Speakers & Panelists | wisconsinacademy.org
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Speakers & Panelists

Lee T. Black is the Building & Grounds Supervisor for the Darlington Community School District. He began working for the district in August of 2014 and oversees the day to day maintenance and custodial operations at Darlington. A 2001 graduate of Darlington High School, Black helped to plan the solar project at the district, which includes a 156KW photovoltaic system. 

Allen Buechel has served as Fond du Lac County Executive since 1993, after serving on the Fond du Lac County Board for seventeen years.

Kelly Cain is the founder and principal of the St Croix Institute LLC, and recent spin-off of LICO2etm (gbc)—dba ‘Locally Invested Carbon Offsets’—a public benefit corporation under Minnesota state statute. Cain’s primary focus is corporate and community sustainability consulting, and development of public-private partnerships for the development of strategies and investments for ‘decarbonization,’ and carbon offsets at the local an

Chelsea Chandler was the director of the Academy's Environmental Initiatives from 2016 to 2020. She led the Climate & Energy and Waters of Wisconsin Initiatives, to which she brought her interdisciplinary experience and passion for researching and communicating solutions to environmental challenges. Prior to joining the Academy in August 2016, Chandler worked for a number of other environmental non-profits.

Rob Crain is Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager at Alliant Energy, where he has served in a variety of roles since joining the company more than a decade ago. In his current role, Crain assists with the development of regulatory policy and strategy on behalf of the company and it’s nearly half million Wisconsin customers. In addition to these duties, Crain also serves on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Public Utility Institute. 

Jane Elder recently retired from her position as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Academy. She brought to the Wisconsin Academy a strong background in public policy leadership, nonprofit management, and involvement in Wisconsin arts. Her career has focused on environmental policy and communications, while personal interests include theater, modern dance and painting.

Heather Feigum is currently the Program Manager of Focus on Energy’s Agriculture, School & Government Program. Prior to that she managed energy management and project management teams in school districts and was a Focus on Energy Advisor for Schools and Government facilities.

Matt Frank is an attorney with Murphy Desmond S.C., where he practices environmental, energy and natural resources law. He is also a member of the firm’s municipal and business practice groups. A former Secretary of  both the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Corrections, Frank previously served as an Assistant Attorney General and director of Legal Services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Sherrie Gruder, LEED AP, is a Distinguished Sustainable Design Specialist and Energy Strategist with UW-Madison Division of Extension. Sherrie provides statewide education and technical assistance on sustainable community development, clean energy strategies, and green building to support the resilience and economic vitality of Wisconsin communities, local governments, tribes, and businesses.

​​​Amy Heart is Director of Public Policy with Sunrun, the largest dedicated residential solar company in the country. Heart is based in Milwaukee, and heads up Sunrun’s Midwest solar policy efforts. Prior to joining Sunrun in 2014, she worked with Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability as well as the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).

Richard Heinemann provides legal services to a wide range of municipalities and local governments in Wisconsin and throughout the upper Midwest. His primary focus is energy law, but his practice extends to all areas of municipal utility service, including water, wastewater, broadband and telecommunications.

Elizabeth Hittman directs ECO’s solar program, Milwaukee Shines, and is working to make it easier for home and business owners in Milwaukee to install solar. Hittman also works on green infrastructure and sustainable water projects with the goal of establishing Milwaukee as America’s Water-Centric City.

Jon Hochkammer serves as the Outreach Manager for the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA), overseeing outreach and training efforts with all 72 counties and any other groups that interact with county government. He previously served as Legislative Director, as well as the Director of Insurance Operations for WCA.  

Peter Kilde has been executive director of the West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency, Inc. (West CAP) since 1995.  West CAP provides low income housing, homelessness and foreclosure prevention programs, weatherization, food security, the JumpStart car ownership program and various sustainable community initiatives.

Mark Klann has been in the construction business for 35 years and was one of the original eight people to start up Astar Capital Management, Inc. (Astar Capital) in 2002. His experience and knowledge in the residential and multi-family construction field has proven invaluable to the company and management groups working with Astar Capital and its sister company Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. (Cardinal Capital).

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Megan has spent more than a decade working with building energy efficiency both with the low-income weatherization program and with the Wisconsin State Energy Office (now known as the Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation).

Joseph Moore serves as the City Manager of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  He is the chief executive of the city leading an organization of over 350 people whose budget exceeds $100 million. His experience includes military leadership around the world having served as commander of military communities in Europe and Asia and as a policy advisor at the Pentagon.

Jake Oelke is the Vice President of Energy Services at WPPI Energy, a regional power company serving 51 locally-owned electric utilities. Oelke’s current responsibilities at WPPI Energy include managing the development and delivery of customer and energy services for the WPPI member utilities—focusing on key account management, energy efficiency, renewable energy development and distributed power generation.

Lisa Potswald has forty years of experience in federal, county, city and town government.  She previously worked for St. Louis County, Minnesota as a social worker, planner and Deputy County Administrator.  She then worked for the City of Duluth, Minnesota as City Administrator and as a Department Head. Potswald worked for FEMA during the 2012 flood disaster in Duluth.

Mary Schlaefer is CEO of WECC, a nonprofit that designs and implements energy efficiency, renewable energy, and related finance programs across the United States. In her tenure, WECC has delivered more than 5.3 billion kilowatt-hours and 200 million therms of savings for WECC’s clients. Schlaefer has driven development of integrated approaches to advancing energy efficiency, including through addition of innovative financing programs.

Spencer Schumacher is the owner of a boutique Real Estate Brokerage in Middleton, Wisconsin. He received his BS from the University of Florida in Wildlife Ecology and his MS in Urban and Regional Planning with a Natural Resources and Environmental Planning specialty from the University of Wisconsin. As a citizen and a business owner in Middleton, Schumacher has worked for years to make all aspects of his life as sustainable as possible.

Erick Shambarger is the Director of Environmental Sustainability for the City of Milwaukee, where he leads the Environmental Collaboration Office. He was appointed by the Mayor in June 2015. The Environmental Collaboration Office (formerly the Office of Environmental Sustainability) was created by Mayor Tom Barrett to develop practical solutions that benefit Milwaukee’s environment and economy.

Jason Stringer is a Senior Manager of Clean Energy Finance at Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC).  In his role at WECC, Stringer serves as a project finance expert with a successful track record of creating value in the clean energy finance and commercial real estate development industries.

Julie Swanson is a "storyprenuer" and owner of What’s Possible Now. Swanson has over 25 years experience helping change leaders communicate in ways that are clear, easy, and meaningful.

Katya Szabados works on energy, climate, transportation, health and land use policy for local governments at COWS and the Mayors Innovation Project at UW-Madison. Szabados has prior experience in reporting, public engagement, policy and local government at the State Environmental Resource Center and Greater Wisconsin Committee.

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