Plenary Speakers

Monday, May 20
Tuesday, May 21
Thursday, May 23

Monday, May 20
6:30-9pm ET | George Washington University’s Grand Ballroom & Online

Opening Reception: Energy Economics – Real Data to Show We Are on Track – Making Money and Jobs with the Energy Transformation

Moderators: Paulette Middleton & Abraham Ellis

Rana Adib, Executive Director at REN21
Rana Adib is the Executive Director of REN21-Renewables Now, the largest global renewable energy community of governments, civil society, industry, and academia. She is also the Chair of SLOCAT, an international multi-stakeholder partnership promoting knowledge and action on sustainable, low-carbon transport. Rana has worked in private industry and applied research in the fields of renewable energy, energy access, and waste management. She was also responsible for coordinating Veolia Environnement’s biogas energy research programme. Rana has more than 20 years of experience in the energy sector and holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Wedel in Germany.

Yueming (Lucy) Qiu, Professor at the University of Maryland College Park
Yueming (Lucy) Qiu is a professor and associate dean for research and faculty affairs in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland College Park. She also serves as vice president of academic affairs of the United States Association for Energy Economics. Qiu’s research group focuses on using big data with quasi-experimental and experimental methods to answer empirical questions related to the interactions among consumer behaviors, low-carbon technologies and incentives. Her research projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, Department of Defense, Electric Power Research Institute and Water Research Foundation. Qiu received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and B.S. from Tsinghua University. She has published in journals including The Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Nature Energy, Nature Sustainability and Nature Communications. She is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award and the APPAM World Citizen Prizes in Environmental Performance.

Tom Weirich, Marketing & Stakeholder Relations Lead at EDP Renewables
Tom has been a facilitator in building collaboration and connecting key players in the global renewable energy industry for over 19 years, having worked with teams that have closed over 243 renewable energy transactions with a combined enterprise value of $66 billion. He is also the award-winning author of “We Took the Risk” (Published: Fall, 2022).

He previously worked with two key clean energy investment banking advisory firms based in New York as Director of Marketing at Rubicon Capital Advisors and Director of Marketing & Business Development at CohnReznick Capital. Prior to that, Tom was Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations and interim Chief Operating Officer at the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) in Washington, D.C., where he managed and oversaw corporate relations and public affairs for 12 years working with key global developers, financiers and power generators.

Tom served under the Obama Administration twice in honorary roles, advising both the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative on renewable energy trade and manufacturing policies. He has been acknowledged for his contributions to the solar industry by Renewable Energy World as part of its inaugural “Top 40 under 40 in Solar” and has been listed five years in a row on kWh Analytics’ #Solar100 List, which recognizes key solar energy thought leaders in the United States.

Colin Silver, Senior Vice President of Content & Strategy at Solar Energy Industries Association
Colin is responsible for a number of key functions as SEIA’s Senior Vice President of Content & Strategy. He works directly with SEIA’s President & CEO, and the rest of the Executive Team, to manage strategic projects and initiatives, support the SEIA Board of Directors, advance long-term planning and ensure that internal resources are in place to achieve success. As an advisor to the CEO, Colin provides counsel on a number of policy, management and communications issues. Colin oversees the development, refinement and delivery of high-quality content through various mediums, including in-person and online events, web and digital resource management, video and graphic design, and other high-impact collateral.

Tuesday, May 21

8-9am ET | George Washington University’s Grand Ballroom & Online
Plenary Session: Shared Responsibilities: Driving Clean Energy Policy Transformation at Federal, State, and Local Level

Jigar Shah, Director at DOE Loan Programs Office
Jigar Shah is the Director for the Loan Programs Office at the U.S. Department of Energy, where he leads and directs the organization’s considerable loan authority within manufacturing, innovative project finance, and tribal energy. With more than 25 years of experience in clean energy, he is an expert in project finance, clean technology, and entrepreneurship, as well as a visionary leader and innovator in the field of sustainable infrastructure.

Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy
Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus is the Director of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). SETO has an annual budget of over $300 million to advance solar technology and support an equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system. This includes innovative research on photovoltaic and concentrating solar-thermal power technologies, grid integration, and analysis and technical assistance to reduce soft costs and increase access to affordable solar energy. Dr. Jones-Albertus also works with DOE leadership and interagency partners on key issues such as supply chains, grid modernization, and workforce training.

Dr. Jones-Albertus has spent her career advancing solar technology and working to reduce regulatory barriers to solar deployment. Prior to joining the Energy Department, Dr. Jones-Albertus worked in the private sector, where she led efforts to develop solar cells that twice achieved world-record efficiencies. Dr. Jones-Albertus graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University and holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She has more than 10 patents and 40 technical publications.

9:15-10:30am ET | George Washington University’s Grand Ballroom & Online
Panel Session:  Efficiency First: Reducing Load through Energy Efficiency, Tightening Buildings, and Electrifying Everything for a More Economically Stable Communities and Fair Future
Moderator: Debbie Coleman

Jamie Lyons, Technical Director of Zero Energy Ready Home program and Vice President at Newport Partners LLC
Jamie Lyons of Newport Partners conducts research and analysis on building performance and energy efficient design. Over 20+ years in the building industry he’s been involved with integrating energy efficient technologies into new and existing buildings. As the Technical Director for the U.S. DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Homes program, he supports builders, designers, energy efficiency programs, and many other stakeholders to help them achieve solutions for high performance homes and buildings. Jamie has degrees in Mechanical and Environmental Engineering and is registered Professional Engineer in Maryland.

Paul Pinsky, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration
Paul Pinsky was appointed by Governor Moore to be the Director of the Maryland Energy Administration and he took office on January 18, 2023. Prior to his appointment as director, he was elected to the Maryland State Senate seven times. As a senator, he chaired the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. He has also served on the Maryland Commission on Climate Change since its inception. He is the principal author of dozens of environmental laws that have helped shape most major state environmental policies in Maryland over the last two decades. He attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a B.A. degree in public affairs.

Xavier Walter, Director of Outreach at Building Performance Association
Xavier Walter is the Director of Outreach for the Building Performance Association. He began his career in home performance in 2008 after serving in the United States Navy and spending years in the construction finance and lending industries. As Director of Outreach, Xavier works to identify new opportunities, establish connections, and foster strategic partnerships on behalf of the Association.

Stephen Kalland, Executive Director of the NC Clean Energy Technology Center
Experienced Executive Director with a demonstrated history of working in government, non-profit and higher education fields. Skilled in Environmental Awareness, Policy Analysis, Renewable Energy, and Energy Policy. Strong business development professional with a Master of Science (M.S.) focused in Public Policy Analysis from University of Rochester.

Thursday, May 23

8-9:30am ET | George Washington University’s Grand Ballroom & Online
Plenary Session: A Sustainable Circular Economy: A Call to Action
Moderator: Dave Ginley

Maria Curry-Nkansah, lead for the NREL Circular Economy for Energy Materials-Advanced Energy Materials strategic initiative
Maria Curry-Nkansah started at NREL in 2019 and is a senior research advisor and lead for the NREL Circular Economy for Energy Materials-Advanced Energy Materials strategic initiative. She is responsible for leading short- and long-range planning and implementation for projects that promote a closed-loop system for increased resiliency, durability, and recovery of critical materials, components, and devices for low-carbon intensity technologies. Prior to NREL, she spent 6 years as the chief operating officer for Argonne National Laboratory’s physical sciences and engineering directorate with 800 staff and $150 million in annual funding. Her role included oversight of fiscal, IT, and human resource management; major infrastructure planning; safety and quality assurance; driving safe, cost-effective, and efficient research; and development operations.

