The cliché is true – here are our greatest assets.
Bob Weissbourd is the president of RW Ventures LLC where he assembles teams of experts to invent products and enterprises that drive market-based economic development across neighborhoods, regions, and industries. His specialty is technical and economic analysis of urban assets and markets. Bob finds a strong fit with Elevate Energy’s ethos. He feels the organization is creative and smart about how we achieve greater energy efficiency in that we not only focus on policy and research, but also on creating effective, practical products and programs like hourly pricing through data and modeling.
Bob was Elevate Energy’s founding Board Chair, and was a former Chair and long-standing board member of our affiliate, the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
When not working, you can find Bob taking adventure trips with his family rafting the Grand Canyon or hiking in Patagonia.
Denise G. Fairchild
Denise Fairchild is the inaugural President and CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), a national non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. with affiliates in major urban centers across the United States. She is charged with advancing ECC’s “high road” mission to green our cities, build resilient local economies and ensure equity inclusion in both the process and the outcomes of a new green and healthy economy.
Dr. Fairchild focuses on building community-led partnerships with labor, environmental and business organizations to increase energy efficiency, clean energy, sustainable foods and clean water with a focus on low-income and communities of color. Her 40-year track record includes numerous awards for innovative programs in sustainable and community economic development, domestically and internationally.
Her educational background includes progressively higher degrees in urban planning from Fisk University, University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate from UCLA. Her recent publication is entitled “Energy Democracy: Equity Solutions to the Clean Economy” by Island Press. She lives in and raised her family in South Los Angeles.
Edgar Ramirez joined Chicago Commons in 2010 as Associate Executive Director before being named CEO in 2013. As a community organizer in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood prior to joining Chicago Commons, Edgar led significant campaigns at Enlace Chicago and Erie Neighborhood House. He worked on issues such as leadership development, green space improvement, anti-violence campaigns, childcare income eligibility, immigration reform, and youth job development.
Edgar has served on Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s Latino Advisory Committee and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ad-hoc committee focusing on the reopening of early education centers in light of COVID-19. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the Latino Policy Forum. Edgar also serves on the Mayor Lightfoot’s Every Child Ready Chicago Working Group.
Edgar is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow (2016) and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He earned a master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in Policy Analysis and Community Organizing, and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University.
Jennifer Tescher comes to our board as the President and CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), the nation’s authority on consumer financial health. CFSI leads a network of financial services innovators committed to promoting high-quality financial products. Jennifer founded CFSI in 2004 and has since achieved notable success in championing increased access to high-quality financial products and services for underserved consumers as an objective for the industry. She has become a nationally known expert on this topic, frequently quoted in national and financial press, including The New York Times, NPR’s Marketplace, and Washington Post, with major speaking engagements at a broad spectrum of industry and policy convenings.
Jennifer also launched CFSI’s annual conference, “Emerge: Consumer Financial Health Forum,” which presents cutting-edge thought leadership and showcases innovators, executives, and emerging companies in the financial services industries. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Jonathan Eig, and her children, Lillian, Lola, and Jeffery.
John Cleveland serves as Elevate Energy’s Board Chair. John is all about process and learning opportunities, and strongly believes that in order to change a system, one must have a deep understanding of the operating details of those systems. For example: If you want to make manufacturing more sustainable, you have to know how manufacturing works. The same goes for electricity supply—if you want to improve the grid, you have to know how utilities work alongside public commissions and energy supply. And, if you want to work on buildings, you better understand not only building science but also how city government works.
John’s approach stems from his earlier days in which he spent ten years doing strategic planning work for automotive suppliers (think stamping, injection molding, and sales). John is particularly interested in Elevate Energy’s hourly pricing programs. John was also involved with our multifamily buildings initiative and helped us establish new markets, opportunities, and platforms.
During the summer, John can be found out in the woods, in his flower garden, or enjoying his favorite warm weather hobby, which is building stone walls. In the winter, look for him on the ski slopes.
Kimberly Lewis is the Chief Equity Officer of Havenz Network in Waldorf, MD.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” Maya Angelou
After 18 years of experience and accomplishments, Kimberly Lewis knows better than anyone that market transformation begins with people. Kimberly is a catalyst and executive leader in the global green building movement, championing the critical issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion as the center of the sustainability and climate agenda worldwide.
With this vision Kimberly has recently transitioned to work with a diverse network of partners in service of a clean energy future that lifts ALL people and communities. Formerly Senior Vice President of Market Transformation and Development, North America for the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Kimberly directed USGBC’s 40 local community advancement teams (Chapters) along with members, volunteers and emerging professionals delivering on the USGBC mission to improve the quality of life for all through more sustainable buildings, cities, and communities worldwide. Under her leadership, the values of service and respect undergird people-centric strategies to provide the council and the movement with a strong foundation of stakeholder-based support. Kimberly’s love for people stems from a solid base of faith and family. She is a minister and past leader of women’s and youth ministries for Harvest United Ministries, Clinton, MD (United Churches of Jesus Christ – Apostolic.)
