Partners and Staff

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The Clean Energy Resource Teams project is a public-private partnership staffed by: the University of Minnesota Extension and Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Great Plains Institute, Southwest Regional Development Commission, The Minnesota Project, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Read on to learn more about each partner and their role in CERTs. Click here to see the CERTs organizational structure.

CERTs Staff, March 2014
Pictured from top to bottom, left to right: Bill Mittlefehldt, Maggie Kozak, Annette Bair, Stacey Pederson, Lindsay Wimmer, Michelle Palm, Lissa Pawlisch, Joel Haskard, Trevor Drake, Drew Hage, Dan Thiede, Alexis Troschinetz, Diana McKeown, Fritz Ebinger. Not pictured: Sarah Hayden, Chris May, Erin Smith, Michelle Gransee.

 

University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships & Extension

UMN Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships & Extension The University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships are citizen-driven university partnerships fostering sustainable development. The Regional Partnerships are based in five regions throughout greater Minnesota and work to foster active citizenship, achieve sustainable development (focusing on natural resources, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, regional food systems, and sustainable tourism), and create a vital relationship between the citizens of the State and their land grant university. Director: Kathryn Draeger

The mission of University of Minnesota Extension is making a difference by connecting community needs and University resources to address critical issues in Minnesota. Extension is a 100-year-old partnership between the University and federal, state and county governments—providing scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. The University of Minnesota is one of the nation’s more than 100 land grant colleges and universities with a mission to engage in teaching, research and extension. Through Extension, land grant institutions “extend” their resources to address critical public issues through non-formal, non-credit education. Extension faculty and staff live and work across the state, in regional and county offices, University campuses, and research and outreach centers.
 
