The Next Economy: Green Economy Leadership


Presented by Gaia Human Capital Consultants & SIPA Energy Association of Columbia University

When: Friday, April 17, 2009
Where: Columbia University Campus, Davis Auditorium - Conference
Time: 12:00 p.m.  -  5:00 p.m.
Reception: Columbia University Campus, Carleton Lounge

5:00 p.m.  -  6:30 p.m.


Free Event!                                                                   

Gaia Human Capital Consultants is hosting The Next Economy: Green Economy Leadership Conference on April 17, 2009 on the campus of Columbia University.  A reception will immediately follow the conference and all participants are welcomed.

We have invited several distinguished Green Economy and Renewable/Clean Energy executives & prominent participants for panel discussions and networking opportunities.  Each panel reflects a different vantage point into the Green Economy, and each panelist has a unique expertise to share.  Many of the speakers are Columbia University graduates and many in attendance will be current students, faculty and regional professionals, who will become tomorrow’s innovators as engineers, investors, business executives, consultants, educators and attorneys.  

While it is clear that the Green Economy will have a crucial role in securing geopolitical harmony, alleviate the specter of abrupt climate change and global warming, have the ability to transform global economies and reposition the  world’s future energy portfolio, many technological, financial and legislative advancements must be realized before they can fulfill their true potential.  Undeniably, we are faced with a variety of circumstances that require national and international coordination, to adjust mankind’s development to the limits of the earth’s environment.  We face a severe financial hurdle that threatens to delay the Green Economy, with unforeseen consequences for our national security.  

More than ever before, fueled by a strong desire to achieve a positive “triple bottom-line”, professionals from all walks of life are working diligently to develop a culture which defines actions and responsibilities that are environmentally sustainable & socially responsible.  In this Green Economy, this action is best illustrated in the renewable energy industry.  The agenda will include:

  • Are early stage Green technologies progressing fast enough to meet our future energy challenges?  If so, can they be scaled up and commercialized, and over what period?  

  • Will Green Economy financing be available at sufficient levels throughout the investment cycle?  

  • What policies are and are not in place to ensure an effective transition towards a Green Economy?

  • Will the Obama Administration achieve its vision of creating 5 million green jobs through Green Economy and renewable energy generation?  

  • What do many of today’s Green Economy thought leaders have to say about the future prospects of coal?

  • What do many of today’s thought leaders in the renewable energy field have to say about the future growth prospects of renewable energy and energy efficiency?

  • What charactistics of Executive Leadership and Human Capital are required for the Green Economy to be hugely successful?

April 17, 2009 

12:00 p.m. - Registration at Davis Auditorium, Columbia University

There will be a representative from Columbia University's Office of Career Services on-hand if any organizations are interested in pursuing Columbia students for internship and career opportunities.

12:15 p.m. - Welcome Address

  Dawn Dzurilla - Founder & President, Gaia Human Capital Consultants

12:30 p.m. - Keynote Speaker

  John Geesman - Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)

John Geesman is co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Renewable Energies (ACORE) and owner of the blog Green Energy War (  John was also formerly the Commissioner and Executive Director of the California Energy Commission, an investment banker, an advocate for utility ratepayers and children’s health insurance, a campaign staff member of the Mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, star of “Who killed the Electric Car,” and all-around great guy.  A native Californian, John received his undergraduate degree from Yale University, where he was Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News and stringer for the New York Times, and earned his J.D. from UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law.  

12:45 p.m. - Renewable Energy Executives Panel

No one is in a better position to gauge the implementation of renewable energies than renewable energy executives who work diligently to build their organization, acquire critical financial and human capital, refine their technology capabilities, market those capabilities and develop business.  This panel of executives encompass a broad range of renewable energy technologies including solar PV, solar thermal, wind and tidal energy.

  • What are the most promising markets for the Green Economy?
  • What are the most promising markets for each technology and where is the renewable energy resource greatest for potential development?
  • Does the industry require subsidies?  When does the industry no longer require subsidies and how close are we to grid parity?  

Learn first-hand what plans renewable energy executives have to invest in R&D, enhance product development, obtain financing, and partner with government labs and research programs.


