We are community energy enthusiasts who see energy efficiency and community-controlled clean energy as the first step toward relocalizing our economy. We have created CEF to support our communities in the process of building people-powered solutions to the energy crisis and climate change.
Cooperative Energy Futures is comprised of a Board of Directors and a staff team that handles the day-to-day operations of the cooperative. We rely heavily on grassroots leadership by current and potential members and community partners. We welcome volunteers; if you are interested in joining us, check out our Get Involved page.
Learn about our team:
Timothy Den-Herder Thomas | General Manager
Timothy has a background in energy democracy organizing and social enterprise. Timothy DenHerder-Thomas grew up in Jersey City NJ, which helped him make the connections between energy usage, pollution, poverty, social fragmentation, and environmental destruction. Timothy also helped found Grand Aspirations, which supports teams of youth innovators in 16 cities to create green economic opportunity for themselves and their communities through innovative energy efficiency, green industry, sustainable food, transit access, and clean energy solutions. Timothy is a co-convener of Minneapolis Energy Options (now Community Power), which has secured the nation’s first city-utility Clean Energy Partnership in Minneapolis.
Timothy engages in national climate action and energy democracy innovation as an Energy Action Coalition Council member, a participant in the REAMP network, and as a Minneapolis Global Shaper. Timothy is a Young People For Fellow, a Morris K. Udall Scholar, a Goldman Sachs Global Leader, and a recipient of the 2008 Brower Youth Award and the 2009 Mario Savio Award.
Bruce Konewko | Solar Operations and Marketing Director
Bruce has a professional background in sales and marketing, including solar PV site assessment and residential energy auditing. Bruce worked for 20 years in sales and marketing in the residential home exterior industry for several decades prior to joining the CEF team. Bruce’s duties include residential and commercial solar sales, tabling and community outreach, and securing site control for Community Solar Gardens. Bruce manages CEF’s partnerships with property owners, solar contractors, and system designers.
Greg Midghall | Project Finance Advisor to the Board
Greg coordinates equity and debt financing for CEF solar gardens. Greg has a background in information technology in Silicon Valley as part of executive management of Cobalt Networks, coordinating its IPO process in 1999. Prior to joining CEF, Greg served as the co-founder and Vice President of Business Development for a successful solar start-up, currently one of the top 10 residential solar installers nationwide. He holds an MBA from the University of Florida.
Mary Kay Olson | Subscription Manager
Mary Kay brings outreach and operational administration skills to her role at CEF, where she manages the overall subscription process including working with our collaborating organizations such as Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light who are assisting in securing subscribers. Mary Kay has worked in a variety of organizations, starting in affordable housing, then following the emerging green building industry into construction. She balances her CEF work currently with her work at a progressive church supporting the overall operations and facilities oversight of an historical St. Paul church campus.
Board of Directors
Megan Hoye | Chair
Megan Hoye is the Engagement Coordinator for the Center for Energy and Environment’s Innovation Exchange. Prior to that she worked with Fresh Energy on transmission research and outreach and with the University of Minnesota Extension as a research consultant. Megan’s background is in architecture and interior design, working professionally for three years on sustainable design projects and research. Megan values the community approach that is embedded in CEF’s work and is interested in some of the equity components of the cooperative model. Megan holds a Masters of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Megan was first elected in April 2013 and was re-elected to a second 2-year term in April 2015.
Jennifer Lang | Vice Chair
Jennifer Lang is a professional violinist, performing regularly with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the MN Sinfonia. She is also a Certified Urban Farmer and actively engaged in the Midwest Permaculture Research Institute. As an advocate of health and wellness on many levels, she is co-authoring the upcoming book, The Mental Calorie: The Quest for Health and Well Being. The book presents a panorama of well being perspectives across many industries, including clean energy, as key to vitality and fulfillment. Jennifer first became passionate about solar energy while helping her aunt launch Entire-Earth-Electricity, a proposal for a world-wide solar electricity grid. Jennifer is excited to be working with CEF to flip the concept of how we produce energy on its head while helping communities find innovative ways to govern and empower themselves. Jenny was elected in April 2014.
Pouya Najmaie | Secretary
Pouya is a Masters Candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He is currently finishing his thesis for his Masters of Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy with a concentration in International Environmental Security Policy and Renewable Energy Policy. He has a B.S. from the University of Minnesota in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Law and Policy. Pouya has extensively studied U.S. and Minnesota renewable energy policy and has a keen interest in the intersection of environmentalism and social justice issues. He believes these two issues are inextricably linked and one cannot be achieved without the other. Pouya was elected to the board in April of 2016.
Jake Rounds | Treasurer
Jake Rounds researches public policy for the Democratic Energy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. A graduate with a degree in Physics, he is active as a Citizen Modeler for Minneapolis Energy Options. Jake believes that CEF’s cooperative structure presents an opportunity to create a new energy model anchored in community ownership. He is proud of the programs that CEF offers, which enable any member of the community to take direct action against climate change, from the simple first steps on up. Jake was first elected in April 2013 and was re-elected for a second 2-year term in April 2015.
Ryan is Vice President of Corporate Services at Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC). Ryan has direct responsibility for MVEC’s technology, meter reading, billing, legal coordination and corporate wide programs. During his 10 years at the cooperative, Ryan has developed business cases and led the implementation of a number of smart grid technologies. Most recently, Ryan led the design and implementation of a variety of demand response programs aimed at increasing member satisfaction and reducing the cooperatives cost to purchase power. Prior to MVEC Ryan spent 9 years at Cargill Inc. in various technology roles.
Ryan’s background includes a law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law and an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Ryan was elected to the Board April 2015.
Ralph is Founder and CEO of Innovative Power Systems, and is a NABCEP certified installer for both solar electric and solar thermal systems. For the past 25 years, he has been creating opportunities in solar for himself and others, by growing a business and serving on the boards of the MN Renewable Energy Society and the MN Solar Energy Industry Association. In 2014 Ralph was honored with a lifetime achievement award by MnSEIA for his long term commitment to renewable energy and the solar industry in Minnesota. Ralph was elected to the Board April 2015.
Mary Kay Olson
Mary Kay Olson, elected to the Board April 2015, is excited to join in a wonderful community-based effort to claim renewable energy for all. Mary Kay has worked in a variety of organizations, starting in affordable housing, then following the emerging green building industry into construction. With the downturn, she developed an interest first in making buildings more efficient, leading her, after a conversation with a friend working now in community solar, to a “cold call” to Timothy and volunteering since March 2014 with CEF. She has contributed her varied skill set to the cooperative’s community solar and board work, and is now an integral part of the new collaboration between CEF and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, where she is helping promote “just” community solar through faith-based communities.
Jamez Staples, a North Minneapolis resident is an Urban Environmentalist who is passionate about closing racial disparities in Minnesota. He is President of Renewable Energy Partners (REP): a certified minority owned solar installation company providing training programs – specifically targeting low income communities of color that are unemployed, underemployed, and hard to employ – in the development of green infrastructure. REP also works with the Minnesota Energy Consortium to provide education about careers in energy to communities of color.
Staples has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Marketing from Concordia University. He was recently selected to sit on the City of Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership’s Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC) and was elected co-chair shortly after. Staples actively participates with the African American Leadership Forum on the Economic Development Committee, was awarded the MN Social Impact Center Change Maker Award for 2015, and is one of twelve national Climate Champions by Green for All. He is an active member of his church and mentors youth in college preparation and financial literacy. Jamez was elected to the Board April 2015.