Advisory Board

VA SUN’s Advisory Board is made up of solar supporters from around the Commonwealth. Each member brings a unique background and area of expertise to help more Virginians go solar. Read below to learn more about them.

Ruth McElroy Amundsen

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Ruth is an active member of the Hampton Roads solar community, working with the Hampton Roads Solar Home Tour and as a shareholder activist of Dominion Resources. Her home features a green roof with solar panels for both electricity and hot water, a rainwater cistern, a permeable driveway, and an electric car.

She is a thermal engineer at NASA Langley. Ruth earned a Bachelor’s in Physics from Stanford and dual Masters Degrees in Aerospace Engineering and materials Science and Engineering from University of Michigan. She is married with two sons. Her family’s home improvements can be viewed at their website.

Dennis has served as Shenandoah County coordinator for the Massanutten Regional Solar Co-op since May 2015. He joined this group through his work with Climate Action Alliance of the Valley. Dennis also serves on the boards of the Shenandoah Forum and Shenandoah County Historical Society, among other civic engagements.

He is retired, after a 40-year career in the Federal civil service, mostly in Emergency Management Preparedness.

Dennis Atwood

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Heather Braithwaite
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Heather has worked in the clean energy finance and policy fields for almost a decade. She is a Senior Associate with Harcourt Brown & Carey: Energy and Finance. Heather is responsible for assisting in the development and deployment of clean energy finance programs, assembling deals between private investors and private sector customers needing financing for energy efficiency projects, and consulting to city/state entities to help them support deployment of capital into various clean energy lending vehicles.

Heather holds a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in sustainability from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MBA from Pinchot University that focuses on sustainable systems

Pickett Craddock is the owner of the Oak Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, which went solar in 2012. Oak Grove and the town of Halifax co-sponsored the Halifax County Solar Co-op with VA SUN. Oak Grove added 32 solar panels to its array with the co-op.

Oak Grove Plantation recently won the Virginia Green award for the second year as the greenest bed and breakfast in Virginia. See www.oakgroveplantation.com.

She is also a longtime educator school administrator with Amazing Life Games pre-school in Washington, D.C. where she served as the director and program director from 1981 until 2008. Pickett graduated from Mary Baldwin College with a Bachelor’s in Spanish.

Pickett Craddock
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Howard Crystal
Howard Crystal is an environmental attorney with more than two decades of experience pursuing safe energy, public lands and wildlife protection, government transparency, and public health initiatives. He has litigated extensively in the D.C. Circuit and other courts, represented clients in Congress, and participated in agency administrative proceedings.

Howard’s current practice focuses on energy and the environment, including challenging harmful energy approaches and promoting clean, renewable energy initiatives, including Distributed Energy and Rooftop Solar.

Bishop currently serves as a member of the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps, group leader for Citizens Climate Lobby, and member of various local, state and national climate change/ environmental organizations. His educational and professional background is in engineering and law.

He worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry as well as practiced law in Florida and Virginia. Bishop also founded and ran a business in GIS and land records for several years. He has taught as a university adjunct instructor on legal subjects. Bishop has given numerous presentations and published numerous articles on GIS/land records law and policy, climate change and renewable energy. Bishop is an active jazz, band and orchestra trumpet player.

H. Bishop Dansby

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Kimberly Davis

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Kimberly applies compliance and policy solutions in environmental and urban infrastructure planning. Her career began at CARE International and then the City of New York. She served as Director of Environment at the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), and at consulting engineering firms serving municipal clients in water, wastewater, and storm water.

Kimberly’s focus has been in renewable energy since 2007. She managed finance and compliance for about 300 successful DG solar projects under the 1603 program; and served as Technical Program Director for the PV-America, San Jose; and SPI Orlando solar conferences. Kimberly is currently President of her consulting firm. She is a graduate of San Antonio’s Trinity University. She earned a Master’s in Urban Planning from New York University.

Carl has served as Halifax Town Manager since 2003. In this role, he worked with a group of more than 50 residents and business owners in Halifax County who successfully formed a co-op to go solar. Carl is currently a Trustee of the Chastain Home for Gentlewomen in Halifax. He worked with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) to establish a new historic district in Halifax, the “Town of Halifax Courthouse Historic District”.

Carl is excited about the physical and economic renewal taking place within the historic courthouse town, once called “the Capital of Halifax County”. He believes it will radiate greater opportunities for prosperity throughout the county while respecting and enhancing the area’s rural legacy by utilizing the sun’s abundant energy.

Carl Espy, IV
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Charles Gerena

Charles is the founder of Drive Electric RVA. Drive Electric RVA is an advocacy group that promotes electric vehicles as a fun, practical transportation alternative that also reduces energy consumption and air pollution. Charles and Drive Electric RVA are partners and members of the Richmond Community Solar Co-op.

He manages the web presence of the Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He currently focuses on using the tools of storytelling and digital communication to make economics relevant to people’s daily lives. Charles holds a Bachelor’s in Technical Writing from the New York Institute of Technology and is currently a member of the Online News Association.

