Staff & Consultants

Meet the GPI Team

GPI’s staff and consultants are a dedicated group of people investing their time and expertise as they work across the country to transform our energy system.
GPI Staff

Abby Finis

Senior Planner | (612) 767-7295

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    Abby Finis joined the Great Plains Institute as part of CR Planning, a small urban planning firm that specialized in sustainability and energy. She works with communities in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest to implement energy and climate action plans, analyze community resiliency, and help cities become more sustainable. Abby is currently co-director of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities Program and serves as co-chair for the Minneapolis Energy Vision Advisory Committee. As a recognition of her work and leadership in the field, she was named a 2018 Midwest Energy News Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

    Abby began her career at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources where she implemented local government clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

    Abby received a Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Oregon.

Brad Crabtree

Vice President, Fossil Energy | (701) 647-2041

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    Brad Crabtree joined the Great Plains Institute in 2002 and is a vice president responsible for managing its carbon management program. He co-directs the national Carbon Capture Coalition, a partnership of energy, industrial and technology companies, labor unions, and environmental, energy and agricultural organizations that led efforts to secure passage of landmark legislation in Congress to reform the 45Q tax credit for the capture, beneficial use and storage of CO2 from power plants and industrial facilities. Brad also coordinates a 14-state work group convened by Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming and Governor Steve Bullock of Montana to foster deployment of carbon capture and CO2 pipeline infrastructure.

    Brad previously coordinated energy policy advisory groups for the Midwestern Governors Association and facilitated the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord Advisory Group for six governors and the Manitoba premier. He also co-directed Powering the Plains, GPI’s original flagship project that developed a comprehensive, 50-year regional blueprint for energy efficiency, renewable energy and advanced coal technologies.

    Brad was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Energy and serves on the National Coal Council. He lives with his wife and daughter in North Dakota, where he was a statewide candidate for Public Service Commissioner in 2010 and 2012. A graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, Brad has an MA in history from Johns Hopkins University.

Brendan Jordan

Vice President | (612) 278-7152

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    Brendan joined the Great Plains Institute in 2004 and is a Vice President. He has ten years of experience leading initiatives to promote deployment of clean energy technology. He works across subject areas, including bioenergy, low carbon fuels, transportation, energy infrastructure, and sustainable communities. Brendan is an experienced facilitator, energy researcher, policy analyst, project manager, communicator, and advocate. He serves as lead staff for the Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota, an industry-led partnership working to commercialize biobased chemical and advanced biofuel technology in Minnesota. He has served for 6 years in a lead facilitation role for advisory groups to the Midwestern Governors Association focused on fuels and transportation, and is currently working with MGA on alternative fuel refueling infrastructure. He is part of the GreenStep Cities team at GPI, and is working on transportation and land use best practices. He also is part of a team collaborating with Argonne National Laboratories on life cycle accounting methodology for biofuels. He works nationally and regionally on policy to support deployment of low carbon fuels and renewable chemicals. Brendan is part of GPI’s infrastructure team, and helps support the Institute’s work on transmission and the electricity grid. Brendan has a Masters of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and a undergraduate degree in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Originally from Eau Claire, WI, Brendan lives in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters.

Brian Ross

Senior Program Director | (612) 501-1531

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    Brian Ross, AICP, LEED Green Associate,  joined the Great Plains Institute in 2015 after 20 years as a consultant working on sustainable development in local decision-making and implementation. He leads the Institute’s work on solar energy market transformation and manages technical and policy programs to help local, regional, and state governments and institutions meet climate and renewable energy goals. Brian current works with local and regional governments developing community standards for utilizing local solar and wind energy resources.  He also manages stakeholder engagement and technical committee facilitation for the MN Solar Pathways project, a 3-year initiative to modeling solar deployment strategies to achieve a high-level renewable energy future.  He has provided expert testimony on energy regulation, including cost of service and rate design, energy efficiency and renewable development, fuel cost reconciliations, and integrated resource planning.

Connie L. Volcke, CAP

Executive Assistant | (612) 400-6283

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    Connie Volcke, Certified Administrative Professional, has joined the Great Plains Institute team as Executive Assistant. Connie brings professionalism, confidentiality, creativity, and outstanding organizational skills to GPI.

