Speakers

 

Ron Alverson

American Coalition for Ethanol, Chairman of the Board of Directors

From 1974 to 2014 Ron was the owner/operator of RS, Inc., a grain production enterprise near Chester, South Dakota.  Ron graduated from Chester High School in 1970 and from South Dakota State University in 1974 with a BS degree in Agronomy/Soil Science.  Mr. Alverson was a founding member (1987) and past president of the South Dakota Corn Grower's Association, and past Board Member of the National Corn Grower's Association. Ron was also a founder and is a current Board Member of Lake Area Corn Processors LLC (Dakota Ethanol), a 60 million gallon per year ethanol production plant in Wentworth, S.D., where he works on low carbon ethanol fuel pathways.   

Ron was previously President of the American Coalition for Ethanol’s Board of Directors and is a member of the South Dakota State University Foundation board of Trustees.  Past honors included the South Dakota “Master Farmer” award, the South Dakota State University “Eminent Farmer” award, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association “Excellence in Agriculture” award, and the 2018 Renewable Fuels Association “Industry” award.   


Paul Atkins

Director & Cinematographer

 

From Antarctica to the tropical Pacific, Paul Atkins has filmed the world’s cultures and natural history for National Geographic, for BBC including such acclaimed series as “Planet Earth”, for IMAX screens, and for Oscar-winning feature films.  His cinematography and directing have earned numerous awards including Emmys, British Academy Awards and a prestigious Telluride Film Festival Tribute.

Paul’s groundbreaking documentaries have challenged our myths and inspired protection of the natural world.  “Hawaii: Strangers in Paradise” (Nat Geo/BBC) dramatized the history of alien species invasion in Hawaii.  “Great White Shark” (BBC/Nat Geo) was the first film to reveal the natural behavior of the iconic predator, inspiring the best-selling book, “The Devil’s Teeth”.  Paul was director of photography on Jean-Michel Cousteau’s “Voyage to Kure”, the film that persuaded President George W. Bush to declare the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a National Monument in 2006. 

As a cinematographer in feature films, Paul has collaborated with the most respected and innovative directors in the business, including Peter Weir (Master and Commander), Alejandro Iñárritu (The Revenant) and Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life).   On a 40-day epic voyage around Cape Horn, he filmed the storm sequence for Master and Commander, which won the 2004 Academy Award for cinematography.  His stunning visuals in The Tree of Life contributed to an Oscar nomination for cinematography, and Paul has continued to work with Malick on To The Wonder, Knight of Cups and the legendary director’s most ambitious film to date, The Voyage of Time.


John Barrasso, M.D.

State of Wyoming, U.S. Senator

Senator John Barrasso has a long and distinguished career in both medicine and public service. In 2012, Barrasso was reelected to the U.S. Senate with over 75% of the vote to represent his home state of Wyoming.

He is the fourth-ranking member in the Senate Republican leadership as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

He serves on committees that directly impact Wyoming’s economy, energy interests, public lands, national parks and trade.

Senator Barrasso is known by many as Wyoming’s Doctor. During his 24 years as an orthopedic surgeon, Barrasso served as President of the Wyoming Medical Society and was named Wyoming Physician of the Year.


Mike Biddle, Ph.D.

Evok Innovations, Managing Director

Dr. Biddle is the Managing Director of Evok Innovations, a 2-year-old entrepreneur-led CleanTech Venture fund backed by Suncor and Cenovus Energy that connects entrepreneurs with flexible capital, mentors and industry partners.

Before Evok, Dr. Biddle founded MBA Polymers, which he grew to become the world’s leading company recovering plastics from complex end-of-life waste streams, such as computers, electronics, appliances, automobiles and household waste.

Mike has won numerous international awards for his groundbreaking CleanTech work. In fact, he picked up both the SME Circulars Award and the Davos Prize at the 2017 World Economic Forum for the company he founded. 

Mike worked for several large companies, namely General Electric, Cummins Engine Company and Dow Chemical, before striking out on his own with MBA Polymers.  Mike has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, a Ph.D. in Materials Science.  He was also a Sloan Fellow at Stanford Business School. 


