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Our Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors plays a pivotal role in shaping the direction and vision of our organization. As we work towards empowering communities in the Mid-Hudson region to embrace renewable energy, community wealth-building, and resilient homes, we understand that diverse perspectives are fundamental to fostering innovation and achieving our mission.

Susan H. Gillespie | President

Susan (she/her) is President of the Board of Mid-Hudson Energy Transition (MHET), a member of the Environmental Commission of the Town of Rosendale, and a co-founder and President of the Board of Communities for Local Power (fka Citizens for Local Power) (CLP). CLP made its reputation helping communities fight fossil fuel expansion, understand climate and energy issues, train young people for green jobs, defend against utility price hikes, and advance New York’s climate policy. CLP helped bring CCA to New York in 2016 and has continued to work with local elected officials and activists to create New York’s first advanced CCA, or “CCA 3.0,” as a platform for local control of energy supply, clean generation, energy justice, and community wealth-building.

Simon Strauss | Treasurer

Simon Strauss (he/him) is a Partner at E/W Capital, a boutique Financial Advisory firm with particular expertise in financing infrastructure, including energy, especially renewables/alternatives (particularly solar). E/W Capital has substantial experience in project finance and complicated financial structures. He is also part-time CFO at Hellenic LLC, an infrastructure company building utility-scale water desalination, energy and brine re-use plants. Simon is a member of the Board of a wastewater technology company and is President of a not-for-profit US Foundation benefiting his High School; he is Co-Chair of the Town of Olive’s Conservation Advisory Council, sits on the Ulster County Environmental Management Council, and is Treasurer and a Board member of the Mid-Hudson Energy Transition.

Avni Pravin | Secretary

Avni Pravin (she/her) is an environmental justice and just transition policy advocate with industry experience in community solar and residential building decarbonization. With over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, she is a skilled facilitator, writer, educator, and researcher. She holds a MSc in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, where she used GIS and spatial analysis to investigate the disparate distribution of public funding for flood mitigation across communities in Houston, Texas. Avni is Alliance for a Green Economy’s Deputy Director, where she intervenes in public proceedings to improve state energy efficiency programs, protect ratepayers from utility rate hikes, and advocate for renewable, efficient, clean, healthy, and safe forms of energy. She also plans and executes statewide public pressure policy campaigns alongside AGREE’s wide network of coalition partners. 

Nepal Asatthawasi

Nepal Asatthawasi advises nonprofits and NGOs on organizational strategy and fundraising and development to improve program performance, increase and sustain funding, and create lasting impact. She is currently the Co-Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, a national organization working to reshape manufacturing ecosystems into drivers of just and equitable development that puts communities first. Previously, she helped lead the Pratt Center for Community Development, a pioneering community-based urban planning practice, as its Director of Development and Operation. She departed to support the launch of The Action Lab, which convened organizers, social justice leaders and cultural producers to reimagine and advance a new vision of democracy. As a longtime advisor to ArticleGroup Org, Nepal continues to support human rights NGOs and activists in the global South to articulate their unique value, tell powerful stories, and scale their operations to advance the cause of human rights. She received her BA from Columbia University and Masters Degrees from the London School of Economics and the Architectural Association School of Architecture. A long-time New York City resident, she now lives in the woods outside of Rhinebeck, NY.

Jeanne Bergman

Jeanne Bergman (she/they) is a climate justice activist with Sane Energy Project, Public Power New York, and the Energy Democracy Alliance. She advocates for the rapid adoption of thermal energy networks and district geothermal as the fastest and most equitable way to scale up beneficial electrification. She has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MS in sustainability management from Columbia University.  She divides her time between Saugerties and New York City. 

Manuel D. Blas

Manuel Blas Sanchez was born in Oaxaca City, southern Mexico where his family still resides. He traveled to the United States as a first generation immigrant to learn English and began establishing roots in Kingston, where he found his community. Manuel has always been motivated by education and received an M.S. in Industrial Economics, learning about economics to help people, first teaching at his college and then later working with immigrant communities in the Mid-Hudson Valley regarding economic issues before going on to support his community in procuring financial opportunities. He joined Radio Kingston as a host of “La Dosis Perfecta”, and works as their Broadcast Operations Manager. Manuel continues supporting the Hispanic Community in Kingston and the surrounding areas as he spends time bringing the communities together from his Radio show to helping neighborhoods transition to more renewable energy and resources.

Marcy Cleveland

Marcy (she/her) is a NYS licensed real estate salesperson and has been recognized as the Hudson Valley’s Green Realtor for her dedication to sustainable real estate and helping homeowners make more energy efficient choices. In addition to being a NAR designated Green Realtor and Earth Advantage broker, Marcy is also a certified BPI Building Analyst and Envelope Professional. She is owner and operator of Green Building Specialists, a Hudson Valley-based home energy assessment company offering diagnostic services and energy efficiency consultations to help homeowners decarbonize and electrify. Marcy has served as a speaker on sustainable real estate and the emerging Green Jobs industry in addition to participating as an energy efficiency mentor with the Communities for Local Empower Kingston Green Jobs program. Marcy is a current member of the Building Performance Association, Green Home Institute, Electric Vehicle Association and is a trained Climate Reality Leader with the Climate Reality Project. She is a volunteer community liaison with the Heat Smart Orange and Heat Smart Sullivan-Ulster campaigns and the organizer of Repair Café Pine Bush and serves as a volunteer Board member for the Pine Bush Area Chamber of Commerce.

Joel Herm

Joel (he/him) is a Rhinebeck-based technology-agnostic entrepreneur with successful startups ranging from retail financial marketing platforms to FDA cancer treatment systems to Wall Street analytic machine learning software. Raised on a Midwestern farm, he now brings that ‘can-do’ attitude to renewable energy as a hydropower developer working with Bard College and NYSERDA to develop financially-viable deployments of microhydro throughout New York State.
Joel’s development company, Current Hydro, is also in the process of building larger run-of-river hydro at existing Army Corps dams on the Illinois and Ohio Rivers. All hydro projects are based on the Uncommon Dialog principles which entail the Three Rs: Removal – take down dams with no societal benefit; Rehabilitate working dams to address safety problems; and Retrofit powered dams and add generation at non-powered dams to increase renewable energy production.
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