Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 awards program highlights emerging leaders throughout the region and their work in America’s transition to a clean energy economy.
Chief Science Officer, XALT Energy
Dr. Fabio Albano has made his mark in both the business world and academia. He was a co-founder of Sakti3, a startup company specializing in solid-state lithium-ion battery technology. He has developed materials for cathode, anode, and solid electrolytes and demonstrated manufacturing processes for first usable prototypes. Dr. Albano has published work on the design and optimization of power supplies for wireless integrated microsystems, implantable medical devices, materials science, circuit design and widespread sensing applications. This work has led to 16 patents issued in both North America and Europe, two R&D 100 award nominations, and awards in France and Italy. Dr. Albano is fluent in four languages.
Vice President of Climate, National Audubon Society
Matthew Anderson began as the Director of Audubon’s Climate Initiative in 2015. He joined Audubon in 2013 as the Executive Director of Audubon Minnesota. Anderson spent two and half years as Executive Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. Before that, he directed the Creation Care Fund and served as the Director of Environmental and Rural Advocacy/Education for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and as Executive Director of Faith in the City, a multi-sector faith-based coalition. Anderson serves on the board of The Regeneration Project. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in environmental studies.
VP of Public Relations, Ever-Green Energy
Nina Axelson oversees public affairs for Ever-Green Energy and its affiliates. Axelson’s role includes community energy planning and authoring studies, including reports for the Department of Energy and International Energy Agency. This work also features education programming, including the development of a local education and sustainability platform. She also leads major initiatives for the organization, including project development and oversight of the nation’s largest solar thermal installation. Before joining Ever-Green, Axelson worked in community and business development with a focus on energy and the environment. Axelson holds a B.S. in natural resources and environmental studies from the University of Minnesota.
Director of Programs, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA)
Will Baker began his career in the clean energy economy in Uganda. He started by teaming with farmers to install improved cook stoves and biogas digesters and later convinced microfinance institutions to develop energy lending products. After earning a degree in international energy management and policy from Columbia University, Baker moved to Chicago to begin work at MEEA, where he served as a Residential Program Associate and Program Manager before being named Director of Programs. Baker also serves on the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Advisory Board.
Manager, Regulatory Affairs and Market Development, Opower – Oracle
Mathias Bell leads the regulatory affairs work in the Midwest for Opower. Previously, Bell worked at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit consulting organization, partnering with utilities, policymakers, and regulators on regulatory and business models for energy efficiency and other distributed energy resources. He is a co-author of Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for a New Energy Era. Bell is a graduate of Carleton College.
Founder, ZEF Energy
Matthew Blackler has been living in Minnesota for four years, where he has worked with renewable energy, electric vehicles, and charging infrastructure. Previously, in London, he was part of an award-winning team that used geographical information software to create a platform for offshore renewables and resource planning. Since establishing ZEF Energy, he has joined forces with other technology experts to form Power Over Time, a smart grid firm. Power Over Time specializes in the mass control of electrical devices with high power demand, such as electric water heaters, air conditioners, and electric vehicles. This allows better power utilization and, ultimately, the opportunity to provide regulation services that allow for deep integration of renewables in the United States’ electrical grid.
Regulatory Affairs Manager, Midwest, FirstFuel Software
Brian Bowen manages regulatory affairs and market development in the Midwestern United States and Canada at FirstFuel, a leading provider of utility-scale customer intelligence. Bowen works with stakeholders, regulatory staff, and legislators to promote analytics-enabled energy efficiency and customer engagement programs across the Midwest. Bowen previously worked in the demand response, smart home, and community solar sectors. He is a Switzer Environmental Fellow and holds a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and a B.A. from Yale University. Bowen lives in Chicago.
Product Manager, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L)
Tyson Brown manages demand response (DR) for Kansas City Power & Light. In this capacity, he helps the utility build a burgeoning, technologically advanced residential and C&I demand response portfolio of over 100 MW and growing. Previously, Brown served multiple roles on Honeywell’s Smart Grid Solutions team and implemented two-way technology upgrades within demand response programs for major utilities across North America. As a thought leader and innovator within the demand response space, Brown regularly speaks on the topic of DR innovation and played a key role in KCP&L’s reception of the 2016 Green Tech Media Grid Edge Award in Innovation.
