America Answers is a Washington Post series highlighting solutions coming from cities, businesses and startups across the country for problems that affect us all.
8:30 a.m. | Doors open
9:00 a.m. | Welcome Remarks
Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix
Interviewed by James Hohmann, National Political Correspondent, The Washington Post
Unlocking the Grid
Kate Burson, Chief of Staff to the Chairman of Energy & Finance, Office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Evan Burfield, Co-founder, 1776
Moderated by Alison Snyder, Senior Editorial Producer, The Washington Post
10:00 a.m. | Better Buildings, Smarter Cities
Donnel Baird, Chief Executive, BlocPower
Shaun Abrahamson, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Urban.us
Austin Blackmon, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space, City of Boston
Moderated by Steven Mufson, White House Reporter, The Washington Post
Solar + Storage = Revolution?
Daniel Nocera, Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy, Harvard University
Nancy Pfund, Founder, Managing Partner, DBL Investors
Diarmuid O’Connell, Vice President, Business Development, Tesla
Moderated by Chris Mooney, Energy and Environment Reporter, The Washington Post
11:00 a.m. | Brighter Future: Millennials and Energy
Anna Bautista, Vice President, Construction and Workforce Development, GRID Alternatives
Alexa Marrero, Deputy Staff Director, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Claire Tramm, Chief Executive and Co-founder, Effortless Energy; Energy Director, Chicago Infrastructure Trust
Interviewed by Stephen Stromberg, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post
Thomas Fanning, Chairman, President and Chief Executive, Southern Company
Interviewed by Ylan Mui, Financial Reporter, The Washington Post
Noon | Lunch
1:00 p.m. | Energy 2016
Laura Miller, Director of Projects, Texas, Summit Power Group
Haley Barbour, Former Governor of Mississippi; Founding Partner, BGR Group
Carol Browner, Former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Moderated by Chris Cillizza, Political Reporter, The Fix, The Washington Post
Dispatch from the Future
Governor David Ige, Hawaii
Interviewed by Jim Tankersley, Economic Policy Correspondent, The Washington Post
2:00 p.m. | Closing Remarks
Hawai’i Gov. David Y. Ige is the first governor of Okinawan decent in the United States. He was born and raised in Hawai’i and spent 34 years as an electrical engineer devoted to information technology, telecommunications and developing responsible public policy. Ige began his political career in 1985 when he was appointed to the State House of Representatives. In 1994, he was elected to the State Senate and on Dec. 1, 2014, he was sworn in as eighth governor of Hawai’i.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was elected in 2011. He previously served nine years on the City Council and as Arizona’s deputy attorney general As mayor, Stanton has aimed to build a more sustainable desert city, spearheading one of the nation’s first city-led Export Readiness Initiatives, facilitating several public-private partnerships and investing in the biosciences.
Co-founder and Chief Executive, Urban.Us
Shaun Abrahamson leads Urban.Us, a seed stage venture fund and network of experts serving start-ups that aim to make cities better. He is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and author.
Chief Executive, BlocPower
Donnel Baird is the founder of BlocPower, a start-up that markets, finances and installs solar and energy efficiency technology to help houses of worship, non-profits, small businesses and multifamily projects in inner cities slash their energy costs. Baird spent three years as a community organizer in Brooklyn and one year as a voter contact director for Obama For America. He managed a national Change to Win/LIUNA campaign aimed to leverage Department of Energy energy efficiency financing to create green construction jobs for out-of-work populations. BlocPower is backed by Kapor Capital and Andreesen Horowitz, and is a 2014 White House Champion of Change.
Former Mississippi Governor; Founding Partner, BGR Group
Former Gov. Haley Barbour, a founding partner of BGR Group, returned to BGR in January 2012 after serving two consecutive terms as governor of Mississippi, including two years as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Barbour began his political career in 1968, dropping out of college to work on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. In 1976, he ran Gerald Ford’s fall campaign in the Southeast. He ran for U.S. Senate in 1982 but ultimately lost to incumbent John C. Stennis. Barbour later served as political director of the Reagan White House and worked on the George H.W. Bush campaign. In 1987, he cofounded the government affairs firm that would become BGR Group.
Vice President, Construction and Workforce Development, GRID Alternatives
Anna Bautista is head of construction for GRID Alternatives. GRID has installed 5,450 solar projects for low-income communities across the country. The projects have also provided hands-on training and experience for job seekers in the solar industry. Bautista has 10 years of experience in solar as a site supervisor, trainer and educator, project manager, and design and installation technician.
Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space, City of Boston
Austin Blackmon is Boston’s newly appointed chief of environment, energy and open space. Most recently, Blackmon served as interim head of project finance at Terraverde Renewable Partners, a clean energy consulting firm. His experience also includes positions at C12 Energy, Wells Fargo Securities’ Energy Group and Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategy and Organization consulting practice. He also advised US Renewables Group by evaluating potential investments in waste recovery solutions.