 
 

Kara Brighton Fornstrom

Wyoming Public Service Commission,Deputy Chair

Governor Mead appointed Kara Brighton to the Public Service Commission on March 1, 2013. Kara received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wyoming in Small Business Management (1993) and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law (1996). Kara started her legal career at the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, Water Division working on the Nebraska v. Wyoming litigation over the North Platte River. In August, 2000, she was a founding partner of Hageman & Brighton, P.C. where she focused her practice exclusively on water issues, including representation of several irrigation districts, agricultural interests and municipalities. Kara is a member of the NARUC Board of Directors, the Vice President of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners, Vice Chair of the NARUC Sub-Committee on Pipeline Safety, Co-Vice Chair of the NARUC Clean Coal & Carbon Management Sub-Committee, a member of the NARUC-DOE Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Partnership, serves on the NARUC Committee on Gas, a Class 5 Member of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council Member Advisory Committee, and a member on the GTI Public Interest Advisory Committee. In August, 2015, she was a member of the NARUC delegation to China for the U.S. Department of Energy's Regulatory, Policy & Technology Mission.


Bill Brown

Net Power, LLC, CEO

 

Bill is the CEO of NET Power, LLC, which is working with Exelon and McDermott to commercialize a technology that will allow the world to meet all of its climate targets at a price all of the world can afford.  Known as the Allam Cycle, the technology produces electricity from fossil fuels (including natural gas) at a cost comparable to existing technologies, while, at no additional cost, capturing all of the carbon dioxide and other atmospheric emissions. 

 

Bill is also the cofounder of 8 Rivers Capital, LLC, the inventor of the Allam Cycle.  Focusing on energy, petrochemicals, telecom, water and space launch, 8 Rivers is creating the sustainable infrastructure of tomorrow. Bill is a graduate of MIT and Duke Law. He was a law partner at Sidley Austin and had an extensive career in financial services, holding leadership positions at Goldman Sachs & Co., AIG International, and Morgan Stanley.  He was also a professor at Duke Law School.


Jeffrey D. Brown 

Stanford Graduate School of Business and Law School, Lecturer

Jeff is a Lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Law School, where he teaches courses on clean energy project financing and development.  He is a Research Fellow at Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.  Jeff was a lead author of “Making Green Energy Investments Blue Chip” (2017) examining worldwide funding constraints and policy barriers to financing green energy.   He serves on the Technical Advisory Board of University of Wyoming’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute.

Jeff’s Stanford research focuses on financing of carbon capture/sequestration and the efficient integration of base-load low-carbon generators with intermittent renewables.  Jeff also co-heads B2E2 LLC, consulting on bioenergy and reduction of carbon emissions from deforestation in Asia:  clients have included The Nature Conservancy, the UK government, and Sweden’s Silvicapital.  Until 2016 Jeff was SVP for Finance & Strategy at Seattle clean energy firm Summit Power.   Jeff retired as a Managing Director from Merrill Lynch in 2009 after 25 years of investment banking at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch in New York, Hong Kong, and Seattle.  Jeff has an MBA (“with distinction”) from Harvard Business School (1983) and graduated Magna cum Laude in Economics from Harvard College (1979). 


Roxanne D. Brown

United Steelworkers (USW), Legislative Director

Roxanne Brown is the Legislative Director of the United Steelworkers (USW) and serves as one of four lobbyists in the USW’s Legislative Office in Washington, D.C.   

Since 1999, she has had the privilege of working for the 850,000 women and men who comprise the USW in the United States and Canada.   

Roxanne focuses on a wide range of policy and regulatory issues including defense, environment and energy.  She also covers policy issues pertaining to the domestic pulp and paper, nuclear, shipbuilding, aluminum, cement and specialty metals industries.

She has represented the USW at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at global labor conferences and other international forums.

Roxanne serves on the Steering Committee of the Blue-Green Alliance, which is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the clean energy economy.


Steve Bullock

State of Montana, Governor

Governor Bullock is committed to ensuring that Montana remains the best state in the nation to live, work, start a business and raise a family. As former attorney general and as governor, Bullock believes Montanans should determine their energy future through a balanced and responsible plan that provides good-paying jobs for Montanans, strengthens rural communities and supports local schools, all while safeguarding the state’s clean air and water, public lands, and quality of life. Last year Bullock released an Energy Blueprint that builds on previous accomplishments to drive economic growth by improving Montana’s traditional base of energy while sparking a new generation of clean technology business, including: building Montana’s energy presence in the region; further realizing the potential for wind and solar power; build carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery opportunities; improve energy efficiency; and effectively utilize water resources.


