Our Board and Organizational Leads
JANINE FINNELL is the Executive Director for Leaders in Energy and President of Leaders in Energy. Janine has worked on domestic and international projects as a researcher, writer, communicator, policy analyst, and program manager. She has consulted on energy alternatives, sustainable development policy mechanisms and education and outreach on clean energy technologies. Her career experience includes working for the U.S. Agency for International Development as a Foreign Service Officer as well as for IBM and DynCorp International. At IBM she worked on projects including green supply chain and the development of an IT sustainability platform for businesses and consumers. Her work has been published in professional journals and magazines including Elsevier Journal, Resource magazine (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers), Choices (American Society of Agricultural Economics) and the Cogeneration Journal (American Society of Agricultural Engineers). She has a Masters from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Agricultural and Applied Economics (with a focus on international development and energy resource economics) and pursued Post Masters work at George Washington University in energy and environmental management and resource policy. She serves on the Board of the Association of Energy Engineer’s National Capital Chapter representing its Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL).
BILL BRANDON is the Chief Technology and Research Officer and Vice President for Leaders in Energy. Bill is deeply engaged with the biofuels and materials industry and also has a deep understanding of engines and alternative fuels. His articles have been published in Biofuels USA, Biofuels Digest, and the Leaders in Energy blog. Bill’s present focus is on technology integration and deployment, urban and farm wastes to energy and vertical or City Farming. Bill is an architect by training and his design/build firm has been engaged in substantial residential additions and renovations in the DC metro area. His designs have incorporated aspects of building energy efficiency including early adapter status of passive solar, super insulation, underground structures and ground source heat pumps. Bill has also been engaged in furniture manufacturing, starting a molded plywood furniture business in Belize and it was there that he first became involved in bio-based products and bioenergy.
BARBARA ENGLEHART is the Leaders in Energy Director of Business Sustainability and Board Secretary/Treasurer. As the Principal of Englehart Consulting, she serves a business sustainability consultant in the Washington DC region. She implements solutions that are good for the planet with a business-oriented approach. She uses the same technology and program management skills that she used at Verizon and MCI to launch Voice over the Internet in Europe and build professional global network services. Barbara also uses her financial skills acquired as a CPA at Arthur Anderson and a MBA at the UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. In partnership with Northern VA Regional Commission, Barbara founded and runs the Northern Virginia (NoVA) Sustainability Network of local governments, universities, and large corporations, a group dedicated to advancing sustainability in Northern Virginia. She is the former chair of the Arlington Public School Sustainability Advisory Committee and adviser to the award-winning Arlington Energy Master program.
DR. MIRIAM ACZEL is the Director of Communications for Leaders in Energy. She received her recent Ph.D from Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy, specializing in international environmental and energy science and policy. Her Ph.D. focus was on environmental and health impacts of shale gas in the UK, USA, EU, and China. Miriam received a BA in Geography and Earth Science with Distinction from McGill University in Montreal, and an MSc in Environmental Technology with Distinction from Imperial College London. Miriam has spent semesters studying at Sciences Politiques, Paris, and at the University of Florence. Between studies, she has worked as a tour guide in Paris, interned at the Natural History Museum in London, and volunteered at a sea turtle rescue center in Tel Aviv. Miriam recently spent time as a visiting researcher at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and as a Shape Energy Horizon 2020-funded intern with the EURECA project at the University of East London.
Miriam is co-founder and co-director of the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Education and Research in Science and Mathematics, Inc., a non-profit supporting education in Cambodia. She is currently a visiting researcher at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC. She also volunteers as an editor with the Journal of Science Policy and Governance. She speaks French, Italian, Hebrew, and is learning Spanish.
JESSE COLMAN serves as our Leadership Program Director. Our Leadership Program recognizes that leadership has many faces and can exist in many places—at home, in the workplace, in our communities. Leadership occurs on public stages and in our private lives. LE is committed to developing and guiding all leaders to foster “The Big Green Shift.”
Jesse is an ontological coach and the founder of Impact Coaching, which brings sustainability to leadership and leadership to sustainability. He supports creative, energetic leaders to rise above the pressures around them to design their lives, companies and careers for the long term. He works with individuals and teams focused on making the planet and its inhabitants healthier, wealthier, and wiser.
