Joel is a seasoned non-dilutive funding professional. He has worked on both sides of the grantmaking process, including winning hundreds of millions of dollars from a wide range of non-dilutive funding sources in both the industrialized and developing worlds and awarding and overseeing the implementation of over a million dollars in grants while on the Coastal Fund’s Board of Directors. His other work ranges from engineering and high-tech manufacturing of bioenergy systems, to global clean energy project development, state-level climate policy, working with a state environmental regulatory agency, climate-related sustainable development, and academic climate research. He currently serves as a mentor and advisor at the Breakthrough Energy Fellows program, Third Derivative, Techstars, and Valley Ventures Accelerator, and is also a co-founder and advisor at The Climate Map. He holds a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School (summa cum laude), with a self-directed dual concentration in climate change and renewable energy, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara (magna cum laude).
Ross is a global operations executive and has worked in the climate impact space for the past decade. With a focus on building strong partnerships, he’s been a part of teams that have helped companies raise over $100M - almost all of which has been non-dilutive capital. From small family offices in California to the East African regional offices of the World Bank, Ross has worked to bring together coalitions of financiers to develop innovative fundraising strategies, solve critical challenges and quickly address acute liquidity crises. Ross enjoys working with early stage companies around the world and believes deeply in the power of mission-driven for-profit enterprise to solve some of humanity’s most intractable problems. Based in San Francisco, his passion is impact at scale and working closely with dedicated social entrepreneurs.
Victoria is an impact-oriented business leader and scientist with over 15 years of experience building complex projects from the ground up. She began her career with a doctorate and post-doctoral fellowship in Biology during which she authored 12 peer-reviewed publications, won a university award for Outstanding Graduate Research, and received competitive grants from National Geographic, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, among others, totaling approximately $400,000. She then went on to co-found and build Angaza, a climate-tech company focused on making life-changing solar electrification products radically more affordable for off-grid populations in emerging markets. To date, Angaza's technology platform has helped over 30 million people gain access to clean energy products worldwide and has been supported by over $800,000 in grants from USAID and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). Victoria is a mentor for the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and is passionate about contributing at the intersection of science and technology, global sustainability, and operational excellence.
Emelie Lucas is a Certified Research Administrator (CRA) with a Master’s of Science in Research Administration and Compliance from the City University of New York. Ms. Lucas has submitted over 700 grant applications and has aided in securing over $500M in federal, foundation, and industry funding over her eight years of experience working in grants, primarily in the public higher education setting. She has worked on both pre- and post-award grants processes and is also a grant reviewer for the Denver Foundation group. She has taken additional steps to better understand the needs for diversity in STEM fields by partaking in California State University Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) National Science Foundation (NSF) Ocean Science Community through Collaboration program (DOCC). The DOCC program aims to provide a model for how Minority Serving Institutions and Tier 1 Research Institutions can reframe how they collaborate and engage to address issues around modern challenges while integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) into their research.
Dr. Laura Ward is a cross-disciplinary researcher, connector, and facilitator in the climate tech space. With a research background spanning from social science to ecological conservation, she most enjoys working towards cross-sector solutions that prioritize climate and human health and well-being. Laura specializes in facilitating multidisciplinary collaboration from project ideation and design to implementation and publication, often serving as a liaison between science divisions and business teams. Most recently, she led partnership development and program innovation for an AgTech startup working to create more sustainable pollination systems. Laura holds a PhD in Environmental science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley and a BA in Liberal Arts from Saint Mary's College, where she received the departmental award in her major. In addition to her dissertation research, Laura received an award for outstanding teaching and served as a UC Cooperative Extension Fellow, Global Food Initiative Fellow, and Berkeley Connect Mentorship Fellow. She also has experience successfully securing academic grant funding. Laura spends her downtime reading novels, doing puzzles, bothering native bees, and trying to prevent her kiddo and two dogs from chasing the chickens around her yard in Sonoma County, CA.
Dr. John R. Tuttle is an entrepreneur, executive and technologist with 35 years of experience in the cleantech and energy industries. Most recently, he was Chief Strategy Officer at Emrgy, Inc., a clean energy company providing distributed hydropower products globally, and previously served as its COO & CTO. Previously, he was a Senior Commercialization Advisor at ARPA-E where his focus was distributed energy resources (DER), the grid, and innovation in capital funding of early-stage energy technologies. Prior to joining ARPA-E, he was Principal at Skypoint Energy Advisory Services where he provided management and technical consulting services to the energy industry. He also founded and led two start-ups (DayStar Technologies, Inc. and Skypoint Solar, Inc.) in the solar PV industry focused on new product development and innovative manufacturing. In the case of DayStar, he raised over $45 million, primarily in public equity, and transitioned the company from R&D to production with over 100 employees. Early in his career, Dr. Tuttle spent 11 years at NREL and is internationally renowned for his pioneering work in thin-film PV, including multiple world-record solar cells. Dr. Tuttle holds a Ph.D. in E.E from the University of Colorado, an M.S. in Physics from the Colorado School of Mines and a B.S in Engineering Physics from Cornell University.
