Brandi Colander is an attorney and sustainability practitioner with public policy expertise who has testified before Congress and state governing bodies. Her work across sectors including advocacy, public service and corporate have allowed her to cultivate strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. As the Chief Sustainability Officer at WestRock Company she led the development and execution of a strategy to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to customers around the world including the commitment of a science based target (SBT). Prior to joining WestRock she was a Principal at The Raben Group, supporting clients by advancing their policy and strategy needs, as well as Head of External Relations with Charter Communications creating diverse partnerships and philanthropic investments. Her public service includes a Presidential appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior advancing policy and regulations for the nation’s four energy development bureaus as well as Deputy General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Colander serves as the Board Chair of the DC Green Bank Board of Directors, Yale School of the Environment Leadership Council member, and Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy board. She earned her Master of Environmental Management at Yale University, J.D. from Vermont Law School, and Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning from University of Virginia. Colander is a licensed attorney and member of the Supreme Court of the United States. She resides in Washington, DC with her family and affectionate but obstinate dog.
Venture – Advisors Downstate
Zach Nies is Managing Director at Techstars for the Boulder program and a member of the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His whole career has been dedicated to entrepreneurship at startups and inside large companies. He is using that experience guided by his core value of Learn, Do, Teach, Learn to help companies of all sizes successfully bring new products and services to market. At CU, he is an Advisory Board Member for the Silicon Flatirons Center and an Executive Advisory Board Member for the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Before joining Techstars, Zach was Chief Technologist at Rally Software.
As Director of Investments for Clean Energy Ventures, Lou brings more than twenty years of experience as a technologist in large and small companies and investing in early and growth stage companies. In his investing role, Lou works with deal teams to source, screen, and diligence new investments, as well as support portfolio companies on technology, markets, strategy, and commercialization.
Prior to joining Clean Energy Ventures, Lou was co-founder, partner, and CTO at NewWorld Capital, which focused on investments in later stage clean energy companies. Notable investments at NewWorld included a pre-IPO round with Solar Edge and growth round with Astrum Solar.
Prior to NewWorld, Lou served as a Managing Director at Ritchie Capital, a hedge fund, where he oversaw a legacy portfolio of energy and environmental businesses. Prior to Ritchie, he also ran the high-power product line of direct methanol fuel cells for MTI micro overseeing a team of engineers developing battery replacement technologies for military and civilian application.
From 1997 to 2005, Lou held a variety of positions at General Electric’s Corporate Research and Energy groups. Lou facilitated GE’s entrance into both solar and wind energy. He also led GE’s solid oxide fuel cell program which developed novel cathode materials, hybrid cycles, and unique deposition-based manufacturing processes. In his role as head of the solid oxide fuel cell program, Lou led a team with more than 100 scientists and researchers in five facilities and participated in strategic partnership negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, and government relations.
Lou currently serves on the advisory committee for National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine Climate Communications Initiative and has participated in expert panels and the assessment of ARPAe awards. Lou is an active speaker at energy and technology conferences and has established a strong network of relationships with national labs and university technology and TLOs to help commercialize innovative technologies.
Lou was trained as a physicist and co-authored papers in accelerator physics, space physics, and biophysics as well as earning ten granted US patents. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Union College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.S. in Physics from Cornell University.
Ramsay is a Partner at Earthshot Ventures, a new venture capital fund launched to support entrepreneurs tackling climate change. The fund is designed to bring together new and existing networks in the climate tech space to more rapidly scale critical solutions. Previously, Ramsay worked as the managing director Elemental’s accelerator. She looked after core accelerator functions: the portfolio of 117 companies, the accelerator curriculum, dealflow e ngine, and the selection process.
Ramsay has worked in climate tech commercialization. She supported the growth of Sequoia and DBL-backed smart metering startup eMeter which was acquired by Siemens AG. Following the acquisitions, she supported the international expansion of eMeter’s software technology through channel partners in the Asia Pacific region. Prior to that, she developed solar PV projects for public sector clients in Northern California.
Ramsay graduated with a Bachelor of Policy, Management and Planning with a Minor in Architecture from the University of Southern California. She also holds a Master of Planning and Design from the University of Melbourne with a graduate research thesis on smart grid planning and communication.
Outside of the office, she is an artist, traveler, and data enthusiast.
Alex is currently heading IKEA Energy Services — a business on a mission to democratize clean energy. He also leads sustainable innovation and corporate business development, related strategic investments and partnerships. Before joining IKEA, Alex headed global functions across R&D, Engineering, and Supply Chain for leading multinationals in the Food Processing & Packaging, Medical Device, and Automotive industries. His experience also includes seeding and advising startups in different sectors.