    Prior to joining GPI, Connie provided administrative support to senior managers in the non-profit and corporate sectors for more than 20 years.

    Connie grew up in rural Wisconsin, moving to Minnesota in 1989. Currently, she resides in Northeast Minneapolis with her husband. Connie enjoys sewing, making homemade cards, scrapbooking, gardening, and camping.

Dane McFarlane

Senior Research Analyst | (612) 767-7290

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    Dane McFarlane has led research and analytical projects at GPI since 2009. Dane has worked on creating technical models for energy and climate research, and on developing new analytical techniques to aide GPI’s policy work. He helped staff the MGA Low Carbon Fuel Standard advisory group, works on developing new electric utility business models, such as the e21 Initiative, that aim to increase penetration of renewables and distributed energy resources, and recently collaborated with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to staff and provide research for the U.S. Department of Energy. Dane is currently involved in a multi-year collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory to expand and improve the GREET lifecycle analysis model for full lifecycle analysis of fuels. He has expertise in lifecycle analysis, computer programming, economic analysis, GIS, and other research methodologies. He continues to conduct analysis for a variety of GPI projects and leads collaborations between GPI and research institutions like national laboratories, universities, and industry partners. He also has expertise in web design, publishing, and the development of compelling data visualizations. His research interests include the electric grid, renewable energy, electric vehicles, solar energy, GIS mapping, transportation fuels, ecology and lifecycle assessment.

    Dane has a Master of Science degree from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. Previously, he has worked on research contracts for the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the University of Minnesota on energy efficiency, low carbon fuels, and other related subjects.

Diana McKeown

Metro CERT Director | (612) 278-7158

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    Diana McKeown joined the Great Plains Institute in July 2013 and is the Metro CERT (Clean Energy Resource Team) Director. Diana has led the Metro region of CERTs since October 2007, during which time she has coordinated and participated in a number of clean energy initiatives, including: Apple Valley’s Better Energy Program; Neighborhood Energy Service; an energy makeover of the Lao Family Community Center in partnership with Xcel Energy.  Diana has also collaborated on the launch of a number of projects/programs including GreenStep Cities, and most recently Cities Charging Ahead! a peer learning cohort of 28 cities statewide acting together to become electric vehicle ready.  Prior to joining the CERTs team, Diana worked for over 14 years at Clean Water Action and has extensive experience building strategic campaigns and coalitions. Diana has a state certificate in residential energy auditing from Dunwoody, has been trained in Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) and is a graduate of the 2014 Energy Execs Leadership Institute at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  Diana holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Doug Scott

Vice President, Electricity and Efficiency | (815) 315-2115

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    Doug Scott joined the Great Plains Institute in early 2015. Scott focuses on GPI projects related to his work as a state official, including the Midcontinent Power Sector Collaborative, state energy and environmental regulator groups, the Carbon Capture Coalition and State C02 Work Group, and utility business model/grid modernization, including the e21 project.

    Scott was appointed chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission in March 2011 by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. During his tenure with the Commission, he served as a member of the Energy, Resources, and Environment Committee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and on the Task Force on Environmental Regulation.

    Scott also previously served as director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from 2005 to 2011. During those years, he chaired the Illinois Governor’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and represented Illinois in the development of the Midwestern Governors’ Association’s energy and climate accords. Scott was a member of the Air Committee for the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the US EPA Environmental Financial Advisory Board. He was also elected and served as Mayor of Rockford, IL from 2001 to 2005, after serving as a state representative in the Illinois General Assembly between 1995 and 2001.

    A native of Rockford, Scott received his undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Tulsa in 1982 and a Juris Doctorate with honors from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI in 1985.

