Clean Energy Resource Teams staff work across the state to help communities with their energy projects.
2018 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.
Joel Anastasio is the Northwest CERT Coordinator based at the Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) in Bemidji. In his role at HRDC, Joel serves as the Environmental and Development Specialist where he works on advancement and planning in the areas of clean energy, climate change, natural resource and environmental management, community development, and transportation. Currently, Joel serves on the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee and partners with the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). As a native Floridian, he spent 20 years of his life by the beach, which influenced his love for the ocean and the environment. After his first two years at Edison State College, Joel moved to North Carolina and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He is in the final stages of completing his Masters in Energy Regulation and Law from Vermont Law School and was chosen as the recipient of the Vermont Law School Academic Excellence Award. Outside of his professional and collegiate career, Joel enjoys spending time with his wife and two golden retrievers, hiking, boating on the lake, cooking, and traveling.
Melissa Birch is the Central CERT Coordinator. Melissa grew up in north-central Minnesota and has a B.A. in French from Gustavus Adolphus College, an M.A. in International Relations and Environmental Policy from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where she focused on environmental policy and economic development. She has worked and volunteered in research, non-profit organizations, natural resource management, and education in locations ranging from Mexico to Massachusetts to Minnesota. She is passionate about finding ways that clean energy can help meet communities’ needs.
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 and rural businesses to reduce farm and business production costs and advance utility conservation planning. Fritz is a graduate of St. John’s University and served in the Peace Corps as an Agroforestry Volunteer in Panama. He then attended Drake Law School as a Public Service Scholar where he focused on agricultural, environmental, and natural resources law and wrote for the Drake Agricultural Law Journal. Following graduation and passing the bar, Fritz served as a law clerk in Minnesota’s Third Judicial District before starting his clean energy career in wind and rural energy matters. Se habla Español.
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, Solid Waste, 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 and serves of the National Regional Development Organization Transportation Council of Peers. 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.
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.
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. Peter is also involved with the Roseville Area Schools Foundation, Family Housing Fund, and Northwest Youth and Family Services.
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.
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.
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.
Dan Thiede has directed communications work for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in Minnesota for more than a decade, and was honored to receive a 40 Under 40 award from Midwest Energy News in 2017. In his role with the Clean Energy Resource Teams, 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 an M.A. in Strategic Communications from the University of Minnesota and an undergrad degree from the University of St. Thomas in geography and English writing, as well as a minor in environmental studies.
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 the American Evaluation Association; Behavior, Energy and Climate Change; Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education; and Energy Design conferences (as well as at the CERTs Conference, of course!) and she’s authored four peer-reviewed journal articles. Alexis loves volunteering and and currently serves on her neighborhood’s Board of Directors. Alexis holds her professional engineering license and has 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.
Terry Webster is the Senior Events and Publications Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, where he has been since 2005. He is the author of many energy-related articles, consumer guides, and fact sheets distributed by the energy division. He also delivers public presentations throughout the state on a wide range of energy conservation and efficiency topics. The past several years he has been the project manager for the Energy exhibit in the Eco Experience at the MN State Fair, which provides energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy messages to Minnesotans. He is also presently the project manager for the Clean Energy Community Award program, which recognizes communities who are working to implement Minnesota’s clean energy goals and provides technical assistance to communities that are in the planning stages of energy projects. Prior to working for the State of Minnesota, Terry was a writing and design consultant for several years and began his working life as a carpenter and residential building contractor. He resides with his wife in a 1930s bungalow in the Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis.
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