Melissa Pawlisch Melissa Pawlisch is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Director for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. Melissa has spent over 15 years working on energy-related issues. Prior to coming to the University she spent several years working as an environmental consultant with a focus on environmental investigations at large-scale power plant facilities. In 2002 she began work with community organizations looking for alternatives to centralized power production. For the past ten years Melissa has staffed five of the greater Minnesota CERTs regions and worked to stimulate clean energy project development by connecting team members with the resources and technical assistance they need to implement community energy projects. She has a Masters degree in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy.
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Joel Haskard Joel Haskard is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Co-Director for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. From 2009-2011, the CERTs program has helped Minnesotans save over 78 billion BTUs of energy—enough to heat 400 Minnesota homes for a year—and CERT seed grants have supported over 180 new and existing employment opportunities. Joel has over fourteen years experience coordinating and managing community and economic development activities in the U.S. and abroad.
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Dan Thiede Dan Thiede is the CERTs Communications Manager with the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. In this role, Dan is responsible for everything from goal-setting and big-picture strategy to the daily management of websites, social media, outreach and marketing, public relations and publicity, design and publications and communications interns. Dan has undergraduate degrees from the University of St. Thomas in geography and English writing, as well as a minor in environmental studies. Dan is also currently earning a Masters degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Minnesota.
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Maggie Kozak Maggie Kozak is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Event Programming Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. Maggie plans, organizes, promotes, and executes CERTs events big and small, statewide. She also manages the events portion of the CERTs website. In other CERTs realms, she manages seed grants, reviews publications, and tends to the contracts and administrivia that make the world go ‘round. She has worked domestically and internationally on environmental and community development issues.
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Alexis Troschinetz Alexis Troschinetz is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. Alexis is an Environmental Engineer with over 7 years of experience working for consulting firms ARCADIS and Bonestroo/Stantec prior to joining CERTs. Alexis led efforts to initiate and maintain programs to improve environmental sustainability of internal operations at both firms. She worked as part of a nationwide team at ARCADIS to foster the culture of and implement actions around sustainability, engaging 40 offices and 2,300 staff in the first six months of the program. In the Minneapolis office, she implemented energy efficiency initiatives that resulted in an approximately 50% energy use reduction for lighting and appliances/electronics. She also worked on green and sustainable remediation, risk-based evaluation of LNAPL distribution and mobility, and sustainable stormwater management. Alexis enjoys serving her community through volunteer opportunities and currently sits on the City of Minneapolis’ Community Environmental Advisory Commission. Alexis holds her professional engineering license and has a B.S. and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University in conjunction with the Sustainable Futures Institute. During graduate pursuits, her focus on sustainability resulted in three peer-reviewed journal publications relating to water treatment technologies, sustainability indicators, and sustainable solid waste management.
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Lindsay Wimmer Lindsay Wimmer is the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program (GESP) Outreach Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) at the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. Lindsay comes to CERTs after a year with the Minnesota Army National Guard where she provided education and outreach statewide to 60 Training and Community Centers about their buildings energy use and energy conservation strategies to integrate into building operations as part of Minnesota GreenCorps. She also worked with the MNARNG facility management office to develop a facility-level energy reduction competition, and participated in the development of the MNARNG’s net-zero energy plans. Prior to that Lindsay worked with the College of Saint Benedict Office of Sustainability to implement the Campus Sustainability Master Plan. Beyond energy, Lindsay enjoys spending time outside, catching up with friends and family, exploring the art of cooking and eating, and traveling.
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Bill Mittlefehldt Bill Mittlefehldt joined the NE CERTs team early in 2008. He is the Northeast CERT Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. After earning three Master’s degrees, he used that foundation to build an education career connecting kids to their community and connecting the community to its kids. More than three decades were spent building processes to harness the creativity, courage and commitment of students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. This work brought state and national recognition to community, school and educators. Much of this successful learning was based on designing processes to mentor students in ways that guided service and leadership toward civic goals. In the 1980’s, Mittlefehldt researched and wrote a manuscript on the brain and learning. In the 90’s, he wrote about how to improve learning with partners and community links. Learning through service develops internal assets in the student which can be used to guide the communiity in the 21st century. Much of this experience engaged students in civic and economic development of their community and state. In the summer of 2000, Mittlefehldt and daughter Sarah paddled across the Great Lakes from Duluth to NYC, researching effective community collaboration. The father-daughter journey gathered 22 noteworthy stories that were posed on the school’s website as they paddled to the Sea. He brings this experience and insight to the NE region of Minneosta CERTs. Working with education, business, and civic leaders on CERTs projects has recently pushed Bill to expand his skillset in video and audio editing—important tools for amplifying our message in this critical time.
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Chris May Chris May is the Northwest CERT Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. He and his wife Linda bought a fishing resort in Northwestern Minnesota and moved here from Nebraska in the spring of 2003. Chris was born and raised in the Los Angeles area where he received an associates degree in business from Santa Ana College. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Chris worked for a large commercial heating, air, and mechanical contractor in Nebraska for 21 years as the warehouse manager. Chris has long had an interest in community and environmental issues on a personal level, volunteering as a coach for youth sports and working with the Nebraska raptor recovery program. After attending the CERTs Conference in 2009, Chris became more actively involved with CERTs by volunteering as a steering committee member for the Northwest region. Since the resort that Chris owns is a seasonal operation, he is able to devote part of his off-season time spreading the word about CERTs to local community leaders. Chris shares, “This is an outstanding group of people to work with and I am very fortunate to be a part of the team.”
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Michelle Palm Michelle Palm is the Southeast CERT Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Michelle graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in May 2012, where she got a degree in Environmental Studies, focusing on International Issues and Peace Studies. Beyond her studies, Michelle was one of four interns that managed and worked Gustavus’ organic farm—the Big Hill Farm—which got her especially excited about local and community initiatives. Along with the farm, Michelle worked on a project that began the search for an in-vessel composter and connected greenhouse to help Gustavus close its energy and waste gap. She has had the great fortune to work with and learn from a community that fosters sustainability with different energy projects, including solar, wind, and energy audits.
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Sarah Hayden Sarah Hayden Shaw is the Central CERT Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Sarah has worked as a high school teacher, a salmon processor, a security guard, a drywall hanger, and most recently as a Residential and Commercial Energy Auditor. She came to Minnesota in 2003 to pursue her master’s degree in environmental science at Bemidji State University. Since then she has worked in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields in the Brainerd and Pine River area, and statewide. Her specialty is in building energy efficiency and she is a Certified Energy Manager and Energy Auditor. She has assessed well over 1,000 homes, helping each of those residents improve the energy efficiency of their home and lifestyle. She also is proud to have worked for years in the solar energy field doing advocacy and research (and grunt work, too).
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Erin Smith Erin Smith is the West Central CERT Coordinator and is a Community Development Planner at the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission. Erin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Studies from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Minnesota State University, Mankato with an emphasis on environmental planning. She is a LEED Green Associate and has experience working with in the non-profit realm through an internship with Habitat for Humanity during her time in Mankato. Erin has worked with GreenStep Cities and is looking forward to being part of a passionate team of people. In her free time, Erin enjoys reading, being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with family.
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Great Plains Institute