Eric Schroeder

Chief Administrative Officer | (612) 278-7157

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    Eric Schroeder has overseen internal affairs of the Great Plains Institute since 2004. As chief administrative officer, Eric works closely with the president and board of directors to ensure the staff, external contractors and various operations of accounting & finance, facilities & equipment, human resources & benefits and information technology run effectively and efficiently. Eric also serves as the Treasurer of the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System, Inc. ( Eric and the Great Plains Institute have been involved in the development, implementation, growth and governance of M-RETS since 2004. Prior to joining the Great Plains Institute, Eric managed operations at a small marketing fulfillment firm, worked at an international investment bank in the City of London and taught agricultural economics in a small town in Tanzania during his years in the U.S. Peace Corps. He holds an applied agricultural economics degree from the University of Minnesota-Saint Paul. Eric lives in St. Paul with his wife, two sons and one dog. In his free time Eric enjoys spending time on the North Shore of Lake Superior, downhill skiing, biking, music and puttering on their family’s 1919 Sears bungalow.

Gail Nosek

Communications Director | (612) 400-6289

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    Gail joined GPI in January of 2018 as the communications director. Prior to GPI, Gail was communications director at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN where she led a team responsible for communications and content marketing efforts for diverse audiences across the website, social media, traditional media, internal newsletter; and public, government, and community relations efforts.

    Prior to coming to Hamline, Gail was a journalist for local FOX and CBS affiliates in Minnesota and Illinois, and a reporter and anchor for Minnesota News Network. She earned her master’s degree in writing from Hamline University, her bachelor of arts from University of Minnesota, Morris, and was a Fellow through the Center for Policy Design. Gail grew up in a small mining town on the north shore of Lake Superior which instilled an early love of outdoor activities, especially skiing, running, and water sports.

Jenna Greene

Communities Program Assistant | (612) 767-7294

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    Jenna Greene joined the Great Plains Institute in 2018 as a Program Assistant for the Communities Program. Prior to joining GPI, she worked in community engagement at the University of Nebraska Omaha Service Learning Academy and in the Sustainability Office and Environmental Studies Department at Carleton College working on community outreach and renewable energy research. She has also supported programs related to environmental justice, gender equality, and health in both Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Washington, DC. While in college, she studied household adoption of sustainable energy practices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, igniting her interest in local-level renewable energy. Jenna is from Delafield, Wisconsin and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Carleton College. Away from the office, Jenna enjoys hiking with her dog, cooking, skiing, and playing violin.

Jennifer Christensen

Managing Editor & Senior Writer | (612) 278-7153

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    Jennifer Christensen joined the Great Plains Institute in May 2007 and is managing editor and senior writer, working primarily on communications. In this role, Jennifer provides editorial direction and guidance on GPI communications and develops original, engaging content to increase GPI’s impact. Jennifer also manages the organization’s social media accounts and publishes GPI’s monthly “Better Energy News.”

    Jennifer has managed several projects and developed communications, publications, and other resources for GPI-led stakeholder initiatives at the state, regional, and national level. This includes the development of several publications with stakeholders, such as the Carbon Capture Coalition, the e21 Initiative, and Midwestern Governors Association, that address statutory and regulatory policy for deploying energy technologies and infrastructure.

    Prior to joining the Institute, Jennifer worked for Xcel Energy in their Data Integrity and Mapping Department. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Hilo with BA degrees in political science and geography.

Jess Jellings

Event Planner | (612) 400-6285

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    With a background in event planning, hospitality, and office management, Jess Jellings joined the Great Plains Institute team in March 2016 as a Meeting Planner & Administrative Assistant. In May 2017, Jess transitioned into the Event Planner role at Great Plains Institute. Previously Jess worked for the Minnesota Twins and as the Operations Coordinator for Pizza Lucé and she hopes to use her experience to increase the visibility and efficiency of GPI through creative events.

    Jess was born and raised in Northeast Minneapolis, where she still lives today with her ridiculous feline, FANG. Jess also serves as Board Member and Treasurer for Heartwood Montessori, a non-profit preschool in the Holland Neighborhood.

Jill Rook

Program Assistant | (612) 767-7297

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    Jill Rook joined the Great Plains Institute in 2017 as a Program Assistant for the Fossil Energy Team. Jill earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. After completing her degree, she wanted to further her knowledge in creating sustainable solutions for environmental issues. This led her to achieve a Master of Science degree in Science Technology and Environmental Policy from University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Jill’s past experience includes multiple Graduate Research Assistantships related to technology innovation and sustainable cities along with her position as an Administrative and Outreach Coordination Intern with Midwest Renewable Energy Association. Away from the office, Jill enjoys camping, snowshoeing, cooking, and traveling the world to learn about other cultures (and food).

