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, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Read on to learn more about each partner and their CERTs staff. Click here to see the CERTs organizational structure.
 


 

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 fifteen 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 eleven 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. Joel has over fifteen years experience coordinating and managing community and economic development activities in the U.S. and abroad. A jack of all trades, Joel works across CERTs programming, and his current focus areas include MN Energy Stories, electric vehicles (EVs), and partnering with utilities on energy efficiency outreach.
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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 also recently earned 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 & Seed Grants Manager 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 enjoys managing CERTs seed grants and working with regional CERT Steering Committees. In addition, Maggie 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. Maggie enjoys biking to work, running, and yoga.
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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. She infuses behavior change science into CERTs programs and campaigns; conducts campaign research, development and implementation; and evaluates CERTs’ programs by tracking quantitative and qualitative metrics. Alexis practiced Environmental Engineering (EE) for over 7 years at two consulting firms prior to joining CERTs. She worked on sustainable operations (both internal to her companies and for clients), green and sustainable remediation, and stormwater management. Alexis enjoys volunteering in her community 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 EE from Michigan Technological University, Sustainable Futures Institute. She authored three peer-reviewed journal articles on water treatment technologies, sustainability indicators, and sustainable solid waste management.
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Peter Lindstrom Peter Lindstrom is the Local Government Outreach Coordinator with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) at the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. In this role Peter spearheads outreach and education to local units of government (i.e., cities, counties, townships, school districts) about approaches for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, particularly through the Guaranteed Energy Saving Program (GESP). Peter is also the Mayor of the City of Falcon Heights, MN, and serves on the Regional Council of Mayors. Most recently, Peter was Assistant Director of the Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School, Executive Director of SciMathMN, and the Vice President of Public Affairs at the Minnesota High Tech Association.
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Fritz Ebinger Fritz Ebinger is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Rural Energy Development Program Manager for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. In this role, he works on energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives with agricultural producers to reduce farm production costs 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, graduating and passing the Minnesota Bar in 2008. While at Drake, he focused 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 and was a solo practitioner from 2011-2013. Most recently, he comes to CERTs from The Minnesota Project where he managed their farm energy programs.
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Sarah Hayden Shaw 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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Chris Meyer Chris Meyer is the Southeast CERT Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Almost done with an MS in Environmental Policy Management with an emphasis on Energy and Sustainability from Denver University, Chris also has a BFA in printmaking from the University of Minnesota and a BS in Economics from Drake University. A personal journey which started with a desire to install solar panels lead to a DIY project for a net-zero-energy home remodel, becoming a residential PV site assessor, community solar organizing, and coordinating the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society’s statewide renewable energy tour. Chris is an Extension Master Gardener and helps organize and works in a community garden that donates produce to local food shelves, and is working with the City of Winona to implement a residential rain garden program.
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Brian Bluhm Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency Brian Bluhm is the Northeast CERT Coordinator based at the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency. Brian has a B.A. in Anthropology and a M.Ed. in Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Active in sustainability education for over 10 years, Brian is also the Executive Director for the Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability and Coordinator of the Rutabaga Project to increase local and nutritious food access in NE MN.
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Anna Carlson Bemidji State University Anna Carlson is the Northwest CERT Coordinator and the Assistant Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University. Anna was first introduced to CERTs in Northeast Minnesota in 2005 as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She went on to get her M.S. in Environmental Studies Policy and Planning from Bemidji State University. Last year, Anna received her doctorate in Sustainable Energy Planning from Aalborg University in Denmark where she studied barriers and opportunities to wind integration in the state of Minnesota. She is excited to be back home in Northern Minnesota working to promote sustainability in her community as the Assistant Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University as well as Northwest CERTs coordinator.
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Kristi Fernholz Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission Kristi Fernholz became the West Central CERT Coordinator in 2016, although she has been on the West Central Steering Committee for several years. Kristi is a Senior Planner at the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission where she has worked since 2000. She has worked on a variety of projects assisting local units of government in her region, including grants management, grant writing, comprehensive planning, tourism development and coordination of a number of programs. Kristi has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in Environmental Studies from University of Minnesota Duluth. She uses that unique combination in her work as much as possible. For example, she is the coordinator of the Meander Art Crawl through her work at the UMVRDC, but she has also been an artist of the Meander Art Crawl since it began in 2004. Kristi began her interest in renewable energy in college through her studies, and then on her organic farm where she and her husband put in a geothermal system to heat their home. Kristi enjoys photography, gardening, traveling, camping and being with her 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 Co-Director 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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Kathryn Phillips Kathryn Phillips joined the Great Plains Institute in July 2016 as a Program Assistant. She supports the work of the many project within the Sustainable Communities focus area at the Institute, including Metro CERT. Kathryn recently graduated from Carleton College, where she majored in Environmental Studies. The summer before her senior year at Carleton, Kathryn was a GreenStep Cities intern for the City of Northfield. This experience solidified her interest in sustainable energy and introduced her to the Great Plains Institute. She is excited to continue building her understanding of the obstacles and opportunities that communities face in implementing sustainable energy projects.
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Katie Hosch Minnesota GreenCorps Katie Hosch is a Minnesota GreenCorps member based at the Great Plains Institute. Katie’s role is to help cities improve and maintain energy efficiency in public buildings. Katie primarily works with the Minnesota GreenStep Cities and Metro CERT programs, helping cities take advantage of existing technical assistance and financing programs. Before coming to GPI, Katie graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris in May of 2016 with a degree in Environmental Studies. While attending university, Katie was involved with the Office of Sustainability where she worked on assessing sustainability and assisted with building climate resiliency in Morris. In prior work, Katie was an Ecotourism intern at the Center for Small Towns and an intern for the USDA Agricultural Research Service where she evaluated the pollination rates of oil seed cover crops.
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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 Fiedler Annette Fiedler 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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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 State Energy Office Clean Energy & Programs Manager at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Michelle supervises the State Energy Office, which is made up of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and training experts.
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Kim Havey Kim Havey is the coordinator of the Program Connections team and the Made in Minnesota (MiM) Solar Incentive Program. In its first three years, the $150 million 10 year MiM program has funded more than 16 MWs of Solar PV and over 1,000 distinct projects throughout Minnesota. The Program connections team oversees the State Energy Office (SEO) communications and outreach including the Eco-Experience at the MN State Fair, website and newsletters such as Renewable News. Kim previously established a record of success as the co-founder of Sustology, a sustainable design-consulting firm that focuses on environmental sustainability. Kim earned a BBA in Real Estate from the UW – Madison and a MURP from the U of MN. He is accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP).
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Minnesotans building a clean energy future

         

    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission