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.
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.
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 seasoned solar professional, passionate about the sustainable development of an equitable low-carbon economy with the digitization and democratization of energy at its forefront. Juan’s passion landed him at FIMER, an Italian inverter, storage and EV infrastructure manufacturer, as sales manager and business developer. He learned the intricacies of the hardware from distributing them for Soligent and CivicSolar where he designed and sold off-grid, new-build, residential and commercial solar + storage projects. Juan is also well versed in the nexus between conservation and sustainable development across Latin America. Having worked with international businesses and communities alike, he’s familiar with building and auditing for sustainability standards (ie Fair Trade USA) across supply chains, ensuring there is fair labor, and quality systems management across business operations. Inspired by first hand research in the Ecuadorian Andes, Amazon and Galapagos, he’s assisted large RFP responses for climate change adaptation projects for the World Bank, as well as strengthened the coalition of national Latino Climate Action organizations in Washington DC while at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 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, he is our events committee chair and constantly volunteers to nurture relationships so we broaden Central Texas’ just transition to a Green Economy. Feel free to reach out to him at email@example.com.
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.
Emma Pabst, Board Member
Emma is a lifelong Texan and seasoned advocate with a passion for protecting the environment. Emma earned her B.A. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of Texas in 2018, and then went on to become a Clean Energy Advocate with Environment Texas where she led campaigns to expand clean energy progress across the state. Her work has appeared frequently in major media outlets including the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times. In 2020, she successfully persuaded the Austin Independent School District to pass a resolution in support of installing solar on all new school rooftops. She is now a Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign where she coordinates statewide organizing efforts to plan campaigns, engage with volunteers, communicate with the media, and build strategic coalitions.
Solar Austin Foundation 501(c)(4) – Board Members
Kaiba White, President
(see bio above)
Matthew is among our longest serving board members. He has worked in the semiconductor industry for manufacturers of semiconductor process equipment and metrology tools, and enjoys technology startups. He recently concluded a role at the UT Pickle Research Campus in an National Science Foundation funded engineering research center (ERC) focused on nanomanufacturing systems development. He also served a term on the Electric Utility Commission for the City of Austin and was an initiating proponent of the REACH program which makes important contributions in constraining the carbon emissions from Austin Energy’s fossil generation assets and aligning our electric utility’s financial incentives with our long term goals for an emission neutral utility. He has BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from the Universities of Colorado (Boulder) and California (Davis) respectively.
Sam Porter, Board Member
Sam Porter is taking a front line role in modernizing our energy system as a Founder and CEO at NeuPorter, “a modern midstream energy company.” We congratulate him on his vision and efforts to bring about the energy system we need. Previously Sam was a senior counsel member of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Austin office, with practice focused 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
Tatianna Cannon, Executive Director
In May of 2021, Solar Austin hired Tatianna Cannon as our first-ever full-time executive director. This marks an exciting new chapter for the organization, which has been run by the volunteer board of directors and part-time contract workers since 2003. This transition is possible thanks to funding from the Gannett Foundation, the Meadows Foundation, and our business sponsors.
As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Tatianna earned her B.A. in Letters and an M.Ed in Adult and Higher Education. During and after receiving her degrees, she became committed to helping under-served and primarily first-generation college students through Student Affairs at the University of Oklahoma and as an adjunct professor before transitioning her career path to public affairs and institutional advancement.
Tatianna has a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector, including leadership and fundraising positions for the University of Oklahoma, Teach for America, and as a regional executive director with ALSAC/ St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Most recently she has been leading Aster Collaborative, which she initially founded to help maximize the scope and influence of nonprofit organizations for the greater good. Aster Collaborative now assists corporations and programs globally in the areas of education, health and human services, non-profit management, business development, anti-racism training, political consulting, and much more.
Tatianna has assisted non-profit organizations as a consultant and as a keynote presenter on topics including fundraising best practices, public affairs and board management for nonprofits, diversity, equity and inclusion, generational philanthropy and workplace motivations, and educational issues as well as topics surrounding educational systems more broadly.
Mac Davenport, Intern
Mac is a third-year student at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing dual degrees in Advertising and Sustainability Studies, with a minor in Communication and Social Change. They are an art director in the prestigious Texas Creative portfolio sequence, in which they construct creative advertising campaigns for real-world brands. Mac specializes in graphic design and digital content marketing for cause-minded organizations, and uses their creative skills to drive real social impact. As a graphic designer for the Campus Environmental Center, Mac creates content to promote student-led environmental initiatives at UT. They’re also the social media manager for Gamma Rho Lambda, an inclusive greek organization that provides a safe and supportive community for LGBTQ+ individuals. After college, Mac intends to continue using their skills as an art director and designer in the non-profit sector. They are passionate about sustainability, ecological conservation, and social justice. In their free time, they enjoy thrift shopping, bullet journaling, taking naps, and perfecting their home barista set-up.
Johari Weaver, Intern
Johari Weaver is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Austin. She is on track to graduate in the spring of 2022 with degrees in Sustainability Studies, Geography, and a minor in Women & Gender Studies. Johari has held four successful internships previous to her current time at Solar Austin while holding leadership roles in on-campus organizations, Front N’ Center, and Coloring Environmentalism. She enjoys outdoor activities, watching the latest Netflix shows, and diving into a fantastical read.