Clean Energy Resource Teams staff work across the state to help communities with their energy projects.
2022 Staff Retreat
Colby Abazs is the Northeast CERT Coordinator. Colby grew up in an off-grid home powered by solar and wind energy. As a kid, the batteries had to be above 50 volts to be allowed to watch movies. This sparked his interest in energy production and usage at a young age, a passion that he has continued to pursue throughout life. While in college, Colby took on leadership roles in student governance on both the college and statewide levels, allowing him to expand his community engagement skills. He recently completed a ten month trip exploring cultures and communities around the world and is now settling into the family homestead in Finland, MN. Colby is excited about all the momentum around clean energy projects in the Northeast CERT region and across the state.
Kristoffer Acuña joined the Great Plains Institute (GPI) in 2018 and is a program assistant with the Communities Program, working primarily with the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (Metro CERT). In this role, Kris works on the Cities Charging Ahead! project, aimed at helping MN cities understand and become what it means to be electric vehicle ready. Kris conducted research at GPI as part of the REAMP City Action Team, a coalition of groups from five midwestern states examining what cities are doing to address climate change. He also assists with additional projects for GPI’s work as part of the Metro CERT and other projects that are part of our Communities Program. Always having a love for the natural world, Kris graduated from Yale University with a bachelor of science in astrophysics.
Shaylyn joined CERTS after leading digital communications and content strategy in roles at the Bush Foundation, University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Born and raised in Mandan, North Dakota, Shaylyn earned her bachelor's in art history at the University of Minnesota and calls Saint Paul her home along with her husband, son, and Duke the dog. She is an active Master Naturalist, winter enthusiast, and self-proclaimed urban farmer. Shaylyn is focused on advancing CERTs’ clean energy mission through storytelling, audience engagement, and providing strategic direction to CERTs’ communications work.
Melissa grew up in north-central Minnesota. Prior to joining the Clean Energy Resource Teams in 2017, she earned a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and worked in teaching, research, and the nonprofit sector. Her work has focused on the space where community, economy, and environment come together, seeking win-win-win opportunities. At CERTs, she enjoys supporting communities in reaching their clean energy goals: in the Central Region, she provides broad-based outreach and assistance to communities of all types, while statewide, she supports the clean energy efforts of businesses and nonprofits through technical assistance and connection to funding opportunities.
Emily is passionate about the role stories play in creating community and connections. Using people-centered storytelling, she highlights RSDP’s and CERTs’ community-focused work and clean energy efforts across the state. Emily earned a B.S. in mass communications and journalism from St. Cloud State University and is pursuing a M.A. in strategic communication from the University of Minnesota. She resides in North St. Paul with her spouse and their rescue pup, Ralphie.
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 twenty years experience coordinating and managing community clean energy activities and has worked with CERTs since 2004. A jack of all trades, Joel works across CERTs programming. His current focus areas include MN Energy Stories, electric vehicles (EVs), and helping Minnesotans reduce their energy burden to below 5% of their monthly income.
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. She has worked domestically and internationally on community development issues. At CERTs, Maggie plans, organizes, promotes, and executes 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. Maggie enjoys biking to work, running, and yoga.
Peter Lindstrom is the Manager of Public Sector & Community Engagement 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. Peter also represents District 10 on the Metropolitan Council, and served as the mayor of Falcon Heights for 10 years. 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.
Diana McKeown is the Metro CERT Director at the Great Plains Institute. Diana has led the Metro region of CERTs since October 2007, coordinating and participating in a number of clean energy initiatives: Apple Valley’s Better Energy Program, Neighborhood Energy Service -- a partnership to deliver residential energy workshops and home visits in all 17 Saint Paul neighborhoods, 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, and several peer cohorts including Powering Ahead with Vehicle Electrification (PAVE) with Municipal Utilities and Cities Charging Ahead with over 40 Minnesota communities to learn about and take action on vehicle electrification, 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.
Chris Meyer is the Southeast CERT Coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. She recently earned 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 work in a community garden that donates produce to local food shelves. She is also working with the City of Winona to implement a residential rain garden program.
Lissa Pawlisch is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Director for the University of Minnesota Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Over the past fifteen years she has guided CERTs—a unique program partnership designed to connect individuals and communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community scale clean energy projects. After an environmental consulting stint, she got her Masters in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy. Lissa is passionate about working directly with communities to help them understand their energy options, the values that drive their projects, how technologies and practices can be deployed, and how to harness community capacity to affect change. Her current focus areas include assisting local jurisdictions with clean energy, advancing collaborations with utilities, and community solar gardens.
Jacob Selseth is the West Central CERT Coordinator. Selseth grew up around hands-on folks that build and install the things that make our buildings work. This led him down a path where he could leverage that background and build on it while earning his B.S. in Energy Management from Moorhead State University. He began as a intern at Moorhead Public Service in a time when they were developing the “Capture the Wind” program that provides wind energy to its customers. From then on he was hooked on helping people make wise decisions on how they use energy and choose the best technologies to achieve their goals. He became a Certified Energy Manger with the Association of Energy Engineers to better help lower energy bills, reduce carbon footprint, and increase production while maximizing efficiency. Jacob has enjoyed working from multiple sides of the meter including generation, distribution, and directly for consumers. This gives him a unique understanding of each perspective and aides greatly in navigating the industry to find the best energy solutions. Jacob likes to think we can always be improving and doing things better. He looks at all types of energy and technology to best achieve peoples’ goals. When not thinking of ways to better use energy, he keeps his feet on the ground with his three boys working in the barn, gardening, and finding other ways to play in the dirt. When he wants to pick up the pace a bit, he is an avid alpine skier and triathlete.
As the Program Associate for Clean Energy and Resilient Communities with Northwest CERT and RSDP, Stassen works with local governments, nonprofits, foundations, and partners across Northwest Minnesota to connect local sustainability and clean energy projects to research, education, and resources at the University of Minnesota. Stassen spent 18 years as a college football coach at Valley City State, North Dakota State and University of Minnesota Crookston. His next career move was as Executive Director of the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce, which included being director of the United Way of Crookston and Crookston Convention and Visitors Bureau. That opportunity led him to working most recently as City Administrator for the City of Crookston the past six years. Shannon has lived in Crookston for over 20 years and is the father of four children.
Alexis Troschinetz is the Behavioral Science and Evaluation Manager with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) at the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension. She infuses behavior change science into CERTs programs; builds relationships and offers programming to utilities; and evaluates CERTs’ programs by tracking quantitative and qualitative metrics. She’s presented at Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference, Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association conferences, and Energy Design Conference (a few times). She has also presented at the American Evaluation Association and Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conferences and authored four peer-reviewed journal articles. Alexis holds a professional engineering license in Minnesota and earned a B.S. and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University, Sustainable Futures Institute. Alexis practiced Environmental Engineering for over 7 years at two consulting firms prior to CERTs, working on sustainable operations, remediation, and stormwater.
Jason earned a BA in International Relations and French from Morningside College and an MA in Public Administration from Western Illinois University. He taught English in Madagascar as a Peace Corps Volunteer and has experience working as a Community Development Specialist and as a supervisor in corrections and human services settings. Before joining the SRDC he was the Assistant Dean of Adult Education at Muscatine Community College for about six years. When he is not attending meetings, he enjoys cycling, lifting, and spending time with his wife Christina, son Camden, and border collie Benji.
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