Energy Services Coordinator, Cedar Falls Utilities
Erin Buchanan works as an Energy Services Coordinator for Cedar Falls Utilities in Cedar Falls, Iowa. In 2011, Buchanan was named a “rising star in public power” by the American Public Power Association. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, with a B.S. in mathematical decision sciences. She also holds an M.S. in statistics from Iowa State University.
Director of Development, SoCore Energy
Laura Caspari has continually pursued progressive ways to identify new business models and find greater efficiency across the company to expand the use of solar in various markets. At SoCore Energy, she is responsible for the strategy and execution of a portfolio of projects that represent the largest ground-mounted solar energy rollout in Wisconsin history, roughly doubling the existing amount of solar energy generated in the state. Previously, Caspari managed the design and construction of new projects for the Lincoln Park Zoo and developed wind energy projects in the U.S. and Australia. Caspari grew up outside of Melbourne, Australia and holds a B.S. from Monash University in conservation biology and environmental science/geography.
Public Policy and Strategy Manager, Xcel Energy
Julia Eagles is a Public Policy and Strategy Manager at Xcel Energy. In this capacity, she works on evolving utility business models, coordinating company regulatory strategies, and preparing comments on state and federal energy policy. Before joining Xcel Energy, Eagles spent eight years working for local energy and environmental organizations. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Macalester College. In her free time, she enjoys biking, cross-country skiing, taking trips to beautiful locations, and growing and eating good food.
Vice President of Solar Development, Geronimo Energy
Nathan Franzen has over fourteen years of solar development experience, including extensive knowledge of solar project design, permitting, project finance, interconnection and construction management. He successfully developed some of the first commercial-scale solar projects in Minnesota and owns and operates several distributed projects. Before joining the Geronimo team, Franzen created and led Westwood Professional Services’ Utility Scale Solar Division, which is now one of the nation’s top photovoltaic design firms. In his current role, Franzen manages the Geronimo solar department and all aspects of Geronimo’s 450 MW solar portfolio. This includes the 100 MW Aurora Distributed Solar project, which received global industry and media attention for its success in competing directly against natural gas competitors in an all-source request for proposal process – a first in the nation. Franzen has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Founder and CEO, DATTUS Inc.
Anurag Garg is actively enabling a clean energy economy for America through his role as founder and CEO of DATTUS Inc. DATTUS empowers industrial facilities with data-driven intelligence that helps them improve operational efficiencies, reduce unplanned downtime, maximize asset utilization, and improve the safety of personnel and the environment. Garg’s leadership has drawn significant recognition in clean energy competitions, including the 2013 DOE Clean Energy Challenge and the 2013 CleanTech Open. He was recognized in the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition and was named to the Founder.org Class of 2015. Garg earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University and has since established himself as an innovator and leader in the field.
Vice President of Operations, SunVest; SunVest Solar
Adam Gusse has been working as a solar installer/developer for 9 years, primarily in the Wisconsin market. Gusse has made a name for himself by promoting solar consistently among homeowners, schools, businesses, municipalities, and especially with the local utility providers. Prior to joining SunVest, he was a Vice President at H&H Solar Energy. Gusse’s experience and knowledge make him one of the most highly regarded “go-to” resources in our State for all types of solar projects. Gusse holds a masters in environmental science from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse.
Senior Energy Engineer, Energy Insight, Inc.
Tanuj Gulati has more than 10 years of experience in the energy efficiency field. Gulati moved to the United States from India in the early 2000s and earned an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Louisiana. He has continued his professional growth with Energy Insight, Inc., earning numerous Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) certifications (CEM, CEA, CDSM, and CLEP). Gulati was named AEE’s Region III Energy Innovator of the Year 2016 at the World Energy Engineering Congress in Washington, D.C. Gulati is active in ASHRAE, WEEC and other industry groups and is an accredited Green Globe Auditor.
Senior City Advisor, Community Energy Program Manager, Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)
Based in Kansas City, Jennifer Gunby manages the IMT’s local City Energy Project, serving as the Community Energy Program Manager for the city. CEP is a groundbreaking initiative to cut energy waste in large buildings and make American cities healthier and more prosperous through energy efficiency. Before joining IMT in 2014, Gunby developed a broad background in sustainability, energy efficiency and project management experience. Gunby is a licensed engineer (PE), a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP), and an Association of Energy Engineers Renewable Energy Professional (REP).
