“Un-Debate” on Energy and Sustainability

Presented by: Leaders in Energy and Potential Energy DC

Thursday, September 15, 2016, 6-8:30 pm

Come to our “Un-Debate” if you are tired of combative debates, gridlock, and polarization!  Join Leaders in Energy and Potential Energy DC to examine key energy and sustainability issues that are being discussed in the upcoming election.   We will feature representatives from each of the major parties, Democratic and Republican, along with the Green and Libertarian parties.  However instead of conducting a conventional debate forum with individuals  interrupting each other and not listening as everyone strives to top the other with their own view, we will seek to identify areas of consensus and common ground.  Thus we are calling this event an “Un-Debate.”

We have invited professional facilitator, Jan Brinch, to lead this process to see where creative, break-through solutions can be identified to help our country move forward on these important issues. Confirmed representatives to voice party positions are listed below.


NYU Campus DC – 1307 L Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20005


Please send us your thoughts on any particular topic that you would like to see discussed and/or if you have ideas on areas where you think the parties could find a creative solution or consensus in the energy and sustainability arena at:  undebate@leadersinenergy.org


 Jan Brinch

Jan Brinch

Jan Brinch, Our “Un-Debate” Facilitator

Jeannette (Jan) Brinch is an energy consultant with over 30 years of experience in the energy field. She supports multiple clients with the design and facilitation of research agendas, strategic policies and plans, and education and outreach programs. Her clients include federal organizations and agencies, private sector and trade associations, and academic and research institutions. She has been involved in a number of energy issues, including electricity generation, transmission, distribution, and use; electric utility markets, operations, financing, and services; grid modernization; combined heat and power and other distributed generation technologies and systems; market development and deployment of energy efficient products and services; and renewable energy development and use. Ms. Brinch currently supports two projects for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), serving as Director of the Eastern Interconnection States Planning Council (EISPC) and Coordinator of the National Council on Electricity Policy (NCEP).Prior to her consulting career, Ms. Brinch was a Senior Associate at The Keystone Center, a mediation and facilitation non-profit, where she designed, managed, and supported collaborative engagement projects on innovation in the electric utility sector; electricity transmission planning; demand response and distributed generation; corporate renewable energy purchasing policies; and local conversations about climate change adaptation and resiliency.  Prior to that, Ms. Brinch was a Senior Director at Energetics Incorporated. Earlier in her career, she served as Deputy Director of the Idaho Office of Energy under Governors Cecil Andrus and John Evans, and owned an energy consulting practice, providing energy policy and strategic planning services to Bonneville Power Administration, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, cooperative and municipal utilities in Idaho, and the State of Alaska. Ms. Brinch holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from George Washington University and a Masters in Business Management from the Johns Hopkins University.

 Charles Hernick

Charles Hernick

Charles Hernick – Republican Party;  Running for U.S. House in VA’s 8th District

Charles Hernick is the Republican Congressional nominee for Virginia’s 8th District–Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Alexandria.   Charles is an international environmental consultant. He addresses high-profile issues affecting natural resources and economic development by informing policy changes, improving program implementation, and managing projects effectively. He is an expert in identifying cost-effective ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change, applying ecosystem service concepts to decision-making, and complying with USAID’s environmental impact assessment process.   He has worked in countries across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Examples of his recent work include developing climate change resources for USAID staff and partners world-wide, leading an environmental audit of agriculture practices in Guatemala, and advising the environmental impact assessment of a USAID agriculture project in Tanzania. Charles has led numerous country-specific tropical forestry and biodiversity assessments, and rapid climate change vulnerability assessments.  For the U.S. government, Charles designed and implemented the financial responsibility program implementing the “polluter pays principle” for EPA’s geologic sequestration program. He also led several projects examining how source water protection, water pricing, and infrastructure investments can improve utility finances, promote economic growth and employment, and conserve water resources.

His global education started young. His mother, an Ecuadorian immigrant, and his father installed many of the values Charles lives by today–a strong work ethic and a focus on community.  Charles has an M.A. in International Relations and Environmental Policy and a B.A. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.

 Chris Rackens

Chris Rackens

Chris Rackens – Democratic Party; Democratic Energy and Environmental Advisor

Chris Rackens is a Democratic Energy and Environmental Policy Advisor who currently serves as the Executive Director of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), a caucus of more than 50 House Democrats committed to advancing clean energy technology, sustainable environmental policies, and climate change solutions. Since 2010, Chris has worked as legislative policy staff in the U.S. House of Representatives first as an aide to former-Congressman and House Science & Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) and then as legislative assistant to former-Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI) where he focused on issues under the jurisdiction of the House Natural Resources Committee. He continued to focus on natural resources and energy policy while working as a senior policy advisor to former-Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ), the Ranking Member of the Natural Resources’ Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over issues related to energy production on federal public lands and waters.

A lifelong environmentalist and a native Marylander, Chris credits his rural upbringing and early education about environmental issues, specifically climate change, for his motivation to work on energy and environmental policy. As a Virginia Tech graduate with a B.A. in Political Science Chris always aspired to pursuing a career in public service, and specifically on federal energy and environmental policy. Having now worked on Capitol Hill for over 6 years he has worked on a broad range of issues from the appropriate use of our shared natural resources, to investments in clean energy technology, to how we should respond to causes and threats of climate change.

 Chris Rackens

Chris Rackens

Arvin Vohra – Libertarian Party; Running for U.S. Senate in Maryland

Arvin Vohra is a 2016 Libertarian candidate seeking election to the U.S. Senate from Maryland.  Arvin is the Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, host of the Libertarians Working For You radio show, and vocal advocate for defunding and downsizing government programs that limit the freedoms of the American people. He is also the founder of Vohra Method, a private educational company in Bethesda, MD.

Arvin is an educator and entrepreneur who was born and raised in Maryland. His latest book is “Lies, Damned Lies, and College Admissions.” His companies include Arvin Vohra Education, Mind Sculptor Software, and Education4Sale.com. His book, “The Equation for Excellence: How to Make Your Child Excel at Math,” has been published in both the United States and China, and has been featured on Channel 9 News. Before starting his own business, Arvin studied Mathematics and Economics at Brown University, and then worked as an actuary.

 Tim Willard

Tim Willard

Tim Willard –  Green Party;  Co-Chair, Montgomery County Green Party 

Tim Willard is presently a co-chair of the Montgomery County, Maryland Green Party, and a delegate to the National Committee of the Green Party.   He is also currently the Manager for Nancy Wallace’s campaign for Congress in the 8th Congressional District.  In 2014, he ran for Montgomery County Council.  Tim has been active with the Green Party since 2004 on the local, state and national level.  He has written and blogged about energy, sustainability and environmental issues.

Tim grew up in New Jersey and went to school in Ohio where he earned a Ph.D. in history.  He worked for 28 years at the National Archives as an archivist in the Records Declassification Division and in the Processing Division.  He has three grown children, two of whom were adopted from Guatemala.

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