Our Board of Directors are committed individuals with experience in law, policy, education, finance, non-profits, marketing, communications, and industry who have a passion for our mission.
Directors serve on the Board for three-year terms. They provide fiduciary oversight, strategic vision and direction and financial support for the organization. We are proud to have the energy, time and dedication from the following Board members:
Jennifer Birnbaum – Director
Jennifer is the Senior Compliance Program Manager in Governance and Planning at Medtronic. Prior to Medtronic, she was the Director for Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Jennifer brings experience in governance, legal affairs, passion for our mission and an interest in strategic planning. Jennifer resides in the west metro with her family and has two sons.
Andrew Gibbons – Director
Andrew Gibbons is Senior Commercial Counsel for Distributed Solar Development. Prior to this, Andrew was an attorney at Stinson Leonard Street LLP in Minneapolis, where he practiced in the areas of energy and environmental law, with a focus on renewable energy projects. Andrew has been a supporter of renewable energy and climate change solutions since studying the geophysical sciences as an undergraduate, and is excited to put his passion for the cause to work by furthering the Climate Generation mission. Andrew lives in St. Paul with his wife and three daughters.
Barry Greenwald – Director
Barry Greenwald has been a science educator at Harding High School in the St. Paul Public Schools since 1998. Barry has taught classes in Biology, Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science. Recently he was appointed as a Teaching Specialist in the University of Minnesota College in the Schools program and is teaching the course Climate Crisis: Implementing Solutions at Harding. Prior to choosing a career in education, Barry was a research technician on the University of Minnesota Corn Breeding Project. He has attended and/or presented at several Climate Generation Summer Institutes for Climate Change Education and served on the former Education Program Committee before joining the Board.
Cathy Kennedy – Chair
Cathy owns Cathryn Kennedy Consulting, a strategic communications firm, she started in 2002. A majority of her client work has focused on nonprofit environmental and clean energy assignments. Previously, she was a senior vice president at Weber Shandwick Public Relations in Minneapolis. Cathy’s other experience includes public service as the press secretary for Minnesota Gov. Al Quie. Cathy graduated Magna Cum Laude. in Journalism from Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, and earned her M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.
Gregg Mast – Director
Gregg serves as the Executive Director for Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM). CEEM is an industry-led, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening Minnesota’s clean energy business ecosystem. The organization provides a unified voice for clean energy business across the state with a mission to provide educational leadership, collaboration, and policy analysis that accelerates clean energy market growth and smart energy policies. Mr. Mast has nearly 20 years of professional experience in project development, resource analysis, feasibility and financial analysis, and fuel risk management in the clean energy sector. He possesses deep expertise in the economic, marketing, financial, environmental, and policy aspects of clean energy. Mr. Mast has served as Vice President of The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota where he was responsible for developing a long‐term strategic direction for Minnesota in the areas of renewable energy and renewable materials. Early on in his career, Mr. Mast worked in a variety of corporate finance and management capacities, including at Allianz Life, a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Allianz SE and Target Corporation. Mr. Mast received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a M.B.A. in Finance from the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas.
Ben Passer – Vice Chair
Ben Passer is the Senior Program Officer at McKnight Foundation supporting the Midwest Climate and Energy Program’s goal to take bold action on the climate crisis by dramatically cutting carbon pollution in the Midwest by 2030. Ben’s previous experience includes Directing the Energy Access and Equity Program at Fresh Energy, legal clerkships with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Honeywell International, and internships with Governor Mark Dayton and Senator John Marty. Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Minnesota and a Juris Doctor from Hamline Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of the Minnesota Bar.
Raj Rajan — Secretary
Dr. Raj Rajan is an independent environmental consultant and Fellow of the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota. He was formerly the technical lead of corporate sustainability at Ecolab, leading their 2014 effort to become 100% solar powered in MN operations and subsequently negotiated a 100 MW wind power purchase agreement that will make their entire electricity use in North America carbon neutral from 2020 to 2045. He has served on the Advisory Board of Climate Generation since 2015 and is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors of Fresh Energy. Currently, Raj also serves on the Board of Directors of Environmental Initiative. He was appointed as the statewide business representative on Minnesota’s Clean Water Council (2015-). He also serves on the Advisory Council of The Nature Conservancy’s Minnesota Headwaters Fund (2015-) and Chair of External Advisory Council for the National Science Foundation project on Sustainable, Healthy and Livable Cities (2015-). Additionally, he serves on the Kresge Foundation’s Urban Climate Adaptation Assessment Advisors’ Group (2015-), and recently participated in Industry Working Groups of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (2014-15), Water Stewardship Advisory Group of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (2014-17), and Sustainability Advisory Workgroup of the American Cleaning Institute (2014-18).
Sean P. Smith – Treasurer
Sean P. Smith, CFA is an Investment Manager and Shareholder at Accredited Investors, Inc., a comprehensive wealth management firm located in the Twin Cities. Sean is a CFA charter holder and graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Finance & Banking. A member of Accredited’s Investment Committee, Sean has more than 20 years of investment industry experience. Prior to joining Accredited in 2009, Sean worked as an equity research analyst. He lives in Plymouth, Minnesota with his wife, sons, and dogs.
Beth Soholt – Director
Beth Soholt is the Executive Director of Clean Grid Alliance. Launched in 2001, Clean Grid Alliance’s mission is to overcome the barriers to bringing wind and solar power to market. Ms. Soholt brings more than 15 years experience working with the electric industry in various capacities. At Clean Grid Alliance, she directs work in the areas of technical/transmission planning, state regulatory proceedings, legislative education and outreach. Ms. Soholt holds a law degree from Hamline University Law School, St. Paul, Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.
Will Steger – Founder & Director
Will Steger is known for his numerous polar expeditions, deep understanding of the environment and his efforts to raise international awareness to environmental threats. Steger has been an eyewitness to the on-going impacts of climate change. He is a seasoned polar explorer, educator, and the author of several books including North to the Pole, Over the Top of the World, and Saving the Earth. Steger holds a Bachelor of Science in geology and Master of Arts in education from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, in addition to five Honorary Doctorates.