Great Plains Institute Metro CERT is a program of The Great Plains Institute. The Great Plains Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that takes a pragmatic approach to our energy and climate change challenges—working with diverse interests to transform the way we produce, distribute, and consume energy to be both environmentally and economically sustainable. Through research and analysis, consensus policy development, and technology acceleration, GPI is leading the transition to clean, efficient and secure energy. Director: Rolf Nordstrom
 
Diana McKeown Diana McKeown is the Metro CERT Director at the Great Plains Institute. Diana has led the Metro region of CERTs since October 2007, during which time she has coordinated and participated in a number of clean energy initiatives, including: Apple Valley’s Better Energy Program; Neighborhood Energy Service (a partnership with Neighborhood Energy Connection and others to deliver residential energy workshops and home visits in all 17 neighborhoods in Saint Paul); an energy makeover of the Lao Family Community Center in partnership with Xcel Energy. Diana has also collaborated on the launch of a number of projects/programs including GreenStep Cities, Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon, and a variety of energy savings measures through CERTified Campaigns. Diana has coordinated successful events, forums and tours, including the annual Brake for Breakfast gathering and the SolarWorks workshop series. Prior to joining the CERTs team, Diana worked for over 14 years at Clean Water Action where she gained experience with media work, grassroots organizing, campaign planning, lobbying, and fundraising. Diana has extensive experience building strategic campaigns and coalitions. Diana has a state certificate in residential energy auditing from Dunwoody and holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota. Diana lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.
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Trevor Drake Trevor Drake is the Metro CERT Coordinator at The Great Plains Institute. Trevor joined the CERTs team after completing a year of service with the Minnesota GreenCorps, where he helped the City of Rogers to track, reduce, and make smart decisions regarding energy use. Trevor also served as an Americorps member with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, where he worked with community groups to build a LEED-certified home in downtown Hopkins. In his spare time, he enjoys road biking, trail running, and cross-country skiing. Trevor attended the 2010 Oslo International Summer School program on Energy, Environment, and Sustainable Development. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from St. John’s University.
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Southwest Regional Development Commission

Southwest Regional Development Commission The Southwest Regional Development Commission provides professional expertise and leadership to enhance regional opportunities. The Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) is a nine county planning and development agency providing services to local units of government, non-profit agencies, and various individuals and groups both public and private sectors throughout the region. Membership is comprised of 36 representatives of townships, cities, counties, school boards and public interest groups. The SRDC provides a forum for the discussion and resolution of issues common to the area. The following are program areas in which the Commission is presently involved: Development Services, Community Driven Planning, Management and Policy Administration, Strategic Planning, Agency and Legislative Advocacy, Capital Resource Development, Transportation, Area Agency on Aging , Infrastructure and Solid Waste. The SRDC coordinates the SW CERT. Director: Jay Trusty
 
Annette Bair Annette Bair is Physical Development Director of the Southwest Regional Development Commission. She grew up in Nebraska, attending high school in Lincoln. She has an Undergraduate degree in Geography with a special emphasis in urban studies, and a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Following her college education, she began to work for the Southwest Regional Development Commission as a planner in September 1986. The Physical Development Planning position has included work in assisting local units of government in Transportation, Land Use, Solid Waste Management Planning, Environmental, and Energy planning. Currently, her work focuses on Transportation and Renewable Energy planning issues. The Transportation planning objective is to coordinate with the Minnesota Department of Transportation in the planning and development of a comprehensive transportation system in SW Minnesota. She serves as staff to the SRDC Transportation Committee, technical staff to Area Transportation Partnerships 7 and 8, and provides technical assistance to local units of government. She has served as the MRDO Transportation Planners co-chair, and has been on various state plan advisory committees. Energy Planning currently involves two major work areas: staff to the 18 county Rural Minnesota Energy Board and the Southwest Clean Energy Resource Team (CERTs) Coordinator. The 18 County Joint Powers Energy Board formed to provide policy guidance on issues surrounding energy development in rural Minnesota. The SW CERTs has developed a strategic vision and renewable energy and conservation plan, reflecting a mix of energy sources, such as biomass, solar, hydrogen, and wind. The plan laid groundwork for funding and implementing renewable energy projects that meet regional needs.
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Drew Hage Drew Hage is a Development Planner at the Southwest Regional Development Commission. Drew grew up in Southwest Minnesota and Northwest Iowa. Drew has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy with an emphasis in economic planning from the University of Northern Iowa and a B.S. is Economics from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Drew began work for the Southwest Regional Development Commission in November of 2012. At the Commission Drew works in areas related to Land Use, Transportation, Active Living, Community Development, and Energy. Drew began working on various CERTs projects and campaigns during the spring of 2013. During his graduate studies Drew worked for the Center for Social and Behavior Research were he got to assist with a number of research studies ranging from economic development to social and environmental issues. Drew enjoys being active, water sports, playing hockey, traveling, and trying new things.
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The Minnesota Project

The Minnesota Project The Minnesota Project champions the sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food in communities across Minnesota. For thirty years The Minnesota Project has fostered local empowerment, bridged diverse interests, encouraged shared values, and initiated working dialogues that create positive action and policy. As the CERTs communications hub, The Minnesota Project facilitates communication, develops and maintains the Web site and newsletters, coordinates statewide conferences, and performs statewide media and communications. Director: David Glenn
 
Fritz Ebinger Fritz Ebinger serves as the Clean Energy Program Manager for The Minnesota Project. In this role, he works on energy efficiency initiatives with agricultural producers to improve their profitability and advance utility conservation planning. Fritz graduated cum laude from St. John’s University in 2001 and served in the Peace Corps as an Agroforestry Volunteer in Panama from 2001-2003. He attended Drake Law School as a Public Service Scholar and graduated with distinction in 2008. While at Drake, he focused his studies on agricultural, environmental, and natural resources law and wrote for the Drake Agricultural Law Journal. Following graduation, Fritz clerked for Judges Joe Chase and Robert Birnbaum in Minnesota’s Third Judicial District from 2008-2010. He comes to The Minnesota Project from his namesake law firm, where he practiced in distributed electrical generation, agricultural law, and business entity formation.
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Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources The Division of Energy Resources works to promote and advance energy efficiency and renewable energy to Minnesota consumers, businesses and policymakers through educational outreach and technical assistance, targeted financial incentives, and demonstrations of market-ready new technologies. The office also is responsible for the state utility-funded Conservation Improvement Program and administers the low-income Weatherization program. Much of their work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program. Director: Janet Streff
 
Michelle Gransee Michelle Gransee is the Deployment Services Supervisor at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Michelle supervises the State Energy Office Deployment Team, which is made up of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and training experts.
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