Kimberly is a movement builder who developed the award winning Greenbuild International Conference & Expo. Part market development platform and part tent revival, Greenbuild was created to propel thought leadership and be the epicenter for sustainability in the built environment and beyond. Under Kimberly’s guidance, Greenbuild became the largest sustainability conference in the world with an annual operating budget exceeding $15 million, 28,000+ attendees, 1500 exhibitors and sponsors, 700+ global speakers, and 500+ media outlets. In 2014, Greenbuild was acquired by Hanley Wood LLC (and later Informa) to grow the show and expand it globally. Recognizing the journey of women in the built environment, Kimberly fights for gender equality. She created, and lead, the global Women in Green (WIG) mentorship programs, summits, and events in the US, Brazil, China, Europe, India, and Mexico.
Margaret O’Dell joined Elevate Energy’s board in 2014. She is currently a senior fellow, writer, and editor for pfc Social Impact Advisors. For twenty years, she served as Program Officer for the Environment at the Joyce Foundation, where she oversaw the Foundation’s energy and environment grants.
Margaret has also served as Associate Director for Foundation Relations at the University of Chicago and managed the editing of more than 100 journals and periodicals published by the University of Chicago Press. A former board chair of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Margaret currently serves on volunteer boards including the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Surface Transportation Policy Project.
A lifelong resident of the Great Lakes region, Margaret is delighted to be able to contribute to Elevate Energy’s efforts to expand efficient and sustainable energy options to urban communities throughout the region and beyond.
Marty Cohen comes to the Elevate Energy board with an enormous wealth of experience in the energy industry, as he served as the Executive Director of the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) for 14 years. He was drawn to Elevate Energy’s work after he saw how we bring together utilities, consumer organizations, environmental groups, and advocates for and from low-income communities.
Before Marty worked at CUB, he held a rich variety of positions. In his earlier years, he was a potter, and started the Lillstreet Art Center 41 years ago, and it’s still going! He was a roadie for REO Speedwagon, and also did political work for various candidates including Harold Washington.
When he’s not doing consulting work for utilities and public interest groups, Marty can be found playing guitar at soup kitchens, golfing, or making pots in his studio. Marty is a long-time participant of ComEd’s Hourly Pricing program that we administer.
Scott Bernstein leads the work of Elevate Energy affiliate, Center for Neighborhood Technology, to understand and better disclose the economic value of resource use in urban communities, and helps craft strategies to capture the value of this efficiency productively and locally.
President Clinton appointed Scott to the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, where he co-chaired its task forces on Metropolitan Sustainable Communities and on Cross-Cutting Climate Strategies, and contributed to other federal advisory panels on climate change, development strategy, and science policy. Scott is a Fellow of the Center for State Innovation, a Board Member of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and Congress for the New Urbanism, and helped create the Chicago Climate Action Plan. Scott also offered strategies for incorporating location efficiency into Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton’s visionary plan to reduce the city’s poverty rate by 10% in 10 years.
Some key ideas in Scott’s work are that successful urban and metropolitan economies work best if founded on economies of scope or network economies as opposed to simple economies of scale, and that communities contain assets that too often are hidden, disconnected, or poorly deployed—all of which are changeable conditions. A beneficial result of these ideas is a blurring of the lines between “consumers” and “producers” of public goods.
Sharonda Williams-Tack joins us from National Sierra Club where she serves as the Associate Director of the Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program. She works to advance climate mitigation and clean energy initiatives in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia with a focus on environmental and economic justice.
Before Sierra Club, Sharonda was the Environmental Justice Liaison at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. She resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland with her husband, Eric Tack, and son Grayson.
Susan Page Estes
Susan Page Estes, aka Scotti, is an entrepreneur, technologist, and strategic problem solver. She’s built companies as well as digital art installations. She joined the Elevate Energy board because she is committed to neighborhoods and the power of collaboration for our collective local and global goal of smarter energy use for all.
Scotti is a founding partner of DesignHouseChicago, an organization committed to revitalizing local manufacturing through design, technology, and education. Her efforts utilize existing machines to help create jobs and educate people on skills needed for prototyping and manufacturing. With a strong local focus, her goals also include efficiency gains through lower travel and shipping costs.
Elevate Energy looks to Scotti for her extensive experience in technology, strategy, finance, job creation, and community building. When she’s not in the board room, Scotti can usually be found in her studio painting, making videos, or composing.