Solar Austin 501(c)(3) – Board Members
Kaiba White, Board Member, President
Kaiba White has a passion for protecting the environment and conserving resources, so advocating for utilization of solar energy, as well as other renewable energy sources, fits right in with her priorities. Kaiba earned her B.A. in sociology from Rice University in 2006 and her M.A. in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University in 2009. She then spent two and a half years as a research associate for the Climate Change an African Political Stability (CCAPS) program at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas in Austin, where she contributed to research on vulnerability to climate change in Africa and used geographic information systems (GIS) to assess and map current and projected climate change impacts and vulnerability in Africa. She is now a Climate Policy and Outreach Specialist in Public Citizen’s Texas office. She contributes to policy research, online activism, grassroots organizing and coalition building, as well as recruiting and overseeing interns.
Leslie Libby, Board Member, Vice President
Leslie Libby graduated from Montana State University in 1984 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. In December 1992, she graduated with a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. From 1991 until she retired in 2015, Leslie worked on solar energy projects and programs for Austin Energy, the City of Austin municipally owned utility. During her tenure she had many roles with Austin Energy including PV system performance and solar data monitoring and analysis, PV system maintenance contract management, project management of both ground mount and rooftop PV system installations, and solar incentive program design and implementation. Leslie worked on teams responsible for developing innovative solar tariffs, researching the effects of co-location of wind and solar on constrained West Texas transmission lines, and rooftop solar potential for the City of Austin. In addition, during her tenure, with the assistance of Department of Energy and State Energy Conservation Office grants she developed and implemented Austin Energy’s Solar Rooftop Program, Solar Explorer Program and Solar for Schools Program. Leslie is the owner of Libby Solar, a solar energy consultancy.
Rachel Stone, Board Member, Treasurer
Rachel Stone is the Assistant Executive Director at Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC). Before that, she was the Development Officer at the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST), where she provides grant writing, development, and technical assistance to expand ICAST mission of developing and implementing market-based solutions for issues that plague under-served communities. ICAST is currently focused on educating and assisting affordable housing providers undergo and finance green rehab. Rachel has a BA in Urban Studies from Brown University and attended the University of Texas School of Law. After graduation, she worked as an Attorney-Adviser for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) until she returned to Austin to work on clean energy advocacy and developing alternative financing programs such as PACE and Pay-For Success for implementing green rehab.
David Brearley, Secretary
David Brearley is a nationally-recognized subject matter expert and trade writer with two decades of industry experience. During his tenure as the Senior Technical Editor at SolarPro magazine (2008–2018), David worked with a broad cross-section of professional engineers, domain experts, and thought leaders to develop and publish unparalleled technical content for solar industry professionals. Aside from his talent for transforming dense, esoteric material into accessible and engaging content, David has a wealth of hands-on PV project management and design experience. NABCEP certified as a PV Installation Professional (PVIP) since 2004, Brearley served as the VP of Design and Operations Manager for Meridian Solar (2005–2008), and more recently as a Senior Solar Project Manager for The Brandt Companies (2019), the largest mechanical-electrical-plumbing contractor in Texas. Outside of work, David sits on the NABCEP PVIP Exam Committee. He also serves on the board of directors for the Texas Solar Energy Society as well as its local chapter Solar Austin. In addition to a Communications degree from the University of Notre Dame, David has a certificate in PV System Design and Installation from the San Juan College Renewable Energy Program as well as a Project Management Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin Center for Professional Education.
Stanley Pipkin, Board Member
Stan Pipkin’s interests in community development, sustainable building practices and policy work have found expressions in multiple forms. Since 2007, he has co-managed and owned Lighthouse Solar in Austin. In that role, he has been involved in the shaping of local and state policy to foster more favorable conditions for the growth of the solar industry. He also runs an architectural design practice, Pipkinc, which does residential, commercial and civic projects. In 2000 Stand co-founded a research and design collective, Spurse, which has engaged in community design projects, material research and process consulting for institutions and organizations ranging from the Guggenheim Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, MassMoca, and The Land Institute. That work has included exhibitions, workshops, lectures, participatory community design projects, product development and architectural design. Since 1999, Stan has helped to lead and grow a nonprofit organization operating in the US and Kenya that has successfully acquired and developed a 15 acre school and housing campus to provide for the well being of orphaned children in Kenya. Funding sources and in-country revenue generation have been secured to ensure a self sustaining operation in Kenya.
Kenneth Thompson, Board Member
Kenneth Thompson is a passionate, detail-oriented professional with diverse experience creating and implementing program initiatives, preparing grant proposals, developing effective policies and procedures, and managing complex budgets. In addition to experience working in management for large Austin-area companies, he dedicates his personal time to community service. Kenneth currently serves as Board Chair for Austin’s African American Qualify of Life Resource Advisory Commission. Previously, he served as President of the Board of Trustees for the Pflugerville Independent School district, Vice President of Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members, Board President for the Overton Group, Vice Chair for the Austin Advisory Committee to address disproportionality within the welfare system, and Board Chair of “A New Entry LLC,” which provides counseling and transitional housing to formerly incarcerated men. He is always eager to approach problems critically and analytically in order to create innovative solutions to difficult problems. Additionally, he is recognized for his ability to build strong relationships with clients and stakeholders, maintain strategic communication pathways with a diverse audience, and streamline processes for optimal productivity.
Katharine Beisner, Board Member
Katharine plays a key role at Austin Energy in the expansion of DC Fast EV charging infrastructure in Austin, TX. Her focus is on securing grant funding and developing site hosts. At SunPower and Incenergy, Katharine launched IOT software applications supporting solar energy production, energy monitoring, and thermostat management for both the residential and commercial market.Katharine’s expertise is in electric vehicles, solar, storage, and demand side management technologies. She is passionate about developing innovative partnerships and product offerings based on market intelligence, working closely with development, sales, and marketing to build superior solutions that exceed customer expectations. Katharine earned a B.S. in electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics. She began her career in semiconductor at Motorola. From there Katharine pivoted to a focus on software development and quality for enterprise and web applications. At Incenergy, Katharine was the product and quality leader for an IOT start-up managing thermostats and other devices for the small commercial market. More recently Katharine managed SunPower’s solar monitoring and energy management applications for commercial and residential solar customers. Currently, Katharine is a senior member of Austin Energy’s Emerging Technology and Electric Vehicles team, a Solar Austin board member, an expert mentor at the Austin Technology Incubator, and a pitch contest judge and public speaker at industry conferences and events.
Jessica Harris, Board Member
Jessica Harris (formerly Vogel) has over 10 years of experience in energy efficiency with a background in mechanical engineering, project management, construction administration, and extensive experience with utility energy incentive programs. Jessica earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2006. Jessica is the owner and President of Harris Energy Solutions LLC (HES), a WBE headquartered in Northern Austin, Texas. Jessica is the proud mother of two children and relocated to the Austin area with her husband three years ago from New Jersey. Jessica has a passion for protecting the environment and is currently working on a children’s book series to educate and spread knowledge of the dangers of plastics in the ocean, deforestation, and pesticide dangers with bee survival. HES offers a full range of energy consulting services but most of Jessica’s energy engineering experience encompasses photovoltaic (PV) conceptual design, project management, construction administration and PV monitoring for a combined 80 MW of total projects. This experience and perspective makes her a great asset to the Solar Austin board. As a Solar Austin board member, her focus is to assist in both the education and community project divisions.
Rich Clark, Board Member
Rich has been working in the solar industry since 2013 on utility scale solar projects in Texas and other parts of the US. His focus has been on engineering and development and worked at various solar companies including NRG solar, SunPower, and 7X Energy. His interest in solar started back at UT-Austin in 2002 with a solar energy class during his undergraduate engineering degree program. Back then solar PV was sparingly used primarily for off grid cabins and remote equipment powering. However, this was a technology that just needed further manufacturing and research investment along with talented passionate people to bring it mainstream. Rich is passionate about promoting solar energy and all the positive impacts it brings. It is also essential that solar energy is available to all people and communities that desire it. Rich holds a B.S. of Mechanical Engineering from UT-Austin and an MBA from Drexel University.
Andrea Tosi, Board Member
Andrea Tosi is the power system specialist at Pecan Street Inc, a non-profit organization based in Austin, TX focused on fighting climate change by advancing renewable energy and water research. She supports the hardware design and software development for testing and validating project and technologies such as V2G, residential energy storage, and residential thermal management. She holds a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a MS in Sustainable Design from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining Pecan Street in 2018, she worked at Austin Energy leading the team in charge of designing, installing, and testing Grid-Scale Energy Storage installations as part of the DOE funded Austin SHINES project. Following her interests in renewable energy, she participated in projects such as the NexusHaus – a house that participated in DOE’s Solar Decathlon in 2016, traveled to Japan to study the feasibility of installing renewable resources in remote areas, and researched how solar panels and green roofs could work together as synergetic systems in Austin, and how these two sustainable technologies have social impacts on our daily lives. Andrea is from Ecuador and proud of being a Latina in the energy industry.
Juan Afanador, Board Member
Juan Afanador is a NABCEP certified solar professional, passionate about the sustainable development of a low-carbon economy and its technologies – especially solar. Juan’s passion has allowed him to work at Soligent Distribution and CivicSolar selling and engineering off-grid, new-build, residential and commercial solar + storage projects. Prior to distributing top-of-the-line solar equipment for long-tail installers throughout Texas, Juan explored the nexus between conservation and sustainable development across emerging solar markets in the US and Latin America. Juan has worked closely with communities at lowering the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in various ways. His global perspectives have allowed him to audit global supply chains for compliance of sustainability standards, improve business operations in emerging economies, develop funding strategies and respond to RFPs for World Bank climate change adaptation projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Additionally, he did research in conservation and development in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Andes and Galapagos islands. He was a Voces Verdes Fellow for the Natural Resource Defense Council, and developed meaningful partnerships in business and politics to support “The Clean Power Plan” in Washington D.C. Juan grew up in Bogota, Colombia, and holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since joining the board of Solar Austin in 2020, Juan has worked diligently to nurture relationships, collaborate amongst the community to share strategies or perspectives needed for Central Texas to act on a just transition into the Green Economy.
