
As the CEO and founder of 2100INC, Justin Kaster is focused on transforming the way the world uses money and trains leaders. Justin co-founded Cleantech Open Midwest, a leading startup business accelerator, in 2010 and served as Executive Director for the organization through 2015. During his five years leading Cleantech Open Midwest, Justin and his team successfully helped launch 110 startup businesses and led the launch of the Midwest Innovation Summit. Currently, Justin serves as the advisory board chair for Cleantech Open Midwest. Justin was selected by the Minneapolis Saint Paul Business Journal for a 2015 40 Under 40 award and was named to Twin Cities Business Magazine’s 2011 list of 200 Minnesotans You Should Know. He co-created the Midwest Energy News’ 40 under 40 Awards in 2015. In 2016, Justin was selected for Hive.org’s Global Leaders Program from over 1900 applicants from 103 countries. Justin’s professional path has also included roles at Citigroup, AIG, Cherry Tree & Associates, AmeriCorps, and Paine Webber.
Dick Munson, Director of Midwest Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund
Dick Munson is Midwest Director of Clean Energy for the
Environmental Defense Fund, where he works to advance the use of clean energy in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Dick currently focuses on creating new financing opportunities for efficiency, on ensuring smart meters provide the real-time data that will enable consumers to cut energy and pollution, and on building the business case for efficiency within commercial buildings. Dick previously served as the Senior Vice President of Recycled Energy Development. He is the author of From Edison to Enron, a history of the electricity industry, and sits on the boards of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Greenleaf Advisors, Institute for Health Policy Solutions, Elevate Energy and Illinois Environmental Council. Dick earned his MA from the University of Michigan and BA from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Terrence O’Donnell, Member, Dickinson Wright
Terrence O’Donnell leads Dickinson Wright’s government relations team. His focus is public policy advocacy at the Ohio statehouse and regulatory compliance. Terrence represents dozens of companies, trade groups, and nonprofits before the State General Assembly and state executive agencies. He collaborates with lawyers in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office to lobby Ohio’s congressional delegation. He represents all manner of interests, including the renewable energy and natural gas industries. Terrence has significant experience leading and working in large stakeholder coalitions, where he brings a substantive focus to complex public policy challenges. He also has significant election law experience and represents the Ohio Republican Party on special projects. Terrence is a 2012 Business First Forty Under 40 Award winner. He received his B.A. in Government at Miami University and his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame.
Kandace Olsen, Vice President and Chief Culture Officer, Great River Energy
Kandace Olsen leads and directs Great River Energy corporate communications programs and human resources functions. As chief culture officer, she is primarily responsible for employee engagement and for how Great River Energy presents itself to its internal and external stakeholders. In her 18 years at the cooperative, she has increased employee engagement and brought healthcare costs under control through a robust wellness initiative, while GRE was named the nation’s 14th healthiest employer in 2015, and championed social responsibility efforts throughout the organization. Presently, Kandace proudly represents GRE by serving on the board of The Bakken Museum and MinnPost. In the past, she served on the management committee for Partners for Affordable Energy, was a board member of the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota and the Minnesota Environmental Fund. Kandace holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from St. Catherine University.
Jane Park, Vice President of Regulatory Policy and Strategy, Commonwealth Edison Company
Jane Park is the Vice President of Regulatory Policy Strategy at Commonwealth Edison company. She is responsible for shaping and implementing regulatory energy policy and strategy; works closely with regulatory stakeholder agencies including the Illinois Commerce Commission, and other state and federal agencies across key energy dockets, rulemakings, tariffs, policy forums, and related initiatives; and assists in the development of regulatory business model strategies and policies for future growth. Jane previously served at ComEd as the Director of Business Strategy & Technology and as the Chief of Staff to company’s 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.
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 and AIDS, violence against women, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. Jacqui has 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“. 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.
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.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director, Climate Generation
Nicole Rom has been the Executive Director of Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy since 2006, starting and sustaining the organization by providing vision and development for the organization. Prior to Climate Generation, Nicole managed the education programs for National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan. Nicole joined the Steering Committee of RE-AMP, a multi-state coalition of non-profit organizations, in 2013 and the organization’s Executive Committee and Global Warming Strategic Action Fund in 2015. She received her M.S. in Environmental Policy, Behavior, Education and Communication from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Bates College.
Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL 7B, Minnesota House of Representatives
Rep. Erik Simonson was first elected in 2012 and represents the central and western half of the City of Duluth. He was a member of the Joint House/Senate Conference Committee on the Energy Omnibus bill, and was a member of the full House Jobs and Energy Committee. Rep. Simonson is an advocate for sustainable energy policy, and supported an increase in the renewable energy standards in Minnesota. As a representative of Duluth, he has a broad constituency group including individual consumers, commercial business, and large industry. Rep. Simonson was recently selected to participate in a German city exchange program where Minnesotan communities are paired with a community in Germany known for their systems approach to solving energy. In addition to his work as an elected official, Rep. Simonson has worked for over 25 years in public safety, where he currently serves the City of Duluth as an Assistant Fire Chief.
Deepinder Singh, Founder and CEO, 75F
Once a member of the Canadian National Shooting Team, Deepinder Singh now has a new target in sight for his 75F team: save energy without sacrificing comfort. 75F harnesses Internet of Things and the power of the cloud to predict building needs, making spaces more comfortable, energy-efficient and cost-effective. Prior to 75F, Deepinder has designed some of the world’s fastest core networks for Tier 1 service providers like AT&T, NTT and Verizon. With almost 25 years of experience in electronics and computing, he’s brought a wealth of embedded products to the market. His key goal in every endeavor is to simplify operational complexity and make products intuitive.
Elena Timofeeva, Founder and CEO, Aquagrow Technologies
Elena Timofeeva is a scientist, entrepreneur, and professor who has taught more than ten years in both academia and national labs. She specializes in chemistry, material science, and energy technologies. As a principal Investigator she raised $2.4M in research funds, holds eight patents, authored over 40 highly cited research papers, two book chapters, and has presented at more than 50 conferences. She is interested in the development and commercialization of energy technologies as they apply to sustainability. She founded and is the CEO of AquaGrow Technologies, a hi-tech farming company that enables sustainably growing variety of fresh food where there is no farmland and no distribution infrastructure. AquaGrow is the first to integrate the most sustainable farming practices into a modular systems: our energy efficient aquaponic farm is powered by energy from local food waste, resulting in net zero energy and net positive environmental impact. She earned her Ph.D in chemistry from Moscow State University in Russia.
Kelly Vaughn, Marketing Manager, Rocky Mountain Institute
Kelly Vaughn is a Marketing Manager with Rocky Mountain Institute’s Communications team, where she primarily supports work in buildings and development. She was RMI’s Senior PR Coordinator from 2008 until 2012 departing to serve as the Director of Communications for the Town of Snowmass Village. There, she was responsible for overseeing and executing all facets of marketing and communications for the government organization, supporting nine departments and driving a deeper level of community engagement. She also served as liaison to the town’s environmental advisory board and helped champion significant investments in building efficiency and resource conversation while updating the town’s sustainability plan. Kelly has extensive experience in communications strategy, public relations, writing, and internal communications. She earned her B.A. from Colorado College and her M.A. of Arts in Communications from the University of Dubuque.
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. Larry’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.