Jim Saber is President & CEO at NextEnergy. Saber previously lead the business and technology development and demonstration activities to support commercialization and business growth of NextEnergy’s advanced energy clients and stakeholders. Saber’s experience includes the development of over $150 million in technology development and demonstration programs within e-Mobility, Smart Grid, Buildings and Infrastructure, MicroGrids, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, and Alternative Fuels. He has lead NextEnergy’s work in establishing new technology development and demonstration platforms within next generation energy efficiency and transportation applications. Prior to joining NextEnergy, Saber spent more than a decade in the energy-storage industry, where he held product- and business-development positions with Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Jim holds a B. S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University.
Angella Durkin is COO at NextEnergy. Durkin joined NextEnergy in 2015 as Vice President of Finance and Administration. Since that time she has established herself as a key leader at NextEnergy with a broad capacity for operations including accounting and finance, administration, human resources, project management and program compliance. In 2018, she was named Chief Operating Officer of the organization. Prior to joining NextEnergy, she held several positions in finance and accounting during her eight years at Delphi. As manager, global liquidity & America’s treasurer at Delphi, Durkin was responsible for global financial forecasting and funding strategy. Durkin interned at Henkel Technologies, where she assisted the global sales and marketing team on a project focused on redefining customer profitability and implementing new market challenges. She also served four years at Plante & Moran where she provided clients with assurance and consulting services. Durkin holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Durkin participated in the American Heritage Association Exchange Program at Universita Degli Studi de Macerata in Macerata, Italy.
Eric McDonald is Director, Facilities and Infrastructure Development at NextEnergy where he is responsible for upgrades to the infrastructure and ongoing operation of NextEnergy’s campus. McDonald has over twenty years experience in management of capital improvements and infrastructure development and redevelopment for major construction managers and property owners. He has been involved on a diversity of projects including complete mechanical and electrical upgrades to industrial and commercial buildings; industrial backup power generation; civil, commercial,and industrial construction; landfill inspection and planning; and environmental remediation. McDonald has a Bachelor of Arts in Design from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Wayne State University and is a LEED Accredited Professional.
Melissa Smith is Director, Outreach and Branding Initiatives at NextEnergy. Smith brings with her over 20 years of experience in marketing, public relations, graphic design, events and sales. The majority of her career was spent as a senior marketing specialist with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), leading exhibit-sales and audience marketing efforts for many large-scale manufacturing events across the United States and Canada. For two years, Smith served as Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the Droste Group, an international executive coaching and consulting firm based in Michigan. Areas of expertise include development of marketing strategy and tactics, management of large budgets & external vendors, creative development, copywriting, art direction, list strategy and development; strategy and deployment of direct mail, electronic marketing and social media. Smith holds a B.S. in English Literature & Journalism from Eastern Michigan University.
Gina Schrader is Director, Business Model Innovation at NextEnergy. In this role, Schrader transforms energy and mobility interests and concerns into real commercial solutions by managing technology challenges and programs to accelerate advanced energy and mobility innovation. Schrader has more than 15 years managing environmental programs including domestic and international conservation campaigns. Her past consulting work has focused on program evaluation, stakeholder engagement, and identifying and building strategies that help industry and institutions save money, reduce its environmental footprint, and support a positive social impact. Gina is a National Fellow for the Environmental Leadership Program, an Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders alumni and serves on the Board of Directors of FoodLab Detroit, the Detroit Women’s Leadership Network Advisory Council, and the Emerging Detroit 2030 District Advisory Council. Schrader holds a Masters in Environmental Management from Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and B.A. from Western Michigan University.
Roland Kibler is Chief Technologist at NextEnergy. In this role, Kibler develops and manages programs in the areas of alternative energy generation, energy storage, and fuels, with responsibility for overall project management in his focus areas. He also handles technical and market assessments of alternative-energy concepts to support the development of emerging alternative-energy companies and technologies. Prior to joining NextEnergy in 2005, Kibler held multiple engineering positions with the Delphi Corporation, including: Components Applications at the Technical Center Tokyo; Global Catalyst Application; Component Application in Korea; Material Cost Improvement; and Product Manager Fuel Handling and Evaporative Control. Kibler holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from General Motors Institute, Kettering University; an M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Systems Science from Michigan State University; and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan, Flint.