Joe Cella

Minnesota GreenCorps Member

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    Joe Cella is serving at the Great Plains Institute through the Minnesota GreenCorps 2018-19 program year. He will be working with the Cities Charging Ahead and Green Step Cities programs to research and develop a series of electric vehicle best practices and recommendations to be used in assessing a city’s electric vehicle readiness. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2018 and is eager to apply himself working towards a more sustainable Minnesota. Joe plans to pursue a master’s in public policy or a degree in environmental law in the future. He loves visiting used book stores and exploring various state and national parks in his spare time.

Jordana Palmer

Electricity Program Assistant | (612) 278-7189

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    Jordana Palmer joined the Great Plains Institute in 2018 as a program assistant for the electricity team. She recently earned her bachelor of arts from Macalester College with degrees in political science and sociology. Her past experience includes working as a policy development intern for Xcel Energy’s environmental policy team and as a legislative affairs intern for the Metropolitan Council, while volunteering at various nonprofits. While at Macalester, she spent most of her time conducting independent research on international polices in Southeast Asia. Jordana grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. Outside of the office, she enjoys biking, printmaking, practicing Mandarin, and traveling.

Katelyn Bocklund

Program Assistant | (612) 400-6287

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    Katelyn Bocklund joined the Great Plains Institute (GPI) in 2017 and serves as Program Assistant for the Transportation and Bioeconomy Programs, working with many exciting initiatives including Drive Electric Minnesota and the Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota. Her past experience includes working as a Coordinator and Communications for Youth Energy Summit, Marketing Coordinator for the Ney Nature Center, and Minnesota GreenCorps member during the 2013-14 year for the Recycling Association of Minnesota. Katelyn has a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from Bemidji State University and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

    Outside of GPI, Katelyn enjoys crocheting, exploring small towns, and antiquing. She currently resides in South Minneapolis with her husband and two cats.

Klara Droessler

Grants and Contracts Associate | (651) 245-3370

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    Klara joined Great Plains Institute in January 2014. She has a variety of skills including executive/administrative support, office management, business startup systems administration and data management, as well as technical skills such as computer network admin, desktop support, and office equipment maintenance. She thrives on variety and enjoys a good challenge.

    Klara’s Wisconsin farming origins cultivated in her a strong passion for the land and environmental issues. She studied in Europe and has traveled extensively — great introductions to a world of alternative energy and transportation options. She’s happy to be using her talents in an organization that is addressing meaningful issues and making an impact toward a better future. She lives in St. Paul with her family and enjoys cooking, planting and tending her flowerbeds, the wonderful world of herbs, singing in a rock band, and doing home improvement projects.

Kristoffer Acuña

Project Assistant

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    Kristoffer Acuña joined the Great Plains Institute (GPI) in 2018 as a project assistant on the Communities Team. Kris works on the Cities Charging Ahead! project, aimed at helping MN cities understand and become what it means to be electric vehicle ready. Kris conducted research at GPI as part of the REAMP City Action Team, a coalition of groups from five midwestern states examining what cities are doing to address climate change. He also provides support on Metro Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT) projects. Always having a love for the natural world, Kris graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s of science in astrophysics. Outside of GPI, he enjoys running around Minneapolis’ lakes, making podcasts, traveling, and watching the latest Marvel movie.

Lola Schoenrich

Vice President | (612) 278-7154

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    Lola Schoenrich leads the Institute’s work on sustainable communities and energy efficiency, providing strategic direction, overall program management, fundraising, and facilitation. Lola has over 35 years of experience in energy policy and community energy initiatives. She has extensive background in bringing diverse groups of people together to craft energy policy and implement projects in networks, coalitions, and working teams. For example, she was one of the founders of the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and of GreenStep Cities. She spent nine years on the RE-AMP Steering Committee as the Working Group leader of the Energy Efficiency Working Group, and is one of the founders of the National Network of Statewide-Local Sustainability Organizations (N2S2O). Previous to joining the Great Plains Institute, she was the Energy Program Director at the Minnesota Project, where she led the energy policy and coalition work. In the course of her 20 years at the Minnesota Project, Lola also worked on numerous other projects, including community sustainability, waste management, recycling, household hazardous waste management and waste reduction. Previous to her work with the Minnesota Project, she was the Executive Director of the Self-Reliance Center (now the Sustainable Resources Center) running community-based energy efficiency and conservation programs in Minneapolis neighborhoods. Lola has a BA in biology from Hampshire College.