Dr. Ron Godiska is a scientific writer and molecular biologist with over two decades of grant writing expertise. He specializes in designing highly effective grant aims and approaches, underpinned by expert writing and editing. Ron has developed and written dozens of winning grants worth over $15 million to advance climate smart technologies, human and canine therapeutics, applications of machine learning, methods of molecular biology, and clinical trials of drug candidates. His early career was focused on developmental DNA rearrangement at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle), followed by research on inflammation at ICOS Corporation (Seattle). His grant writing began in 2000 at Lucigen Corporation (Madison, WI), a successful small business venture in which the R&D was funded for over 15 years by 70+ SBIR grants. Dr. Godiska has been the Principal Investigator on several Phase I and Phase II SBIR grants and has worked with research teams worldwide to help them achieve innovative goals. In addition, he is the author or co-author of 23 peer-reviewed publications, 13 United States Patents, and dozens of manuscripts, user manuals, and marketing communications. Ron holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Indiana University in Bloomington and a B.S. in Biology from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Ashley Rivenbark is a project manager and scientific writer with over 10 years of grant writing, editing, and management experience. She has managed and submitted over 60 SBIR/STTR grants and has won over $15 million to advance a wide range of cutting-edge technologies. Ashley has over 20 years of extensive experience in editing research papers, grant applications, and text for scientists who do not use English as a first language. She earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with double minors in Genetics and Botany from North Carolina State University, and then earned a PhD in Toxicology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine studying cancer epigenetics. After obtaining her PhD, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center that was funded by the American Cancer Society focusing on epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation. Ashley has achieved an Excellence in Science Award from the American Society of Pathology (ASIP) and has published over 25 papers, reviews, and book chapters.
Emma is a social scientist and assistant professor with 8+ years of experience in qualitative research design, project management, and grant writing. Her expertise is in water management, flood risk, climate resilience, and urban adaptation, and she has been awarded more than $70,000 in grants and fellowships to support her research in sites across Indonesia, the Netherlands, and India. Emma is a co-founder of the Urban Climate Finance network, an international network that connects researchers across 22 countries to facilitate research on the deployment of climate finance in metropolitan areas. Outside of her professional life, Emma is a committed intersectional environmentalist who is passionate about slow fashion, natural dyeing, and the fibershed movement. She currently lives off grid in a yurt in Vermont. She has a Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA, an M.A. in Cities from King's College London, and a B.A. (Hons) in Geography from University College London.
Tuyen Le is a writer, scholar, and educator with over 10 years of experience in conservation policy, landscape change adaptation, international development, and environmental justice. She especially enjoys working with community stakeholders and building coalitions across scales, holding a deep belief that successful environmental initiatives are founded upon the careful consideration of local needs. Tuyen has a strong background in policy analysis, project development, stakeholder management, and technical writing, having developed, acquired funding for, and managed several multi-year, multinational research projects. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles and is a former Fulbright Fellow and American Council of Learned Societies Fellow.
Katherine brings a background in climate science and landscape ecology to Climate Finance Solutions. She has used past environmental records to understand how landscapes and vegetation responded to climate change events in the past, work that has brought her to lakes and wetlands all over North America. Funding this research has built much of her grant writing experience with organizations such as the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, and various programs within UCLA. She has also worked with California’s Department of Parks and Recreation to propose and fund new ADA-compliant wilderness trails and backcountry camping facilities. Katie is also affiliated with the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the beautiful state of Maine and is an avid hiker and open-water swimmer. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a M.S. and B.A. in Geology.
With a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Cheryl McWilliams started her professional career teaching kindergarten. After 10 years of teaching, she began graduate school, eventually earning a master’s in Business Administration, which afforded her the opportunity to move into program management. For 20 of 23 years on staff at Texas State University, Cheryl was a program director, serving first as director of two TRIO pre-college programs and later managing two TRIO Student Support Services programs. It was during her years as a TRIO director that she honed her grant writing skills. She has a 100% success rate with federal TRIO Upward Bound (UB), Student Support Services (SSS), and Educational Talent Search (ETS) grants, yielding $12M+. She recently played an integral role in crafting grant proposals that garnered perfect scores and secured more than $4.6 million in funding for Texas State University TRIO Upward Bound and McNair programs. After retiring from Texas State in 2018, Cheryl started a grant writing/consulting and music entertainment business, as well as working with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Dr. Dean Levi received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990. He joined the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) as a postdoctoral research fellow, utilizing ultrafast laser spectroscopy to determine how quantum structures enhance photo-electrolysis of water for solar production of hydrogen. He subsequently dedicated his 30-year career at the SERI / National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to advancing the science and technology of renewable energy. In 2007, became principal investigator and group manager of NREL’s Electro-Optical Characterization group. In this role he was responsible for scientific leadership, project management, personnel management, grant writing, and reporting to NREL’s funding sponsors at the US Department of Energy, securing $27M in funding over the next nine years. In 2016, he took over management of NREL’s world-renowned Cell and Module Performance group, securing $8M in funding over the next three years. During his time as principal investigator and group manager, he led major advances in the accuracy of calibrations of solar cell and module performance, making NREL the most accurate photovoltaic calibration lab in the world. He also led an effort to create the first e-commerce capability at any US National laboratory. Dr. Levi has published over 200 journal articles, conference proceedings, and scientific reports with over 7,500 citations and an H-index of 40.
