Smart Energy Initiatives Panel

Mark Pruitt
Mark Pruitt (Moderator)
Principal for the Power Bureau

Mark Pruitt serves as Principal for the Power Bjulieureau and advises municipalities, institutions and project financiers operating in the energy sector. Mark served as the first Director of the Illinois Power Agency – the state agency responsible for securing wholesale electricity and renewable energy for the 4.7 million residential and small commercial accounts located in Illinois.  His hedging strategies over $1.6 billion in cost savings for Illinois utility customers. Mark holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts from Bradley University.

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Deirdre Coughlin
Acting Energy Division Manager, Office of Energy & Recycling, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Deirdre Coughlin has been the Acting Energy Division Manager of the Office of Energy and Recycling at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity since January, 2015, also serving as the Energy Finance Manager.  Prior to working in the Energy Office Coughlin managed the budgets of several Department offices for twelve years. Coughlin manages the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards programs with an annual budget of $76 million for electric and gas programs statewide for the public sector, low income and market transformation programs statewide.

Edward Kriz
Edward Kriz
Program Manager Energy Efficiency, Nicor Gas

Edward is an energySMART program manager at Nicor Gas. In this position, Kriz oversees the resources and rebates available to commercial and industrial customers as well as small business owners to manage their energy use, reduce overhead costs and strengthen their bottom line. Kriz has over 30 years of experience working in the energy, environmental and engineering industries. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois – Chicago. Kriz also earned certification from Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart Graduate School of Business in environmental management, specifically in compliance and pollution prevention. Kriz and his family are over 20-year residents of Naperville.

Neal Latham
Neal Latham
CEM Senior Energy Efficiency Program Manager, ComEd
Senior Program Manager – C&I Energy Efficiency, Commonwealth Edison

Neal is responsible for development, delivery, and management of energy efficiency programs for commercial and industrial customers in the ComEd service territory. He directs program administrators accountable for implementation of programs and pilots. Prior to joining ComEd, Neal gathered over 20 years of manufacturing experience in various roles including Regional Sustainability Manager for a global candy producer. He was responsible for driving and executing energy efficiency and water-saving projects while working with the global sustainability strategy team. Prior to this, Neal served in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear mechanic aboard a fast-attack submarine.

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Patrick Michalkiewicz
Manager, Energy Efficiency and Major Accounts, Peoples & North Shore Gas

Patrick is the Manager – Energy Efficiency, Major Accounts for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, subsidiaries of the WEC Energy Group. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of their energy efficiency programs, as well as the utilities’ commercial and industrial account management functions. Patrick currently serves on the National Governors Association Policy Academy for Energy Efficiency, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance Board of Directors, Illinois Energy Education Council and Retrofit Chicago Steering Committee. He has more than 34 years of experience in the utility industry which has included various engineering and management positions in nuclear power, gas supply, sales, marketing, mergers & acquisitions and customer service. Patrick is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Ken Woolcott
Ken Woolcutt
Manager Energy Efficiency, Ameren

Ken Woolcutt, CEM, is employed with Ameren Illinois as the Manager of Energy Efficiency. Since 1987, Ken has worked in the utility industry and has held a number of positions in customer service, materials management, and regional operations. In his current role he supervises the Energy Efficiency Program Manager who administer the business and residential programs for Ameren Illinois.

Sustainable Materials Strategic Plan Panel


Carol Staniec USEPA Region 5 (Moderator)

Carol Staniec has over 30 years of Federal and State experience in the CAA (air), CWA (water) and RCRA (land) programs at EPA.    As the regions’ pretreatment program’s enforcement manager she oversaw, both, POTWs with approved pretreatment programs and industrial users in the states of Illinois and Indiana, for compliance with their NPDES effluent guidelines, storm water and permit requirements.  She now works in the Material and Municipal Industrial Section, on waste to energy projects, and currently is one of seven team members on the national EPA’ core anaerobic digestion team, recently publishing, “Anaerobic Digestion and its Applications”.    She also oversees the Subtitle D and Recycling programs for the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.  Carol has been the federal government liaison to the Illinois Recycling Association since 2010.

