Clean Energy Resource Teams staff work across Minnestoa to help communities with their energy projects.
2023 All Staff
Nik Allen is the Northeast CERT Coordinator with a focus on residential clean energy across Minnesota.
She earned a B.A. at The College of Saint Scholastica and is pursuing a master's degree. Nik has consulted for and partnered with myriad nonprofits including Mending the Sacred Hoop and MN350.
She is also a two time cancer survivor and member of the Flat Closure Now initiative. Nik lives on a small farm on Minnesota's Iron Range. Energy use is offset by one of 8th Fire Solar's early solar thermal furnaces and the Allens plan to increase sustainability on the property. The Allen Farm is home to the Gertrude Elizabeth Allen Nature Preserve and is part of less than 1% of land owned by women of color globally.
Heidi Auel is the Central CERT Coordinator specializing in non-residential energy efficiency across Minnesota.
She grew up in the Twin Cities but currently resides in Brainerd. After obtaining a degree in animal ecology from Iowa State and moving back home to Minnesota to work as a naturalist, she went to Hamline University for her masters of teaching. Working with Climate Generation, school gardens, and Project YES! as a science educator fueled her passion for sustainability in all areas.
When not working to help others with energy efficiency, she enjoys outdoor adventures, reading, baking, and traveling to state and national parks.
Aaron Backs joined the Great Plains Institute in 2023 as a program associate supporting Metro CERT. In this role, he helps coordinate the 11-county Metro CERT region, with a programming emphasis on energy efficiency and solar for underserved communities.
Prior to joining as a staff member, Aaron served at GPI as an AmeriCorps Sustainability Project Coordinator. During his service, he supported Metro CERT initiatives related to solar and underserved businesses, and organized energy efficiency blitz events for manufactured home parks.
Aaron graduated from Macalester College with a B.A. in environmental studies and an emphasis in political science.
Shaylyn joined CERTS after leading digital communications and content strategy in various roles at the Bush Foundation, the 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 Sir Duke Knuckles the dog. She is an active Master Naturalist, winter enthusiast, and toddler craft artisan. Shaylyn is focused on advancing CERTs’ clean energy mission through storytelling, audience engagement, and providing strategic direction to CERTs’ communications work.
Melissa grew up — and currently lives — in north-central Minnesota. Prior to joining CERTs in 2017, Melissa earned a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and worked in education and applied research, as well as in the nonprofit sector. Her work has focused on the space where community, economy, and environment come together, seeking win-win-win opportunities.
Nadya Bucklin grew up in Southwest Minnesota and earned her B.A. in global studies and her master's of development practice (MDP) from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Before moving back to Southwest Minnesota and joining the Southwest Regional Development Commission, she spent considerable time in the Twin Cities area as well as abroad, working in the childcare, teaching English as a foreign language, and in the non-profit sectors. She also served with AmeriCorps as a family and community engagement liaison for a charter school in Minneapolis. She is currently working with CERTs through the SRDC office. When not involved in SRDC and CERTs work, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hanging out with cats, and traveling.
Tess Dornfeld (she/her) is a Metro CERT program associate, working to connect individuals and organizations with resources to identify and implement community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the region.
She grew up in Owatonna on Wahpeton land, and earned her B.A. at Carleton College in Northfield, and M.A. at American University in Washington, D.C., both in environmental politics. In between, she spent nearly a decade working in campaign and community organizing in Minnesota, as well as Boundary Waters outfitting, along with international sustainable development, education, and field ecology work. Tess enjoys craft beer and doughnuts, and to even them out, biking and cross-country skiing.
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.
Jennifer Lindahl is the Southeast CERT Coordinator, located in the Rochester Extension office, focused on renewable energy siting across Minnesota
Jennifer grew up in Zimmerman, MN and attended UW-Stevens Point where she earned her B.S. in natural resources/biology. Jennifer’s vast experience includes small sustainable farming, working for both the MN & WI DNR in fisheries/aquatic exotics, native prairie and wetland restoration, co-organizer of the Transportation and Innovation expo, farmers’ market founder and manager, Lake Pepin Pride founder and organizer, mother to two teenagers and a dog.
Jennifer has a small obsession with plants (nearly 100 live in her home), hound dogs (especially basset hounds), and sunflowers.
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 CERT Co-Director/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 the launch of MN EV Smart Cities & MN Native Nations EV Smart in 2023. Most recently Diana has helped launch a project focused on equitable access to rooftop solar for underserved, especially BIPOC and immigrant owned small businesses. Diana has coordinated successful events, forums, and tours, including the annual Brake for Breakfast gathering and the SolarWorks workshop series.
Prior to joining CERTs, 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.
Imani Mosher is the West Central CERT Coordinator.
She earned a bachelor of arts in political science and environmental studies from St. Olaf College. While completing her undergraduate degree she was a co-founder of the Climate Justice Collective.
Imani thrives when connecting with stakeholders to develop plans, policies, and projects that keep people at the center of community-led solutions to climate change. In previous positions, Imani collaborated with the City of Minneapolis to co-create the Minneapolis Climate Equity Plan, conducted post-occupancy research on net-zero affordable housing, and supported design teams to achieve certification with various green building standards.
At CERTs she supports local energy efficiency projects in the West Central region and her statewide work focuses on utility innovation — exploring new ways for utilities to advance energy efficiency and engage with the communities they serve.
Anna Peterson joined the University of Minnesota Extension in 2012, where she supported the NW Regional Sustainable Development Partnership among other Extension Educators. She reached a long-time goal of graduating with her bachelor of science from the University of Minnesota while being a mother to four children, helping her husband on their farm, and working full-time.
Anna is the Northwest CERT Coordinator and focused on non-residential renewable energy across Minnesota.
Karen supports CERT’s on-the-ground work through data collection and research.
Before joining the team in 2023, she worked in food justice, sustainability, cooperative development, and English education across the Midwest and in Japan. Karen holds an M.S. in environmental policy and planning, an M.A. in international and regional studies from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. from Macalester College.
When she is not in the Saint Paul office, find her riding her bike, cooking Japanese food, or foraging for her next meal.
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 across the state.
Jacob 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.
Jason earned a B.A. in International Relations and French from Morningside College and an M.A. 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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