Remez Nam; Author & Climate and clean energy investor

Sonia Dunlop, CEO of Global Solar Council
Sonia Dunlop is CEO of the Global Solar Council and has worked in the solar PV industry, renewables policy and climate finance space for almost 15 years. She has previously worked for Solar Power Europe, the European PV association, and Solar Energy UK, as well as being heavily involved in RE-Source Platform. Over the last five years she has been part of the Senior Management Team of climate politics think tank Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G) and worked for the COP26 Glasgow organising team in the UK government. She also spent five years in the European Parliament in Brussels working on renewables and energy infrastructure policy. She has expertise in development finance, renewables policy, digitalisation of energy, Multilateral Development Banks climate finance and corporate Power Purchase Agreements. Sonia speaks fluent English, French and Italian as well as basic Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese, has two children and is based in London.

9:45-11am ET | George Washington University’s Grand Ballroom & Online
Panel Session: Breaking Down the Systemic Roadblocks: Improving Permitting and Siting, Educating the Public and Accelerating Implementation for a More Just and Equitable Future
Moderator: Mark Fowler

Paul Fenn, Owner, Founder, President of Local Power, LLC

Leading community energy consultant to U.S. cities and states. (1) co-authored the nation’s original Municipal Aggregation legislation in Massachusetts in 1995, and authored the original Community Choice (CCA) laws including California’s. (2) Drafted the world’s first “Solar Bond” in San Francisco, 2001. Today over one-half of the U.S. electricity market have CCA laws, with 1800 municipalities serving 10% of Americans; Green Bonds are a $T/year industry worldwide, $5B issued by California CCAs (3) Developed CCA 2.0 model for the California (focused on Solar Bonds & local investment) in 2013. Currently (4) Implementing our new “CCA 3.0” model for municipalities in the Northeast U.S., focused on “climate equity.” In 2022, the American Solar Energy Society gave Local Power’s founder its Leadership in Market Transformation award for achievements in CCA and Community Solar.


Mary Ellen Barker, Founder & CEO of Solar Land Agent, LLC
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. Solar Land Agent is pivotal in guiding developers and landowners through the intricate landscape of renewable energy. With a commitment to excellence, Mary Ellen continues to shape the Renewable Energy sector.

11:15-12:30pm ET | George Washington University’s Grand Ballroom & Online
Panel Session: Workforce Transformation: Re-training and Empowering a Diverse Workforce
Moderator: Larry Sherwood

Andrew Schwartz, Credit Risk Officer at the U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. Andrew Schwartz is currently Division Director for Materials Sciences and Engineering in the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES). From 2013-2022 Dr. Andrew Schwartz served as a Senior Technical Advisor in BES. From 2008 to 2013 Dr. Schwartz was the BES Program Manager for Experimental Condensed Matter Physics. Prior to joining BES, Dr. Schwartz spent seven years in industry leading a multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering team in the research and development of a new technology for semiconductor metrology. Dr. Schwartz received a B.A. in physics from Amherst College and an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from UCLA.

Sandra Begay, Research at Indian Energy Lead at Sandia National Labs
Sandra Begay, the daughter of a tribal leader and a public health nurse, is a member of the Navajo Nation; she has been an engineer for 33 years. Sandra is a research and development engineer at Sandia National Laboratories. She earned a BS degree – Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico and a MS – Structural Engineering from Stanford University. Sandra has enjoyed 20 years of providing tribal technical assistance. She is proud to have mentored 49 tribal college students (60% female). Former interns are highly respected technical staff and leaders within tribes, industry, academia, and NGOs.

Cynthia Finley, IREC Vice President for Workforce Strategy and Innovation
Cynthia serves as Vice President, Workforce and Strategic Initiatives, creating calculated programming helping to expand workforce development in clean energy. Cynthia’s previous experience includes higher education, workforce development, adult education, fiscal management, programs for justice-impacted individuals, and research in building social capital for underserved communities. Cynthia is passionate about developing sustainable and equitable career opportunities and pathways for underrepresented populations in the clean energy workforce. Cynthia is currently a Ph.D. candidate, with an expected to publish date of December 2023 for her research on social capital in workforce development and community college programming. She has also published material related to justice-impacted students.


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