2019 Forum Speakers
The following is a list of the dynamic speakers we have lined up. Simply click on the speaker’s name to learn more about them.
Anita Hill, University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University, is a vital leader in both the civil rights and women’s rights movements. In 1991, Anita made sexual harassment in the workplace a national issue when she testified that Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had committed sexual harassment against her. Today, Anita continues to push the envelope in pursuit of women’s and civil rights, teaming up with MacArthur Genius Award-winning artist Mark Branford and prominent academics all over the country.
Anita is collaborating with Mark Branford to create a 400-foot cycloramic painting in the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. The painting will display publicly for the first time the lost text of civil rights activist Myrtle Evers-Williams’s would-be speech at the iconic 1963 “March on the Mall,” titled, “Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom.” Anita serves as Branford’s liaison to Mrs. Evers-Williams, engaging her in the creative process and seeking her blessing for the installation.
On the front of women’s rights, Anita is spearheading “Restoring the Vision”, a project to revive awareness of Title IX, the crucial law mandating equal education and employment opportunities for women. Anita will speak at businesses, universities including Radcliffe and leadership conferences including the Simmons leadership program that strive for gender equity. Combining these lectures with scholarship presenting stories of women in the academy, Anita will address the challenges women face in reaching workplace parity and highlight ways to increase women’s access to higher education.
“Restoring the Vision” will kickstart research and reform while empowering women to stand up for equal pay and education for years to come.
Anita keeps alive the legacy she bravely began in the early 1990s. She inspires the hundreds of students whom she has taught as University Professor at Brandeis and thousands more who follow her example in creating a better society in America. As long as women and minorities face discrimination in the U.S., for Anita Hill, there is more work to be done.
Five years ago, Anne Dougherty left a thriving practice at large and successful energy service company to create a new kind of consulting agency. With co-founder Sara Conzemius, Anne’s goal was to reboot workplace culture to ultimately change the status quo and grow more women in leadership. ILLUME Advising has achieved this and more. ILLUME’s culturally diverse, mostly female, team of consultants have a reputation for delivering clear insight in fresh and game-changing ways. Anne is a skilled researcher and customer experience design consultant who specializes in the human dimensions of energy technologies and resource management. She is a widely known expert in behavior change strategies, marketing, education and outreach research, and emerging smart grid technologies. In her career, Anne has led multi-million dollar research initiatives across multiple years of engagement. She has a strong history of repeat work with state utility commissions and the US’s largest investor-owned utilities. She has built her expertise and deft inquiry skills into ILLUME’s DNA, training the next generation of researchers to ask broadening questions that anticipate industry needs and trends.
A lover of people and process, Anne is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and stakeholder group facilitator. She brings her perspective and commitment to diversity to every position of influence, from lecturing at the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences to providing expert testimony at the US Department of Energy, the California Public Utilities Commission, NYSERDA, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and the Maryland Public Utilities Commission. Widely published, Anne’s work can be found in academic journals and peer-reviewed industry proceedings. Anne serves on the planning committee for the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference, has given seven years of service to the Behavior, Energy and Climate Conferences, and sits on the US Department of Energy Working Group on Behavioral Energy Efficiency.
Fred Tutman is a grassroots community advocate for clean water in Maryland’s longest and deepest intrastate waterway and holds the title of Patuxent Riverkeeper and organization that he founded in 2004. He also lives and works on an active farm located near the Patuxent that has been his family’s ancestral home for nearly a century. Prior to Riverkeeping, Fred spent nearly 25 years working as a media producer and consultant on telecommunications assignments all over the globe, including a long stint working with and advising traditional healers in West Africa and coverage of the Falkands conflict in Argentina on assignment by the BBC. After a late life sojourn into law school, and in addition to his duties as a Waterkeeper, Fred also teaches and advises in the Graduate Studies program of Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont and has also taught classes in Environmental Law and Policy at various Colleges in Maryland. In his spare time he does trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail when not exploring the Patuxent River by kayak. Fred is the recipient of numerous regional and state awards for his various environmental works on behalf of communities He is among the longest serving Waterkeepers in the Chesapeake region and the sole African-American Waterkeeper in the Nation.
Ronald Brise leverages a wealth of experience in governmental, legislative, political and business arenas to represent the interests of clients in matters that include appropriations, business development, education, governmental and legislative affairs, public policy, and economic development.
Ronald is an accomplished commissioner, legislative leader and senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in telecom, energy, utilities, government and business. He has established himself as a thought leader in telecom having testified before the U.S. Senate on telecom issues, served on the joint board on universal service and on the Universal Service Administrative Company.
With Miami-Dade County roots and his involvement in both Central and South Florida, Ronald’s in-depth experience working in Florida’s government began with his election to represent District 108 in the Florida House of Representatives at the age of 32 for his first term running through 2006 – 2008. During his time in the Legislature, Brise was designated democratic whip and served as vice chair of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators.Following his tenure in the Florida Legislature, Ronald was tapped to serve on the Florida Public Service Commission where he served multiple terms including in the role of chair.
Ronald is passionate about bringing together different people and interests to accomplish a common goal, and leverages his relationships with policymakers both nationally and internationally on behalf of clients.
Rhonda is the Corporate Diversity Lead for Illinois American Water and spearheads the Supplier Diversity initiative, as well as manages the company’s Inclusion & Diversity strategy. She supports Bruce Hauk, the current Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council, as the 2019 chair of the IUBDC’s Advisory & Strategic Planning committee.