 

Etosha Cave

Opus 12, Inc., Co-Founde

Etosha Cave a Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Opus 12, a startup recycling CO2 into higher value products for Earth (and someday for Mars).  Opus 12 uses metal catalysts and renewable electricity to convert CO2 into new molecules, which include a precursor to plastics and diesel fuels.  Opus 12 has received various grants from the Department of Energy, NASA and the National Science Foundation for their work.  

Opus 12 has also gotten into various top incubators and organizations including the Elemental Excelerator, Breakout Labs, Stanford’s StartX, Echoing Green and Cyclotron Road at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Etosha received her Ph.D. from Stanford University where she gained the foundational knowledge for this technology.  In 2015, Etosha was TedX Stanford speaker and the winner of the 2015 Cool Companies Competition at the Fortune Brainstorm E Conference. 


Brad Crabtree

Great Plains Institute, Vice President, Fossil Energy

Brad Crabtree joined the Great Plains Institute in 2002 and is a vice president responsible for managing its carbon management program. He co-directs the national Carbon Capture Coalition, a partnership of energy, industrial and technology companies, labor unions, and environmental, energy and agricultural organizations that led efforts to secure passage of landmark legislation in Congress to reform the 45Q tax credit for the capture, beneficial use and storage of CO2 from power plants and industrial facilities. Brad also coordinates a 14-state work group convened by Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming and Governor Steve Bullock of Montana to foster deployment of carbon capture and CO2 pipeline infrastructure.

Brad previously coordinated energy policy advisory groups for the Midwestern Governors Association and facilitated the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord Advisory Group for six governors and the Manitoba premier. He also co-directed Powering the Plains, GPI’s original flagship project that developed a comprehensive, 50-year regional blueprint for energy efficiency, renewable energy and advanced coal technologies.

Brad was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Energy and serves on the National Coal Council. He lives with his wife and daughter in North Dakota, where he was a statewide candidate for Public Service Commissioner in 2010 and 2012. A graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, Brad has an MA in history from Johns Hopkins University.


Alan Ekblad

Montana State AFL-CIO, Executive Secretary

Al Ekblad was raised in a union household. His father was a member of the Operating Engineers Local #49, and his mother was a member of the Minnesota Education Association. He worked his way through college as a ranch hand, production paint sprayer, carpenter, bouncer, and library resource clerk.  He graduated from Montana State University with a Political Science degree.

Al Ekblad’s career in labor has spanned twenty-four years including working as a union pipeline and highway laborer. He also served as a Director of a Labor/Management Committee and later worked as a Union Organizer for the Operating Engineers Local #400. He has been a member of the Laborers Union Locals #254, #1334, and #1686 through his employment at the Montana State AFL-CIO.

During his 17 years as staff with the Montana AFL-CIO, Ekblad worked as political campaign staff, worker training coordinator, and Staff Director. In 2009 he was elected to the Executive Board of the Montana State AFL-CIO. Later that same year he was elected President of the Central Montana Central Labor Council. In May of 2011, Al Ekblad was elected by unanimous vote as the Executive Secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO.


Jay Faison

ClearPath Foundation, Founder

 

Jay Faison is the Founder and CEO of the ClearPath Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate conservative clean energy solutions. Jay is also the Founder and Chairman of SnapAV, a high growth company that designs and distributes more than 2,000 audio-video related products to technology integrators worldwide. SnapAV has been named to the prestigious INC 500/5000 List, which ranks the fastest growing privately held companies in the US, for four years running. In 2013 SnapAV was acquired by General Atlantic, a leading growth equity firm, and Jay donated $165 million to start the ClearPath Foundation. The success of ClearPath led Politico to name Jay one of the top 50 “visionaries transforming American politics” in 2015.

A serial entrepreneur, Jay has started, managed and sold two businesses prior to SnapAV. In 2013 Jay won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Southeast region. Jay has served on numerous non-profit boards and is active in his community. Jay graduated with a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990 and received his MBA from University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in 1995.


 

Alisa Ferguson

NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, Lead Designer and Adviso

Alisa Ferguson is a consultant and writer focused on accelerating clean energy innovation. For nearly two decades, she has advised on strategies to advance clean energy technologies through policy and regulation, coalition building, and strategic communications. She writes regularly on the role of innovation in solving our biggest energy and environmental challenges.