Matt Prorok

Senior Policy Manager | (612) 400-6282

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    Matt Prorok joined the Great Plains Institute in November 2015 and is a senior policy manager. His work focuses on the development of electric transmission infrastructure and market mechanisms to enhance the development of low-carbon energy technologies in the Midcontinent region. In addition, Matt contributes to GPI’s research and analysis work and is a facilitator for the Midwestern Governors Association’s Grid Security & Modernization initiative. As part of his work at GPI, he also served on the steering and policy committees of the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance. Matt has a background in engineering and sustainability. He obtained his BS in mechanical engineering from Penn State with a minor in earth systems and an MS in science, technology, and environmental policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. His work at the University of Minnesota focused on assessment of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to electric vehicle charging in Minnesota based on policy incentives intended to direct charging to specific hours of the day.

Milkeessaa Waltajjii

Finance and Grant Contract Administration Accountant | (612) 767-7298

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    Milkeessaa joined the Great Plains Institute in 2017 as the Finance and Grant Contract Administration Accountant. He has eight plus years in the areas of accounting and finance, in a nonprofit setting. Just prior to coming to the Great Plains Institute, Milkeessaa held a position as a grant manager and accountant; purchasing card administrator; and effort coordinator at the University of Minnesota. For much of Milkeessaa’s career, he has worked on non-sponsored and sponsored accounts including grants and contract administrations.

    While holding a position as purchasing card administrator at the University of Minnesota’s Law School, Milkeessaa helped to develop and implement purchasing card policy. In his position as an accountant, Milkeessaa worked closely with the finance director for budget development and oversight. As a grant manager, he worked closely with department administrators, principal investigators, and faculties for grant and contract budget oversight and effort coordination. Since joining GPI, Milkeessaa took a three-day comprehensive training and passed the exam to earn his certification as a Nonprofit Accounting Professional.

    Milkeessaa received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a Master’s degree in Accounting from DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management, Edina, MN.

    Milkeessaa lives in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota with his wife. In his free time, he likes reading, visiting recreational areas, cleaning the yard, washing clothes, listing to radio news, TV news, watching movies, visiting relatives and friends.

Rolf Nordstrom

President & Chief Executive Officer | (612) 278-7156

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    Rolf is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Great Plains Institute. He has more than 30 years of experience in energy and sustainable development policy and practice in both governmental and non-profit settings and has held positions with: the United States Congress, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB), the Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long-Range Planning, World Wildlife Fund International (Brussels, Belgium), National Wildlife Federation’s Corporate Conservation Council (Washington, DC), and the Global Environment Program at NYU’s Stern School of Business in New York.

    For much of his career Rolf has worked to broker agreement among disparate interests on difficult public policy issues. In 2016, Rolf was appointed by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, to serve on the agency’s 24-member Electricity Advisory Committee.

    Prior to coming to the Institute in 2003, 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 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.

    Rolf holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Carleton College and a Master’s Degree in International Environmental Policy from Tufts University. He has served on numerous advisory boards, including the University of Minnesota’s NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise and the Midwest CleanTech Open. Rolf currently serves on the Steering Committee for the MN Sustainable Growth Coalition, a group of more than 30 leading companies dedicated to ushering in a “circular economy.” 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).

Steve Dahlke

Steve Dahlke

Associate | (612) 767-7293

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    Steve Dahlke joined the Great Plains Institute in July 2012 as an Associate. His work focuses on the development of electric transmission infrastructure needed for renewable energy development. Furthermore, Steve works to reduce market barriers to advanced “Smart Grid” technologies like demand response and energy storage that will improve the efficiency of the electric system and help integrate renewable energy. He is involved in a number of Midwestern electricity planning and market initiatives. Steve received his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University in 2012. His undergraduate thesis focused on energy storage technologies for renewable energy integration.