Wayne Snyder is Director, Technology Development at NextEnergy. In this role, Snyder oversees planning and execution of connected and emerging technology solutions. Leveraging the company’s cyber physical systems, Internet of Things and data acquisition infrastructure, Snyder assists cross-industry partners and collaborative teams in transforming ideas into integrated technology demonstrations that showcase and validate stakeholder value propositions. Wayne brings more than 12 years of experience in information and communications technology applied to energy and transportation. Snyder holds a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.S. in Information Systems Engineering from Oakland University. Wayne was presented the Merit Network Innovation Award in 2015 in recognition for development of Internet of Things, AC/DC hybrid data centers and cybersecurity smart grid analytics. He is certified as a Connected Vehicle Professional and Information Technology Infrastructure Library practitioner.
Latonya Binford is the Accountant at NextEnergy. Binford has years of experience in financial analysis. In the past, she served as a Budget Analyst at Wayne State University where she analyzed and created budgets for university-wide central revenue and expenditure sources. She also served as a Business Analyst at Compuware Corporation where she reported financial data used in European negotiations for a major automotive customer. Binford holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration in Accounting from Central Michigan University and she is currently pursuing an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy. She is also a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
Heather Boyd is Marketing and Administrative Specialist at NextEnergy. Boyd supports both the marketing and business development teams to implement cross functional processes, and develop resources to drive continuous improvement company-wide. She works closely with staff, partners and clients to manage events and maintains our contact management database. Boyd has over 20 years of administrative support experience that included owning a landscaping business. She has worked with philanthropy and start-up companies, as well as in the advertising, insurance, and investment banking industries.
Maria Thompson is Venture Partner for Arsenal Venture Partners. Maria was President and CEO of T/J Technologies, Inc., a nationally recognized Michigan company for proprietary alternative energy technologies that she and her husband, Dr. Levi Thompson, co-founded in 1991. Formerly the General Manager of the Government Solutions Group for A123Systems, she recently became Chairman of NextEnergy and serves as a member of the University of Michigan Technology Transfer National Advisory Board, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business Zell Lurie Institute Advisory Board, and Old National Bank’s Michigan Market Board. Under Ms. Thompson’s leadership, T/J Technologies attracted national and regional recognition. In 2008, she was honored by the Washington DC based Minority Enterprise Executive Council as one of 25 Powerful Minority Women in Business. She was named as one of Crain’s Detroit Business Most Influential Women in 2007 and as one of Metro Detroit’s Innovators. The Small Business Foundation of Michigan awarded her “Small Business Entrepreneur Extraordinaire” in 2008. Maria was invited to speak to the U.S. House Committee on Small Business at the 50th anniversary of the Small Business Administration.
Paul Skalny is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortress 17, LLC, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of Venture Management Services, LLC, and the Vice President for Strategic Development for Visca, LLC. He spent nearly 33 years as a civilian within the Army, culminating his service as both the Acting Executive Director of Product Development, and the Director of the National Automotive Center for the US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). He was the Department of Defense lead for the 21st Century Truck Initiative, the Future Tactical Truck System Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, and the Government lead for an advanced battery initiative that led to $1.5B in Federal stimulus funding. Paul is also a member of the Advisory Council of the California Hybrid, Efficient and Advanced Truck (CalHEAT) Research Center.
As Wayne State University’s Vice President, Economic Development, Ned is part of the university’s cabinet with responsibility for leading economic development activities that leverage university assets across the university and the local community. His activities are designed to function as a catalyst for growth in Midtown Detroit and include interactions with TechTown, Wayne State’s Office of Technology Commercialization, and Midtown Detroit, Inc. Ned, who has private sector experience with both early stage technology ventures and Fortune 150 companies, served previously in a variety of senior roles with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he was most recently Vice President for Entrepreneurial and Capital Services.
Nigel Francis is the CEO and Executive Director at Detroit-based LIFT – Lightweight Innovations for tomorrow, one of the founding Manufacturing USA institutes.
Prior to joining LIFT, Nigel served as Vice President and Officer, Advanced Engineering & Technology Development at American Axle (NYSE:AXL), after working as Senior Automotive Adviser to the State of Michigan and Senior Vice President, Automotive Industry Office, Michigan Economic Development Corporation where he was charged with developing, implementing and executing a comprehensive strategic plan and road map to promote, retain and grow the automotive industry in Michigan. Francis has over 35 years of experience in the global automotive sector having held executive level positions at OEM and Tier 1 companies in North America and Europe, including Tata Technologies, Executive Vice President, Bright Automotive; and Vice President, Vehicle Engineering at Mercedes-Benz Technology. Francis holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree with honors from Brunel University in London, England. Professional affiliations include fellow, Institute of Mechanical Engineers of Great Britain; chartered engineer, Great Britain; Member SAE and Member SME. He sits on the advisory boards of several technology companies and universities.
