Executive Advisory Council


Ambassadors for GPI’s approach to transforming the energy system

GPI’s Executive Advisory Council is a diverse and distinguished group of individuals who are accomplished in their own fields of practice and share a passion for GPI’s mission. They contribute their time, expertise, strategic advice, and financial resources to increase the institute’s impact over time.
John Baumgartner

John Baumgartner

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    John Baumgartner served as the assistant commissioner of agriculture for the State of Minnesota under Governor Al Quie and was responsible for Minnesota’s agricultural regulations. He also served as the midwest area director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS, now the FSA), as an appointee in the George H.W. Bush Administration. At ASCS he was responsible for the implementation of domestic farm policy in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

    In 1989, Baumgartner incorporated Baumgartner Environics, Inc. (BEI) where he is president and CEO. BEI addresses environmental issues of agriculture. Its flagship product is EPI Air®, a patented, breakthrough technology to scrub air of dust, odors, and pathogens in confinement buildings. Baumgartner is a past president and longtime member of the Great Plains Institute Board and past president of the Board of West Central Partnership, a program of the University of Minnesota focused on a sustainable economy. In that role, he helped to guide the work of Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams.

Ronnie Brooks

Ronnie Brooks

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    Ronnie Brooks is the founding director of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute, a program that provides a yearlong renewal experience for foundation and nonprofit organization leaders.

    Previously she headed the Wilder Center for Communities, a division of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. Her work in government included roles with the former governor of Minnesota, Minnesota State Senate, and the mayors of both St. Paul and Minneapolis. Brooks was also vice president of the Keystone Center, a Colorado-based environmental policy organization; executive director of the Saint Paul Downtown Council; and manager of community development and policy planning for Dayton-Hudson (now Target Corporation).

    She was president of both the Citizens League and the Mediation Center, and a board member of the Voyager Outward Bound School, MAP for Nonprofits, Graywolf Press, and the David Preus Leadership Council. Brooks was a McKnight Fellow and an International Business Fellow. Additionally, she is a recipient of the Lloyd Short Award for Distinguished Public Service and of the YWCA Outstanding Leadership Award.

Doug Cameron

Doug Cameron

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    Doug Cameron is co-president and director of First Green Partners, an early-stage investment firm focused on companies with technology related to renewable and fossil carbon. Cameron’s career has spanned business, finance, and academia, including positions at Khosla Ventures, Piper Jaffray, Cargill, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2009, Cameron was the recipient of the prestigious Raphael Katzen Award for his contributions in furthering the deployment and commercialization of biotechnology to produce fuels and chemicals from renewable resources.

    He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Microbiology (SIM), and a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Cameron is also a consulting professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University. He graduated from Duke University with a bachelor of science in engineering degree in biomedical engineering and earned a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mike Conely

Mike Conley

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    Mike Conley, founder and CEO of Weathering the Storm LLC, also serves as chairman and CEO of the Conley Family Foundation. Conley is author of the award-winning book, Lethal Trajectories and serves on several boards. After serving in the U.S. Navy he graduated from the University of Minnesota and later completed a graduate business program at Stanford University.

Kathryn Draeger

Kathryn Draeger

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    Kathryn Draeger is the statewide director for the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, a citizen-driven program connecting communities to their land-grant university in order to advance sustainable agriculture, natural resources, clean energy, and sustainable tourism. Draeger founded two successful environmentally-based businesses; Environmental Ground, Inc. and Sustainability International Inc. She served as an environmental protection commissioner in Iowa, was appointed to the Governor’s Roundtable for Sustainable Development in Minnesota, and was appointed to serve on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency board by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in 2012. There, she served as agricultural representative and vice chair.

    Draeger holds a doctorate in water resources with her Ph.D. dissertation focusing on local watershed management in Minnesota. Her master’s degree is in soil science. She is the recipient of a Bush Leadership Fellowship and was a MacArthur Scholar at the University of Minnesota.

    Draeger, her husband, and their three children live and farm 320 acres in rural Big Stone County in order to be a part of rural revitalization and to walk the talk on sustainable farming. They produce organic grass fed beef, chicken, eggs, small grains, and electricity from wind power.

Lewis Gilbert

Lewis Gilbert

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    Lewis E. Gilbert is managing director and chief operating officer of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota where he is responsible for inspiring collaboration among existing programs and creating new endeavors that advance the institute’s mission. He also oversees the operational aspects of IonE’s facilitator role across the whole of the University of Minnesota.

