White House to honor veterans as "Champions of Change" for advancing clean energy and climate security

WASHINGTON, DC — November 4, 2013 — On Tuesday, November 5th, just days before Veterans Day, the White House will honor 12 local heroes as "Champions of Change." The event will celebrate American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are doing extraordinary work to advance clean energy and increase climate resilience and preparedness in their communities.

In a Presidential Proclamation on National Energy Action Month, President Obama challenged the Nation to build a clean energy economy and increase energy security. Noting that we now import less oil than at any point in the past 20 years, the President stressed the need to keep moving forward to protect these gains and fuel growth for decades to come. Additionally, the President’s Climate Action Plan maps out a way to drive advancements in the energy sector, add thousands of jobs to strengthen the American economy, and lead efforts to address climate change globally. The President has stated that developing clean energy technology and preparing for the effects of climate change are crucial to ensuring America’s continued growth and the health of future generations.

Upon returning home from service, many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have continued to utilize their specialized skills and experiences to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy, make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change and improve our nation’s energy security. Through the course of this event, these Champions will share their stories and details about their work.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 10:00 am ET on November 5. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program or to nominate a Champion for a future event, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Dave Belote, Vice President for Federal Business, Apex Clean Energy
Virginia Beach, VA

Dave Belote is the Vice President for Federal Business at Apex Clean Energy where he leads the company’s efforts to deliver clean, renewable power to federal customers and promote renewable energy solutions on military bases, public lands, and the outer continental shelf. Prior to joining Apex, Dave was the first Executive Director of the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse at the Pentagon, where he built a “one-stop shop” for industry to work with federal, state, and local government agencies to ensure that utility-scale renewable energy and transmission projects were compatible with military operations and installations. A retired Air Force colonel and F-16 pilot, Dave commanded a squadron, a group, and a wing as well as earning two Bronze Stars during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has served as installation commander for Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, and the 2.9-million-acre Nevada Test and Training Range. He actively supports the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Association of Defense Communities, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and the Truman Project for National Security and Operation Free which is a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts who advocate for securing America with clean energy. He is also a five-time Jeopardy! champion.

Adam Cote, CEO and Co-Founder, Thermal Energy Storage of Maine
Sanford, ME

Adam Cote is a Co-founder and CEO of Thermal Energy Storage of Maine, a company dedicated to providing Maine families with affordable home heating solutions and enhancing Maine’s energy independence through the promotion of electric thermal storage (ETS) heating systems. ETS units allow residential, business and industrial customers to heat their homes and businesses with lower-cost, off-peak electricity. The broader distribution of energy storage technologies like ETS is also recognized as a critical step if Maine and the United States are going to convert intermittently generated renewable energy into secure, local, and dependable power. Adam graduated from Colby College and the University Of Maine School Of Law and practiced law in the renewable energy field at the Portland, Maine law firm, Pierce Atwood LLP. Adam serves in the Maine Army National Guard, with prior deployments to Bosnia and Iraq. He is currently deployed to Afghanistan with Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion.

Robin Eckstein, Veteran and Advocate
Appleton, WI 

Robin Eckstein is a combat-disabled Army veteran who serves as a member of the Truman Defense Council and volunteers locally for veteran’s organizations. While serving in Iraq, Robin was a truck driver and experienced the real cost of fossil fuel usage in our military. In 2009 she joined Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security agencies campaigning for comprehensive clean energy reform. During this time she advocated for clean energy and climate security at hundreds of engagements around the country. Robin and her fellow Operation Free veterans brought a new voice to the climate change debate by giving firsthand accounts of their time in Iraq and discussing how clean energy and climate change affect American soldiers at war on a personal level. She continues to work with the Truman National Security project, speaking out on the importance of a clean energy future and bringing awareness to the national security implications of climate change.

Phillip Green, President and Founder, Green Powered Technology
Falls Church, VA

Phillip Green is the founder and president of Green Powered Technology (GPTech), a full service energy engineering firm that provides a single point for businesses, governments, and organizations to achieve economic, environmental, and social significance through sustainable energy. Currently GPTech supports Power Africa, a presidential initiative to improve access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa. GPTech also analyzes the implications of Northeast Asia’s investment in renewable energy on U.S. national security. Through GPTech, Phillip and his team work to lead the world in employing innovative energy solutions that realize the full potential of the Earth's resources in a sustainable way. Phillip is a U.S. Army Veteran and served in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to founding GPTech, he researched LEDs, solar cells, and other green products; protected the intellectual property of semiconductor products with patents; supervised military construction; and advised U.S. government clients on process improvement.