Alisa has worked with a wide variety of organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies such as Google, GE, Applied Materials, JP Morgan Chase, The Boeing Company, and Honeywell International to the venture capital community, early-stage cleantech companies, trade associations, national laboratories, and non-profits including the XPRIZE Foundation. She was the lead prize designer for the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE and $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE as well as the 2016 Bold Innovator for the National Research Foundation Singapore/ Desalination XPRIZE Visioneers team. Prior to working in the private sector, she spent nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, leading strategy and policy for the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology and playing a lead role in the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E). Alisa holds a B.S.F.S., cum laude, from the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is based in Los Angeles, CA.


Dr. S. Julio Friedmann

Energy Futures Initiative, Distinguished Associate

Dr. Julio Friedmann is the CEO of Carbon Wrangler, LLC, and a Distinguished Associate at the Energy Futures Initiative. He recently served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy at the Department of Energy. He was responsible for DOE’s R&D program in advanced fossil energy systems, carbon capture, and storage (CCUS), CO2 utilization, and clean coal deployment. His expertise includes R&D and programs in Clean Coal and Carbon Management, Oil and Gas systems, international engagements in clean fossil energy, and inter-agency engagements within the US government.   He has also held positions at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, including Senior Advisor for Energy Innovation and Chief Energy Technologist, is a non-resident fellow at Columbia Univ. Center for Global Energy Policy, and serves as a special advisor to Total SA and the Global CCS Institute.

 

Dr. Friedmann is one of the most widely known and authoritative experts in the U.S. on carbon removal (CO2 drawdown from the air and oceans), CO2 conversion and use (carbon-to-value), and carbon capture and sequestration. His expertise includes technology, policy, and operations. In addition to close partnerships with many private companies and NGOs, Julio has worked with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Treasury.


Damien Gerard

Oil & Gas Climate Investments, LLP, Commercial DirectoR

Damien Gerard is the commercial director at the Climate Investment, a $1Bn fund based in London that is part of the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) created in 2015.  His role includes providing strategic and commercial leadership on VC and project investments globally, with focus on CCS, methane leakage, transport and energy efficiency.  Prior to joining the Fund, Damien was at BP for 15 years in several executive positions in upstream and renewable energy, and was also a consultant at McKinsey and Accenture.  He holds an engineering degree from Liege University in Belgium and an MBA from Chicago Booth.


Laurel Harmon, Ph.D.

LanzaTech, Vice President, Government Relations

Dr. Harmon provides policy direction and leadership on international legislative and regulatory matters and develops collaborative research and demonstration projects for LanzaTech.

LanzaTech has developed a carbon recycling technology that takes waste gases and ferments them to make new products. Much like trees and plants, which are excellent carbon recyclers, LanzaTech is able to capture carbon and convert it into new products. The technology enables companies around the world to drive revenue from waste streams and work across sectors that previously would have been closed to them; for example, the steel industry using emissions to produce ethanol for cars, drop in jet fuel for planes, or synthetic fibers for the textile industry. Across the supply chain, LanzaTech promotes a “Carbon Smart™” circular economy, where both gas providers and end users can choose to be resource efficient by recycling or “sequestering” carbon into new products rather than making them from new fossil resources.

 

Dr. Harmon has over 25 years experience in policy matters and project development. She joined LanzaTech from Striatus Inc., where she consulted on legislation and regulation, low carbon fuel R&D projects, and combinatorial discovery for advanced technologies, including energy and renewable fuels. After receiving her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Michigan, Dr. Harmon joined ERIM, a non-profit research organization, to conduct applied R&D for a variety of defense and other government customers.  Later she was a technical co-founder of Nonlinear Dynamics, a company specializing in applied pattern recognition and data mining.


Vicki Hollub

Occidental Petroleum Corporation, President and Chief Executive Officer

Vicki Hollub is President and Chief Executive Officer of Occidental Petroleum Corporation,an international oil and gas exploration and production company and one of the largest U.S.oil and gas companies based on equity market capitalization. She has been a member of Occidental’s Board of Directors since 2015

Ms. Hollub joined Occidental more than 30 years ago and has held a variety of management and technical positions with responsibilities on three continents, including roles in the United States, Russia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Most recently, she served as Occidental’s President and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the company’s oil and gas, chemical and midstream operations.

Ms. Hollub previously was Senior Executive Vice President, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, and President, Oxy Oil and Gas, where she was responsible for operations in the U.S., the Middle East region and Latin America. Prior to that, she held a variety of leadership positions, including Executive Vice President, Occidental, and President, Oxy Oil and Gas, Americas; Vice President, Occidental, and Executive Vice President, U.S. Operations, Oxy Oil and Gas; Executive Vice President, California Operations; and President and General Manager of the company’s Permian Basin operations. Ms. Hollub started her career at Cities Service, which was acquired by Occidental.