Blessed to have her personal passion for minority business growth and development align with her professional aspirations, she has previously served as Executive Director for the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council where she was appointed by Governor Jay Nixon to serve on the State of Missouri’s Disparity Study Oversight Review. She has previously led the supplier diversity strategies for The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Caterpillar Inc.
Other accolades include being recognized as a “2015 Diverse Business Leader” by the St. Louis Business Journal, a “Champion of Diversity” by both DiversityPlus and Diversity in Color, as well as a “First Lady of Supplier Diversity” by the Minority Business News.
She is an active community volunteer and advocate for urban youth, women and minority businesses in the region, having previously served on boards and committees including: the Charles Drew Advisory Board, South Side Early Childhood Center, the Women’s Society at Washington University, the Women’s Group of Race Relations, United Way’s de Tocqueville Society and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis Women’s Leadership Circle.
As a serious advocate of the St. Louis arts community, she has been a member of Grand Center’s Art & Life Alliance Giving Circle, and currently serves as the acting-chair of the Ignite Theatre Company Board of Directors, and board member for the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) and the Tennessee Williams Festival. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Division of the United Way.
She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., The Links, Incorporated, and the Carats Incorporated.
Rhonda Carter Adams is a native of Magnolia, MS, relocating in 2011 from Peoria, IL to the St. Louis area with her husband, Carlton, and now nine-year old daughter, Riley.
Lauren is a seasoned executive with over 30 years of energy program management, consulting and policy experience, including over a decade in the utility industry in various leadership roles at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Lauren launched Resource Solutions Group in 2006 to provide resource energy and water efficiency program design and implementation services across the country. The dynamic team she led combined best in class technical and engineering services with innovative market-based strategies to deliver cost-effective savings for utility clients and their customers. Lauren joined CLEAResult through acquisition of Resource Solutions Group in 2011. She held several key executive roles at CLEAResult including Board member, Senior Vice President of the California and Midwest Region, and SVP of National Policy and Regulatory Relations. Getting back to her entrepreneurial passion, Lauren founded Resource Innovations in 2016, where she integrates her extensive experience working with diverse clients and stakeholders to provide strategic planning, consulting and implementation services to a variety of energy industry clients. Resource Innovations is a woman owned business (WBE) with a growing team of talented and committed energy professionals across the country focused on empowering people and communities to make smart resource choices.
Melicia Charles is the Director of Public Policy for California at Sunrun. Melicia has over a decade of experience developing and managing clean energy programs. Prior to working for Sunrun, Melicia worked at the California Public Utilities Commission where she oversaw the California Solar Initiative, the Self-Generation Incentive Program, as well as oversaw the development and implementation of net energy metering policies. Melicia helped lead the development of the CPUC’s 1.3 GW energy procurement storage target. Most recently, Melicia oversaw the CPUC’s transportation electrification policies and programs and policies related to disadvantaged communities. Melicia has an MBA from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.
Anne Choate is a Senior Vice President with ICF. She leads a Division compromised of roughly 750 professionals who passionately dedicate themselves to solving some of the greatest challenges facing humanity: changes in climate, energy master planning in developing economies, resilience of critical infrastructure, transformation of the surface transportation sector, spread of infectious diseases, and workforce development to name a few.
For more than a decade, Ms. Choate led ICF’s climate risk and resiliency efforts, including development of several risk management frameworks and ground-breaking risk mitigation studies for various categories of infrastructure.
Ms. Choate was an author on the Fourth National Climate Assessment, she serves on the Climate Change and Energy Task Force for the National Academies of Science Transportation Research Board, and in her spare time, she is on the Board of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Pennsylvania. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two daughters.
Sara Conzemius is the co-founder of ILLUME Advising LLC (ILLUME), a woman owned boutique market research firm recently named the number one consulting firm for overall leadership in a national ranking conducted by Ivy Executive. Ms. Conzemius is a 20 year veteran of the energy efficiency space spending the first half of her career leading the implementation of some of the largest residential programs in the country. She has spent the latter half of her career focused on research and policy work in support of both residential and commercial demand side markets. Ms. Conzemius is a past Board Chairwoman for the Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP) and is currently the head of the energy efficiency working group for the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate.
Jonah Cooper, Jr. is a community-minded educational entrepreneur with a passion for developing innovative non-traditional strategic alliances to achieve shared organizational goals within new and emerging markets. As the Principal of Jonah Cooper, Jr. LLC, his company provides consulting services specializing in workforce development, business development and strategic partnership creation. Jonah Cooper, Jr. LLC exists to assist corporations, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs in looking to non-traditional partners to grow their services and their bottom line. His signature program which he conceptualized and developed is HANOJ: Helping America Negotiate Opportunities and Jobs – a workforce development process.
He is the former Director of Business Engagement for Rowan College at Burlington County and previously served as the Director of Business Development for the Rutgers University Division of Continuing Studies. Prior to that appointment, Jonah was an Independent Consultant for Rutgers University’s Institute for Executive Leadership and Diversity. In this capacity, he developed training and educational on-line products and programs for adult learners throughout the corporate community, minority business associations, and for other institutions of higher learning.
He co-developed the On-line Supplier Diversity Training Program which was initially developed as a partnership between Rutgers University and the National Minority Supplier Development Council. This training program became the first on-line training program for Supplier Diversity Professionals. He also co-developed the curriculum for the Institute for Supply Management’s Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity certification program.
As an Independent Consultant to the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Jonah provided business development, marketing support and outreach to over 430 national corporate members.