Gary Cuneen
Founder & Executive Director, Seven Generations Ahead

Gary Cuneen is the Founder and Executive Director of Seven Generations Ahead (SGA), a non-profit organization serving the Chicago metro area, Illinois and Midwest since 2001 through its mission to promote ecologically sustainable and healthy communities. During the past 15 years, Gary has designed and managed SGA programs, directed sustainability planning and implementation initiatives, and has catalyzed the creation of statewide and regional networks, including the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, Illinois Farm to School Network and Fox Valley Sustainability Network. Since 2004, Gary has served in a leadership capacity to advance farm to school and healthy eating initiatives across Illinois, and to promote community and school-based zero waste processes and education. Gary is the co-founder of Green Town: The Future of Community, a conference targeting leaders from the Chicago area and Midwest to learn about leading edge sustainable city initiatives and best practices.

John Edel
Founder of Plant Chicago & owner of Bubbly Dynamics

John Edel is both an eco and social entrepreneur. His most recent endeavor, The Plant, is a project combining adaptive industrial reuse and aquaponics to create the nation’s first vertical farm and food-business incubator. Located in a former meatpacking facility in Chicago’s historic Stockyards, The Plant will be powered entirely by the waste of neighboring businesses. John also is the owner and developer of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As General Contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100% occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading edge technology to make the building exceptionally energy efficient and pleasantly non-toxic. The renovation was assisted by a core group of volunteers and by bartering with suppliers, tenants and scrappers. The building’s green roof is a photo of Edel’s daughter Zoe rendered in 9,600 sedum plants, each of which is a pixel in her image. In previous careers, Edel taught computer graphics, designed sets for broadcast television, art directed video games and worked as a chef on private railroad cars. He has a lifelong dream of combining industrial preservation, agriculture and food production in a sustainable fashion.

Nick Menniga
General Manager, Downer Grove Sanitary District

Nick Menninga has spent his 32 year career in the wastewater industry, as a regulator, a consultant, and a utility manager.  He is active in professional associations, helping advocate to transform the wastewater industry into one of resource recovery and use.  He has a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois, is a registered professional engineer in Illinois, holds a Class 1 wastewater operator’s certificate from Illinois EPA, and is a Diplomate with the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

Julie Schilf
US EPA Region 5, Sustainable Food Management

Julie currently works in the Municipal and Industrial Materials Section of the Materials Management Branch, Land and Chemicals Division, at the US EPA. She is the regional coordinator for EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, a component of the Sustainable Materials Management program which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed. Julie is also the Region 5 coordinator EPA’s WasteWise program. WasteWise is a free, voluntary EPA program through which organizations eliminate costly municipal solid waste and select industrial wastes, benefiting their bottom line and the environment. Prior to her position in LCD, She worked as an ORISE (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education) intern in the Superfund Division (2005-2009) where she performed Institutional Control mapping and learned subsurface contamination migration modeling with EarthSoft software.

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Jim Slanina
Founder and President, EnviroPure

Jim Slanina, Founder and inventor of the EnviroPure technology has an engineering and product development background with over 30 years’ experience in manufacturing in senior executive roles. After owning a small contract manufacturing company for over 10 years Jim started EnviroPure in Chicago almost 7 years ago spending over 3 years on research and development of the technology. Several years ago the company was acquired by T&S Brass out of South Carolina. EnviroPure now has its engineering and manufacturing headquarters in Travelers Rest South Carolina.

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Cathy Scratch
Founder and President, Feed Earth Now

While working as a Waste and Recycling Consultant for her own company, Green Planet Waste & Recycling Solutions, and during a routine waste audit, Cathy discovered that a local Michigan Ave. hotel was generating more than 7 tons of food scraps a week from just their food prep kitchens alone, the equivalent of sending 7 elephants (in volume) to the landfill each week! This prompted the Cathy to began researching options for large scale food scrap recycling. After consulting with many experts on alternate sciences and technologies, Feed Earth Now created a unique process that rapidly converts large volumes of organic matter into a high value liquid probiotic for soil. Feed Earth Now was the recipient of the 2014 FSCRAP Grant and received more than $200k in funding to build the first industrial scale food scrap fermentation plant of it’s kind.This new process is a truly sustainable method of food scrap recycling and 10 times faster than composting.


