At MHET, we are a passionate and dedicated group of individuals working towards a common goal – empowering communities in the Mid-Hudson region to transition to an equitable clean energy economy. As advocates for renewable energy, community wealth-building, and healthy, resilient homes, our team brings together diverse backgrounds, expertise, and experiences to drive positive change in the face of climate change.
Get to know the faces behind our organization, each contributing their unique skills and unwavering commitment to creating a more sustainable and equitable future for the Hudson Valley.
Jasmine Graham (she/they) joined Mid-Hudson Energy Transition (MHET) in April 2023 as the first permanent Executive Director. Prior to MHET, Jasmine served as the Senior Equity and Affordability Advisor at the Building Decarbonization Coalition. She previously held roles at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, where she was responsible for strengthening and advancing the organization’s energy policies as their Energy Justice Policy Manager, and Sustainable Westchester, where she managed the first and largest community choice aggregation program in New York State.
Jasmine is appointed to two New York City Advisory Boards – the Climate Mobilization Advisory Board and the Sustainability Advisory Board – where she presents implementation recommendations for the City’s landmark building decarbonization law, Local Law 97, and the long-term sustainability plan for the city, PlaNYC.
Jasmine is currently pursuing an MBA in Sustainability at Bard College, and in her limited free time, she can be found hanging out with her partner, Carolyn, and their adorable pup, Zero.
Arturo Lua Castillo (he/they) is a scholar with a diverse disciplinary background in Latin American studies, Economics, and Sustainability. Arturo is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Latin American Caribbean and US Latino Studies at the University of Albany. His primary research focuses on energy democracy and common resource governance in Mexico and Latin America. Outside of this, they also study sustainable agriculture and systems design.
Arturo passionately advocates for energy democracy and social equity in sustainability. Much of his work is inspired by his experience as a first-generation immigrant and DACA student. Arturo enjoys spending time in natural spaces hiking, gardening, and trail running. He looks forward to helping empower communities to take control of their future and create a just energy transition.
Charles Simmons (he/him) is a senior at Bard College pursuing a B.A. in Economics and joined Mid-Hudson Energy Transition in January 2024 as a Clean Energy Finance Associate. He is eager to unite his finance and impact investing background with a strong passion for sustainability and community empowerment. Prior to joining MHET, he worked in the investment banking division at JP Morgan, as a Hyperion Fellow at Inclusive Capital Partners, and as the Policy Fellow for Bard Early College.
In his role as the Clean Energy Finance Associate, he is excited to leverage his previous experience to facilitate community wealth-building opportunities for local investors and to finance the renewable energy transition via the Mid-Hudson Energy Equity Fund. Outside of the office, Charles is a member of the Brothers@ initiative, which provides mentorship at Kingston High School, an avid vinyl collector, and a loyal supporter of Manchester City.
Connor Cantrell (he/him) joined Mid-Hudson Energy Transition in August 2023 as CCA Program Manager. He comes to MHET with six years of experience in New York CCA operations and national energy markets, with a B.A. in Economics from Hamilton College. Connor is interested in rethinking and restructuring energy systems that fail to prioritize the well-being of those they affect.
He is a deep, imaginative thinker with an eye for detail and empathy who plans to leverage these traits to deliver voice, ownership, and support to the communities MHET serves. In his free time he practices banjo, judo, and chess.
Denis Cooke (he/him), is a LaGuardia Community College graduate in Computer Technology with 25 years of IT experience and CompTIA A+ certification. An Honorably Discharged US Army veteran, he has worked across education, healthcare, and distribution sectors, specializing in IT equipment, training, and workspace planning. Denis brings expertise from roles at Bronx Community College, Columbia University Medical Center, and with Frank Brunkhorst.
Recently completing training in thermal, HVAC, and electrification programs, he holds certifications in HVAC, solar energy, and building electrification. Currently enrolled in programs at SUNY Ulster and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Denis aims to promote renewable energy, advocate for green practices, and collaborate with community organizations. With 30 years of experience guiding students, he merges his IT background with a passion for renewable energy and green building in community-focused roles, striving to reduce carbon footprints and promote sustainability at MHET.
Elisabeth Balachova (she/her) is a dedicated environmentalist who was inspired to combat climate change in the 8th grade after watching Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. With a B.S. in Business Economics specializing in Environmental Economics, she offers a unique perspective.
In her previous real estate career, Elisabeth served as an ambassador for the Tri-State Social Equity Task Force, where she learned about environmental racism and redlining, motivating her to support an environmental justice project at Sustainable Westchester. She later transitioned to the clean energy sector at Sealed, focusing on nationwide energy efficiency initiatives. Her expertise in building science and project management now benefits low-income communities at MHET.
Beyond her career, Elisabeth follows a vegan diet, practices strict recycling, and volunteers at Woodstock Animal Sanctuary. When not advocating for climate change, she enjoys tennis, drawing inspiration from Serena Williams.
