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Sophia Schuster is the Policy Fellow for Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation. Before joining Michigan EIBC, she served as the Strategic Procurement Intern for Pennsylvania State University’s Office of Central Procurement, where she led a variety of projects focused on process improvement and financial analysis.
While pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Environmental Studies, Sophia participated in several major research ventures that focused on the migratory patterns of humpback whales in Hawaii and the implementation of small-scale hydroelectric systems to bring electricity to rural communities in Bhutan. In these roles, she gained a deep appreciation for stakeholder engagement and relationship management in advocating for environmental policies and development projects.
This, combined with experience in the retail and education sectors, propelled her to pursue an MBA and a Master’s in Supply Chain Management from the Smeal College of Business at the Pennsylvania State University, where she sought to understand the business case for sustainable development. Her graduate research focused specifically on firm ESG behavior, best practices, and public communication in a saturated ESG index market.
Natalie Lyijynen is the Sustainable Business Associate for Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation. Before joining Michigan EIBC, she was a Peer Advisor for the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment, where she supported the academic advising and career services teams.
During her time in college, Natalie held internships advocating for clean energy policy and environmental justice. As an Energy and Arctic Policy Research Intern for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she worked with a coalition of professors and graduate students to research a possible energy transition and draft a report for the Alaska State Legislature. She was also a Global Water Crisis research assistant for the Michigan Quarterly Review, a graduate academic journal, where she helped to achieve a higher degree of inclusion in the journal’s solicitation process and conducted an interview project on the barriers faced in communicating climate and water issues. She volunteered her time as a Democratic Delegate for Bloomfield Township and a member of multiple student organizations focused on promoting campus-wide sustainability efforts.
Natalie is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Biology and Environmental Studies and minored in Sustainability.
Charlie serves as a Policy Associate for the Institute of Energy Innovation and Michigan EIBC. Prior to joining EIBC, Charlie worked as a Field Organizer for the Michigan One Campaign, working to elect President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and U.S. Senator Gary Peters. He was responsible for seven counties across Northern Michigan. Charlie also led the Grand Traverse County canvass program and staffed events with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Senator Peters, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
During his time in college, Charlie served as an intern in U.S. Senator Stabenow’s office where he served primarily on the Energy and Environment portfolio, while also handling an administrative workload. He also worked as a Press Intern at the Fordham University’s Institute for International Humanitarian Affairs where he conducted primary research on the intersection of climate change and human rights. In 2020, Charlie authored and published a paper on climate change and rights-based litigation in the Journal Climate Policy.
Charlie is a graduate of Colby College, where he majored in Political Science and received a minor in Environmental Policy. He was the captain of the Colby squash team and was elected to the NESCAC all sportsmanship team.
Justin Carpenter serves as the Director of Policy at Michigan EIBC. Before joining EIBC, Justin worked as a Legislative Director in both the Michigan House and Senate, managing the Senate Judiciary and House Energy Committees. He has worked with various stakeholders and policymakers on both sides of the aisle covering numerous energy issues.
During his time at Michigan State University, he also interned in the Michigan House of Representatives and served as Build Coordinator on the executive board of Michigan State’s Habitat for Humanity. Justin accepted his first paid position in the legislature as an executive assistant in the Michigan Senate during his senior year, before graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an additional major in Economics.
Brianna Gerard is the Senior Director of Development for Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation. Brianna focuses on the vital work we do through the cultivation of business memberships and expanding the engagement in and sponsorship of events. In her 15+ years of nonprofit development and operations work – in the arenas of public safety, environment and healthcare – she has learned to measure success by three key metrics: audience engagement, educational impact, and ability to serve a strategic purpose. Brianna is driven, both personally and professionally, by her passion to protect and improve the health and environment for all Michiganders.
Previously, Brianna worked as a Clinical Operations Manager for nine years at multiple Planned Parenthood health centers where she became an experienced and strategic leader in healthcare management. Prior to that, Brianna was a development and events specialist for five years with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). She credits MEC and her mentor, Lana Pollack, for initiating her into the professional path of social services.
Brianna grew up in northern Michigan, acquiring a early love for being outdoors including boating, hiking, skiing and biking, and she continues to return to her hometowns for her children to experience the same. She attended the Haworth College of Business, at Western Michigan University, where she earned her B.A. in Business.
Grace Michienzi is the Senior Director of Policy for the Institute for Energy Innovation and Michigan EIBC. Before joining Michigan EIBC, she served as a policy advisor to Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan on a variety of issues, including agriculture, Great Lakes, and human services. In that capacity, she collaborated with departments, stakeholders, and the legislature to develop and negotiate policy goals for the State of Michigan. Before becoming an advisor, Grace joined the Executive Office as a policy intern and worked on health and human services issues.
Previously, Grace was a GOTV staffer for the MI Democratic Party ahead of the 2020 election, where she planned and staffed campaign events for Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. During her time in college, she held internships in the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development, and MSU Extension. She also volunteered as a Solar Spring Break participant for GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that focuses on advancing economic and environmental justice through renewable energy.
