WoWE Leadership Forum Speaker List






WoWE Leadership Forum:
Expanding Your Toolkit. Powering Our Future.
Wednesday November 6, 2013

Keynote Speaker

Heidi VanGenderen, Director of Public Engagement for the US Department of Energy

Appointed to her post by the President, Heidi VanGenderen is the Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Energy.  As such, Ms. VanGenderen oversees efforts to effectively build the narrative supporting a clean energy economy, convey the Administration’s considerable energy accomplishments and plans going forward; reinforce the “all of the above” strategy and strategic message framework; and help create the space for a robust clean energy policy discussion and agenda going forward through coordinated engagement.  Prior to her current post, she served as Director of National and Regional Outreach for the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) where she was part of the policy team.  Prior to ACORE, she served as a Senior Energy Advisor for the Worldwatch Institute.

A Colorado native, Heidi previously served as Colorado’s first gubernatorial climate advisor where she oversaw creation of the state’s first Climate Action Plan. She was a core team member in passage of Amendment 37, Colorado’s citizen initiated renewable energy standard.

Heidi directed the work of the Wirth Chair in Environmental and Community Development Policy at the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado where she focused prominently on energy and climate change.  She also served as Deputy Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project.

She has worked on energy and climate issues in the non-profit, public, academic and private sectors as an organizer, writer, researcher, and public speaker for the whole of her professional career. She completed a Chevening Fellowship on Finance and Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy in Edinburgh and London in 2009 and is a graduate of Carleton College.



Hilary Blair
Co-Founder and Coach
Articulate Real and Clear

Hilary Blair is a presentation and speaking voice specialist.  She is also a professional voice-over artist and actor with over 30 years experience teaching, coaching and facilitating.  She teaches speaking voice, public speaking and voice-over with HB Voice/ARTiculate and is on faculty at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and National Theatre Conservatory. She is a highly regarded coach working extensively across the US at a variety of schools, universities, arts centers, theaters and in corporate settings with actors and teachers to lawyers and CEO’s.  She is a member of Toastmasters and VASTA – the voice and speech trainers association. Hilary is honored to have worked with finalists and awardees of the Make Mine a Million $ Business program since its inception.  She holds an MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.


Betsy Engelking
Vice President
Geronimo Energy

With more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry, Betsy has expertise in energy policy, renewable energy, resource planning, utility rates and regulation, and energy markets.  Since the beginning of her career, Betsy has worked both regionally and nationally to promote the advancement of wind energy and other renewables through participation with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC), the Great Plains Institute’s Power the Plains collaborative, and through an active role in state and national policy development. 

Betsy holds an MBA in finance and economics from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.



Stephen Beuning
Director of Market Operations
Xcel Energy


Mr. Beuning works for Xcel Energy on regional energy market design and regulatory policy for wholesale energy markets. He is also responsible for procurement of transmission services and new resource interconnections for Xcel Energy.
Steve is active in industry efforts to improve grid operating practices and the integration of renewable resources. He serves as Board President for UVIG - the Utility Variable-generation Integration Group. He has recent publications on renewable integration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the IEEE and NERC.
He has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University.



Beth Soholt
Executive Director
Wind on the Wires

Beth is responsible for guiding Wind on the Wire’s (WOW) work in the areas of transmission planning, state regulatory proceedings, legislative policy, and education/outreach and serves on the board of directors. She holds a seat on the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) Advisory Committee representing the Environmental Sector. Prior to WOW, Beth worked at the Izaak Walton League of America’s Midwest Office on deregulation and regional transmission issues, Mahlum & Associates Law Firm on energy issues, Minnesota State Senate as a senior staff member to Senator Richard Cohen, and Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP – predecessor to MISO) as staff to the Environmental Committee and Operating Committee. Beth holds a law degree from Hamline University Law School, St. Paul, Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.


Jayshree Desai
Executive Vice President, Commercial and Operations
Clean Line Energy

As Executive Vice President-Commercial and Operations of Clean Line Energy, Jayshree Desai oversees the day-to-day operations of the company. In addition, Jayshree leads Clean Line’s commercial arrangements with suppliers; through these agreements, Clean Line is developing a supply chain that allows for timely execution and local job benefits.

Jayshree draws from an accomplished background in the wind energy industry to provide leadership at Clean Line. Before joining Clean Line, Jayshree was CFO of Horizon Wind Energy where she was responsible for corporate and project finance, accounting, tax, and information technology.  As CFO, she led Horizon Wind Energy through its sale to Goldman Sachs in 2005, the subsequent sale to Energias de Portugal in mid-2007, and the IPO of the renewables subsidiary in 2008.