Associate Director, Mayors Innovation Project
James Irwin is a Senior Associate at COWS and Associate Director of the Mayors Innovation Project. He works on high road local policy, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure projects, including running the Efficiency Cities Network. Before joining COWS, Irwin advised the campaign of former Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn. Irwin worked as Conservation Program Manager for the Sierra Club in Washington State, focusing especially on transportation and clean energy issues. He led the Sierra Club team that in 2007 defeated a road-heavy transportation package and in 2008 helped secure $18 billion for the expansion of light rail in Seattle. Irwin holds a B.A. from Brown University.
Deputy Director, Beyond Coal Campaign, Sierra Club
Nachy Kanfer is Deputy Director for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in the Central Region. He previously served as the Beyond Coal Campaign’s organizer in Ohio, joining Sierra Club in 2008 to lend support to Ohio activists fighting back two proposed coal plants. Before the Sierra Club, Kanfer worked for several different environmental organizations in the Middle East, including the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility in Damascus, Syria, and the Applied Research Institute in the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories. Kanfer graduated from Yale University and is currently enrolled in the University of Michigan’s Executive MBA program. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Managing Director, Energy Storage Solutions, Edison Energy
Madeleine Klein has spent over ten years driving clean energy businesses and policies forward. Over the last year, she has been focused on developing energy storage projects with Edison Energy. Prior to that, Klein held various leadership roles at Edison-affiliate SoCore Energy, where she was responsible for understanding policy and market dynamics that impact the solar industry. Klein was also a Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago from 2009-2012, where she was involved in renewable energy policy development across the Midwest. Throughout her career, she is proud to have fostered the growth of up-and-coming professionals in the clean energy community. Klein holds a master’s of environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a B.A. from Carleton College.
Director, Power Generation Strategy, Westwood Professional Services
Mallory Lindgren is from Faribault, Minnesota and lives in the Twin Cities. She has worked for Westwood Professional Services since 2007 and currently serves as the organization’s Director of Power Generation Strategy, overseeing strategy for the wind and solar markets. Lindgren holds a B.S. in hydrology from Saint Cloud State University.
Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Daniel Ludois received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2012. He serves as Assistant Professor of electrical and computer engineering in UW–Madison’s College of Engineering, Associate Director of the internationally renowned Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC), and is an affiliate of the Wisconsin Energy Institute. In 2015, Ludois received an NSF CAREER award, one of the highest honors at the beginning of a scientific or engineering career. He is also co-founder and Chief Science Officer of C-Motive Technologies, a startup business dedicated to producing innovative, energy- and cost-efficient electrostatic motors.
Marion “Molly” Lunn
Deputy Director, Office of Energy & Recycling, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
Marion “Molly” Lunn is the Deputy Director for Energy & Recycling at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. Previously, Lunn worked in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, as well as with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She earned a master’s in public administration from Columbia University and a B.A. from Emory University.
Staff Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center
Josh Mandelbaum is a Des Moines-based staff attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). Before joining ELPC, Mandelbaum practiced law with Lane & Waterman LLP in Davenport, Iowa. He previously served as a senior policy advisor to Iowa Governor Thomas J. Vilsack and Lt. Governor Sally J. Pederson. Before his work in the Governor’s office, Mandelbaum held a fellowship at the U.S. Department of Transportation in the Secretary’s Policy Office. Mandelbaum is a 2000 Truman Scholar, a 2001 magna cum laude graduate of Brown University, and a 2009 honors graduate from the University of Iowa College of Law.
Vice President of Market Development, Renovate America
John Maslowski is the Vice President of Market Development in Missouri for Renovate America. Renovate America provides residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Previously, Maslowski led business development in the Midwest for Instacart, started Maslow Ventures, and served as Vice President of Supply Chain at Roundy’s. He is also a member of the Environmental and Energy Council for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Maslowski’s prior experience as an investment banker focused on mergers, acquisitions and advisory for a boutique investment bank. He earned an M.B.A. and a B.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Director, Public Affairs, Invenergy LLC
Katie McClain is driving the development and articulation of Invenergy’s corporate culture, communications strategy, brand, and message as the company finds new ways to reach internal and external audiences. McClain graduated from DePauw University and holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. Outside of Invenergy, McClain spends her time with her two children and enjoys traveling and sharing those experiences with her family.
Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland
Jenita McGowan advises the City of Cleveland on policies related to sustainability. She coordinates the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 program, developing new strategies that allow the city to use sustainability as an innovation engine for economic growth while reducing the city’s ecological footprint and saving money. McGowan previously held several positions related to sustainability and community engagement at organizations including Urban Community School, Neighborhood Connections, and the office of Councilman Joe Cimperman. She also served as a Cleveland Executive Fellow. McGowan holds a B.S. in journalism and a B.F.A. in dance performance from Kent State University. She holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management from the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations and the Weatherhead School of Management and earned a certificate in appreciative inquiry from Case Western Reserve University.
Vice President, GlidePath
Chris McKissack is Vice President at GlidePath Power. He leads the company’s project delivery activities, including land acquisition, permitting, and grid interconnection, through the process of financing and construction. McKissack previously held advanced roles in engineering, transmission, and power marketing at Lincoln Clean Energy, where he was instrumental in bringing wind and solar generation online. He has also worked with GE Energy and ComEd. McKissack earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. He is certified as a Professional Engineer and as a Project Management Professional.
Energy Program Director, Michigan Environmental Council
Sarah Mullkoff directs energy programs at the Michigan Environmental Council, a Lansing-based coalition of 70 environmental organizations. She has worked in energy policy and programs in a variety of capacities, formerly at the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, Clean Water Action Michigan, and the State Energy Office. Mullkoff serves on the board of directors for the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association as well as on the steering committee for RE-AMP, a 160-member coalition of Midwest nonprofits and foundations working on energy policy and climate change throughout the upper Midwest. Mullkoff is a graduate of Michigan State University’s James Madison College with a major in international relations and specialization in science, technology, environment, and public policy.
Director of Investments and State Strategy, The Solutions Project
Tyler Nickerson has nearly a decade of experience in philanthropy, strategic communications, and public policy. Before working with The Solutions Project, he served as a program manager at the Dyer-Ives Foundation and founded Motu Communications. He has advocated for stronger housing policies in Michigan and has consulted on more than 20 electoral campaigns. Nickerson holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He serves on the board of the Michigan Environmental Council and on the steering committee of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy.
Business Development, Empower Gas & Electric
Tremaine Phillips has nearly ten years of experience developing and implementing energy policies and programs through his work at the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Dept. of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth, and as a policy intern with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Phillips has been recognized as an emerging energy and environmental policy leader by the World Wildlife Fund and the Toyota “TogetherGreen” program. He recently completed a dual-degree program through The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, earning a J.D. and an M.P.P. Phillips received his undergraduate degree in environmental economics and policy from Michigan State University.
Director of Innovation, Environmental Law & Policy Center
As Director of Innovation with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Jamie Ponce accelerates groundbreaking energy and climate solutions that protect the environment while driving sustainable economic growth throughout the Midwest. From 2012-16, Ponce led energy efficiency and related efforts in Chicago and across a network of global megacities through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as an embedded official in the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Previously, he spent 10 years with A.T. Kearney, a management consulting firm, including work with the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Packard Foundation. Ponce holds a B.A. from Indiana University, an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Senior Advisor, Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council
Dan Scripps is a national leader in energy finance and policy. His work with the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Institute for Energy Innovation promotes greater understanding of advanced energy and its economic potential for Michigan. He leads efforts to educate the public and expand opportunities for advanced energy deployment in the state. Scripps worked as an energy attorney with Latham & Watkins and represented the 101st District in the Michigan House of Representatives. Scripps is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Alma College and is licensed to practice law in Michigan and Washington D.C.
Principal, 5 Lakes Energy LLC
Before joining 5 Lakes Energy, Jamie Scripps served as Assistant Deputy Director for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth. In this capacity, she was instrumental in helping to design and implement Michigan’s clean energy programs. A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Scripps practiced law in Traverse City, Michigan and Washington, D.C., where she specialized in environmental law. Scripps also served as Deputy Policy Director for the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). Scripps earned a J.D. from Michigan Law, a master’s degree in leadership studies from North Central College and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan.