Jason Rodriguez, Board Member
Jason Rodriguez is the CEO and co-founder of Zpryme. Jason leads the strategy and the direction of the company’s market research, events, and virtual and augmented reality work in the clean-tech and smart community sectors. Zpryme’s research has been cited in publications such as New York Times and Fast Company, as well as dozens of trade magazines. Zpryme produces the Energy Thought Summit (ETS), one of the premier energy events in the nation that focuses on solving complex energy problems to build a more sustainable future. He received his B.B.A. in marketing from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, and his M.B.A. from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He also completed graduate coursework in economics at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
Tricia “TJ” Jackson, Board Member
As an Attorney in the Austin office of Husch Blackwell, TJ’s overall experience includes renewable energy, real estate, and environmental law. She currently counsels utility scale solar and wind energy developers and financing parties through title & survey review, curative, acquisition, financing, development, investment, and post-closing stages of transactions. Her recent and notable experience includes serving as outside counsel for the full commissioning of the 315 megawatt Phoebe Solar project in Winkler County, Texas (as of November 2019, the largest solar energy project in Texas) and the development and financing of the 336 megawatt TG East Wind Project in Knox County, Texas. While serving as the Lead Student Attorney for the Texas Solar Power Association from 2016-2017, she researched and drafted Senate Bill 1797/House Bill 3329, which was signed into law by Governor Abbott on May 30, 2017. Over the past two years, TJ’s peers voted her as one of Austin Monthly Magazine’s Top Attorneys in Austin in the areas of Real Estate and Energy. In addition, she was named a Top 40 under 40 Lawyer in Texas by the National Black Lawyers Association and was a nominee for the Austin 40 under 40 award. TJ co-authors the Renewable Energy Chapter of the Texas Environmental Law Practice Series, which is revised and published annually by the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling the world, frequenting the many Austin, Texas running trails, listening to audio books, and video calls with family and friends.
Solar Austin Foundation 501(c)(4) – Board Members
Kaiba White, President
(see bio above)
Matthew has worked in the semiconductor industry for manufacturers of semiconductor process equipment and metrology tools, and enjoys technology startups. He currently works at the UT Pickle Research Campus in an National Science Foundation-funded engineering research center focused on nanomanufacturing systems development. He has BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from the Universities of Colorado (Boulder) and California (Davis) respectively. Between these educational pursuits he spent over 2 years in Central America with the Peace Corps constructing gravity fed potable water distribution systems. These experiences make him appreciate that fossil resources are too valuable to merely burn when they have so many other unique uses, especially when our current market design socializes their negative consequences. Water too is too precious to casually place at risk in fossil fuel recovery in the absence of indemnification for people and ecosystems reliant on at risk waters. Promoting solar energy utilization is thus a natural interest.
Sam Porter, Board Member
Sam Porter is a senior counsel in Norton Rose Fulbright’s Austin office. He focuses his practice on energy transactions and projects, including project acquisitions and divestitures, project development, and tax equity and project financing. Sam draws on his experience as an in-house counsel at a solar manufacturer and developer to serve as a strategic legal and business advisor to his clients. Sam has led a wide variety of complex energy transactions and has significant experience with solar, wind and energy storage projects. Sam is admitted to practice in New York and Texas.
Solar Austin Staff
Beryl Dann, Program Manager
Beryl Dann joined the Solar Austin team in January of 2020 as the Program Manager for the newly launched Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Program (now called Pathways to Clean Energy Careers). In addition to running this innovative internship matching program for underrepresented students, Beryl manages Solar Austin’s online communications and works alongside the Development and Events teams to amplify Solar Austin’s mission and community impact. Born and raised in Washington D.C., Beryl has pursued environmental stewardship in a variety of roles and industries, starting at small environmental NGOs, where she grew from being an administrative intern to a marketing assistant and a development ghostwriter. At the Munson Foundation, Beryl prepared grant reviews for the Board and brought their grantee reporting system into the digitized 21st century. As a Marketing Assistant at The Ocean Foundation (TOF), she developed educational and outreach content across multiple departments, from investigative white papers to fundraising appeals to HNWI. Her work at TOF led Beryl to co-founding Currents, a 501(c)(3) marine conservation foundation, where she addressed complex environmental issues in a digestible way to better engage millennial audiences and donors. After taking a year to backpack solo throughout Asia, Beryl found her way to Austin, Texas, which she happily calls home. Beryl holds a B.A. in International Development, English, and Environmental Sustainability from Tulane University.