Jayshree received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from Wharton Business School, and serves on the Executive Board of KIPP Houston.


Gregory Jenner
Senior Tax Partner
Stoel Rives LLP

Gregory F. Jenner is a senior tax partner at Stoel Rives LLP, and is chair of the firm’s Energy Initiative.  Greg handles all varieties of tax issues, with particular focus on alternative energy and fuels. 
Before joining Stoel Rives, Greg served as Acting Assistant and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy (2002-2004). In addition, Greg began his tenure in Washington as Tax Counsel for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee (1985-1989), where he helped write the Tax Reform Act of 1986, among other legislation.
Greg is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, where he teaches tax policy.  Greg frequently speaks on renewable energy tax planning, and tax and budget policy.
Greg is a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel.  Greg received his J.D. cum laude from New York University School of Law.


Jerry Vaninetti
Senior Vice President, Transmission
RES Americas

Mr. Vaninetti joined RES Americas in 2010 after 11 years of experience in transmission development in the Western and Midwestern US. He is responsible for RES Americas' Transmission Development business unit as well transmission support for RES Americas' renewable energy projects, including commercial, technical, strategic, and public policy issues. He represents the company in two transmission advocacy organizations: WIRES and AWEA's Transmission Committee.

Prior to joining RES Americas, Mr. Vaninetti was responsible for Western Transmission Development for NextEra, Trans-Elect, AES, and LS Power in varying contract and employment capacities. He was a member of the senior management team and partner in Trans-Elect, the nation's first independent transmission company. In recent years, he served as project manager for the Wyoming-Colorado Intertie and the High Plains Express transmission projects - both of which involved partnerships with utilities.

Mr. Vaninetti holds a BSc and a MSc in geology from Washington State University and the University of Utah, respectively.


Nancy Floyd
Founder and Managing Director
Nth Power

Nancy Floyd is Founder and Managing Director of Nth Power, based in San Francisco. Nth Power has $420M under management, having invested in 57 companies - market leaders in renewable energy, efficiency, smart grid, clean transportation and green buildings.

 Ms. Floyd has led investments in Silicon Energy (NASDAQ: ITRI), Smartsynch (NASDAQ: ITRI), Serveron (BPL Global), SpectraSensors, Propel Biofuels and Thetus. She advised the National Renewable Energy Lab, and served as Board member to the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Center for Resource Solutions, Sustainable Asset Management (Zurich), and the Portland Family of Funds. She joined the Board of WGL Holdings (NYSE: WGL) in 2011, and was a Commissioner of the Economic Development Commission in the State of Oregon from 2008-2010. From 1998-2008, she served as a Trustee at Franklin & Marshall College.

 Ms. Floyd completed a Master’s degree in political science at Rutgers University (1977), where she was an Eagleton Fellow.



Susan Innis
Senior Manager, Public Affairs

Susan Innis is Senior Manager, Public Affairs for Vestas, where she is responsible for communications and state-level government relations to enhance regulatory and statutory conditions for wind energy in the United States. Prior to joining Vestas in 2010, Susan spent two years working with the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, where she developed and managed an innovative financing program for clean energy projects. From 1999 to 2007, Ms. Innis worked as an Energy Policy Advisor/Green Power Marketing Director at Western Resource Advocates, a regional law and policy center. During this time she led stakeholders in the Rocky Mountain Region to develop and implement local policies and programs to create markets for renewable energy. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Colorado Denver, a graduate certificate from the University of Oslo, and a BSc from McGill University (Montreal, Canada).


Cynthia Crooks
Vice President, OwnEnergy

Cindy has more than 27 years of experience in the energy industry in the areas of wind and fossil energy project management, business development, commercial contracts, and operations.  She started with OwnEnergy in 2007, initially leading the wind development efforts, and now leading construction and operations for the company.

Cindy worked in the wind business for FPLE between 2000 and 2007, in various roles in construction, wind operations, and wind energy development.  She was a manager in the Construction group, ensuring certainty of cost, quality, and delivery of wind turbines, towers and other major equipment for more than 1,500 MW of wind projects from 2000-2003.  These successful projects included Stateline in the northwest, Woodward Mountain and King Mountain in Texas, Gray County in Kansas, and Montfort in Wisconsin.  