Sustainable Operations Manager, Metropolitan Council
Sara Smith’s professional vision is to help bridge the gap between policy and the world of science and engineering, focusing her efforts on ensuring clean air and water for future generations. Smith has worked for the Metropolitan Council for nine years. In her tenure at the council, she has worked on drinking water supply, energy conservation, renewable energy renewable, fleet concerns, and waste management projects and policy for both the Twin Cities metro region and the entire state of Minnesota. Smith holds a B.A. in geology from Carleton College and an M.S. in science, technology, and the environment from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Erin Stojan Ruccolo
Policy and Strategic Issues Management Advisor, Midcontinent Independent Service Operator (MISO)
Minnesota’s strong solar policy owes much to Erin Stojan Ruccolo’s effort and determination. As Electricity Markets Director for Fresh Energy, she was a driving force behind the development of Minnesota’s landmark solar legislation, including the creation of community solar gardens and the value of solar tariff. Stojan Ruccolo negotiated with stakeholders on community solar gardens, analyzed competing legislative drafts, and helped coordinate coalition positions for clean energy and jobs.
CTO, Design Flux Technologies
Tom Vo has focused his academic and professional career on the clean energy industry, working with electric vehicles and advanced energy storage systems. After working for nearly a decade in a variety of engineering positions with NASA, startups, and as an engineering consultant, Vo now serves as CTO for Design Flux Technologies and leads a technical team of three university students in product development. Vo has five patents in his name, including being the primary inventor of Design Flux Technologies’ IP. Vo holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Akron with a specialization in battery management and control systems.
Manager, Advanced Power Grid Modeling, Argonne National Laboratory
Jianhui Wang has made extraordinary contributions to aid in the country’s transition to a clean energy economy. He currently serves Argonne National Laboratory in a leadership capacity as manager of Argonne’s Advanced Power Grid Modeling (APGM) section, working towards the creation of a smart grid which will employ real-time, two-way communication technologies that allow consumers to connect directly with power suppliers. Dr. Wang is the principal investigator for a multitude of energy-related research projects. He manages a group of 12 research staff and postdoctoral researchers and 14 visiting students and scholars. He is a Fellow of the Computation Institute at The University of Chicago, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame and an Affiliate Professor at Auburn University. He has also held visiting positions in Europe, Australia, and Hong Kong.
Staff Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
As NRDC’s energy-policy lead for the states of Ohio and Minnesota, Samantha Williams advocates for clean energy and climate policies before public utility commissions, state legislatures, and utility companies. Previously, she worked as a policy adviser at the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, where she assisted the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence in formulating a comprehensive energy-efficiency policy. Before that, she litigated on behalf of citizens’ groups in California to enforce the Clean Water Act. Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. from Vermont Law School. She is based in Chicago.
Director, Renew Missouri
PJ Wilson’s leadership in clean energy policy at the state level has had a massive impact. In the nearly ten years since he co-founded Renew Missouri, Wilson has helped establish and oversee the implementation of transformative policies like Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard, the PACE financing law, Missouri’s Energy Efficiency Investment Act, and several others. Because of his tireless efforts, Missouri has significantly climbed the ranks nationally for clean energy jobs, installed clean energy capacity (especially solar), and energy efficiency programs. Previously, Wilson served for two years in the Peace Corps as a Water & Sanitation Engineer and was trained on renewable energy at the Solar Living Institute. PJ Wilson holds a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Southern California. He has worked as a solar & wind installer and policy advocate in Missouri since 2006.
Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Case Western Reserve University, Case School of Engineering
Dr. Hongping Zhao is an Assistant Professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and leader of the Case Semiconductor, Optoelectronics and Energy Laboratory at Case Western Reserve University. Zhao received her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Lehigh University. She is a recipient of the Rossin Doctoral Fellowship and the 2008 and 2009 SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics) Scholarship. Her interdisciplinary research areas include energy-based device technology, developing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for solid state lighting and photovoltaics. Dr. Zhao has published more than 40 refereed journal articles with over 2300 citations. She holds four patents on LED technologies.