Steve Hilfinger is a partner and business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. His experience includes corporate and finance work with companies in the energy industry, and more recently he held two senior positions with the State of Michigan where his responsibilities included regulatory and economic development activities directly impacting companies in the energy industry. In his most recent role, Mr. Hilfinger was the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the economic development arm of the State of Michigan. His oversight responsibilities at the MEDC included the Michigan Energy Office, which is a key partner with the federal Department of Energy in implementing loan and energy efficiency programs in the State of Michigan. The Michigan Energy Office also partnered with the Governor’s Office and the Public Service Commission on the development of energy policy, including in the areas of reliability, efficiency, affordability and portfolio diversification.
Eric Shreffler is the Managing Director for the Automotive Office at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In this role he works directly with automotive industry stakeholders to establish economic development opportunities for the State. His team collaborates with federal agencies to identify partnership and funding opportunities to drive innovation, commercialization, and growth. Shreffler led a cross-functional team focused on advanced energy storage that led to $6B in direct investment in the State, including $1.3B in federal investment, as well as secured state funds to support the establishment of the ALMMII/LIFT and IACMI lightweight materials manufacturing innovation centers in downtown Detroit leveraging US Department of Defense and Department of Energy grants. Prior to joining the MEDC in 2006, Shreffler was the Global Thermal Product Manager for Delphi Product & Service Solutions. He holds a BS in Applied Engineering from Michigan State University and an Executive MBA from Northwood University.
Patricia (Patti) Glaza serves as Vice President of Invest Detroit and Managing Director of First Step Fund and Detroit Innovate, two early-stage venture funds. Ms. Glaza joined Invest Detroit in 2014 with more than 20 years of experience in the development, implementation and commercialization of advanced technologies. Patti serves as a resource to start-ups and as an advisor/board member, including: Michigan Venture Capital Association, The Great Lakes Protection Fund, NSF I-Corp, and the University of Michigan’s M-TRAC – Advanced Transportation Technologies Committee. Prior to joining Invest Detroit, Patti was with Arsenal Venture Partners, a national venture capital firm focused on IT, energy and industrial technologies. She has served as the CEO and executive management of several start-ups in the nanotech, energy, and healthcare IT sectors. Patti started her career as an IT consulting professional and manager for Accenture. Patti is a graduate of Michigan State University and has a MBA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Lizabeth (Beth) Ardisana is the co-founder, principal owner and chief executive officer of ASG Renaissance, a global technical and communication services firm. As the CEO, Ardisana is responsible for the Company’s overall strategic direction and financial management while also taking an active role working directly with clients on various projects. In addition to managing ASG, Ardisana is an active business and civic leader in the Michigan and Hispanic Communities. She serves on numerous corporate and educational boards, and has received numerous awards for her contributions to the community. Prior to starting ASG Renaissance, Ardisana worked at Ford Motor Company as an engineer. During her 14 years with Ford, she quickly advanced up the ranks holding various management positions in vehicle development, product planning and marketing. Ardisana holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Detroit, a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Texas.
Marco Bruzzano is the Vice President of Distribution Operations for DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE), a Detroit- based diversified energy company. As one of Michigan's leading corporate citizens, DTE Energy is a force for growth and prosperity in the communities it serves in a variety of ways, including philanthropy, volunteerism and economic progress. In his role, Bruzzano is focused on the company's multi-year effort to improve electric system reliability while also reducing costs to keep energy affordable. Bruzzano is directly responsible for overseeing the company’s engineering, technology and planning functions. Prior to this role, he was Vice President of Corporate Strategy supporting a broad range of efforts of strategic and operations improvement efforts. Bruzzano also led DTE’s cost and operational benchmarking programs. Prior to joining DTE in 2008, Bruzzano worked broadly across the energy industry for nearly 20 years, including extensive periods as a management consultant with McKinsey and Booz Allen Hamilton. During this time, he advised global energy companies, electric utilities and power producers on strategy, operations and organizational effectiveness. Bruzzano earned an MBA with distinction from Duke University. He also earned a bachelor of science degree, with honors, and a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Bruzzano serves on the boards of NextEnergy and Endeavor Detroit.
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