Anne Schenk currently serves as the Director of the Deal Desk at AEP Energy where she leads a cross-functional team of energy professionals designing custom sustainable energy solutions. She has program delivery responsibility for the implementation of AEP Energy’s integrated solar and wind portfolio solution for Google and the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, as well as the City of Columbus Municipal Aggregation. Prior to her current role, she oversaw AEP Energy’s entire Risk Management and Pricing functions. Anne also currently serves as Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) liaison for AEP Energy, assisting in the implementation of AEP’s long-term D&I roadmap in the supply business. Anne’s career in retail energy included leadership positions with Volunteer Energy and Direct Energy, with expertise in legal, regulatory, financial, settlements, wholesale power delivery and retail customer behavior.
Michael Benson and his business partner founded their consulting firm in 2018 with a focus on electrification for local governments, developing microgrids for municipalities to support mission-critical electric vehicle fleets. Retired Chief Benson has served as a volunteer and career firefighter, paramedic and fire officer, with his last eleven years as a Fire Chief for Copley Township in Summit County, Ohio. Chief Benson has an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati; a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Anna Maria College; and a professional certificate in Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies from Stanford University. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. He lives in Wadsworth Ohio with his wife and three children, and drives a 2018 Tesla Model 3.
Craig Foster, PE
Craig is the Director of Delivered Services and Lead Engineer for Energility LLC, an energy management firm serving small businesses and non-profits. He is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) who has been in the energy management industry working with commercial and industrial businesses since 1977. He has performed energy audits on over 1,000 buildings, acted as lead mechanical engineer for facilities, construction, and developed industrial environmental and safety programs. Craig has been involved in the solar industry since his research assistant days at the University of Iowa College of Engineering, sometimes directly and always as an enthusiast. Craig and his wife Kathy have five daughters, eight grandchildren, and one golden retriever/boxer mix. They like to take their trailer camping and just hang out together.
Current Board Members
Gary’s professional career is defined largely by his passion for solar and environmental stewardship. His intimate experience living with solar, coupled with a lifetime in the construction industry, led him to found Appalachian Renewable Power Systems (ARP Solar). Gary is a NABCEP Certified PV Installation professional, a certified home energy analyst through the Building Performance Institute, carries his OSHA-30 certification and is a member of several industry-related organizations. Gary was also recently approved by the OCILB to sit for his Master Electrical License. ARP Solar has been specializing in the installation of solar PV systems for residential, agricultural and commercial customers in Ohio, WV, Illinois and Western PA since 2008.
Chris Ellis leads Greenworks Lending from Nuveen’s origination efforts in six Midwestern states. In a little over 2 years, he has originated nearly $100 million in PACE financing. Prior to joining Greenworks, Chris held numerous positions in commercial real estate over his 20-year career. Most recently, he was Vice President, Investor Relations with White Oak Partners, where he was responsible for raising equity and oversaw investor reporting. Prior to his time at White Oak, Chris spent 11 years at Glimcher Realty Trust as Senior Director, Investments. Prior to joining Glimcher, Chris had 10 years of experience at Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) in the Real Estate Accounting and the Real Estate Investment Division. He holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting, The Ohio State University and an M.B.A. from The Dauch School of Business at Ashland University.
Jake is the Midwest Market Lead for Madison Energy Investments, a leading nationwide clean energy infrastructure owner and operator as well as Executive Director for Shared Power Network, a nonprofit solar energy development partner for educational entities. He earned his undergraduate degrees from Miami University (OH), completed a master’s thesis on energy policy at the University of Chicago and an MBA in marketing and leadership at The Ohio State University.
Phil is Southwest Ohio Director and In-House Counsel for Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC). Prior to joining SOPEC in 2021, he was in private practice for nearly 9 years at Leppla Associates, Ltd. In addition, Phil is an Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund Board Member, Committee Member of Greater Dayton Conservation Fund, and a Member of the Dayton Bar Association. He is also a solar activist/evangelist, having organized the Dayton Area Solar Co-ops in collaboration with Solar United Neighbors of Ohio and co-founded Miami Valley Solar Future.