He is the former Director of Business Development for the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, where he was responsible for developing, reviewing, recommending, and maintaining the Authority’s business development support programs.
Jonah’s community mind-set began in his former position as Executive Director of the Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development Corporation (MEND), a non-profit business and affordable housing development corporation created by nine churches in Southern New Jersey. He identified and secured funding and investment sources necessary to build over 300 homes for low to moderate-income senior citizens and families.
He is the proud father of three daughters, three grandchildren, one great-grandchild and is an accomplished pianist and music arranger, coin collector, and motivational presenter.
His motto in business and in life: “I’m Your Partner for the Possible”
Jade Davis is Vice President of External Affairs at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Port of Cleveland). In his current role, Jade leads the Port’s government affairs initiatives, communications operations and marketing campaigns. Additionally, some key components of his duties at the Port include business development, regulatory affairs, and senior management duties.
Prior to his role at the Port, he served as the Senior Director of State Affairs and Outreach at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) in Washington DC; where he led the development of the organization’s strategic outreach program and coordinated legislative and regulatory actions across 35 states.
Jade has also served as the Legislative Liaison to the Ohio General Assembly and the Ohio Congressional delegation for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Early in his career, Jade served as a Policy Analyst for the Ohio Senate with a primary focus on energy and economic development issues.
Jade received a B.A. from The College of Wooster and an M.P.A. in Economic Development and Policy from Eastern Michigan University. He also serves on the Policy Committee for the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Karamu House Board of Directors, Ohio Environmental Council Board of Directors, After School All-Stars Cleveland Advisory Board and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Jade and his wife, Crystal, have two children, and reside in Northeast Ohio.
With the company for 20 years, Tremese has held various positions, serving most recently as the regional director of operations for the South Metro Region and the Apprentice Utility Program where she was responsible for developing and executing operations strategy, developing a team of over 100 employees, driving exceptional operational results while delivering safe, reliable, and efficient service to more than 250,000 customers throughout south metro Atlanta region.
Now serving in her current role as director, Supplier Diversity, Tremese is responsible for directing, developing and executing corporate-wide supplier and business development strategy as a vital component of the organization’s strategic goals and enterprise values. Tremese also has the primary responsibility for the development and oversight of policies, procedures and programs that support the company’s endeavors to engage, develop and grow its business diversity initiatives.
Tremese has developed an extraordinary background in people leadership, analysis, operations and workforce development.
Tremese earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Georgia Southern University and holds a Masters of Business Administration from Mercer University. She is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified. She is a 2015 graduate of Leadership DeKalb and a 2016 graduate of Leadership Rockdale. Tremese sits on the boards of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), the Atlanta Business League (ABL), Leadership DeKalb, and the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC).
Greg DeShields currently serves as the Executive Director at PHLDiversity a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Greg is a Graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with an A.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management; and B.S. Degree in Hospitality Management.
Professional Development Leadership Graduate: Urban League of Philadelphia, Leadership Forum, Leadership Philadelphia and Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange.
His professional certifications include: American Hotel & Lodging Association, Educational Institute – Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) and Asian American Hotel Owners Association – Certified Hotel Owner CHO)
Previously, Greg served as Managing Director of Business Development and adjunct instructor for Temple University Fox School of Business & School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. Industry Expert for Ying Mei Jia Tong International Business Consulting Co., Ltd. (Liaocheng and Tai’an, China) and faculty for Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and Hospitality Educators. Professionally, Greg has been a manager in the hospitality industry for such companies as Hyatt Hotel, Omni Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, Korman Company, General Manager of Philadelphia OIC’s Opportunities Inn: Hospitality Training Institute
Greg’s interests include cars, travel, and most importantly cooking.
Laurie Dowling is President of The Dowling-Woo Company, a woman and minority-owned small business. Laurie is a consultant who works with non-profit organizations and for-profit enterprises on strategic issues including general management, fundraising, executive search, strategic planning, management development, diversity, and board development. As a consultant, Laurie is Executive Director for the National Utilities Diversity Council, a national non-profit organization that conducts research to educate, develop best practices and guide efforts that will promote diversity in the utilities industry in the areas of governance, employment, procurement, language access/customer service, and philanthropy. She also consults in the areas of arts management and executive search. For eight years Laurie was Executive Director of the Office of Executive Education Programs of the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
At UCLA she was responsible for oversight of all aspects of one of the world’s top executive education programs, from corporate relationship management and sales to curriculum design and program operation — serving over 1,500 executives annually. At UCLA, one of Laurie’s most significant accomplishments was the development of the Leadership Suite of programs – the African American Leadership Institute, the Latino Leadership Institute, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Leadership Institute, the Women’s Leadership Institute, and the Leadership Institute for Managers with Disabilities — the only suite of its kind at a school of management in the world. For the Leadership Institute for Managers with Disabilities, Laurie was the program designer and faculty co-director. Prior to joining UCLA Anderson in late 1999, Laurie was Development Director for Women’s Enterprise Development Corporation, designing curricula, raising funds, and overseeing Board development for this non-profit organization which provided entrepreneurial training, technical assistance and loan packaging for women and men to start their own businesses or make their existing enterprises more successful. A key event in Laurie’s experience has been her work as Development Director for the 1993 Los Angeles Festival, an international, intercultural, interdisciplinary arts festival that presented 600 artists over a 5-week period in 49 sites around Los Angeles for an audience of 750,000. Directed by opera director Peter Sellars, the Festival highlighted the arts of Africa and the Middle East and was a direct response to the 1992 civil unrest that rocked Los Angeles. Laurie serves on the Boards of Directors of Californians for Higher Education, which encourages support of public higher education in California, and Old Stories: New Lives, which supports the work of iconoclastic director Peter Sellars. Laurie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, a graduate of the Executive Program at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and a resident of Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. She is married to Michael Woo.