Ms. Hollub serves on the boards of the American Petroleum Institute and Khalifa University for Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi. She is the U.S. chair for the U.S.-Colombia Business Council. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Ms. Hollub holds a Bachelor of Science in Mineral Engineering. She was inducted into the University of Alabama College of Engineering 2016 class of Distinguished Engineering Fellows.


Dr. Holly Krutka

Peabody Energy, Vice President Coal Generation and Emissions Technology

Dr. Holly Krutka is Vice President Coal Generation and Emissions Technologies at Peabody. In this role, she works to help protect and enhance the existing U.S. coal fleet as well as promote the use of high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) technologies. This includes working on public policy proposals, technical working groups and other initiatives that advance the development and commercialization of carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) technologies.

Prior to her role with Peabody, Holly spent the last decade on research and development, analysis, communications, advocacy, and policy related to CCUS and other clean coal technologies. She is a member of the National Coal Council, is the lead inventor on several patents for a novel CO2 capture technology, and is a judge for the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition. Dr. Krutka holds a PhD and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma.


Matt Lucas

Center for Carbon Removal, Associate Director

Matt Lucas is currently the Associate Director for CCUS Technology at the Center for Carbon Removal, a non-profit focused on accelerating the deployment of negative emissions.  In his current role he directs a startup accelerator program, Carbontech Labs, the only such program specifically for innovators converting waste carbon streams (including CO2) into valued products.  Matt previously worked in corporate venture capital and in engineering roles at three early-stage hardware startups, so he has seen the challenges of innovation from both an investor and entrepreneur's perspective.  Dr. Lucas received a MS & PhD from UC Berkeley and BS from Harvard University, all in mechanical engineering.


Bob Mannes

Core Energy, LLC, President & CEO

Bob Mannes, a third generation Michigan oilman, is the President & CEO of Core Energy, LLC; a company based in Traverse City, Michigan that he founded in 2003.  Core Energy is actively involved in innovative oil and gas exploration and production technologies in Michigan and is the only company in the Midwest performing CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) operations on a commercial scale. In addition to CO2 EOR operations, Core Energy has been the site host for the Michigan Basin research operations conducted by Battelle Memorial Institute on behalf of the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (www.mrcsp.org) since 2006.

Core Energy was a founding member of the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI) and Bob remains actively involved in the Carbon Capture Coalition today.

Bob also serves on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce and an independent drilling contractor.  Outside of the oil and gas industry, Bob serves on the Board of Directors of ALGIX, LLC, a startup company converting algae to bio-plastic and foam products. 


Matt Mead

State of Wyoming, Governor

Matt Mead, Wyoming's 32nd Governor, took office in January 2011 and is serving his second term. He was born and raised in Jackson. After earning a law degree from the University of Wyoming, he served as a prosecutor, practiced in a private firm, and served as U.S. Attorney. He maintains a farm and ranch business with his wife Carol in southeast Wyoming. 

Governor Mead has put in place a comprehensive state energy strategy and state water strategy for Wyoming.  He has also vigorously promoted carbon capture technologies, for example, at the Integrated Test Center and the University of Wyoming, and through federal, regional and international collaborations, and these efforts continue. He moved the entire state to a 100 gigabit broadband network.  His rules initiative has resulted in fewer regulations and improved public access to rules. His focus on increasing state competitiveness, for example, through technology, innovation and expansion of business opportunities in numerous economic sectors, has brought national recognition. 

Governor Mead is currently Chair, and has also served as Vice Chair, of the Natural Resources Committee of the National Governors Association. He serves as Co-chair of the State and Federal Sage Grouse Task Force.  He is past Chairman (2015-16) of the Western Governors’ Association where his Chairman’s Initiative, a continuing one, was Species Conservation and the Endangered Species Act.


 
 

Erin Meezan

Interface, Chief Sustainability Officer

As Chief Sustainability Officer, Erin gives voice to Interface’s conscience, ensuring that strategy and goals are in sync with its aggressive sustainability vision established more than 20 years ago. Today, Interface has evolved its thinking to go beyond doing less harm to creating positive impacts, not just for Interface and the flooring industry, but for the world at large.