    Gilbert’s career as an academic entrepreneur has focused on the design, implementation, and management of complex interdisciplinary activities in large research universities. He was a key architect in the creation of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a central figure in the revitalization of the Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Among the major activities he has worked on are: creation of the International Research Institute for climate prediction, integration of The Center for International Earth Science Information Network into the Earth Institute, creation of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, and evolution of the Wildlife Data Integration Network. He has also served as a consultant to Arizona State University, CINCS LLC, and the Twycross Zoo.
    His intellectual interests are highly varied and his writings have appeared in publications ranging from the Journal of Geophysical Research to posts in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s blog Qualia.

Jeff Heegaard

Jeff Heegaard

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    A lifelong entrepreneur, Jeff Heegaard has made a career of building businesses and coaching leaders, companies, nonprofits, and foundations to grow and adapt to the innate challenges of growing businesses in a climate of constant change. Heegaard likes to infuse fun, curiosity, and enthusiasm into everything he does, and much of his work extends his belief that long-term solutions to intractable challenges are possible. He has a passion for finding the complex balance between protecting Minnesota’s delicate natural attributes and growing a vibrant and sustainable economy.

    Heegaard is a partner with the CoCo Collaborative, unique workspaces specifically designed to enable entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their ventures. He is a Humphrey School of Public Affairs policy fellow and a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Erin Heitkamp

Erin Heitkamp

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    Erin Heitkamp is a global sustainability practice leader in support of the Environmental Compliance and Permitting Services Group at Wenck. Heitkamp has worked in the field of environmental management for more than 15 years and held positions as a consultant, leader at a business-oriented environmental NGO, and multiple positions with environmental management roles within the airline industry. In her most recent role at Delta Air Lines, she led the development and execution of environmental and sustainability policy and strategy. Some of her responsibilities included tracking and analyzing climate change and alternative fuels policy, legislative and regulatory developments world-wide, and communicating relevant impacts to internal stakeholders and senior leadership. Prior to the Delta-Northwest Airlines merger, she held positions in environmental regulatory oversight, fuel and fuel services purchasing, and corporate real estate.

    Heitkamp holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and a master’s in Environmental Management (M.E.M) from Yale University.

Richard Hudson

Richard Hudson

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    Dr. Richard Hudson is the director of science production at TPT-Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minnesota where he oversees science productions for both adults and children.

    Current projects include the series DragonflyTV—taped on location in science museums; a new science series for girls called SciGirls; and The Quest to See Infinity, a NOVA series on the history of telescopes for the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. Hudson is also executive producer of a new series based on Make Magazine – Make: television. For Nova, he recently oversaw the production Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, with Meridian and Windfall Productions.

    Hudson was executive producer of the PBS science series Newton’s Apple, and directed the creation of a range of science-learning products, including interactive software, science kits, educators’ guides and web sites. He is a media advisor to the Center for the Advancement of Informal Science Education, a National Science Foundation initiative to strengthen the network of producers of science television and build connections to other informal science education organizations.

Jim Kubiak

Jim Kubiak

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    James V. Kubiak is a member of the Executive Partners Consortium with Edurant Business Solutions, Inc., a business and technology consulting and training group that facilitates and manages enterprise-wide technology-related change. Kubiak spent the past eight years consulting with clients to improve their business processes associated with sales, marketing, distribution, and customer service and support. His clients range from start-up companies to a Fortune 500 corporation. Prior to establishing his consulting practice, Kubiak was co-founder and CEO of Azimuth Corporation, a high technology graphics provider whose strategic partners and investors included 3M and Deluxe Corporation. He has also been an officer of and/or held management positions with Baxter Laboratories, United States Leasing Corporation, Bausch and Lomb, Pennzoil, and Dicomed Corporation.

    Kubiak is an outside director on four corporate boards. He served on the Minnesota Governor’s Round Table on Sustainable Development, co-chaired its land use committee, and is one of the founders of the Minnesota Center for Sustainable Development in addition to chairing the board of directors.

Erik Pratt

Erik Pratt

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    Erik Pratt is director of structured finance for TerraForm Power, a subsidiary of SunEdison. Pratt joined the SunEdison team in developing its YieldCo investment vehicle, leading to the successful initial public offering of TerraForm Power in 2014. In his current role, he is on a team that acquires third-party renewable energy assets for TerraForm.