Avi Jacobson, Senior Sustainable Energy Coordinator, Washington State Housing Finance Commission
Seattle, WA

Avi Jacobson is the Senior Sustainable Energy Coordinator at the Washington State Housing Finance Commission where he develops and implements the Commission’s Sustainable Energy Program and manages the Sustainable Energy Trust. Avi acts as the Commission’s legislative liaison for energy policy at city, state, and federal levels to promote policies that support private investment in the clean technology sector. Avi is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to joining the Housing Finance Commission, he served as a Special Operations Weather Team leader in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard. Avi is a graduate of the University of Michigan, College of Engineering; the Naval Postgraduate School; and the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Kevin Johnson, Senior Manager of Mergers & Acquisitions, Acconia Energy North America
Chicago, IL

Kevin Johnson is the Senior Manager of Mergers & Acquisitions and leads Federal Market Business Development for the Acciona Energy North America Corporation. Kevin manages Acciona’s federal market team, which works closely with the Department of Defense to achieve its goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. Acciona is one of the world’s leading owners of renewable energy power plants with over 8,000 megawatts in operation.  Prior to joining Acciona, Kevin served as a Captain in the United States Army and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As an advocate for the Truman National Security Project and Operation Free, he continues to lead the charge for a more sustainable and secure energy future.

Joseph Knott, Director of Military Partnerships, Compatible Lands Foundation
Phoenix, AZ

Joseph Knott serves as the Director of Military Partnerships for the Compatible Lands Foundation, a non-profit organization specializing in innovative conservation partnerships with the Department of Defense. Under his direction, a first-of-its-kind partnership between federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, green investors, and industry is creating the Department of Defense’s first forest carbon project. Previously Lt. Col. Knott served 33 years in the United States Army including several assignments at the Pentagon managing the Army’s sustainability and energy programs. Lt. Col. Knott also serves on Northern Arizona University’s Climate Science and Solutions Advisory Board and is a 2008 Kinship Conservation Fellow. He supports Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts who advocate for securing America with clean energy.

Joseph Kopser, CEO and Co-Founder, RideScout
Austin, TX
Washington, D.C.

Joseph Kopser serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of RideScout, a startup smartphone app created to increase transportation efficiency by getting people out of their cars and into other public, commercial, and private options. A West Point and Harvard Kennedy School graduate, Joseph served in the United States Army for 20 years, retiring in 2013 as a Lt. Col. His last assignment in the military was teaching Leadership and Strategy at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition to leading RideScout, Joseph is a Next Generation Project Texas Fellow at the Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin where he focuses on Energy Policy. He also serves on the Board of Directors at the CleanTX Foundation. Joseph's military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Combat Action Badge, and the Ranger Tab.

Nat Kreamer, President and CEO, Clean Power Finance
San Francisco, CA

Nat Kreamer is the President and CEO of Clean Power Finance, a leading provider of software and financial services to the U.S. solar industry. He serves on Clean Power Finance’s Board of Directors and is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the largest solar trade organization in the United States. Nat returned home from Afghanistan in 2006, where he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, fought with the Joint Special Operations Command, and received the Bronze Star while wanting to repower America with clean, affordable domestic energy. He turned an idea of solar financing into reality, co-founding SunRun and serving as President and COO as it became a leading provider of residential solar financing. With his first residential solar power purchase agreement in 2007, Nat helped kick start a multi-billion dollar residential solar financing industry, which has created tens of thousands of domestic jobs and helped hundreds of thousands of Americans save money with clean, affordable domestic energy.

Andrea Marr, Commissioning Engineer, McKinstry
Costa Mesa, CA

Andrea Marr is a Commissioning Engineer at McKinstry’s Irvine, California office where she advises large institutions on energy efficiency strategies. Prior to joining McKinstry, Andrea worked for a small non-profit in Nicaragua designing and installing wind turbines and solar panels in rural communities without access to the national electric grid. Andrea graduated from the Naval Academy in 2005 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She served as the Gunnery Officer on two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a Nuclear Engineering Officer for a third deployment. She holds an M.S. in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University where she conducted a study on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building program. Andrea is involved with Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts who advocate for securing America with clean energy.

Elizabeth Perez-Halperin, President and Founder, GC Green
Vista, CA

Elizabeth "Liz" Perez-Halperin is the President and Founder of GC Green Incorporated, a green building general contracting and consulting firm. GC Green works to broaden the outreach and impact of the green economy by promoting education, training, apprenticeship, and project placement opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for veterans and other displaced workers in California. Since its founding in 2010, GC Green has served more than 1,300 individuals by providing training in the renewable energy industry, teaching entrepreneurship skills, and providing clean technology industry job placement assistance. Liz is a passionate advocate for clean energy and national security and she is involved with Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts who advocate for securing America with clean energy.  Prior to starting GC Green, Liz served in the U.S. Navy for over eight years as an Aviation Logistics Specialist and was discharged honorably as a Wounded Warrior Veteran.

Drew Sloan, Sales Executive, Opower
Washington, D.C.

Drew Sloan serves as a sales executive with the energy efficiency and smart grid software company, Opower. In this role, Drew works with utilities to provide customers better insight into their energy usage. In turn, these personalized insights empower individuals and families to make smarter, more efficient energy choices that ultimately drive down overall energy demand. To date, Opower’s efforts have led to an estimated 4.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emission reductions and saved customers collectively over $333 million dollars on their energy bills. Prior to joining Opower, Drew served as an Army officer, completing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He received the Purple Heart medal for wounds suffered during a Taliban ambush in 2004 as well as two Bronze Stars. Drew also has worked with the Rocky Mountain Institute and the National Renewable Energy Lab and is co-author of the book, Let There Be Light: Electrifying the Developing World with Markets and Distributed Energy. Drew is a founding member of Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts who advocate for securing America with clean energy.


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