Erin led the company to unveil a new mission in 2016 – Climate Take Back, tackling the single biggest threat facing humanity: global climate change. This mission is focused on creating a path for Interface and others to reverse global warming, not just reduce carbon emissions.

As CSO, Erin leads a global team that provides technical assistance and support to this audacious goal and the company’s global business, addressing sustainability at all levels – from operations and management, to employees and customers, and in policy forums. Erin and her team also develop industry-leading approaches to measurement, driving transparency and innovation in the field of sustainability, while also capturing successes as the company nears its Mission Zero targets in 2020.

Erin is a frequent lecturer on sustainable business to senior management teams, universities and the growing green consumer sector. She has keynoted at a variety of conferences and forums including Bioneers, GreenBiz, VERGE, Greenbuild, Sustainable Brands, SXSW, SXSW Eco, Conscious Capitalism and others, and to business audiences around the world in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States and Europe.


Chris Moser

NRG Energy, Executive Vice President

Chris Moser is the Executive Vice President of Operations for NRG Energy, Inc. In this role, he oversees all Plant Operations, Commercial Operations, Business Operations and Engineering & Construction. Prior to this role he served as Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, where he was responsible for the optimization of NRG’s wholesale generation fleet.

Before joining NRG in April of 2008, Chris held positions of increasing responsibility in various regions at Dynegy Inc. At Dynegy, Chris most recently served as Managing Director, Midwest, where his responsibilities included the monetization of Dynegy’s MISO and PJM portfolios.

Before Dynegy, Chris held a range of positions in Washington, DC for organizations including the Sawyer/Miller Group, the World Bank and the Safe Energy Communications Council. Chris has a Master’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a Bachelor’s Degree from Hamilton College.


Deepika Nagabhushan

Clean Air Task Force, Energy Policy Associate

Deepika Nagabhushan is an Energy Policy Associate at the Clean Air Task Force (CATF), an independent, environmental non-profit organization. At CATF, Deepika explores the impact of policies on creating and commercializing zero-carbon energy technologies, with a focus on Carbon Capture and Storage. Deepika oversees economic modeling projects to evaluate impacts of economic incentives intended to drive CCS deployment in the U.S. power sector. In California, Deepika leads CATF's policy efforts aimed at enabling CO2 reductions from carbon capture to qualify in the state’s greenhouse gas reduction programs. Deepika also supports CATF's efforts to develop strategies, by analyzing various technology pathways, to achieve both global deep decarbonization and energy access.

Before joining CATF, Deepika led global marketing projects at Schneider Electric across Asia-Pacific countries and developed strategy for Schneider Electric Foundation’s Access to Energy program. Deepika holds an MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Bangalore University in India.


Rick Needham

THE RISE FUND, PARTNER, ENERGY SECTOR LEAD

Rick Needham is a Partner with The Rise Fund and the fund's Sector Lead for Energy. In this role, he is responsible for sourcing and executing growth stage investments that can deliver both attractive financial returns and meaningful positive societal benefits in the energy space.  

Prior to joining The Rise Fund, Rick was the Director of Energy and Sustainability for Google, where he led teams that invested in transformative, large-scale renewable energy projects, explored ways to help accelerate energy access in emerging markets, and catalyzed actions to address climate change.

Rick spearheaded Google's renewables project investing, which channeled more than $2.5 billion into renewable energy projects around the world, including wind farms, centralized and distributed solar PV systems, an offshore transmission line, and the world’s largest solar thermal plant. 

Rick holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, an MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, where he attended as a Draper Fellow, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

 


 

Steve Oldham

Carbon Engineering, CEO

Steve Oldham is Chief Executive Officer of Carbon Engineering (CE), a Canadian-based clean energy company that provides the technology and facilities to synthesize global-scale quantities of clean fuel, using inputs of only air, water and renewable power. CE’s proven technology captures CO₂ directly from the atmosphere, and synthesizes it into clean transportation fuels that are drop-in compatible with existing engines and infrastructure.

Steve Oldham brings more than 20 years of executive experience to CE’s team, stemming from previous positions in technology, robotics, and aerospace sectors. He has played a lead role in a number of ‘Canada firsts’ in technology commercialization, including the first robot performing brain surgery, the first commercial radar satellite, robots that clean the inside of nuclear reactors, and satellites that service and repair other satellites. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Birmingham in England.