Trevor Drake

Project Manager | (612) 767-7291

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    Trevor Drake is a project manager who supports GPI’s work in electricity, efficiency, and communities. He joined GPI in 2013 and focuses primarily on stakeholder engagement and meeting facilitation to advance utility and regulatory innovation towards a low-carbon, consumer-centric electric system. Trevor also leads GPI’s work on small commercial energy efficiency and on collaborative solar procurement for governments.

    Trevor previously staffed the energy efficiency working group for the RE-AMP network, which convened clean energy advocates and their funders to co-develop strategies for maximizing energy efficiency in the Midwest. Since 2012, he has also provided clean energy education and advisory services to local governments and consumers as a staff member of Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams, of which GPI has been a partner since 2013. Trevor received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Saint John’s University in Minnesota.

Will Dunder

Communications & Data Systems Strategist | (612) 767-7292

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    In January of 2016 Will Dunder joined the Great Plains Institute as a Communications and Data Systems Strategist. As part of the communications team, Will works with many different programs and projects to tell the GPI story across numerous platforms and media. He also works closely with development staff as GPI streamlines the flow of information from its large network of friends, partners, and colleagues.

    Will originally joined the Great Plains Institute as a digital communications fellow in September of 2015, shortly after completing a master’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Minnesota. His thesis focused on creating communities through social media. Before joining GPI he spent a number of years as a professional photographer and videographer working with many non-profits and small businesses around the Twin Cities.


Franz Litz

Program Consultant

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    Franz Litz brings 20 years’ experience on energy and environmental law and policy matters in government, business and non-governmental organizations to his work advising state officials, industry and non-profit organizations. Franz is an expert on the federal Clean Air Act. Before joining Great Plains Institute as a consultant, Franz was Executive Director of the Pace Energy & Climate Center, a legal and policy think tank, and a senior fellow with the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute, a policy think tank. His government experience includes a stint as an air and energy attorney, followed by 4 years leading the development of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Before entering government service, Franz practiced corporate environmental and energy law in Boston. Franz currently advises the Great Plains Institute in connection with its work with the Midwestern Power Sector Collaborative, an effort by utilities, cooperatives, merchant generators, environmental groups and state officials to develop a Midwestern approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Mike Gregerson

Mike Gregerson

Program Consultant | (612) 423-5181

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    Mike Gregerson has over 30 years of management, executive and consulting experience in the electric utility arena including environmental and regulatory affairs, customer service and energy policy negotiations. As an energy policy consultant, Mike has worked to advance clean energy initiatives, electric transmission and also worked with aboriginal First Nation tribes in Manitoba, Canada to resolve hydro electric development impacts. As VP of Customer Care for Xcel Energy, he managed customer billing, call centers and credit operations for 3 million electric and gas customers. As Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs for Northern States Power (now a unit of Xcel Energy), he led company efforts to deal with acid rain, hazardous waste disposal, power plant and high voltage transmission line impact issues. Gregerson holds a BS degree in engineering and Master of Public Health degree from the University of Minnesota.

Patrice Lahlum

Patrice Lahlum

Program Consultant | 1 (701) 281-5007

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    Patrice Lahlum is the President/Owner of Riverwind Consulting, LLC, based in West Fargo, ND, and provides clients with a wide range of consulting services including marketing, communications and policy development and analysis. Current areas of focus are agriculture, energy, natural resources, and organizational development. Lahlum currently works as a consultant to the Great Plains Institute (GPI) on their communications, transmission and biomass programs. Named as one of the region’s “40 Under 40” business leaders by Prairie Business Magazine in 2011, Lahlum has more than 15 years of experience in agriculture and energy policy, project management, public relations, fundraising, media (conventional and social) outreach, group consensus development and facilitation. Renewable energy is a significant focus of Lahlum’s work, having led the effort to organize the first ever renewable energy summit in North Dakota. That summit led to the creation of the North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy (NDARE). Lahlum served as the elected chair of NDARE from 2009-2012 and served on the board of directors from 2008-2012.