Emily Mauro (she/her) comes to MHET with a B.S. in Community Health Education and a background of 10 years in energy and sustainability efforts. She is most interested in work that explores and addresses the connection between systemic discrimination and health disparities amongst communities. Prior to MHET, she was building healthy, energy efficient strawbale homes for low-income individuals on a Community Land Trust with the organization Community Rebuilds. With her ample experience in non-profit work, she has worked as the Curriculum Assistant/Program Developer for sustainability coursebooks, and has assisted in the grant writing process for small-scale renewable energy projects.
She also has experience installing solar panels on residential homes and selling wind and solar energy door to door. Emily’s other work experience includes a role as Content Editor for a small publishing company, and Operations and Wholesale Manager for a small kombucha company. When she’s not working, you can find Emily in her garden or camping in the mountains.
Imani-Amie Murphy (she/her) serves as an Energy Education Intern at Mid-Hudson Energy Transition, bringing to the role her creative and energetic personality and a love for the people she serves. Her background information on environmental injustice and graphic design gives her a special insight into acknowledging and creating an aesthetically pleasing and information-rich energy education curriculum.
Imani-Amie is a junior at Bard College, working towards inclusivity and belonging for Black students as the Black Student Organization Club Head. Outside of work, Imani-Amie enjoys all creative hobbies such as singing, digital art, and crocheting, and is an active member of her church, Beulah Baptist Church in the Falls.
Kyra Shassberger (she/her) serves MHET as a Clean Energy Programs Assistant Intern. Her marketing and communications background brings perspective to effectively communicate sustainability goals and strategies to a wide variety of stakeholders. She’s looking forward to empowering local communities and achieving clean energy goals while working with MHET.
Kyra is in her final semester at Columbia University’s M.S. Sustainability Management program and also works as a Teaching Assistant on campus. Her passion for spreading the word about sustainability carries through in her participation as Vice President of Communications for Columbia’s student organization, Build it Green. Outside of work, Kyra enjoys crafting, thrifting, and repairing watches.
Magdalena Moranda (she/her) serves as a Development Associate Intern at Mid-Hudson Energy Transition. She recently graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Sociology. She brings experience in fundraising research and strategy from previous roles or internships in movement-based organizations. As a lifelong Mid-Hudson Valley resident, the sustainability and community ownership over energy in the area means a lot to her.
In her free time, Magdalena can be found organizing with local housing justice organizations, hiking throughout the region, perfecting cookie recipes, or hanging out with her tabby cat, Marcel.
Manasi Gupta (she/ her) serves as an Energy Innovation Associate at MHET, bringing her passion for driving innovative solutions to enable the energy transition. She has an MPA in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Columbia SIPA and 8+ years of experience in the tech and non profit sectors.
Over the past few years she has worked with Google, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities as well as nonprofits like GreenHomeNYC leveraging her skills in policy research, strategy and program management to drive meaningful outcomes. She is excited about bringing these skills to understand how our energy systems might evolve to accommodate the needs of the future. Outside of work, Manasi enjoys being outdoors, live music (ask her about her favorite jazz gig in the city!) and exploring new cuisines.
Naser Jamshidi (he/him) joined the Mid-Hudson Energy Transition team in January 2024.
Currently a student at Bard College, Naser has a diverse background in research, project support, and communications, with a particular focus on social media management. His passion for creativity drives his work in designing and creating compelling brand content.
Before joining the Mid-Hudson team, Naser contributed his skills to various organizations. He excelled in roles that involved researching business opportunities, developing brand content, and enhancing social media presence. His ability to transform and refine content for various social media platforms is one of his key skills. Beyond his professional interests, Naser is deeply committed to community outreach. He actively participates in programs that support members of his community. In his free time, Naser often spends time in the library, where he enjoys reading, conducting research, and brainstorming creative ideas.
Pilar Arriaga (she/her) is a passionate advocate for sustainability, devoted to environmental justice and the promotion of positive social change. With expertise in project management, research, and community engagement, Pilar took the lead in implementing an e-waste recycling system in Kigali, Rwanda, showcasing her precision in navigating complex projects and emphasizing the transformative potential of sustainable practices on a global scale.
Pilar’s dedication to sustainability flourished during her tenure at Columbia University, where she made significant contributions as a Research Assistant at the Earth Institute, engaging in ongoing research on oceanographic and climatic variability. Beyond academia, Pilar’s versatility shone through as she contributed to the eco-friendly practices of the beauty industry, serving as a Marketing Strategist for a skincare startup. Her adeptness in bridging communication gaps and fostering cross-cultural understanding solidified her status as a multifaceted professional in the sustainability landscape. With a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Development from Columbia University and her international, bilingual skills, she brings a well-rounded perspective. Outside of work, Pilar enjoys hiking, teaching ballet, cleaning beaches, and cycling
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.
We are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment, and we are actively seeking to grow our board with individuals who bring a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. We believe that embracing diversity enhances our collective strength and enables us to better serve and represent the communities we support. We welcome and encourage individuals who share our passion for sustainable solutions to join us on this transformative journey. Together, let’s build a more equitable clean energy future for the Hudson Valley!
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 (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.
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.
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.