Rick Shipley
Chief Executive Officer at Organix Recycling, LLC

Rick Shipley has over 18 years of experience recycling commodities across a broad range of industries.  Mr. Shipley is an expert in developing large scale recycling programs that meet both operational and financial needs for clients.  He currently serves as Chief Executive Officer at Organix Recycling, LLC, a company he co-founded in 2010 to meet a growing and desperate need to divert food scraps from landfills and redirect them for re-purposing.  In 6 short years, Organix has become the largest collector and recycler of retail food scraps in the U.S., diverting more than 1,000,000 tons since inception.

Electronic Recycling Panel

Representative Emily McAsey 85th District (Moderator)

Emily McAsey is a full-time state representative serving the 85th District, where she continues a commitment to public service she first began as a middle-school teacher and criminal prosecutor. While Illinois has taken important steps to prioritize spending tax dollars more efficiently and making sure the state pays its bills, Emily knows much more must be done to get our state back on the right track. She has supported state budgets that protected crucial dollars for schools, health care, public safety, and needed care for seniors and veterans, while reining in unnecessary spending. She is fighting against unfair property tax increases by supporting legislation that freezes property taxes when home values decline.

As a former criminal prosecutor, Emily understands firsthand the dangers sex offenders pose to our communities. She sponsored a bill to close a loophole in the law and keep violent sexual offenders off the streets and out of our communities. When it was discovered that some rapists have been able to avoid justice because evidence is sometimes not processed quickly enough, Emily supported efforts to give prosecutors more time to put these dangerous rapists behind bars. McAsey has worked to make sure that those who take advantage of seniors cannot financially benefit from their actions. She sponsored a law to make sure those who are found guilty in a civil court of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person are unable to receive property or other assets following that person’s death.

A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Emily began her professional career as an eighth-grade social studies teacher. While teaching, she went to law school at night, graduating with honors from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. After graduation, she joined the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, where she worked as a criminal prosecutor.

McAsey’s full-time constituent service office works with residents who need assistance accessing local, state and federal services. McAsey hosts an annual senior fair so she can personally listen to the thoughts and concerns of local elderly residents and update them on new laws and available services. Continuing her commitment to serving young people that began with her career as a teacher, Emily also hosts an annual mobile zoo event, in partnership with the Brookfield Zoo, for children with developmental disabilities.

Walter Alcorn
Vice President of Environmental Affairs, Consumer Electronic Association

Walter Alcorn is Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Industry Sustainability at the Consumer Technology Association.  He manages legislative initiatives impacting electronic product recycling, design, eco-labeling and hazardous materials restrictions. He currently coordinates CTA’s eCycling Leadership Initiative and serves as an advocate for the CE industry on Capitol Hill, before regulatory agencies and state legislatures on a range of sustainability and related issues.

Jeff Degarmo
Commodities Purchasing Manager, URT Solutions

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Richard Hipp
President & CEO, Kuusakoski Recycling

Richard Hipp is the President & CEO of Kuusakoski US, a leading recycler with a 100+ year history of innovation. During his 2 years with Kuusakoski US, he has lead the organization through start-up operations in Illinois, the acquisition and integration of Vintage Tech Recyclers, and a turnaround driven by an industry-wide global recession in the commodities market. Mr. Hipp brings 25+ years of electronic product development and manufacturing experience to role. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hipp lived in Hong Kong where he led Southco Asia Pacific, a global designer and manufacturer of electronic access hardware, with design and manufacturing centers in China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia. Mr. Hipp currently serves on the Board of Directors for Laminators Inc. in Hatfield, PA, a leader in composite building materials, and on the Advisory Board for Arco Display Company of Philadelphia PA, a leading designer and green manufacturer of retail displays. Mr. Hipp received his Executive MBA from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. and his Bachelors degree from Widener University in Chester, PA.

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Adam Jaquet
Vice President, Eagle Enterprises Recycling, Inc.

Adam Jaquet is Vice President of Eagle Enterprises Recycling, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Recycling Association.  Adam grew up in recycling, working with his parents in the business since the age of 10. He obtained his B.S. from Western Illinois University in 2005. In 2008 he returned full time to recycling. At Eagle, he does all bidding and pricing, and coordinates new community recycling programs. He also manages Eagle’s electronic recycling program, which has been operating for ten years and has served twelve counties, all from a single collection location.