Prior to working as a coach, he led high-impact consulting teams in demanding environments. He ensured financial due diligence for the U.S. Government’s largest purchase of renewable energy, worth over $300 million. Jesse structured and executed the U.S. Navy’s plan to meet presidential targets to develop secure, renewable sources of energy. He managed a portfolio of Department of Defense energy investments worth $150 million annually. Prior to his work in sustainability, Jesse was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador from 2006 to 2008. He drove an ambulance, taught first grade, and studied in Kenya. He enjoys skiing, SCUBA diving, and hiking long distances in far-flung places. He holds a Master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from McGill University.
JOHN GAFFIGAN oversees Member Services and Sponsorships, facilitating interaction between members and the organization. John Gaffigan has led sales teams from start-ups through Fortune 500 organizations across a variety of technologies including Telecom, Datacom, InfoSec, Energy Efficiency, and Conservation Services.
Schooled in the Jesuit tradition of service for others, John has a life-long passion of advocacy for organizations that improve the human condition. John was thus drawn to joining LERCPA due to its commitment to help individuals and organizations better steward of our precious natural resources.
John obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross.
FRANCOIS GIRAUD serves as Leaders in Energy Digital Marketing Director and Chair of its Social Media Committee. Born and educated in France, he was working on his doctorate in the Physics and Chemistry of Air Pollution when he moved away from science to pursue a Masters’s in marketing. This was a calculated decision to bring a scientific mindset to a creative industry that had fascinated him for as long as he had appreciated the value of a strong brand.
Twenty-five years later, that decision has been repaid with the opportunity to live and work in several countries (France, the Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, and the US), applying his marketing skills to industries as diverse as telecommunications, IT, energy, and professional services. After fifteen years spent in London, Francois and his family settled down in Bethesda, Maryland in early 2019, when his wife was offered a great career opportunity in an international organization. Since living here, Francois has been refocusing his career path back to his first interest, i.e. sustainability and climate change.
LARA ILAO is Chair of the Leaders in Energy Circular Economy Working Group, a group that brings together professionals interested in learning about circular economy issues as well as implementing circular projects in the DMV Region. A lifelong environmentalist and long-term DC resident, she is the founder and owner of Plastic Tree, a climate positive waste management company based in DC that collects for reuse in an effort to restructure the waste hierarchy toward reuse, while promoting other circular models in an effort to reduce waste and our reliance on overproduction. During her spare time, she is a mentor with the Global Co-Lab Network, a virtual “do tank” that empowers teens and millennials by helping them tackle particular Sustainable Development Goals within their communities and sharing their incubator projects and stories with other teens and millennials from around the world. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Goucher College.
KAIFI JAMIL serves as our Leaders in Energy’s Research Assistant. He is an environmental advocate who is passionate about promoting clean, renewable energy for the good of the American economy and health of the nation’s many ecosystems. He became interested in the green sector after marching for Climate Justice in 2017 and completed a certificate in Climate Change from the University of Pennsylvania.
Kaifi earned a Bachelor’s degree in political science from The Johns Hopkins University, a J.D. in law from the University of Maryland School of Law, and M.S. in computer science from Bowie State University. He previously worked in federal IT consulting before fully pivoting toward a green career. He is actively looking to work in environmental policy, energy policy, or conservation. In his spare time he is fond of visiting parks and trails to commune with Nature, hiking, Pilates, ecological volunteering, reading science fiction and fantasy, and spiritual philosophy.
LINDA MANSDORF serves as the Director of Volunteers for Leaders in Energy. She is passionate about sustainability and is thrilled to be a part of the Leaders in Energy community. In addition to an MBA from Pace University in NYC, she holds a certificate in Conservation & Environmental Sustainability from Columbia University and is an LEED Green Associate. She is acutely aware of the need to radically change the way in which we use natural resources and of the need to communicate this to the general public. She has led presentations to business professionals on sustainability awareness. An accomplished professional, Linda has prior experience as a business analyst in the pharmaceutical industry and in academia.
ANANT MOHAN is the Leaders in Energy strategic advisor for the Ambassador Program and is responsible for overseeing the development of local and regional action networks within the US and internationally with an aim to sustainably scale the organization’s mission across the globe. Anant has more than sixteen years of experience within the commercial nuclear power industry in areas related to product development, process improvement, project leadership, and resource management. He is currently employed as a sales and business development manager at Framatome and is responsible for market development for its nuclear engineering services. Anant’s professional interests are in the areas of business strategy and strategic marketing and his passion lies in helping develop clean energy projects and infrastructure internationally to sustainably support the rapidly growing global energy needs.