  • John Geesman, Co-Chairman, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)


  • Trey Taylor, President & Co-Founder, Verdant Power
  • Arnold Leitner, Chief Executive Officer, SkyFuel
  • Howard Berke, Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Konarka
  • Marco Fossataro, Chief Financial Officer, Enel North America
  • Paul Gilman, Chief Sustainability Officer, Covanta Energy

1:30 p.m. - Energy Policy Panel

Despite its promise, clean/renewable energy is a nascent market.  Much of its future development will depend on the legislative & regulatory landscape for at least a few years.  Several nations are expanding the concept of emissions trading, first developed under the Acid Rain Program of the U.S. Clean Air Act, to a global cap on Green House Gas emissions.  One of the largest social and economic experiments in history, much is at stake.

  • What can we learn from the European Union Emissions scheme?

  • How will the three regional cap-and-trade programs be incorporated into a national system, and how will congressional legislation fit into a global scheme?

  • At least 28 U.S. States have enacted renewable portfolio standards (RPS), mandating that utilities produce a percentage of their electricity from renewables.  Will Congress adopt a Federal RPS and will it supercede state law?

  • EPA is considering a waiver for California to adopt stricter carbon standards under the Clean Air Act for vehicles.  Will this create a de facto national standard?

  • Are the incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 sufficient to develop renewable energy and smart grid projects? 

Hear from policy experts at leading law firms, the Department of Energy and Financial Institutions serving the carbon and environmental market on what their thoughts are concerning these critical issues.


Daniel J. Byrd, M.E.M.; Esq.,  Principal, Gaia Human Capital Consultants


  • Ken Berlin, Managing Partner of D.C. Environment & Climate Change Practices, Skadden Arps LLP
  • Todd Alexander, Partner Chadbourne & Parke LLP
  • Brannen Mc Elmurray, Senior Associate, Evolution Markets
  • Matt Gray, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,  U.S. Department of Energy
  • Dana Hall, Energy Policy Coordinator, The Center for Energy & Climate Change, Pace Law School

2:15 p.m. - Independent Research Panel

Market predictions for renewable energies vary tremendously, especially in light of the financial turmoil.  Even prior to the lending crisis, many people felt the solar industry was headed for a period of over-supply with the potential for a decline in panel prices and industry consolidation.  

Although wind development nationally continues at a strong pace, key project developers have reduced their project pipelines due to financing constraints.  Other renewable energies face similar difficulties.  This panel of experts from distinguished independent research and consulting firms, as well as the federal government’s premier renewable technology laboratory in NREL, will share their insights into the various renewable energy markets and technologies.  

  • What are the biggest challenges and bottlenecks facing each of the renewable energies?  

  • Can we scale up renewable energy in time to meet the RPS mandates, carbon constraints and our growing demand for energy?  

  • Will the nation’s T&D infrastructure be extended to isolated renewable energy zones, who will finance and construct these projects, and can the grid handle the intermittency of wind and solar?  

  • How will energy storage and smart grid technologies serve as key enablers for the renewable energy industry?  What are the most important public-private partnerships?  

  • Which of the many solar PV technologies has the highest long-term potential?  

Hear from some of the best informed independent research institutions in the country about these issues and the future direction of renewable energies. 


Daniel J. Byrd, M.E.M., Esq., Principal, Gaia Human Capital Consultants


  • Joe Verrengia, Senior Administrator, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 
  • J. Peter Lynch, President, Salem Financial, Inc.
  • Mike Holman, Director of Research, Lux Research
  • Andrew Brydges, Principal Consultant, KEMA, Inc
  • Melisa Swift, Manager of Climate Change Consulting, Deloitte & Touche, LLP

3:00 p.m. - Banking Panel

For decades banks have played a crucial role in the financing & development of global energy & transmission infrastructures.  Although the financial crisis is preventing much needed capital from flowing into renewable energy projects and manufacturing expansion, banks will undoubtedly continue to finance a diverse spectrum of renewable energy and transmission initiatives.  Banks face pressure to manage a lower risk lending profile. 

Renewable energies offer stable & predictable revenue production without the variability of fuel input costs.  Analysts predict a period of consolidation in the renewable energy industry due to financial stress and strategic integration, creating a wave of M&A activity.  

The cleantech experts on this panel offer extraordinary insight into the renewable energy markets, constantly following a diverse spectrum of companies, industries and broader trends, as well as meeting with management teams and visiting the newest facilities.  

  • When do they foresee access to capital returning to the renewable energy markets?  
  • Many investors criticized the cleantech universe as having reached unrealistically high valuations.  
  • Are renewable energy and smart grid stocks good buys at today’s valuations?
  • Which industries will rebound first and what are the most important drivers?