Jennifer Jarland
Recycling Program Coordinator for Kane County, IL

Jennifer Jarland has been the Recycling Program Coordinator for Kane County, IL for the last 5 years. Before that she was with Boulder County, CO as Zero Waste Specialist. Her work for the last year has been largely focused on negotiating the stormy seas of electronics recycling in Illinois. While managing, improving, and expanding recycling programs for Kane County, she also works with fellow Illinois County and Agency colleagues on broader state issues, such as food scrap composting, electronics recycling, and product stewardship initiatives. She is currently a Director of the Board for the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, and was on the Board of the Illinois Recycling Association for two years 2013-2015.

Marta Keane
Recycling Program Specialist Will County Land Use

A graduate of DeSales University in Pennsylvania, Ms. Keane began her environmental career in 1988 working at a recycled greeting card company in Chicago. She successfully created a Green Team at a fortune 500 company then joined the public sector as a Recycling Coordinator for the City of St. Charles and became one the first State of Illinois certified Recycling Trainers.  She helped numerous businesses, earned an award for multi-family recycling and went on to become the City of Naperville’s only Environmental Programs Administrator

There, Ms. Keane ran one of the busiest Household Hazardous Waste collection sites in the United States.  She offered residents the first mid-west electronic recycling event in 1996. She excelled at building private-public partnerships for Earth Day celebrations, collection funding and educational efforts.

Ms. Keane returned briefly to the east coast in 2005 to run Delaware’s award winning school recycling education program. In 2006 Ms. Keane came back to Illinois to become Will County’s first Recycling Program Specialist. Since joining the County, she has forged partnerships with municipalities, townships and businesses to create more recycling drop-offs for traditional items, electronic items and medications. As part of a team, she worked on the County Energy Plan and created the County’s Green website, offering energy efficiency, water conservation, composting and recycling information to tens of thousands of residents and businesses annually.

Over the course of her career she has served on the Illinois Recycling Association board for a total of 12 years, filling the role of secretary, treasurer, VP and President at various times. She spent two years on the SWANA-IL board, was very honored to serve on the Illinois Statewide Recycling Taskforce, and currently serves as Chair of the Illinois Product Stewardship Council.

Melville Nickerson
Executive Director, Illinois Recycling Association

Melville Nickerson, is the Executive Director of the Illinois Recycling Association and the Director of Government Affairs for Accurate Strategies.  Melville is the former  Deputy Director of Illinois’ Energy & Recycling Office where he enacted several sustainable initiatives such as, a $4.6 million clean energy investment fund, an energy storage grant program and a waste water treatment facility energy efficiency program. He is credited with numerous legislative successes that include the Illinois Electronic Recycling & Reuse Act, the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act as well as other legislative initiatives that protect and advance the interest of the recycling industry and the environment. Melville was named the 2011 Recycler of the Year and a 2008 Green Revolutionary by the Illinois Recycling Association and the Museum of Science and Industry respectively.

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Jerry Peck
Associate Director of Government Affairs, Illinois Manufacturing Association

Jerry Peck is the Associate Director of Government Affairs at the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.  Founded in 1893, the IMA is the oldest and largest manufacturing trade association in the nation.  Mr. Peck advocates on behalf of nearly 4,000 manufacturers representing transportation, energy, heavy equipment, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other manufacturing sectors. 

In addition to advocating for manufacturers before the Illinois General Assembly and Governor’s Office, Peck leads the Manufacturers Environmental Group representing the industry on environmental and regulatory issues before the Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies. 

Prior to joining the IMA, Peck worked as a contractual lobbyist representing steel, energy, pharmaceutical and insurance companies in Illinois.  In addition, Peck is an Emmy Award winning journalist who worked in television for over a decade including a stint as an embedded war correspondent in Afghanistan.

errence Sheahan
Environmental Engineer- City of Chicago Department of Public Health

Terry Sheahan works for the City of Chicago as an Environmental Engineer.  He is currently with the Chicago Department of Public Health and manages the Hazardous Materials Program and the City’s Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility (HCCRF).  Terry helped open the HCCRF back in 2008 and since then, they have collected over 3 million pounds of e-waste and 2 million pounds of household hazardous waste from Illinois residents.