Board of Directors

Our board members are essential to the operations of ASES and hail from all corners of the solar and renewable energy field. They are tasked with ensuring our programs are aligned with the ASES mission. Board elections are held annually and by special appointment. For more information, please contact

  • Benjamin Luce

  • Chair

Benjamin Luce

A physicist and musician, Ben returned in 2008 to live among the beautiful mountains of Vermont (which he holds dear) after 14 years in New Mexico, where he served as president and an educator with the New Mexico Solar Energy Association and advocated with NMSEA and other environmental nonprofits to pass significant renewable energy legislation in the state. He also spent 14 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the theoretical physics division, where his specialty was nonlinear dynamics, a branch of which is known colloquially as “chaos theory,” and where he also served as renewable energy program manager and conducted research in renewables. His background in nonlinear dynamics sensitized him to the potential for rapid global climate change and inspired his focus on sustainability and renewable energy. He is a Physics professor at Vermont State University, where he teaches physics, renewable energy science, electricity and electronics, and acoustics. Besides his physics Ph.D, he holds a B.S. in Sound Recording, plays keyboards and other instruments, and conducts research on vintage synthesizers. He is also an avid hiker and a student of Chinese and French.

  • Karen Soares

  • Vice Chair

Karen Soares is a small business owner with over 20 years of combined experience in leadership, technology, training, communications, and energy. She has a creative knack for developing and deploying automated environments to increase and improve productivity for customers.

For the past 8 years, Ms. Soares has been a dedicated energy consultant who has been intimately engaged in building systems, centered on energy efficiency, auditing, quality assurance, and training. She has trained more than 100 participants on Green IT & Energy for Colleges and Non-Profit Organizations. She is a dynamic leader who values excellence in her work and believes strongly in quality standards and process improvements.

Ms. Soares holds principal positions with Go Eagle Energy, LLC, (GEE) and GENNX Technologies. She currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Barber-Scotia College, a private, co-ed, historically black college (HBCU), located in Concord, NC, founded in 1867 by Rev. Luke Dorland, who was commissioned by the Presbyterian Church to “find a place” and establish an institution in the South to educate the daughters of freed slaves.

In 2008, Barber-Scotia College saw the need and demonstrated a commitment to educating students in alternative energy technologies, when the institution became the first and only HBCU to offer a degree in Renewable Energy. The college is developing the technical workforce while ensuring a diverse population is on the front lines, shaping the energy sector. “We are building a model of institutional advancement and excellence and we are dedicated to the effective training of future professional leaders to serve our changing world.” As Chairman, she leads the charge for the college’s mission to build the “Campus of the Future.”

It is her desire to help underserved communities and expand the ASES organization’s reach by sharing its mission and values with students and institutions across the globe to make an impact on preserving the environment for future generations.

Ms. Soares is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in field of Engineering Law from the College of Energy Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • Dara Bortman

  • Secretary

Dara Bortman

Dara, along with her husband Mark, owns and operates Exact Solar, which installs residential and commercial solar energy systems in NJ and PA. They are proud to own one of the only installation companies in the Greater Philadelphia area that installs solar electric/PV, solar water heating, and solar pool heating systems. Dara manages sales, marketing, HR and IT for the company. After 15 years, Exact Solar has a reputation for exceptionally high-quality installations, award-winning customer service, deep community connections, and effective environmental policy advocacy. Exact Solar is a “business for good” that provides living wages for its employees, donates time and services to those in need in its local communities, and runs almost 100% on clean, renewable, solar energy. To be successful at defining company strategy and moving clean energy forward in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Dara partners regularly with local environmental groups and nonprofits to share how solar energy systems work and how they reduce fossil-fuel usage and increase grid resiliency, all while saving consumers money.

Dara graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Computer Science Engineering degree in 1991.

  • Tom Thompson

  • Treasurer

Tom Thompson

In the last 8 years, Tom has been instrumental in bringing 3 of the world’s leading PV manufacturers to market at industry-leading average sales prices in advance of these companies achieving brand recognition.

With 4 decades in the renewable and conventional energy industries, he has executive leadership experience in relationship building and management, crisis management, business development, and technology sales. He’s held senior management positions in the private sector, as a regulator, in the utility industry, as a manufacturer, and in the not-for-profit arena.

Tom is the VP of Sales with the Solaria Corp., an American PV technology company where he has been part of a team that led a sales and marketing transformation, leading to 500% top-line-volume growth in 24 months.

Tom is Principal of Gridwerks Consulting, Inc., working with the leading solar technology manufacturers to execute strategies to reach the utility, C&I and residential solar sectors. Gridwerks also develops PV systems, solar + storage projects, and landmark building-integrated photovoltaics projects as well as the first Fuel Cell Micro-grid/Co-gen/E-Gen Power System in a Manhattan high-rise.