Lance Escue is an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Director with Leidos Engineering, LLC. Lance is a Certified Energy Manager, Certified Energy Auditor, and Certified Demand Side Manager and has served as an Implementation Program Manager for the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program since its inception in 2008. Lance holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served ten years in the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power Program, primarily stationed on east coast based ballistic missile submarines. Lance has more than twenty-five years of experience in the consulting engineering field and currently operates out of Ameren Illinois office in Peoria, IL.
Tim Findley is Division Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Kindred Healthcare. In the position Findley has overall responsibility for the creation and implementation of the enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion strategy.
Dr. Findley has a doctoral degree from Spalding University, an MBA from Webster University, and a bachelor degree from the University of Louisville. Dr. Findley is certified as a diversity professional/advanced practitioner by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he is also a member of the adjunct faculty teaching leadership in supplier diversity. Dr. Findley also is or has been an adjunct instructor at Webster University, Spalding University, Sullivan University, the University of Phoenix, and Jefferson Community College.
Dr. Findley is former chairperson and vice chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Father Maloney’s Boy’s Haven and former chairperson of the Premier Supplier Diversity Committee. Premier is one of the nation’s largest performance improvement alliances of approximately 3,400 U.S. hospitals and 110,000 other providers. They bring together hospitals, health systems, physicians and other healthcare providers with the goal to lead the transformation to coordinated, high-quality, cost-effective care. He is a former board member of the Volunteers of America, the Louisville Central Community Centers, and the Kentucky Industrials for the Blind. Dr. Findley has been a presenter at numerous conferences regionally and nationally, speaking on topics of leadership, diversity and inclusion, cultural competency, and communications.
Formerly in pre-med, Patrick is the founder and president of Florville Catalyst, a Minority-owned marketing/design/brand strategy firm, based in New York City. A brand strategist with over 35 years’ experience, Patrick has provided an impressive array of leading corporations and organizations, results-driven, award-winning creative that engage, inspire and motivate audiences. Patrick’s work is included in international exhibits and is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Design at the Cooper Hewitt.
Marybeth Gasman is the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise include the history of American higher education, Minority Serving Institutions (with an emphasis on Historically Black Colleges and Universities), racism and diversity, fundraising and philanthropy, and higher education leadership. Marybeth is the founding director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), which works to amplify the contributions, strengthen, and support MSIs and those scholars interested in them. She holds secondary appointments in history, African Studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice. Marybeth is the author or editor of 25 books, including Educating a Diverse Nation (Harvard University Press, 2015 with Clif Conrad), Envisioning Black Colleges (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), and Academics Going Public (Routledge Press, 2016). Her newest book, Making Black Scientists (with Thai-Huy Nguyen), is forthcoming with Harvard University Press. She has written over 250 peer-reviewed articles, scholarly essays, and book chapters. Marybeth has penned over 450 opinion articles for the nation’s newspapers and magazines and is ranked by Education Week as one of the 10 most influential education scholars in the nation. She has raised over $22 million in grant funding to support her research and that of her students, mentees, and MSI partners. Marybeth serves on the board of trustees of The College Board as well as Paul Quinn College, a small, urban, historically Black College in Dallas, Texas. She considers her proudest accomplishment to be receiving the University of Pennsylvania’s Provost Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring, serving as the dissertation chair for over 80 doctoral students since 2003.
Paula R. Glover is President and CEO for the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), a national energy trade association that represents all sectors of the energy industry. Mrs. Glover leads a 2000-member association with 40 chapters nationwide. The association’s focus is to represent the voice for African Americans and other minorities on energy policy, regulations, and environmental issues. Mrs. Glover directs the association’s strategic plan, business development and policy positions. She represents the organization before energy industry executives and national and state policy makers. She is an industry thought leader for issues around diversity and inclusion. Her work on international energy issues underscores the importance of energy to improve the quality of life for people throughout the African Continent. The association under Mrs. Glover’s leadership has partnered with the US Department of Energy on its Minorities in Energy initiative as well as business development programming for minority entrepreneurs.
She has also testified before Congress about the impact of policies on underserved communities. Ms. Glover’s has more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry, including 15 years in both electric and natural gas distribution companies where she has worked in government affairs, regulatory affairs and economic development. In March 2014 Ms. Glover was appointed to the National Petroleum Council by U.S. Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz. In June of 2017 she was voted onto the Board of Directors for the Alliance to Save Energy. Mrs. Glover is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Maryland Energy and Sustainability Center at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Mrs. Glover received her B.S. in Marketing Management from the University of Delaware. She is the recipient of the Bring It Home to Hartford Award; the Clarke Watson Chairman’s Cup and the Platinum Achievement Award from the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program at Fort Valley State University. She is a 2003 graduate of Leadership New Haven and has contributed to articles on work life balance in Take Pride magazine.
Charlie Harak is managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center for energy and utilities issues. He represents consumers before regulatory agencies, testifies at legislative hearings, and provides legal and policy counsel to low-income advocates, legal services lawyers, and government officials. He also devotes much of his time to training lawyers, advocates, and front-line social services staff regarding the rights of utility customers, and contributes to NCLC manuals and publications. He has been actively involved in the development and implementation of the long-running arrearage management program (AMP) in Massachusetts, and his advocacy led to the adoption of an AMP in the District of Columbia. Much of his work also focuses on energy efficiency issues, including federal appliance efficiency standards and advocating for larger and smarter energy efficiency investments in affordable multifamily housing, and climate change.