    Pratt previously worked at Everstream Energy Capital Management, Meridian Clean Fuels, and Northland Capital Holdings with a continuing emphasis on solar, wind, and renewable fuels. He has acquired, structured, and financed over $2 billion of renewable energy assets.

Anu Ramaswami

Anu Ramaswami

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    Professor Anu Ramaswami is the Charles M. Denny, Jr., Chair of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. Ramaswami is among the leading scholars on sustainable urban infrastructure and her work has been adopted as policies and protocols for developing sustainable cities in the United States and internationally. She is the director and lead principal investigator of several National Science Foundation grants related to sustainable cities.

    Ramaswami’s research spans environmental modeling, environmental technologies, industrial ecology, sustainable infrastructure design, urban systems analysis, and integration of science and technology with policy and planning for real-world implementation in communities. She has developed novel interdisciplinary education programs and resources in these diverse areas. She is the lead author of a graduate-level textbook on integrated environmental modeling.

    Ramaswami received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology–Madras, India, and her master of science and doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She serves as chair of the newly founded Sustainable Urban Systems section at the International Society of Industrial Ecology, and represents the United States in various international urban sustainability networks.

Don Shelby

Don Shelby

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    Don Shelby is widely considered one of the best, and most decorated, local news anchors and reporters in the country. He has won three national Emmys and two George Foster Peabody awards, which are the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the National Distinguished Service Award by the Society of Professional Journalists, the International Radio and Television News Directors Association’s First Place honors for international investigative reporting, and Columbia University’s duPont Award for Investigative Journalism. He retired from daily reporting and anchoring in November 2010, after forty-five years in the industry.

    Since his retirement, Shelby has continued his work in environmental journalism, reporting for MinnPost, the online daily, and as a member of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team roundtable. Lawmakers have said, for the record, that Shelby’s public service reporting on these issues paved the way for Minnesota to become one of the nation’s leading states in energy conservation and policy. He is a member of the International Society of Environmental Journalists, and was a member of the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors, the nation’s premier investigative journalism society.

Jonathan Wilmshurst

Jonathan Wilmshurst

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    For the past five years, Jonathan Wilmshurst has run the aggregate group for McCarthy-Bush Corporation, a family owned group of companies based in Davenport, IA. He serves as president for both Linwood Mining and Minerals – a 2 million tons per year underground limestone mine and lime burning facility, and Superior Mineral Company – a sister company to Linwood that is a single operation mineral filler plant in Savage, MN. Prior to this, Wilmshurst was the owner and sole proprietor of the consulting company Jess Resources where he consulted in aggregate-related matters to a wide-range of public entities, businesses, and individuals. The largest project he managed was the evaluation of mineral resources on the 5,000 acre UMore property in Rosemount, MN, owned by the University of Minnesota. The property is now being actively mined.

    Wilmshurst spent 22 years with Aggregate Industries, PLC, a publicly held, UK-based company (now part of the Holcim group). From 1994-2001 he served as regional president of the Minnesota and North Dakota operations with 1,000 staff and revenues of $180M. Activities at nearly fifty sites included crushed stone, sand and gravel, recycled concrete, ready mix concrete, asphalt, concrete masonry, pre-cast concrete, contracting, trucking and a marine operation. Wilmshurst is a Fellow of the Institute of Quarrying.

    His previous appointments/affiliations include: Minnesota Governor’s Sustainable Development Initiative, Mineral’s Team; Minnesota Governor’s Sustainable Development Round Table; and Governor appointed member of the Mineral Coordinating Committee. He’s been a participant of the Aspen Institute’s Series on the Environment roundtable, and a past chair of Great River Greening, Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, and The Nature Conservancy – Minnesota and Dakotas Chapter.


Board of Directors

From business leaders to distinguished academics, GPI’s board of directors is a dedicated group of seasoned professionals with a wide range of interests and backgrounds who are responsible for guiding GPI’s mission.

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Staff & Consultants

GPI’s staff have deep knowledge across a wide range of energy technologies, policies and best practices, including on energy efficiency, renewable energy and fuels, energy storage, the electric grid, carbon management, effective policies and practices at the community level, and harnessing “best in class” ideas through international collaboration.

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