Beth helped launch the solar group in Blacksburg, one of the first such campaigns in Virginia. Over the last few years, she has worked collaboratively with elected representatives and solar advocates from across the state to advance renewable energy opportunities in Virginia.

She is a Planning and Preparedness Program Specialist for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  She has a Bachelor’s in Natural Resources, cum laude, from Oregon State University, and is currently pursing a Master’s of Energy Regulation & Law from Vermont Law School. In her spare time, Beth works on renewable energy issues affecting the New River Valley.

Beth Lohman
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Joy Loving
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Joy has helped homeowners go solar across three co-ops. A solar homeowner herself, her system supplies all the electricity for her home’s needs. She continues to advocate for more solar power in Virginia whenever she can.

She lives in Rockingham County with her husband, moving there two decades ago for a relaxing place to live. They have three children and four grandchildren. Joy is a native Virginian and a graduate of Virginia Tech.

Gilbert is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, having earned a Ph.D in Public Policy & Administration. He has worked with VA SUN to provide a technical review of community solar prospects for the City of Richmond, as well as a feasibility study for a commercial sector bulk purchase program in the region.

He earned a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Southern Maine and a Master’s in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Business Executive Journal as the lead researcher for the Energy & Power segment, producing over forty organizational case studies.  He has published articles in Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports, Virginia Policy Review, and Public Administration Times. His research focuses on economic development and state renewable energy policies, particularly those to encourage solar photovoltaic deployment.

Gilbert Michaud
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Damian Pitt

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Damian is an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University. He incorporates service learning into many of his courses, and his students have completed energy policy research projects for VA SUN, among other groups. His research examines efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through state and local government approaches to renewable energy, energy conservation, transportation, and land use. He has published numerous academic journal articles on solar energy policy and climate change mitigation planning.

Prior to entering academia he worked for Cogan Owens Cogan, a land use, environmental planning, and public outreach consulting firm in Portland, Oregon.

Chris served as Arlington County’s point person for the County’s participation in the Arlington Solar Co-op. He works for the County as an Energy Analyst for the “Rethink Energy” Team. He works to realize the Arlington Community Energy Plan’s goals of reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions for residents and businesses. Previously, he worked at Rebuilding Together, a non-profit that provides free repairs to low-income homeowners, where he created and managed their energy program.

Chris is a graduate of Penn State and received a Masters from the University of Maryland. He is an avid fan of comedy and sports, especially soccer and basketball.

Chris Somers
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Scott Sklar
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Scott is a long-time renewable energy advocate, having served as the head of both the Solar Energy Industries Association and the National BioEnergy Industries Association. He now runs The Stella Group, Ltd., a technology optimization and strategic policy firm advancing the utilization of clean, distributed energy applications.

He also serves as Steering Committee Chair of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, composed of the renewable energy and energy efficiency trade associations and analytical groups, and sits on the national Boards of Directors of the non-profit Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. Sklar also serves as part-time Executive Director of the Center for Small Business and the Environment. He is an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University as well.

Hodges has always had a keen interest in wind and solar energy. And, after a visit to Ireland, where he witnessed the proliferation and benefits of wind and solar farms, Hodges became determined to encourage the use of clean energy. He has a solar array on the roof of his family home in Scottsburg, Virginia and is in the process of installing another system on his home in Newport, North Carolina.

He was employed with the Department of Defense as an Auditor, Contracting Officer and Contract Manager for thirty-one years before retiring in January 2000. Hodges  Hodges and his wife Stephanie resides in Newport, North Carolina about one mile from Emerald Isle. He is a graduate of Elon University with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and Business.

Hodges Throckmorton
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Sekar Veerappan
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Sekar has more than two decades of renewable energy experience. He was a leader of the Richmond Community Solar Co-op. A mechanical engineer, Sekar holds an Executive MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Sekar is also an active corporate member of The Richmond Temple, Hindu Center of Virginia.

Billy is the Executive Director of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals (AECP) and has served in this capacity for 17 years. AECP is a non-profit energy education and advocacy organization located in Floyd. Previous to this, he was the Weatherization Director for New River Community Action.

He is a certified Home Energy rater, holds a tradesman license as a Master in Heating, Ventilation, and Air –Conditioning (HVAC), is a licensed Residential Building Energy Analyst, is a past member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Green Building Council SW Virginia Chapter, serves on the Virginia Weatherization Policy Advisory Council, is a Board member of Sustain Floyd, a member of the City of Roanoke Clean and Green Committee, a member of the Virginia State Corporation Commission Consumer Education Advisory Board and is the past Executive Director of the Sustainable Living Education Center.

Billy Weitzenfeld
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Larry Wohlers
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Larry took a lead role in building the Rappahannock County Solar Co-op. He and his wife Ann retired and moved to Rappahannock County in the spring of 2014. He has long been interested in alternative energy for housing.

Larry spent 36 years with the US Department of State, with numerous postings around the world. He retired to Rappahannock County in 2014.