Solar Austin – 501(c)(3)
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 senior solar project manager at Brandt, the largest specialty MEP contractor in Texas. Previously, Brearley worked as the VP of Design at Meridian Solar where he managed commercial projects for, among others, Applied Materials, Austin Independent School District, City of Austin, Fort Sam Houston, Foundation Communities, Lower Colorado River Association, and REI. As the senior technical editor for PV power systems at SolarPro magazine, Brearley worked with a broad cross-section of subject matter experts and thought leaders to develop unparalleled technical content for solar industry stakeholders. His solar education began in 2002 at the San Juan College Renewable Energy Program in Farmington, NM. Brearley achieved NABCEP certification as a PV Installation Professional in 2004 (Certificate # 091804-5) and has volunteered as an exam committee member for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners since 2011. Brearley holds a Project Management Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin Center for Professional Education.
Scott Burton, Board Member
Scott Burton’s interest in alternative energy grew out of the sudden vulnerability and soul searching that hit adults around him during the oil supply crisis of 1973. Creative solutions bloomed for the few years that followed, but, interestingly, their failure to take root was hugely driven by the relative attractiveness of their simple economics. Getting a deeper understanding of this fundamental driver that must be present for good ideas to flourish has been a passion ever since. Scott went to high school in Austin, has a B.A. with Honors in Economics from Brandeis University, and an M.B.A. in finance from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He was an economist, financial analyst and finance manager in Hong Kong for four years, a Global Strategist at Samsung HQ in Seoul for two years, and has held corporate finance and consulting roles with green-tech, software and technology organizations in Texas since 1999. His work has included thin-film solar panel manufacturers, solar power system integrators, residential system sales and marketing teams, and solar power leasing firms. His professional home is now in corporate finance at the fabulous Volusion, Inc. in Austin.
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.
Naji H. Kelley, Board Member
Naji H. Kelley is the Founder & CEO of BLNDED Media, a leading platform for the voices of diverse and underrepresented founders, working toward providing a voice for underrepresented entrepreneurs in tech, connecting creatives to opportunities, and highlighting organizations that support diversity, in order to build a more inclusive startup ecosystem. As a Solar Austin board member, his goal is to educate and connect the benefits of solar to undeserved communities.
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.
Solar Austin Foundation – 501(c)(4)
Kaiba White, President
(see bio above)
Matthew Weldon, Board Member
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.
Jenn Goodwille, Board Member
Jenn Goodwillie is a utility-scale wind and solar developer at Lincoln Clean Energy in Austin, Texas. Prior to moving into a business role, Jenn worked as a renewable energy attorney focusing on real estate, permitting and regulatory matters related to wind and solar development. In additional to serving on the Solar Austin Board, she helps run the local chapter of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE).
Sam Porter, Board Member
Sam Porter is Counsel in the Austin office of McGuireWoods LLP where his practice focuses on energy transactions, mergers and acquisitions, project development, and energy regulatory law. Sam represents developers, private equity firms, investment banks, and a variety of other public and private companies in the renewable energy, power generation, and oil & gas industries on complex transactions including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, development projects, and project finance. He is admitted to practice in New York and Texas.