She’s held roles with FPLE in wind operations and led the effort to resolve turbine warranty issues with various turbine suppliers. Until November 2007, Cindy worked in Business Development for FPLE, using her broad wind energy industry knowledge to develop wind projects in Canada and New York.

Cindy has a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MBA from the University of Denver.  Cindy and family reside in Florida; she enjoys running marathons as a hobby.


Zeina El-Azzi
Vice President, North American Business Development

Ms. El-Azzi brings over thirteen years of renewable energy industry experience to SunEdison. With a background in project development, origination and project acquisition, she is responsible for managing SunEdison’s North American business development team and guiding pipeline and project acquisitions, joint venture agreements and IPP initiatives.  

She served as the President of the Wind Coalition in 2012, a regional industry trade organization.  Previously, she led the Clipper Windpower team responsible for the purchase and sale of wind projects, the negotiation of joint ventures for wind power project development in Eastern Europe, Turkey and Mexico as well as the acquisition of power purchase agreements.

Ms. El-Azzi graduated with honors from the University of Texas, Austin with a MA in Energy and Mineral Resources and BA in both Economics and Middle Eastern Studies.  She speaks English, French and Arabic fluently.

Mit Buchanan

Mit Buchanan is one of 21 professionals who originate, structure and execute energy investments at JPMorgan Capital Corporation.  Since 2003 that team has been responsible for approximately $10.3 billion of tax equity for over 10,500 megawatts of wind power in 94 wind farms in 20 different states, numerous solar projects (including PV-commercial, PV-residential projects and one 64 megawatt CSP facility) and 12 geothermal projects for 253 megawatts.  With respect to solar, Ms. Buchanan has led transactions which included the commercial distributed generation and utility scale solar segments.  She has been with JPMorgan and its predecessor companies since 1987.

Mit is a frequent panelist and speaker for a variety of organizations in the renewable energy industry. Ms. Buchanan completed her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and has an AB in Economics from Duke University.

Elizabeth Salerno
Director, Industry Data & Analysis
American Wind Energy Association

Liz Salerno is the Director of Industry Data & Analysis for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).  Liz has been with AWEA for the past 8 years, guiding the organization in establishing
the statistics and analytical department.

Liz leads the team at AWEA providing market analysis and policy assessment, providing comprehensive market reports used by all sectors of the U.S. wind industry.  Her lead of the analytical
agendas for AWEA include all U.S. wind projects, wind market economics, all U.S. wind project and manufacturing data, employment, market forecasts, environmental impacts, and assessment of Federal and state policy options on wind industry market growth.

She provides analytical support across AWEA's legislative agenda including the Production Tax Credit and other tax policy,  Master limited partnerships, Renewable Electricity Standards, Climate
Change Regulations.

Prior to AWEA, Liz completed a master's degree in Public Policy from the George Washington University and holds B.A. in Economics from Boston University.


Emily Williams
Senior Policy Analyst
American Wind Energy Association

Emily Williams is a Senior Policy Analyst with the American Wind Energy Association. In this position, she conducts analytical research for AWEA on topics including energy sector statistics, wind market economics and wind project data.

She manages AWEA’s Wind Project Database and leads AWEA’s Operations & Maintenance Working Group. Prior to AWEA, Emily worked on nuclear energy and nuclear non-proliferation issues at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Emily has Bachelors’

degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Science and Security from King’s College London.


Lauren Glickman
Founder and Principal,
WindyGlick Communications
(WoWE Consultant)

Lauren Glickman has nearly a decade of clean energy and climate change advocacy and campaign experience, and a successful track record for implementing winning social media and online strategies.

She started WindyGlick Communications to work with non-profits and small businesses to develop social media strategies and drive online engagement. As of the Fall 2013 Semester,  Lauren is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, teaching undergraduate, graduate and executive education courses and seminars on social media theory and practice.

Previously, she worked at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) where she was responsible for the re-design, re-launch and management of AWEA’s social media program and online advocacy portal. Traffic to increased 40,000 percent in the first six months after re-launch, and Lauren's work earned AWEA a spot in the top 10 social media savvy trade associations.

She also developed and implemented best practices for social and online engagement of AWEA industry members and advocates, taking engagement rates from below average to 4 times above industry standards. This growth in online engagement ran in-parallel to a successful list growth campaign that increased online subscribers ten-fold.

Prior to AWEA, Lauren worked on clean energy issues and environmental campaigns across the United States. In 2011 she wrote and achieved passage of the Virginia Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund Act of 2011 that promoted solar energy projects for homeowners and utilities in the state.