Mr. Harak received a B.A. degree from Cornell University and his law degree from Northeastern University. He is the author or co-author of several publications regarding utility services, including NCLC’s energy/utilities treatise, Access to Utility Service and The Rights of Utility Consumers in Massachusetts. Mr. Harak holds a seat on the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council and its Fuel Assistance Advisory Group.
In May 2018, Bruce Hauk was promoted to Senior Vice President of American Water’s Midwest Division, which includes management oversight of the states of Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa.
Hauk continues in his role as president of Illinois American Water, the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing water and/or wastewater services to approximately 1.3 million people. In this role, Hauk reinforces and strengthens customer, regulatory and local government relationships, drives operational and financial results and is the principal external contact for American Water in Illinois.
Hauk, who lives in Edwardsville, is a champion of employee recognition and inclusion. He often says the best asset of Illinois American Water is its employees. This is supported by his strong focus on employee safety and diversity. His leadership and communication skills, coupled with his broad operations and business experience, have contributed to Illinois American Water’s success.
Before joining Illinois American Water, Hauk served as the vice president of Financial Analysis & Decision Support for American Water. Prior to that, he served as vice president of Operations for Indiana American Water, where he oversaw all operations within Indiana American Water’s service districts. His responsibilities included leading operations at all of Indiana American Water’s treatment and distribution facilities, as well as the company’s employees in Indiana.
Hauk previously worked for Indiana American Water from 1996 to 2002 as a supervisor at the Johnson County Operations and as a superintendent for the Noblesville District. He also served as director of public works, town manager and deputy mayor/chief administrative officer for the City of Westfield, Indiana.
Lance joined EQT in 2012 to head EQT Corporation’s Supplier Diversity (SD) program. As a man of faith, he gives all praise and glory to GOD and believes it is imperative to give back to those who are less fortunate. He uses his platform at EQT to foster and develop MBEs to earn business with corporations because he believes it will enrich our communities and employ many who would otherwise not be employed if minority owned firms did not exist.
Prior to joining EQT, Lance served as a consultant to both global corporations and diverse firms to aid in their diverse business development strategies and as a community advocate and proponent for socioeconomic business development, Lance has earned commendations from two U.S. Senators, the Governor of California and received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. Recognized as a Supplier Diversity leader, since joining EQT seven years ago as the single headcount of EQT’s supplier diversity program, EQT’s annual diversity spend has increased one thousand five hundred forty-four percent (1,544%) from $73 million in January of 2012 to $1.2 Billion in 2018. EQT became the first Oil and Gas company to spend over one billion dollars of Tier 1 spend with diverse suppliers in one year in the U.S. and be named the NMSDC’ Class 1 National Corporation of the Year. This year, he was selected as the Supplier Diversity Professional of the Year by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). Through his leadership, he drafted the White Paper for the NMSDC’s Petrochemical Energy Industry Group and successfully brokered numerous multi-million-dollar MBE contracts. He also created an annual, one-of-its-kind, “Matchmaking Event” that connects MBEs to the leading corporations in the Oil and Gas industry, developed an innovative Tier 2 reporting portal and a workforce diversity tracker that generates metrics on a per-project basis. His successes led to his promotion where he heads EQT’s Supplier Diversity program, works with the Talent Acquisition function to recruit and retain diverse talent, serves on the EQT Foundation’s Operating Committee and coordinates with EQT’s employee resource groups.
For his Supplier Diversity accomplishments, while at EQT, NMSDC affiliate councils, advocacy councils, community leaders and elected officials throughout have recognized his accomplishments with numerous awards. Lance continues to serve on several national industry groups and committees including the NMSDC’s Petrochemical and Energy Industry Group and the EMSDC’s Certification and Strategic Plan Oversight Committees.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, East Bay and an MBA from Waynesburg University where he was chosen to be the Commencement Speaker and graduate program representative. He was recently selected to the Advanced Leadership Program Initiative at Carnegie Mellon’s MBA Program, a world-class executive development program that offers the tools, exposure and training necessary to elevate African American executives to the C-Suite.
Odogwu Obi Linton was appointed to the Maryland Public Service Commission in August 2017 after serving for almost nine years as the Commission’s Director of External Relations and Retail Market Development. Commissioner Linton began his career in 1991 as a meter reader and engineering intern at Public Service Electric and Gas in New Jersey. After law school, Commissioner Linton clerked for the Hon. Evelyn Omega Cannon in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
Commissioner Linton worked as a regulatory attorney at Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, where he worked on the deregulation of the electric industry and consumer disputes. Five years later, he rejoined the Commission as Deputy Staff Counsel. Commissioner Linton then left the Commission to start his own law firm, where he represented consumers, small businesses and deregulated suppliers in litigation and transactional matters. He eventually closed his firm to return to the Commission to serve as Director of the Office of External Relations. Commissioner Linton is currently the Vice Chair for the Consumers and the Public Interest Committee and is the Founding Chair of the Utility Marketplace Access (now Supplier and Workforce Diversity) Staff Subcommittee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). In his spare time, Commissioner Linton is a member of the Kuumba Ensemble Heritage House Community Theater.
