Rolf joined the Great Plains Institute in 2003 and is president and chief executive officer. He has more than 30 years of experience in energy and sustainable development policy and practice in both governmental and nonprofit settings. For much of his career, Rolf has worked to broker agreement among disparate interests on difficult public policy issues.
Rolf was appointed by US Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in 2016 to the department’s Electricity Advisory Committee, where served for a two-year term. Rolf has written or helped craft new laws on high-performance buildings, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, resource efficient land use, and sustainable development. He was a contributing author to the third National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive report required by Congress on climate change impacts in the US. Rolf has authored and edited many publications on energy, transportation, and sustainable development and speaks to a wide range of audiences both nationally and abroad.
Prior to joining GPI, Rolf served for a decade with the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board and Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning. For seven of those years he served as assistant director of then Governor Arne Carlson’s Sustainable Development Initiative, working to harmonize the state’s economic and environmental policies. Rolf has also held positions with the United States Congress, World Wildlife Fund International (Brussels, Belgium), National Wildlife Federation’s Corporate Conservation Council (Washington, DC), and the Global Environment Program at New York University’s Stern School of Business
Rolf serves on the energy strategy working group for the MN Sustainable Growth Coalition, a group of more than 30 leading companies dedicated to ushering in a “circular economy.” He also serves on the advisory committee for the Energy Systems Integration Group, an industry association that takes a total system view of current energy systems to leverage the combined and synergistic strengths across electricity, thermal, and transportation systems. Previously, Rolf served on numerous advisory boards, including the University of Minnesota’s NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise and the Midwest CleanTech Open. He is an alumnus of the Wilder Foundation’s James P. Shannon Leadership Institute and has served as president of the Izaak Walton League of America (Minnesota Division), and Union Park Community Council in St. Paul where he lives with his wife of 23 years Kathy (their two sons are in college). Rolf holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Carleton College and a master’s degree in international environmental policy from Tufts University.