Alex holds Mechanical and Industrial Engineering degrees from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Spain) and Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Denmark), an Executive M.B.A. with specializations in sustainability and innovation from University of Reading, University of Cambridge, and Harvard Business School respectively (UK and US).
Following a passion for sustainability driven business development, innovatio, and entrepreneurship, Alex enjoys investing in and engaging with organizations driving sustainable growth and positive impact. He lives with his family in Malmö, Sweden.
Pulakesh is Managing Partner at Imperative Ventures. Before Imperative, Pulakesh spent ten years at BASF Venture Capital sourcing and executing investments in the energy, agriculture, chemical, and industrial sectors. During that time he served as a director or observer on the boards of early stage technology companies. Prior to his role in venture capital, Pulakesh gained over ten years of experience in international business development, sales, marketing, and chemical process scale-up while working at BASF. He serves on the NREL Investor Advisory Board and is an advisor and mentor at Cyclotron Road and Creative Destruction Lab.
Pulakesh has a PhD from Stanford University and a M.Sc. from IIT Kanpur, India. He has published in peer-reviewed journals and has co-authored more than 15 patents.
Seth is a partner and co-founder at Boulder-based Foundry Group focusing on making early-stage technology investments, participating in select growth rounds, and identifying and supporting the next generation of venture fund managers. In addition to his work at Foundry, Seth is active in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem as a founding board member of The Unreasonable Institute, an advisor to Palestinian-focused venture fund Sadara, and advisor to Nairobi-based Ingressive Capital, as well as an advisor and mentor to a number of other venture funds and companies globally. Seth co-founded Pledge 1%, a global network of over 7,000 companies who have pledged equity, time and product back to their local communities. He founded Colorado Entrepreneurial By Nature and is also on the board of StartupColorado, which promotes entrepreneurship in areas of Colorado outside of the front range. He is a Trustee of Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. You can find him on Twitter at @sether or online at www.sethlevine.com.
Rasha is the Chief Product and Sustainability Officer at Aspen Technology. She is a seasoned executive and innovation leader with a proven track record in product management, product marketing, engineering, strategy, planning, and lean thinking. Over a series of leadership roles for Trane Technologies, GE, SAP, Hitatchi, Lucent Technologies, and GM, Rasha developed a keen sense of transforming the customer experience through data-driven solutions. Throughout her career, she has consistently leveraged her technical and business background to bridge the gap between market expectations and technology solutions in engineering-driven companies.
Rasha is also Executive Director of Trane Technologies’ Center for Healthy and Efficient Spaces (CHES). The center serves as a convening resource to unify and scale strategies and solutions to create safer, healthier, and more efficient environments across the breadth of the company’s business portfolio – including spaces in homes, buildings, and transportation. As executive director, she leads engagement with integrated internal and external advisory councils and technology partners. In leading both innovation and CHES, she is the focal point for Trane Technologies on the topics of indoor environmental quality, bringing innovative thinking and a customer focused approach to this critical topic.
Amy is Founder and Managing General Partner of Buoyant Ventures, a new venture fund in Chicago that aims to invest in digital climate solutions for energy, transportation, agriculture, and the built environment. Her career spans over 20 years of high technology entrepreneurship, private equity, and research. Amy previously founded and led Energize Ventures, a $165M venture fund that invests in digital technologies that optimize energy equipment and infrastructure. She oversaw the Fund’s investment activities and operations. She also co-founded and served as CEO of technology accelerator Clean Energy Trust, which has invested in dozens of early-stage clean energy companies across the Midwestern U.S. She remains involved and now serves as Chair of its Board of Directors. Amy also held roles at private equity firm MVC Capital, helping to open the Chicago office, and at Stanford Research Institute where she worked on an early version of the voice recognition technology that became Siri. Earlier in her career, she was Co-Founder and CEO of a consumer technology company that was funded by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, and that she sold to the Danish toy company, Lego Systems. Amy also helped fundraise for mobile gaming company, GluMobile, on whose board she served until it went public on the NASDAQ.
In addition to the Clean Energy Trust board, Amy serves on the Advisory Board for the WISER Institute at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 2020, Crain’s recognized her for the third time as one of Chicago’s Top 50 Technology Leaders. In 2019, she was honored by Streetwise as one of the “20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans.” In 2015, she was an Emerging Leader at the Chicago Council for Global Affairs. In 2014, she was awarded the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award from the Executives’ Club of Chicago, and Leading Woman in Technology from the Illinois Technology Association. Amy is a regular lecturer in energy and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago’s Law School. She has a B.A. from Stanford University.
Amy lives in Lake Forest, IL with her husband and two teenage daughters.