Mr. Mendis is Senior Vice President for Nexant Government Services based in Washington, D.C., where he leads Nexant’s government consulting business practice. Mr. Mendis is an internationally recognized clean energy, environment and finance expert with more than 35 years of experience having worked in over 45 developing countries around the world. Initially, Mr. Mendis spent 10 years of his career at the World Bank, where he rose to Program Manager and pioneered innovative financing mechanisms for small-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE&RE) initiatives. These programs led to over $0.5 billion in World Bank lending for EE&RE. Subsequently, Mr. Mendis founded and grew Alternative Energy, Development, Inc., then merged it with International Resources Group (IRG/Engility), where he was Corporate Vice President for the Energy & Environmental Management Division, leading it to record growth levels. In this capacity, Mr. Mendis managed a competitive $300 million USAID Energy Task-Order Contract. He also served as a Senior Consultant for the Asian Development Bank. Prior to joining Nexant, Mr. Mendis served as President and Managing Director for C-Quest Capital, a carbon finance and clean energy investment group, managing investments in clean energy globally. Mr. Mendis holds an M.A. in Natural Resources Economics and B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Maryland. He serves on the board of visitors of the UMD College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; was previously the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the UK based charity, Energy4Impact; and is a member of the Board of Advisors of Sunwealth LLC, a clean energy investment fund.
Ms. Martinez established Ruben Strategy Group LLC in 2011 to provide business consulting for non profits, associations and businesses. She provides the leadership and forward thinking that empowers our organization. She is co-founder of several non-profits – including Hispanics in Energy and Advancing Women in Energy. She served as a Michigan Public Service Commissioner for over 6 years, in addition to other key roles in the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch within the State of Michigan. Her focus is energy, mobile technologies, non-profit development, and regulatory strategy.
Penni McLean-Conner is Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President of Customer Group for Eversource Energy. She is responsible for providing Eversource’s 3.5 million electric and gas customers with high quality customer service and delivering a cost-effective portfolio of electric and gas energy efficiency programs.
Penni is a recognized thought leader in the utility industry with over 30 years of experience implementing positive change, particularly in the areas of leadership, superior customer service and energy efficiency programs. In her current role, Penni leads an integrated team of customer service employees, charged with delivering consistent, positive customer experiences across multiple platforms. This also includes management of an energy efficiency portfolio of programs that tops $500 million annually and provides Eversource customers with highly-valued energy efficiency services ranked number one in the nation.
She is a published author and the customer service columnist for Electric Light and Power Magazine. Penni’s most recent book “Profiles in Excellence: Utility Chief Customer Officers,” shares the stories of eight all-star chief customer officers who have demonstrated success in creating a customer- focused culture. Penni has also published “Customer Service: Utility Style,” and “Energy Efficiency: Principles and Practices.”
Penni is a 2016 recipient of the New England Women in Energy and the Environment Achievement Award. She was also honored in 2017 with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for Achievement in Management.
Penni holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from North Carolina State University and is a registered Professional Engineer. She is active in the industry, chairing the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and CS Week. Locally she is active in the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, the Medfield Energy Commission and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
Demetria Miles-McDonald is the Founder and CEO of Decide Diversity, a company focused on increasing the presence and effectiveness of underrepresented groups in the workplace, specifically in leadership positions. Demetria specializes in bringing the experiences of people who identify with two or more marginalized groups to the forefront, to better understand and utilize the strengths they bring to the workplace. Demetria’s experience in industrial and organizational psychology have energized her to take action and lead today’s leaders away from stereotypes and biases that prevent qualified people from reaching their highest potential.
Demetria’s powerful presentations and workshops make leaders think outside the box and consider solutions that move organizations forward. As a partner to many leaders around the country, Demetria works side by side with teams to increase diversity and improve inclusionary behavior in an effort to positively impact business results. Demetria’s unique perspective as an intersectional employee, leader, and researcher brings clarity, freshness, and focus to issues at work that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Demetria was recently awarded the 2019 Young Leader of Louisville award from Louisville Business First and the 2018 Member of the Year award from the National Association of Women Business Owners Kentucky chapter. Demetria is a 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award Nominee and a 2018 Trustee of Inclusion and Equity Nominee. These awards were presented due to Demetria’s work in diversity and inclusion in the community. Demetria serves on a number of non-profit boards to help bring a focus to diversity, intersectionality, inclusion, and equity.
Demetria volunteers at various organizations such as her local SHRM state council leading diversity and inclusion efforts, but is most dedicated to the Urban League where she leads a resume writing workshop twice a month to help people from a traditionally underserved area get back into the workforce. Demetria’s passion for demanding equality for the marginalized, oppressed, and underrepresented is her life’s work.
Terri Oliva is Executive Director of Human Resources and Assistant Treasurer of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). Ms. Oliva joined EEI in December 2009. She oversees EEI’s Human Resources Department, directs facility operations, and manages the internal treasury function. She is also Interim President and Treasurer of the Center for Energy Workforce Development and the Assistant Treasurer of EEI’s Political Action Committee.
Ms. Oliva began her career with KPMG as an auditor serving clients in the financial services and not-for-profit industries. She also held accounting, compensation, and benefit positions at Johnson and Johnson, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae prior to joining EEI.
Ms. Oliva is a licensed CPA in the state of Virginia and holds the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Virginia Society of CPAs, the Women’s Council on Energy and Environment, and the American Society of Association Executives. Ms. Oliva holds a B.S. in Business Administration from James Madison University. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband John and their two young children, Nicholas and Thomas.
Keisha Parker is currently the Director, Supplier Diversity (Diverse Business Empowerment) at Exelon Corporation. In this role she provides strategic direction and oversight for approximately $2 billion in spend with diverse certified suppliers. She also leads the strategy and stakeholder alignment for supplier diversity programs across the Exelon enterprise—including six utilities in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania through its Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco subsidiaries. Prior to this role, she was Chief of Staff to the Senior EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Exelon, where she coordinated and drove initiatives amongst practice areas under his purview which include Investments, Communications, Legal, Government Regulatory Affairs & Public Policy, Corporate Development and Corporate Strategy. She transitioned to this after almost 10-years at Exelon subsidiary, ComEd. The Chicago native joined ComEd in 2006, where she worked in various roles of increasing responsibility in Communications and Governmental Affairs. As a lobbyist, she managed legislative projects and built strategic relationships with key government and community stakeholders. Keisha holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College and also has a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. She serves as the Board Chair of Project SYNCERE—a Chicago based non-profit that provides STEM programming to youth in under-served communities.
Willie L. Phillips joined the DC Public Service Commission in 2014. He is an experienced regulatory attorney with an extensive background in the areas of public utility regulation, bulk power system reliability, and corporate governance. Prior to coming to the PSC, Chairman Phillips served as Assistant General Counsel for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a not-for-profit international regulatory authority, in Washington, D.C.; he also worked for a Washington, D.C. law firm, Van Ness Feldman LLP, where he advised clients on regulatory compliance and policy matters and assisted on litigation and administrative proceedings on the Federal and State level.
Chairman Phillips is an active member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) where he serves on the Board of Directors, is the Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Supplier and Workforce Diversity, and a member of the Electricity Committee. He is also Second Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (MACRUC), a member of the Advisory Council to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Keystone Policy Center Energy Board, Energy Bar Association, Dentons Smart Cities & Communities Think Tank, and the American Association of Blacks in Energy. Chairman Phillips also serves on the Board of Directors of the Organization of PJM States, Inc. (OPSI) and the Living Classrooms Foundation of the National Capital Region.
Laura Rigell has led the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s solar efforts since 2017. She developed and implemented the nation’s largest Solarize campaign, which helped build a residential solar market in Philadelphia — the 4th fastest-growing solar market in the US. Laura’s work prioritizes equity, creating new vehicles to support solar for low- and moderate-income households citywide, and starting the School District’s first solar and energy efficiency training program, Find Your Power, focusing on high school students. Laura has raised funds through federal, state and corporate grants to support institutional, commercial and residential solar deployment in Philadelphia, and provides support to the City’s utility-scale renewables projects. Additionally, Laura leads PEA’s stakeholder engagement related to renewable energy and climate change. Outside of PEA, Laura is active with Serenity Soular, a community project designed to drive equitable solar jobs and installations in North Philadelphia. Laura has a BA from Swarthmore College and a Masters of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
Tina is a motivating leader with over 20+ years of strategic leadership experience in a variety of industries. Her expertise is in the areas of emotional intelligence, organizational development, employee engagement, diversity/inclusion and performance management. She also has over 12+ years of operational experience overseeing all facets of internal operations.
On the military side, Tina has served within the United States Air Force for over 20 years. Currently, she holds the rank of LT Col and the position of the Force Support Squadron (FSS) Commander with 128th Air National Guard, Milwaukee. Prior to this position she held positions as the Operations Officer for FSS and Training and Education Manager for the Communications Flight (IT). Tina also served as the Officer in Charge of the 128th Honor Guard for 5+ years and has been deployed overseas in support of the AF’s combat missions.
Within her role as Chief Administration Officer at Franklin Energy, she is responsible for the management of the M&A Integrations, Diversity & Inclusion efforts, Legal, Human Resources, Client Relationships and Organization Development to name a few. Tina focuses on a variety of internal operational processes to increase efficiencies and drive the organization’s performance. Providing the organization with structure, playing a lead role in mergers and acquisitions to drive consistency and efficiency through internal operations is an integral part of her job.
Tina also serves on the Executive Team providing direction and input on the overall strategic decisions and initiatives of the organization.
Kristol W. Simms is the director of energy efficiency, responsible for strategy and innovation for Ameren Illinois. She is leading the community based energy efficiency program efforts that Ameren Illinois has undertaken for market development. Kristol began leading the energy efficiency team in January, 2018 but has been with Ameren for nearly four years. She is an experienced attorney with exceptional talent for client advocacy and the development of proactive, innovative solutions to address corporate business needs and concerns. Kristol most recently worked as corporate counsel for Ameren where she drove strategies to address current and emerging regulatory frameworks and their impact on the business operations of the corporate client. At Ameren Kristol served as lead regulatory lawyer on a number of legal matters for the Ameren Illinois regulatory team. She also led the diversity and pro bono efforts for the Ameren legal team. Kristol is very active in the St. Louis business and legal community. She volunteers as a member of the Missouri Bar’s fee dispute resolution committee and is the immediate past president of the Association of Corporate Counsel, St. Louis.
Kristol received her undergraduate degree from Lincoln University, in Jefferson City, Missouri and her juris doctorate degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia. For fun, Kristol loves to travel, read and spend time with her husband Walter and dog Pepper.
Richard T. Thigpen was named senior vice president – corporate citizenship, effective July 2018. In this position, Mr. Thigpen is responsible for the federal, state and local governmental affairs, corporate citizenship & culture and PSE&G’s sustainability efforts. In addition, he is the chairman of the PSEG Foundation.
Mr. Thigpen joined PSEG in March 2007 as vice president – state governmental affairs of PSEG Services Corporation. He had been a public affairs consultant since 1999, and was a co-founding partner of 1868 Public Affairs LLC, which provides lobbying, strategic planning, public relations and government relations services to clients in New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C.
Previously, he served as an associate at the New York law firm of Thacher Proffitt and Wood in the mortgage-backed securities practice group, was the district director for New Jersey Congressman Don Payne, and the executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. He has also served as a political analyst for New Jersey Network Television News and as an academic associate for PublicMind, Fairleigh Dickinson University Polling and Survey Research Institute. Mr. Thigpen was a former assistant to the president of the NAACP State Conference for Public Affairs. He is a member of the Board of the Regional Plan Association, a member of The American Association of Blacks in Energy’s (AABE) National Board and chair of its Legislative Issues and Public Policy Committee, a member of the Board of New Jersey Climate Change Alliance (NJCCA) and the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus Foundation (NJBLC).
Mr. Thigpen holds a Doctor of Law degree from Columbia University School of Law in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brown University in Rhode Island.
As founder and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services (WMES), Carla Walker-Miller is a visionary leader determined to change lives through energy. Her 19-year old, values driven Detroit-based firm, creates and manages customized energy waste reduction and energy efficiency programs that help electric and gas utilities, meet mandated energy savings goals.
With decades of industry leadership, Carla is a sought after speaker on issues relating to entrepreneurship, diversity & inclusion, and energy efficiency. In recent years, her firm has experienced exponential revenue growth, increasing to over 100 team members and operating in three states. She has grown the business from a startup 20 years ago, to one of the largest energy waste reduction companies in the country, owned by an African-American woman.
WMES is an award winning company, most recently receiving the 2019 Distinguished Business Leader awarded by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (Great Lakes Chapter) and the 2017 Ernst & Young, Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Michigan and Northwest Ohio region. Additionally, the company received both the Small Business of the Year, and the Woman-Owned Business of the Year award by the Michigan Small Business Administration in 2015.
Leading with her giving spirit, Carla founded the Water Access Volunteer Effort (WAVE) Fund in 2000. The 501(c)3 non-profit has distributed more than $2 million dollars to help over 9,700 vulnerable Detroit families maintain access to water and sewer services.
Carla Walker-Miller champions matters related to utility affordability and the intentional recruitment, training and employment of diverse, local residents. A trailblazer at heart, Carla aspires to create positive change in this world by offering innovative solutions to underserved populations and communities at large.
Dr. Alexander Washington joined Entergy Nuclear in July 2019 as a Workforce Development and Diversity Specialist. Prior to joining Entergy, Alex was the Deputy Commissioner to Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Cecil Brown. At the Commission, he worked on policies and rules impacting workforce development and diversity in Mississippi’s utility industry. Alex hosted the nation’s first Historically Black Colleges and Universities Utility Career Summit in Jackson, MS.
In 2017, Alex earned his Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University. He received his BBA in Finance (2009) and master’s in Public Policy & Administration (2011) also from Mississippi State University.
This year, the Mississippi Business Journal recognized Alex as one of the Top 50 Under 40 Business Leaders in the state. Currently, Dr. Washington is an adjunct professor for Belhaven University’s Master of Public Administration program. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., serves as the Assistant Secretary for the Mississippi Chapter for the American Association of Blacks in Energy, and a board member for the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance. Alex is a proud graduate of the 2017-2018 class of Leadership Greater Jackson and was honored by the American Cancer Society as a 2018 Best Dressed Jackson honoree.
Patricia Watts is President and CEO of FCI Management Consultants (FCI). Founded in 1998, FCI is a full service energy/water consulting company offering a broad level of expertise in energy/water efficiency services. Today, FCI is a certified, women owned, minority, corporation, headquarted in Long Beach, CA with office in San Diego and New York.
Ms. Watts developed her knowledge and skills from an expansive 24 year career in the electric utility industry with Southern California Edison. During her tenure at So. Cal. Edison, she held management and supervisory positions in customer service, energy services, marketing, public affairs and community relations. This experience allowed her to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the electric utility industry in both the regulated and deregulated environments.
Ms. Watts is very active in the community and illustrates her commitment through work on several boards in the City of Los Angeles and the State of California. She is a member of the Board of Directors and serves as the Treasurer for “Goals for Life,” a non-profit organization that provides mentoring programs for at-risk students. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for Community Build, a non-profit community development organization which focuses onbringing capital investment into South Central Los Angeles. Ms. Watts is on the board of the Koreantown Youth and Community Center, Inc. (KYCC) as well as the California Black Chamber of Commerce. She serves as the Chair of the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee (MBEIC) which is a subcommittee of the Southern California Minority Business Development Council (SCMBDC). FCI is a member of the Neighborhood Market Association, a non-profit corporation that advocates for independent retailer throughout California, Nevada and Arizona.
A multi-award winner, in 2006 Patrick received the Black Business Association’s Outstanding Entrepreneur Award and the CA Black Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award. In June 2009, Ms. Watts was honored with the Joseph Business School’s Leadership Impact Award for her mentorship, business acumen and exceptional leadership skills. One month later, Ms. Watts won the Southern California Minority Business Development Council’s “Supplier of the Year, Class III Award” for exponential business growth. In 2010, FCI was selected as one of the Top 100 Women Owned Business in the United States by Diversity Business Magazine. This year, Ms. Watts was nominated as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Ms. Watts majored in Business Management at the University of La Vern, California. She attended the Minority Business Executive Program, and the Advanced Minority Business Executive Program at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth University.