Tom was VP at LONGi Solar Technology US, Inc. – the world’s largest solar manufacturer – where he secured the company’s first international, utility-scale, non-recourse financed PV project as part of over 100 MW of sales in the second half of 2017. Tom also served on LONGi’s Section 201 trade case task force.

Tom was USA Sales Team Leader at JA Solar (2014 – 2016) and the leading sales performer (200+ MW). Tom was part of the development team for Central America’s largest solar farm – 90 MW at the Horus Station in Chiquimulilla, Guatemala.

Tom was a co-founder of the 1st Rochdale Cooperative Group NYC – the nation’s first urban electric cooperative – and served as VP, Sustainability from 2000 – 2005.

Tom was Executive Director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (’95-’00) where he led the organization through a period of tremendous growth in event activity, membership and revenues.
Tom was a Regulatory Analyst & Program Developer at the New York State Public Service Commission (1986-1995). He worked with IOU staff, government officials and ratepayers on Efficiency & Demand Management programs. Tom led the creation of the nation’s largest ratepayer-funded, low-income weatherization program.

Tom served as President of New York Solar Energy Industries Association (06–09) & serves on the Board of New York Solar Energy Society (2009 to present). In 2013, Tom was elected to the Board of the Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE), serving as Chairman until 2015.

He continues to be a solar industry spokesperson and an advocate for a 100% renewable energy vision.

  • Mary Ellen Barker

Mary Ellen Barker

Mary Ellen Barker is the Founder and CEO of Solar Land Agent, LLC.   Establishing Solar Land Agent is a testament to Mary Ellen’s commitment to advancing Renewable Energy solutions. Her team offers comprehensive Renewable Energy site advisory services, seamlessly integrating a wealth of experience in Renewable Energy, Finance, Economic Development, Real Estate, and Agriculture.

Solar Land Agent clients include developers and landowners involved in developing energy projects across the United States. Projects include utility-scale solar farms, battery storage systems, and site identification for any renewable energy project.

Hailing from the Peach State of Georgia, Mary Ellen is an alumna of the University of Georgia, where she majored in Finance and Risk Management. She completed her post-graduate work at Mercer University, earning an MBA.

Mary Ellen Served as the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Director of International Trade for many years before starting her real estate and renewable business.

  • Abraham Ellis

Abraham Ellis

Abraham has spent the bulk of his 25-year professional career working on solar and other renewable technologies from the point of view of research (performance modeling, reliability, manufacturing), grid integration (systems analysis, inverter technologies), and applications ranging from rural development to large-scale PV power plants. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on solar as part of an educational institution, an investor-owned utility and a national laboratory, where he led a $15M/year R&D program.

His experience includes work as a research engineer at Southwest Technology Development Institute (SWTDI) at New Mexico State University (NMSU) from 1995 to 2000, system planning engineer at Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) from 2000 to 2008, and research lead in renewable systems integration at Sandia National Laboratories since 2008, where he currently serves as Program Manager for Energy Efficiency and Manufacturing and Program Deputy for Secure Energy and Earth Systems. Between 2014 and 2019, He also managed Sandia’s Solar and Distributed Systems Integration Department.

  • Robert Foster

Robert is an international renewable energy development specialist who has worked in over 40 countries in the past 35 years. He has implemented thousands of renewable energy projects utilizing solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and biomass technologies. Robert has been an ASES member since 1990 and has served as Chairman of the Texas Solar Energy Society, as well as President of the El Paso Solar Energy Association.

Robert is a retiree from New Mexico State University after 25 years as the International Manager for the Southwest Region Solar Experiment Station and still teaches NMSU renewable energy courses.

He was Technical Manager for the DOE/USAID Mexico Renewable Energy Program for Sandia Labs; Winrock International (WI) wind energy manager for the USAID Dominican Republic Electrical Energy Sector Project; Texas Tiger Team lead for the DOE Solar America Initiative; and instructor for the NREL Wind Energy Applications Symposium. Robert was the World Bank solar consultant for the Honduras Proyecto de Infraestructura Rural and Nicaraguan Programa de Energía Renovables in Zonas Aisladas. He was Chief Engineer for the USAID Afghanistan Clean Energy Program. He worked with WI and SunDanzer in Kenya to develop direct drive solar milk chillers for the USAID Powering Agriculture Energy Grand Challenge.

He is presently collaborating with Sheladia and the Asian Development Bank on solar water pumping for Bangladeshi farmers, as well as with WI and SunDanzer and the International Fund for Agricultural Development on direct drive solar chillers for fish preservation in East Africa.

Robert earned a B. S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from NMSU. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer from the Dominican Republic. Robert grew up on the Mexican border in El Paso, where he still lives, and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

  • David Ginley

David Ginley

David S. Ginley’s current activities are in the areas of the general class of defective transition metal oxides including high temperature superconductors, LiTMO2 rechargeable Li battery materials, ferroelectric materials, transparent conducting oxides, and electrochromic materials. Another focus of his work is on the development of new nanomaterials for organic electronics and as biofilters etc.