Anant holds an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA degree from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
BETH OFFENBACKER, Ph.D., is the Director of Training and Development for Leaders in Energy. She has more than 25 years of experience in training, coaching, talent development, engagement, community relations, marketing, and project management experience. Beth’s core expertise is in developing and implementing talent management and development programs for emerging, established, and senior-level professionals. Her programs focus on developing the skills and talents green leaders need to make a positive impact in the world, at an individual and team level. Her prior work experience includes various positions with the federal sector, the electric power industry, a professional trade association, and a marketing firm. She also has extensive experience in designing and leading community engagement processes, including for environmental projects (watersheds, stormwater, and sewer). Beth developed and led the highly successful Green Career Workshop for Leaders In Energy, with sold-out sessions in August 2017 and January 2018.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications at the State University of New York at Brockport and a master’s degree in public communications at American University. A graduate of Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy, Beth’s dissertation focused on the practice of public participation in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States). Beth is also the Founder and Principle of Waterford, Inc. Waterford’s mission is to create stronger, more successful companies, nonprofits, and communities.
Leo has worked both at global headquarters of The AES Corporation as well as in a regional role based in Panama and responsible for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. He began his career in Venezuela in an investment bank boutique. He is bilingual, fluent in both Spanish and English.
Leo has a M.S. in Finance and a B.S. in Business Administration. He has also attended various executive training programs at the Darden Business School, University of Virginia.
NIVRUIT (NIV) SRIDHAR is the Leaders in Energy Vice Chair for its Circular Economy Group. Niv is a sustainability enthusiast – she has had extensive experience in the energy and sustainable construction sectors and has been an enthusiastic follower of Leaders in Energy since 2015. As a child, she lived in India – one of the world’s fastest-growing economies – and has witnessed firsthand the negative environmental impact of rapid urbanization and development, which prompted her to dedicate her career to sustainable development. Her academic and professional pursuits have always embodied the concept of sustainability and resource efficiency – over the past 6 years, she has enabled several global construction teams to become more sustainable and has led a large energy transformation program in India, and envisions continuing her passion for sustainable transformation through her role as Vice-Chair for the Circular Economy Working Group. An engineer by training, Niv Sridhar completed her undergraduate education at VJTI (Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute) in Mumbai, India after which she obtained her Master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. With 3+ years of international experience across 5 cities and 2 countries, she is now pursuing her MBA at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and will graduate in May 2021.
MARTIN SILBER is Leaders in Energy’s Development and Fundraising Director and is the Chair of the Green Finance Pillar/Working Group. Martin leverages his passion, expertise, and proven success in Strategic Business Initiatives, Innovative (blended) Finance, and Data Analytics/Information Technology. Sector expertise includes Renewable Energy/Infrastructure and Sustainability/Circular Markets, Hospitality/Tourism & Real Estate, and Climate Change. To date, Martin has a proven track record as a management consultant and director/team leader for data analysis, information systems/platforms, business development, financing, implementation, and operations for over $500M+ in a range of commercial, government, public-private-partnerships, and venture-backed business initiatives and financial transactions. Martin is an MBA, CPA, with 10+ years of experience serving as a senior-level expert, consultant, and adviser to C-level executives in financial planning and analysis (FP&A), data analytics, project management, business case/feasibility analysis of strategic initiatives, innovative financing structures, team leadership/development, project implementation, and reporting/information systems.
DR. ELVIN YÜZÜGÜLLÜ is the Leaders in Energy’s Zero Waste Coordinator. Elvin is currently employed as a Project Manager at GDIT, an Adjunct Professor teaching graduate-level classes at The George Washington University’s Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department, and a member of Leaders in Energy. She started her career with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Environmental Engineering, which she supplemented with a Doctor of Science degree from George Washington University in Environmental and Energy Management (focusing on hydrogen technologies). Elvin brings a comprehensive, multi-faceted systems view of issues related to the way we create, consume, and manage energy. Throughout her career, she has been involved in analyses of a diverse array of clean energy technologies and issues, including techno-economic evaluations, market penetration analyses, technology deployment planning, and decision-making model development for consensus building. Her extensive experience and interactions with the federal government, national labs, and industry has provided her with detailed knowledge on critical energy issues, as well as the capability to understand and resolve concerns related to divergent stakeholders in the energy industry. Elvin has also been engaged in clean energy-related conferences in various countries, with roles such as keynote speaker, discussion panel moderator, conference organizing committee member, and abstract reviewer.