Grace is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University, where she majored in Social Relations & Policy and received a minor in Science, Technology, & Environment Policy.
Tanya is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Institute for Energy Innovation and Michigan EIBC, and a Senior Consultant at 5 Lakes Energy. At IEI and Michigan EIBC, she will be specializing in cutting-edge research and energy policy development and analysis. In over two decades in the industry, Tanya has worked in both the public and private sectors on behalf of the Michigan Public Service Commission, Direct Energy, ITC Holdings, the Organization of MISO States, and most recently as President of the Michigan Electric and Gas Association. She has held various policy positions, working with state regulatory commissions and legislatures, MISO, FERC, and a variety of stakeholder groups. She also served in leadership roles as executive of two associations, and a director on several non-profit boards, advising on organization and policy strategy.
Tanya has a law degree from Michigan State University College of Law with a concentration in Environmental and Natural Resource Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Oakland University. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and President of the Energy Bar Association Midwest Chapter.
Tanya is co-founder and facilitator for Advancing White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) and is training to become a certified meditation teacher.
Dr. Laura Sherman is the President of Michigan EIBC and IEI. She most recently served as the organization’s Vice President for Policy Development and as a Senior Consultant at 5 Lakes Energy. In that capacity, she supported Michigan EIBC’s policy platform, including ongoing regulatory engagement at the Michigan Public Service Commission, policy initiatives, and legislative efforts.
Before joining Michigan EIBC, Laura served as the policy advisor to Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) on energy, agriculture, and environment issues. In that capacity, she led a team in Washington, D.C. and Colorado to develop legislation, analyze policy issues, and negotiate bipartisan solutions. Laura was involved in crafting the 2015 extensions of the renewable tax credits, advancing federal initiatives on building energy efficiency, and supporting land conservation efforts.
Laura received a B.S. in Geological and Environmental Science from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the University of Michigan. Her graduate and postdoctoral research utilized novel techniques to trace mercury pollution from sources like coal-fired power plants into rainfall and aquatic ecosystems across the Great Lakes Region.
Cory serves as the Vice President of Policy for the Institute for Energy Innovation and Michigan EIBC. He is also the creator and Director of the Michigan Clean Energy Leaders Project and was a 1 Hotels Fellow through Environmental Entrepreneurs and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Previously, Cory was Chief Operating Officer at Levin Energy Partners where he helped develop and deploy the company’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) finance marketplace, called Lean & Green Michigan. Before joining Levin Energy Partners, Cory was a Senior Research Associate at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC, working on clean energy policy in the US and abroad. He has also held positions with 5 Lakes Energy, the Green Economy Leadership Training (GELT) program in Detroit, the U.S. Department of State, and Fundacion Biosfera (Argentina).
Cory has been a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute, Automation Alley, & New Leaders Council. In 2012 Cory was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 for Law and Policy, in 2016 he was named a Clean Power Player by Environmental Entrepreneurs, and in 2018 he was named one of 40 Under 40 by Midwest Energy News. His writing has been featured by the Environmental Law Forum, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Roosevelt Institute. He is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University where he majored in International Relations and specialized in Environmental Economics & Policy.
Liesl Eichler Clark is President of Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation. Under her leadership, Michigan EIBC has become the premier organization dedicated to advanced energy business interests in Michigan. Michigan EIBC serves the objectives of member companies by strengthening the Michigan network of advanced energy businesses, engaging the public and policymakers around policy and regulatory initiatives, creating partnerships to expand business opportunities, and advancing energy innovation.
In 2010, Liesl co-founded 5 Lakes Energy, a nationally recognized policy consulting firm offering services to the public and private sectors in clean energy policy development, research and analysis, and sustainability practices. Under Liesl’s leadership, 5 Lakes has provided client services in 16 states. The firm’s capabilities and vision have made it a trusted source for businesses, policymakers, and other stakeholders seeking to advance the transition to a clean energy economy.
Throughout her career, Liesl has built a reputation in collaborative policy development. She has been instrumental in building relationships between the clean energy business community and state and federal policymakers, while engaging lawmakers and regulators in the process. Prior to co-founding 5 Lakes Energy, Liesl held several positions in Michigan state government including: Deputy Director for Energy Systems at the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth; Policy Adviser to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm on energy, agriculture, environment and natural resources issues including the 2008 Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act; and Policy Adviser for renewable fuels and legislative liaison in the Michigan Department of Agriculture. She was also a Consultant for Accenture.
Liesl earned her a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Michigan State University (MSU) while working full-time, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Economy from MSU’s James Madison College. She has also completed the Great Lakes Leadership Academy and serves on local community boards.
Kaitlyn Beyer serves as the Programs Associate for Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation. Kaitlyn’s work focuses on communications, research and writing, and assisting with events.
Kaitlyn brings past experience in community organization and communications. In her previous position, Kaitlyn managed a State House campaign in northern Michigan.
Kaitlyn graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Social Relations and Policy, a second major in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy, and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. While at MSU, she held internships at a communications firm, a gubernatorial campaign, and a legislative office, as well as working for the university’s Department of Student Life.