Dr. Ginley’s work is directed primarily at the development of new atmospheric processing approaches to photovoltaics.

Some of Dr. Ginley’s work in progress is on the development of high-quality materials (single crystal films) by pulsed laser deposition, sputtering, ion beam-assisted deposition, and characterization of the materials in the doped and undoped states by optical and transport measurements. In addition to developing a fundamental understanding of the interrelationship of structure and electronic properties, Dr. Ginley and his research group are applying what they learn to improved devices, i.e. batteries, frequency-agile electronics, photovoltaics, electrochromics and flat panel displays. To transition these results to more practical approaches, they are investigating the development of nonvacuum, direct-writeable electronic materials. This is done through the development of nanoparticulate and ink-based precursors. This involves the synthesis of the nanoparticles, development of inks and ink deposition techniques, derivation of a fundamental understanding of the sintering behavior of nanoparticles and the evolution of the bulk structural and electronic properties.

Dr. Ginley’s work has developed new inks for metallization and the development of highly anisotropic oxide nanoparticles. Currently, Dr. Ginley is also the principal investigator (PI) on new programs in the areas of combinatorial materials science for high throughput discovery of new electrooptical materials including transparent conducing oxides, nitrites and borides.

  • Sampson Hao

Sampson Hao

Sampson Hao earned his masters at the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Environmental Science & Sustainability. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Rochester where he demonstrated proficiency in analyzing quantitative data through R and GIS. At Loyola, Sampson completed his masters thesis on the property value impacts of utility-scale solar projects in the Midwest. Prior to moving to Chicago, Sampson worked on many applied, energy related research projects for organizations such as Pattern Energy, the Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC), and The Nature Conservancy.

Sampson now works as an Associate Project Manager at Pine Gate Renewables in North Carolina, and he received the John and Barbara Yellott Award from the American Solar Energy Society in 2023.

Sampson is passionate about being a key part of the energy transition process through his dedication and innovation. With a background in research and utility-scale solar development, Sampson is excited to contribute his knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges at the American Solar Energy Society.

  • Sydney Muñoz

Sydney Muñoz

Sydney Muñoz is a sustainability professional with more than half a decade of experience leading projects, programs, and initiatives on sustainability, circularity, renewable energy, waste reduction, and alternative transportation within nonprofit, government, and university spaces. Her work is focused on sustainability project and program management, community engagement, and leading initiatives to reduce waste and emissions.

Sydney is the Sustainability Specialist for Goodwill Industries International, where her work is centered on coordinating sustainability initiatives and projects in collaboration with Goodwill’s 150+ member organizations. Prior to her work at Goodwill Industries International, Sydney served as the Community Engagement Coordinator for RE-volv, a nonprofit solar energy organization that helps other nonprofits across the country go solar. At RE-volv, Sydney managed RE-volv’s volunteer Solar Ambassador Program, communications, and community engagement efforts.

Sydney earned a Master of Sustainability Leadership degree from Arizona State University along with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing and a certificate in Sustainability Leadership from Southern Oregon University.

  • Debbie Rucker Coleman


As a licensed architect for over 30 years, Debbie has designed hundreds of passive solar homes for clients across the United States and Canada in many climate zones. Her Bachelor of Architecture degree was obtained from the University of Arizona. She wrote and published a book on passive solar design – “The Sun-Inspired House: Home Designs Warmed and Brightened by the Sun.” The book and her design philosophies incorporate information from “Passive Solar Design Strategies; Guidelines for Home Building,” developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and are continuously evolving to adapt to low-energy construction methods, climate changes, and housing and energy technologies. Her work has been published in Fine Homebuilding, Home Energy, Mother Earth News, Solar Today, and Home Power.

Debbie is president of Sun Plans, Vice-Chair of the ASES Solar Buildings Technical Division, on the steering committee for the National Solar Tour, and a newly elected member of the ASES Board of Directors. She looks forward to assisting ASES with the goals of sharing knowledge and technologies related to the many uses of solar energy in general as well as interacting with others who share her passion for passive solar technologies.

  • Henry Vandermark

Henry Vandermark

Henry brings the hands-on experience of a wide range of solar thermal systems.  Described as “a visionary,” Henry founded Solar Wave Energy in 1978. Over the last 30 years, he has been involved in all aspects of the design, installation, and service of solar thermal systems – including overseeing site-built and factory-built collectors and systems and servicing most of the many types of solar hot water systems used in the Northeast. Henry brings the detailed analysis of these mechanical system operations from years of installation and system assessment. He bought his first datalogger back in 1978 and has been looking at sensors ever since. He has taught conference workshops, trade school classes, and programs for teachers. Henry has been honored with the “Cambridge First Day” award given by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the City of Cambridge for his work preserving the environment – and the Distinguished Service Award from the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. He continues to consult on solar thermal designs for building applications.

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