Jonathan Pershing

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Director of Environment

Jonathan Pershing is the Program Director of Environment at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He leads a team of grantmakers focused on climate change in the U.S., China, India, Europe and Latin America, and conserving the North American West. He joined the foundation in January 2017.

Previously, Jonathan served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State and lead U.S. negotiator to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Jonathan played a key role in successfully negotiating landmark climate change deals with nations such as China, India, the European Union, Canada and Mexico. In this capacity – as well as in his earlier capacity as Deputy Special Envoy — he was instrumental in securing the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and subsequently, as senior international climate advisor to the White House and Secretary of State, was charged with overseeing its early implementation.

He holds a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from the University of Minnesota. A scientist by training, he served as a lead author, review editor and contributor for reports of the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has taught at the University of Minnesota and at American University, and he has published and lectured widely on climate and energy issues.

 


Glenn Prickett

The Nature Conservancy, Chief External Affairs Officer

Glenn Prickett is Chief External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy.  He is a member of TNC’s executive team and leads the organization’s corporate engagements and sustainability efforts. He has also overseen TNC’s government relations and public policy work. Glenn joined The Nature Conservancy in January 2010 after two decades working on international environment and development policy. Glenn spent 13 years at Conservation International where he led efforts to engage the private and public sectors in conservation and sustainability. 

He founded and led CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business to engage the private sector in solving environmental challenges.  He also led CI’s policy and climate change initiatives.  In 2009, he worked as a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation to help shape an effective global response to climate change.  Glenn served in the Clinton Administration as chief environmental advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he oversaw environmental and energy assistance to developing nations. 


Akshat Rathi

Quartz, Reporter

Akshat Rathi is a reporter for Quartz, where he covers science, energy, and environment. In 2017, he published a 10-part series investigating the promises of carbon-capture technology. 

He has a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Oxford, and a BTech in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai. Previously, he was The Conversation’s science editor and has worked at The Economist. His writings have also been published in Nature, The Guardian, and Chemistry World, among others.

In 2018, he was awarded Journalist of the Year at the Drum’s Online Media Awards and shortlisted for British Science Writer of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers. He has also won fellowships from Columbia University and City University of New York to enhance his reporting work. 


Doug Scott

Great Plains Institute, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Doug Scott joined GPI as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives in early 2015. Scott focuses on GPI projects related to his work as a state official, including the Midcontinent Power Sector Collaborative, Midcontinent States Energy and Environmental Regulators, PJM Energy and Environmental Regulators, National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, and the e21 Initiative.

Scott was appointed chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission in March 2011 by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. During his tenure with the Commission, he served as a member of the Energy, Resources, and Environment Committee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and on the Task Force on Environmental Regulation.

Scott also previously served as director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from 2005 to 2011. During those years, he chaired the Illinois Governor’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and represented Illinois in the development of the Midwestern Governors’ Association’s energy and climate accords. Scott was a member of the Air Committee for the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the US EPA Environmental Financial Advisory Board. He was also elected and served as Mayor of Rockford, IL from 2001 to 2005, after serving as a state representative in the Illinois General Assembly between 1995 and 2001.

A native of Rockford, Scott received his undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Tulsa in 1982 and a Juris Doctorate with honors from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI in 1985.


 

Chauffe Schirmer

Utility Workers Union of America, Local 127, Financial Secretary-Treasurer

Chauffe Schirmer currently serves as the Financial Secretary-Treasurer for Utility Workers Union of America Local 127.  She has been a second-generation member of the Local since 2014, employed by Rocky Mountain Power at the Jim Bridger powerplant in Point of Rocks, Wyoming where she currently works as a Level 1 Water Quality Technician, certified by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.  She has also held positions at the Dave Johnston powerplant as an Assistant Auxiliary Operator and as a state-certified Industrial Firefighter on the volunteer Fire Brigade.  She has previously worked in Wyoming’s natural gas industry, served as a Board Member of the Red Desert Humane Society, and is a 2000 graduate of Rock Springs High School.


Mijo Vodopic

MacArthur Foundation, Senior Program Officer

Mijo Vodopic is a Senior Program Officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. His portfolio includes domestic and international grantmaking to support climate solutions in the United States, India, and China, with a focus on advancing low-carbon energy sources, energy efficiency investment, and carbon pricing markets.

Previously, Mijo worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where he led evaluations on international banking competition, community development investment, and property rights.  Earlier, he served as director at Heartland Housing Incorporated, a regional developer serving homeless families. Mijo received his Masters degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago.