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BEL Leadership

BEL Leadership: Gary Connett

Gary Connett, Great River Energy (retired)

Co-Chair

Gary is a recently retired electric utility executive with a long-standing and demonstrated history of working in the national electric utility industry. Prior to his retirement, Gary was the director of demand-side management and member services for Great River Energy, a generation and transmission cooperative located in Maple Grove, MN. In that capacity Gary was responsible for the organization’s nationally recognized demand-side management programs, which included demand response, conservation and energy efficiency, and beneficial electrification initiatives.

Today Gary continues to be actively engaged in the electric energy business by being a consultant to the National Rural Electric Association, and Co-Chairman of the newly formed Beneficial Electrification League. Gary holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN.

BEL Leadership: Keith Dennis

Keith Dennis, NRECA

Co-Chair

Keith Dennis is a Vice President in the Business and Technologies Strategies Division of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Keith has an interdisciplinary background in engineering, business, and law and works with NRECA’s Legislative, Regulatory Policy, and Technical teams on issues related to energy end use, including energy efficiency and demand response. Keith has published numerous papers on beneficial electrification and leads this initiative on behalf of NRECA.

Prior to joining NRECA, Keith worked at the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) where he led a Policy and Guidance Team for a $3.2 billion energy efficiency and conservation grant program. He also served at The White House Council on Environmental Quality where he supported several large energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. He has also held numerous positions in the private sector.

Keith holds an A.B. in Engineering and Environmental Sciences from Dartmouth College, a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) and Master of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and a Master of Studies in Environmental Law (M.S.E.L), summa cum laude, from Vermont Law School. He is also licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.).

BEL Leadership: Robin Roy

Robin Roy, Ph.D., Principal, Next Energy US

Vice Chair

Robin advises government, industry and environmental organizations on energy policy and strategy, focusing primarily on practical steps toward an energy future that is deeply decarbonized, abundant, resilient, and economically vibrant. Focus areas include beneficial electrification (serving on the Board of the of the Beneficial Electrification League), advanced storage and grid-responsive consumer technologies to integrate clean electricity

Robin works at the nexus between the practicalities of competitive markets, effective public policy, and the opportunity created by technological and institutional innovation, with a particular focus on bringing greater mutual understanding among diverse stakeholders where that can advance business, consumer, and environmental opportunities.

Robin previously co-founded Next Energy P/L, an adviser to Australian governments, industry and environmental organizations on energy policy, strategy and project management. He was formerly Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, focusing on new directions for federal and state clean energy policy, and continues to consult to NRDC. He previously served with the U.S Congress Office of Technology Assessment advising on nuclear plant life management, vulnerability of energy systems to terrorism and natural disaster and energy market restructuring, and early in his career worked at Pacific Gas and Electric Company on demand response and combined heat and power.

Robin received a PhD – Civil Engineering, MS – Engineering-Economic Systems and BS – Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

Ruth Calderon

Ruth Calderon, Golden Spread Electric Cooperative

Ms. Ruth Calderon joined Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, Inc. in February 2012 and has 13 years of experience in leading environmental and regulatory initiatives. In her current position as Environmental Policy and Legislative Affairs Manager, Ms. Calderon effectively advocates for rural electric cooperative issues and is responsible for the development of strategy and policy related to environmental and legislative concerns. Ms. Calderon currently serves as President of the National Rural Electric Environmental Association . Before joining the Golden Spread team, Ms. Calderon worked for Xcel Energy Services, where she managed regulatory case filings as a Regulatory Case Specialist. Ms. Calderon holds an M.S. in Environmental Science from West Texas A&M University.

Diane Huis

Diane Huis, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives

Diane Huis is the Senior Vice President, Innovation and Business Development for the NC Electric Cooperatives. In this role, she is responsible for working closely with the member cooperatives as well as the statewide team to identify and incorporate beneficial electrification opportunities in the areas of electric transportation, industry, agriculture and grid flexibility. Diane’s previous experience with the NC Electric Cooperatives includes wholesale power supply resource planning and portfolio management, risk management, transmission planning and regulatory affairs. Diane graduated from Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of NC. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina Class XXV, a program that engages leaders from across NC to learn about issues related to government, economic development, health and human services, education and the environment.

Carla Frisch

Carla Frisch, Former Board Member

Carla was a board member until 2021 while she was a Principal at RMI working on America’s Pledge. America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the United States remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Before joining RMI, Carla worked at the US Department of Energy for ten years under three different administrations. She directed policy and analysis offices focused on climate and environment, energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transportation, and electricity systems. She led large, collaborative teams and multi-million-dollar portfolios, resulting in better designed national energy and climate policies. Carla worked extensively on climate vulnerabilities and solutions, including on the National Climate Assessment and US Midcentury Strategy. Carla also has experience working in local government and is a Certified Energy Measurement and Verification Professional.

BEL Program Leadership: Adaora Ifebigh

Adaora Ifebigh

Director of Low and Moderate-Income Initiatives

Adaora Ifebigh leads BEL’s low-income and energy equity program initiatives through support of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), where she is the Program Director for Energy Access. Her focus includes equal energy access for low and moderate-income communities. In her role at NRECA, she developed and leads the Advancing Energy Access for All initiative, focused on creating a sustainable practice around supporting utilities and stakeholders as they holistically serve their community members, especially those who struggle to pay their bills. This work included a flagship Department of Energy-funded project, Achieving Cooperative Community Equitable Solar Sources (ACCESS), that she managed. She has previously worked at the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E managing research and development projects.

BEL Program Leadership: Deb Roepke

Deb Roepke

Strategic Advisor

Ms. Roepke specializes in building coalitions. She has served in leadership roles for DOE-funded solar and energy access programs that have engaged thousands of utility staff to meet new challenges through innovative solutions. Debra has extensive experience in strategic alliances for the service of low-income populations as she founded and grew “one of the most effective and efficient charities in the DC region”, Computer C.O.R.E. Prior to this, she specialized in IT and research analysis for the US Navy and Marine Corps. Her experience includes effective management of large staffs and the successful engagement of diverse groups with representatives of all age groups and more than 40 nations. She has a degree in Biology from Macalester, a Masters in Science, Technology and Public Policy from GWU, and a Master Certificate in Six Sigma from Villanova.

Kevin DeMaster

Kevin DeMaster

Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC

Kevin DeMaster is Sr. Mgr. Efficiency & Electrification with Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC. Since 2014 his focused attention supports utilities and implementers of energy efficiency, demand response, and beneficial electrification for residential and commercial energy efficiency programs utilizing ductless mini-split and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pump technology.

Prior to Mitsubishi Electric, Kevin has 15 years efficiency experience ranging from 5 years as a School District Energy Manager saving over $1M in energy costs followed by 10 years designing and implementing many programs for two large Implementers Slipstream and CLEAResult managing over $100M in programs.

Neil Kolwey

Neil Kolwey

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)

Neil Kolwey is the Industrial Program Director/Building Electrification Specialist at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). Neil leads programs to advance energy efficiency in the industrial sector and promotes best practices in utility energy efficiency programs for industrial customers throughout the region. Neil also promotes beneficial electrification in buildings and industry, working with the SWEEP Buildings team, and is currently Co-director of the Beneficial Electrification League of Colorado (BEL-CO).

Before joining SWEEP, Neil worked for E Source for 9 years, focusing on greenhouse gas (GHG) consulting and writing reports on utility programs for large customers, climate change business strategies, and other topics. In 1999-2000, Neil won a Fulbright grant to study in Sweden and earned an MS in Environmental Management and Policy from Lund University. Neil has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Colorado.

Ben Longstreth

Ben Longstreth

NRDC

Ben Longstreth is a senior attorney with NRDC's climate and clean energy program. Ben works with federal agencies, legislators and affected companies to design policies that work to protect our climate. Before joining NRDC, he was an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. Longstreth holds a bachelor's degree from Williams College and a JD from Columbia University. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Kenneth C. Shiver

Kenneth C. Shiver

Southern Company

Mr. Shiver serves as the Chief Economist and Director of Planning and Regulatory Support for the Atlanta-based Southern Company. In this role he oversees the demand-side planning functions of the company, represents the company as a witness in its regulatory filings, and engages with the industry on current issues such as electrification, electric transportation, forecasting, pricing, energy efficiency, the economy, and utility planning. He is a graduate of the University of West Georgia (BBA-Economics) and Georgia State University (MS-Economics) and has over 30 years of experience within the industry.

Aimee Skrzekut

Aimee Skrzekut

Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA)

Aimee Skrzekut joined the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance as president in April 2021. An innovative leader serving nonprofits for more than 25 years, Aimee is passionate about energy efficiency for all. Before joining SEEA, Aimee served as a management consultant specializing in strategic planning, fundraising, policy development, program design, and evaluation. She also designed energy efficiency program solutions for Hoosier Energy. Aimee served as Director of Programs at the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, where she first collaborated with national and regional partners like SEEA. Aimee's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion extends well beyond her work in energy, having led a national center at the American Bar Association. Aimee currently volunteers as a Beneficial Electrification League collaborator with NRECA and NRDC. She has previously served as an AESP chapter president and Health Connect One board member. She has supported fundraising efforts at nonprofits including Health Connect One, Project Bona Fide and Teatro Vista. Aimee received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Illinois. She is an avid hiker, reader, and gourmand. She loves traveling with her family and looks forward to many walks throughout the Southeast with both new and old friends.

Quincy Gottwig, CMP

Quincy Gottwig, CMP

Director of Operations