Tony has had a distinguished career in environmental and agricultural policy making, in addition to farming 850 acres with his brothers in Trumbull County, Ohio. He served as USDA’s Ohio Rural Development Director from 2009-2016. Prior to USDA, Tony served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and practiced Agricultural & Natural Resources law in Ohio. He currently serves on the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) for the Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Presently, Tony offers consulting services in Agrivoltaics and Waste-to-Energy Technologies, and provides project development assistance through his company, The Renewables Space.
Dr. Robert McCollister was trained as a Climate Reality presenter in Chicago in 2013 and since then has given over 35 presentations to audiences across Ohio and in West Virginia. Professionally he earned his Ph.D. in Political Science in 1992 from Ohio State with a major in International Relations, and a concentration in National Security Policy Studies, focusing on nuclear weapons and arms control. He has taught at Ohio State, Morehead State, and Shawnee State University, but he has devoted his life to teaching high school social studies and coaching high school football.
Fred Michel is a Professor of Biosystems Engineering at the Ohio State University-Wooster. He has over 80 peer reviewed publications in the areas of bioethanol production, composting and alternative natural rubber processing. In 2006 he spent a sabbatical year at the US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory developing processes for the conversion Ohio cellulosic feedstocks to ethanol. He teaches Solar Energy Systems and is an ETA certified Photovoltaic Level 1 installer and test administrator. Fred chairs the OSU Wooster Sustainability Committee and serves as President of the Wayne County Sustainable Energy network. The network delivers a variety of educational programs, organizes events focused on green energy and sustainability and has partnered with local schools and other community organizations to install solar energy systems. He also serves on the Boards of the Organics Recycling Association of Ohio and the Secrest Arboretum. Fred and his family live in Wooster in one of the first PUCO certified solar powered homes in Ohio.
Amanda is the Senior Regulatory Manager at National Grid Renewables, a full-service renewable energy company based in Bloomington, Minnesota, with over 20 years’ experience in utility regulation. She provides legislative and regulatory guidance related to sound renewable energy policies across multiple states, including Ohio. Prior to joining National Grid Renewables, Amanda was a staff member at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio where she focused on energy assurance planning and grid modernization efforts. Born and raised in Central Ohio, Amanda received both her undergraduate degrees and MBA from Franklin University (OH).
Unbeknownst to him, Michael’s professional career began when he was a junior in high school. Michael graduated from the Construction Electricity Program at the Southeast Career Center in 1985. Over thirty years later, Michael’s love for the craft grew into multiple successful businesses. He is the owner of Watt 1 Electrical Systems, LLC, a state of Ohio licensed electrical contracting business that he founded in 2000. Watt 1 provides electrical services for commercial, industrial and residential customers. In addition to installing solar energy systems, Watt 1 is an authorized Tesla Charging Station installer. In 2009 and 2011, Michael shared his expertise with the Ohio State University team in the U.S. DOE Solar Decathlon competition. Michael is also the Executive Director of the National Skilled Trades Network (NSTN). NSTN is a National Center for Construction and Research (NCCCER) Accredited Training Sponsor (ATS). NSTN’s mission is to provide NCCER Accredited Construction Trades Training in underserved communities around the country.
Jeremy Welch serves as the Renewable Energy Coordinator for the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC). The IKORCC is a proud affiliate of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and represents nearly 35,000 professional tradespeople in 36 localities in the tri-state area. Jeremy’s work focuses on bringing renewable energy projects to completion within time and on budget by providing the best trained, most efficient workforce to meet even the most demanding of schedules. His commitment to creating career opportunities for young men and women in the emerging renewable energy market is coupled with the IKORCC’s goal of providing them with skillsets to fulfill their construction profession goals.