2019 Past Speakers

Energy Expo 2019

Andrew Ingram, Keynote Speaker

Southern Company, Senior Research Engineer

Steven Schulz has over 28 years of experience in the automotive and aerospace industries. He is an expert in power electronics, embedded control, and high performance motor control. He has over 85 patents in automotive and aerospace power electronics. Prior to Rivian, Steven was a founding engineer at Faraday future, and worked as a technical fellow at GM motors for 21 years, helping to develop GM’s electric and hybrid vehicles from the EV1 to the Chevy Volt. He has also worked as a senior scientist at Boeing, working on power electronics for space applications, and as a development engineer for Hughes Aircraft Company.

Dr. Kim Cobb, Keynote Speaker

Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences @ Georgia Tech

Dr. Kim Cobb is a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Georgia Power Faculty Scholar. She is particularly interested in oceanography, geochemistry and paleoclimate modeling.  She is the Director of the Global Change Program

Dr. Richard Simmons, Panelist

Senior Research Engineer, Georgia Tech SEI

Richard Simmons is currently a Senior Research Engineer and Fellow at Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute (SEI) where he directs cross-cutting energy projects with an emphasis on clean electric power, vehicle efficiency and alternative fuels. Simmons is also director of the Energy Policy and Innovation Center (EPICenter).

Dr. Gleb Yushin, Panelist

Professor, School of Materials and Engineering @ Georgia Tech

Gleb Yushin is a Professor at the School of Materials and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, a co-Founder of Sila Nanotechnologies, Inc. (an engineered materials company focused on dramatically improving energy storage) and a co-Editor-in-Chief of Materials Today.

Mandy Mahoney

Southeastern Efficiency Alliance

Mandy Mahoney has served as president of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance since March 2013. Prior to that, she served as the organization’s Vice President of Policy and Operations.
Prior to joining SEEA in 2011, Mandy served as Director of Sustainability for the City of Atlanta under Mayors Reed and Franklin. She holds a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University and earned a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies from Emory University.

Dr. Marilyn Brown

Professor, Georgia Tech

Dr. Marilyn A. Brown is a Regents’ and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she created and leads the Climate and Energy Policy Lab. Her research focuses on the design and modeling of energy markets and carbon reduction policies and programs, with an emphasis on opportunities on the customer side of the electric meter. She currently teaches courses on energy technologies, markets, and policies, and she leads the Georgia Drawdown project in partnership with colleagues across Georgia Tech, Emory University, and the University of Georgia.

Katie Tabor

City of Atlanta

Kate Taber is the Energy Programs Associate for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience, working primarily on energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and projects as part of the city’s 100% Clean Energy Plan. Kate currently works on the implementation of the City’s Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Ordinance, working to improve the energy efficiency of Atlanta’s buildings, the expansion of the City’s solar portfolio, the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, the City’s Sustainable Buildings Ordinance, LEED for Cities, and the City’s energy savings performance contract.

Michael Chanin

Cherry Street Energy, Founder & CEO

Michael Chanin is the founder and CEO of Cherry Street Energy, the largest non-utility renewable energy provider in Georgia. Michael founded the business informed by his background in structured financial products and growth oriented businesses. He started his career in Goldman Sachs’ Special Situations Group, ran finance and operations for a San Francisco-based technology company, and has invested in renewable energy markets since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, where he received a MPhil in development studies, and Northwestern University, where he received a BA in American studies and history.

Dr. Usha Nair-Reichert

Associate Professor, Georgia Tech

Dr. Usha Nair-Reichert is an Associate Professor in the School of Economics at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her current research interests include, but are not limited to, innovation ecosystems, globalization of R&D, sustainability, environmental regulations and their impact on firm strategy, innovation, trade and foreign direct investment. Dr. Nair-Reichert has published in many peer reviewed journals including the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics and Review of International Economics. She is a member of the American Economic Association, International Economics and Finance Society, the European Economics and Finance Society, and the Association of Indian Economic and Financial Studies. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the European Economics and Finance Society.

Juan F. Villarreal

Co-Chair, American Nuclear Society; Georgia Chapter

Mr. Juan F. Villarreal is Co-chair of the American Nuclear Society, Georgia Chapter. Currently, Mr. Villarreal works as a Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton and Managing Director at Villareal Energy, LLC, a consulting company with a focus on improving power plant operations. Additionally, he is an advisory committee member of the University of South Florida on Cybersecurity Strategies & Leadership. During his career, Mr. Villarreal held several managing positions at General Electric, Babcox & Wilcox, and The PIC/Marubeni Group, such as Director of Power Generation Segment at GE Power. Mr. Villarreal holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Kansas State University.

Dr. Valarie Thomas

Anderson Interface Professor, Georgia Tech

Dr Valerie Thomas is the Anderson Interface Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with appointments in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and in the School of Public Policy. Her current research is on the environmental impacts and costs of energy systems, the environmental impacts of products and services, and the effects of policies and technologies on the development of energy systems.Dr Thomas holds a PhD in high energy physics from Cornell University and a BA in physics from Swarthmore College. She is one of the founders of the International Summer Symposium on Science and World Affairs, now in its 31st year. Her technical publications spanning energy, environment, optimization, physics, and nuclear arms control.

Thomas Saunders, PE.

Thomas Saunders is director of site oversight for Georgia Power’s AP1000 new nuclear construction project at Vogtle 3&4. He
leads the organization responsible for the owner’s oversight of engineering, procurement, construction, subcontracts, and project
controls execution.

Saunders joined the Southern Company in 2002 and has held multiple positions of increasing responsibility within four different business units. His career has focused on capital project implementation (supply chain, contracts, construction, regulatory compliance, startup, and oversight) and generating plant engineering, maintenance, and operations.

Saunders was assigned to the Vogtle 3&4 construction project in 2010. Prior to assuming his current role with Georgia Power, Saunders served as Southern Nuclear director of supply chain for Vogtle 3&4 since 2017, where he led the organization responsible for procurement, contracts, facilities, and construction equipment for the project execution team.

During the Westinghouse bankruptcy, a critical phase of the history of the Vogtle 3&4 project, Saunders’ primary focus was ensuring continuity of the supply chain and subcontractor support to ensure continued construction momentum and progress. In addition to playing several key leadership roles in the transition from WEC to SNC as general contractor, he was a member of the core team responsible for negotiating and implementing the Bechtel construction completion agreement, as well as the Westinghouse engineering and procurement services agreement.

An Alexander City, Alabama native, Saunders earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Alabama, as well as an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Alabama and was named Young Engineer of the Year by the Engineering Council of Birmingham in 2008. Saunders is a 2013 alumnus of the Leadership Augusta program.

Saunders and his wife Ashley, a pharmacist, reside in Evans, Georgia with their three children (Alexander – 9, Emerson – 8, and Handley – 5) and hyper-active brittany spaniel (Magnolia). They are members of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Martinez, Georgia, where he serves as the Senior Warden of the Vestry.