Dr. Steven Fong is a microbiologist and molecular biologist with nearly four decades of experience as a research scientist and pharmaceutical regulatory affairs specialist. His background includes seven years of service as a National Cancer Institute scientist, during which he wrote and received intramural NIH grants totaling $2 million, and eight years of service as a principal investigator for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, during which he wrote for and received Department of Defense grants totaling $1.4 million. His early career focused on therapeutics, vaccines, and animal models for viral diseases, including HIV-1, alpha viruses, and Ebola. In 2008, he joined the FDA as a regulatory affairs microbiologist specializing in the aseptic manufacture of small molecule and biologic drugs where he conducted on-site inspections of domestic and international pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and participated in the reviews for several breakthrough therapeutics. From 2021 to 2022, Steve served as an Associate Director of Regulatory Affairs at Novavax, Inc., and helped the firm gain worldwide approval for the first-ever protein vaccine for Covid-19. Steve is a co-author for 17 peer-reviewed publications, and has presented talks and abstracts at 16 different international research meetings. He holds a B.A. in Bacteriology and Immunology from U.C. Berkeley, an M.S. in Microbiology from San Diego State University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Indiana University.
Lissa is a proven leader in organizational management, government relations, and fundraising, with over 20 years of experience building capacity for organizations and campaigns. Her expertise as a grant writer comes from working as a program manager and as a nonprofit executive director. She is also an experienced political organizer, who has secured funds for organizations and community projects through legislative appropriations. Lissa holds a BA in Rural Development and a Master's of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Alaska. She loves connecting with leaders and advocates and taking a personalized approach to helping them produce successful outcomes and winning results.
Danielle Frempong's keen interest in environmental sustainability and her experience in nonprofit management and grant writing drew her to Climate Finance Solutions. She strongly believes that innovative solutions are the key vehicle for environmental change and wants to help provide organizations developing new technology and new approaches with adequate resources to scale up. During her time on the Fundraising Team at Center for Civilians in Conflict, a Washington, DC-based NGO, she supported individual fundraising efforts by researching donor prospects and creating and managing a database of hundreds of donors. She also worked with The Prosp(a)rity Project to fundraise grants worth $1M. Danielle's experience in a range of other nonprofits, including International Christian Concern (in Maryland) and Community Aid Network (in Accra, Ghana), informs her understanding of how to fund and scale projects and programs with concrete impact. Originally from Ghana, Danielle is also very interested in and committed to climate-resilient sustainable development in West Africa. She holds a Bachelor's degree in International Development Studies and a minor in International Relations from Calvin University.
Dusty is a mover, shaker, and deal-maker. Living and traveling abroad at a young age gave Dusty an appreciation for nature, different cultures and types of people, and the connection between them. This led to studying how they were connected while earning a BS in Public and Environmental Affairs from the University of Indiana, Indianapolis, after which he embarked on a corporate career at large global enterprises. However, his parents were small business owners and they inspired him to deviate from the norm and take an entrepreneurial path. Dusty launched Pura Vida Ventures and dedicated the bulk of his career to introducing novel products and services that support environmental sustainability to markets around the world. As an entrepreneur and business development leader, he's created the strategies, tactics, and teams to scale across five global regions. Dusty has led business development and operations for a portfolio of ventures in biodiesel distribution, biomass gasification, energy efficiency, hospitality/recreation, and consumer products sectors. He has a knack for devising creative strategies and tactics that have generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of alliances and partnerships.
Christy is an entrepreneur, fundraiser, coach, and advisor with a background in institutional and corporate fundraising and design. She brings six years of experience in corporate philanthropy, including at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, a research institution and one of the world’s largest natural history museums. At the Academy, she worked alongside some of the world’s foremost climate scientists to develop strategic partnerships and secure millions of dollars in philanthropic funding annually for climate-focused scientific research and global conservation programs. She also helped develop and fund educational programs, exhibits, and events focused on conservation and climate. Christy’s coaching practice leads high-performing entrepreneurs to make more intentional, value-driven decisions and create successful mission-driven businesses. Her experience and guidance have helped define and drive CFS’ goals and impact.
CFS values diversity in (and does not discriminate on the basis of) race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, indigenous heritage, disability, or veteran status. CFS promotes equity with its climate projects and within its own team. Women, people of color, and indigenous people are especially encouraged to apply for positions with the company. CFS is a member company of Empowering Diversity in Clean Tech (EDICT).