Former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
As President Clinton’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator and as President Obama’s energy and climate change policy director, Carol Browner has — at the highest level — developed, proposed and implemented U.S. policy affecting energy, the environment, public health and business. Today, Browner serves dual roles in policy and business. She is a senior fellow at Center for American Progress and is a senior advisor to the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global business strategic consultancy she helped found in 2001.
Evan Burfield is the co-founder and co-chief executive of 1776. He works with start-ups around the world tackling challenges in education, health, energy, transportation and cities. His past entrepreneurial endeavors have included cofounding netDecide in 1996 shortly after graduating from high school, helping to build Oakwood Global Finance in London as director of strategy, and founding Synteractive in 2006. Burfield currently serves as a Trustee of the Federal City Council and on the Board of the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford. He is also an active angel investor as a co-founder of K Street Capital.
Chief of Staff to the Chairman of Energy and Finance, Office of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo
Kate Burson is the current chief of staff to the chairman of energy and finance for New York State. Since January 2013, she has held operating responsibility for a portfolio consisting of the Department of Public Service, the New York Power Authority, the Long Island Power Authority and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. She manages the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision, a comprehensive strategy aimed to scale up clean energy deployment, enhance New York’s competitiveness for clean energy businesses and make its energy systems more resilient, reliable and affordable. Previously, Burson served as special assistant to the governor for energy efficiency and as an assistant attorney general for New York State. She has also formerly held positions at the World Wildlife Fund, the World Trade Organization and the National Women’s Law Center.
Chairman, President and Chief Executive, Southern Company
Thomas A. Fanning is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Southern Company, one of America’s largest producers of electricity. Fanning has worked for Southern Company for more than 30 years, holding officer positions in finance, strategy, international business development and technology. He chairs the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and also serves in leadership roles with numerous industry organizations and boards including the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council.
Deputy staff Director, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Alexa Marrero joined the Energy and Commerce Committee as communications director in January 2011 and was named deputy staff director in 2012, involving her in the panel’s work on energy and environmental policy, public health and research, communications and technology, consumer protections, interstate and foreign commerce, and more. Marrero previously worked for the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee and at the nonprofit Education Finance Council.
Director of Projects, Texas, Summit Power Group
Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller is the current director of Texas projects, for Seattle-based Summit Power Group, which is developing a 400MW IGCC power/polygen plant with 90 percent carbon capture near Odessa, Texas. Miller was mayor from 2002 to 2007, and formed a statewide coalition of elected officials to oppose the construction of 18 old-technology coal plants in Texas — an effort recounted in the Robert Redford documentary entitled “Fighting Goliath.” Previously, she served three-and-a-half years on the Dallas City Council and worked for 18 years as a newspaper columnist and investigative reporter in Dallas, Miami and New York.
Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy, Harvard University
Daniel G. Nocera has accomplished the solar fuels process that captures the elements of photosynthesis and has translated this science to produce the artificial leaf. His innovations led to a storage mechanism for the large scale, distributed, deployment of solar energy. Nocera’s company Sun Catalytix was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2014, and his energy storage technologies are now being commercialized under the new venture, Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage, LLC.
Vice President, Business Development, Tesla
Diarmuid joined Tesla in 2006, and currently serves as the Vice President of Business Development in which capacity he manages commercial relationships and all aspects of government affairs. Before joining Tesla, Diarmuid served as Chief of Staff for Political Military Affairs at the US State Department, where he was involved in policy and operational support to the U.S military in various theaters of operation. Before his tenure in Washington, Diarmuid worked in corporate strategy as a management consultant for Accenture, as a founder of educational software developer, Real Time Learning, and as a senior executive with both McCann Erickson Worldwide and Young and Rubicam. Over the course of his career, he has managed international operations, projects and marketing for such brands as Coca Cola, Gillette, and AT&T, among others.
Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Investors
Nancy E. Pfund is founder and managing partner of DBL Investors, a San Francisco based venture capital firm that aims to combine financial returns with social, economic and environmental returns. Pfund currently sponsors or sits on the board of directors of several companies, including: SolarCity, BrightSource Energy, Primus Power, Eco.logic Brands, Farmers Business Network, and — prior to their public offerings — Tesla Motors and Pandora Media. Previously, Pfund was a managing director in venture capital at JPMorgan. She started her investment career at Hambrecht & Quist in 1984.
Chief Executive and Co-founder, Effortless Energy; Energy Director, Infrastructure Trust
Claire Tramm leads project development and financing for a portfolio of clean energy and transportation projects at the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. At Effortless Energy, her goal is to empower homeowners to improve their sustainability and quality of life through tailored, zero-cost home upgrades. Tramm previously worked at McKinsey and contributed to several of their public reports on carbon and energy efficiency economics.
Biographies are provided by the speakers and edited only for clarity and length. Additional speakers will be announced, agenda is subject to change. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Dana Glosman.