Zoe Van Schyndel, CFA, Partner, Gaia Human Capital Consultants & Faculty Member, Evergreen State College


  • John Quealy, Canaccord Adams
  • Jessie Pichel, Managing Director, Piper Jaffray
  • Joanita Ricketts, Vice President, CleanTech Investment Banking, Jefferies & Co., Inc.
  • Eliza Eubank, Environmental and Social Risk Management, Citi Markets
  • Caroline Angoorly, Head of North America Environmental Markets, JP Morgan

3:45 p.m. - Venture Capital & Private Equity Panel

To some, one of the most exciting aspects of the Green Economy is that much of the technology has not yet been developed or perfected.  This creates enormous opportunities for venture capital investors. 

  • After a rapid increase in VC cleantech investment over the last years, will there be a decrease in 2009 and until further notice, due to financial market conditions?

  • What would this mean for the pace of technological development?

  • How does a VC firm actually go about evaluating specific cleantech opportunities?

  • How do VC firms account for and manage technology risk in an industry ripe for widespread and rapid innovation and a consistantly shifting regulatory framework?

  • Where do they foresee future opportunities in the Green Economy?

For certain technologies and markets, renewable energies are already competitive with traditional energy sources.  Utilities are continuously announcing large-scale and utility-scale solar thermal, PV, wind and tidal energy projects, while the third party finance market has experienced explosive growth through participants. 

As many assets have declined considerably in valuation over the last few months and considering the forecast of a mandated Federal RPS and national carbon market, it appears that there should be no shortage of opportunities for private equity investors and project developers.

Hear how venture capital executives and private equity firms go about their interesting business and, how they are coping with several challenges while continually seeking out what they perceive to be the most promising opportunities for their stakeholders.


Dawn E. Dzurilla, Founder & President, Gaia Human Capital Consultants


  • Arrun Kapoor, Senior Associate, SJF Ventures
  • Olivia Fussell, President & CEO Carbon Credit Capital
  • Izzet Bensusan, Executive Director, Karbone, Inc.
  • MJ Maloof, Senior Associate, Braemar Energy Ventures
  • William Nesbitt, Managing Director, Good Energies 

4:35 p.m. - "Human Capital factors that Venture Capital Executives Consider"

  • To what degree does human capital leadership weight in the minds of venture capitalists when considering an investment opportunity?

  • How involved are Venture Capitalists in deciding an Executive Management team and Board of Directors?

  • What specific traits, skill-sets & experience do venture capitalists look for in a Chief Executive Officer?

  • How important is Green Economy experience in choosing a CEO and others key Executives?

  • Is an EcoPreneur a "treehugger" or a capitalist or both?


Dawn E. Dzurilla, Founder & President, Gaia Human Capital Consultants


Distinguished members of the Venture Capital & Private Equity Panel (see above)

Carleton Lounge - Columbia University

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. - Reception at Carleton Lounge

Conference Sponsors:



Reception generously is hosted by:


For information:

Everyone is invited to attend!                                                                                                  


Conference Information:

Please contact Dan Byrd ( or call him at 212-626-6595

Media Requests:

Please contact Dawn Dzurilla ( or call her at 212-734-4912

Please note:  There is no cost to attend this event.  All are welcome to attend!


When: Friday, April 17, 2009 from

Time: 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM (ET)

Where: Columbia University - Davis Auditorium


When: Friday, April 17, 2009

Time: 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Where: Columbia University - Carleton Lounge

116th Street
New York, NY 10027-6902

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Gaia Human Capital Consultants

Gaia Human Capital Consultants ( specializes in providing executive search, high volume talent acquisition and employment branding solutions specifically for all-renewable energy, clean tech, corporate sustainability and environmental organizations.

Our client partners retain Gaia Human Capital Consultants to gain a significant and distinctive competitive recruitment advantage. We work toward the goal of attracting, recruiting and retaining highly prized executive-level leadership and various professionals to client organizations. We offer a proactive and actively engaging executive search and talent acquisition approach to building our clients' businesses and articulating their human capital initiatives.

Gaia Human Capital Consultants has successfully completed domestic and foreign-based C-Level search assignments and has engaged successfully with client partners across several executive and managerial and professional functional disciplines.

SIPA Energy Association of Columbia University


Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs Office of Career Services

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