Don Nissanka is a serial entrepreneur with a global vision for strategic growth in the renewable energy market. He is one of the pioneers and driving forces in introducing advanced energy storage technologies in the United States, cited for actively being involved in the advancement of Lithium battery technology in the U.S. market and credited for building one of the first fully-automated lithium battery manufacturing plants in the United States. In his capacity as the Founder, President and CEO of Kokam America, he implemented a strategic plan to mass produce lithium batteries and was instrumental in the launch of power systems for the electric vehicle market. After a joint venture with Dow Chemical Company that enabled expansion of the company to support the automotive industry, Dow Kokam became one of the leading manufacturers of lithium batteries in the world. Don’s career involved an array of technology development and commercialization, ranging from fully electrifying a commercially-manufactured automotive power system using lithium batteries, to working in the aerospace and defense industry when he successfully launched a career developing energy solutions at Gates/Hawker Energy. Don started up the aerospace and defense division that was eventually acquired by Enersys Inc., the world’s largest industrial battery company. Under Don’s leadership, Enersys created its most lucrative portfolio of products that extended into power systems for commercial aviation, U.S. and allied-nation military aircrafts, ground vehicles and the prestigious nuclear submarine fleet of the U.S. Navy. Don’s experience includes working on advanced power systems for major defense OEMs like General Dynamics, Dassault, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. In 2010, Don formed Exergonix, Inc. to leap into the growing renewable energy market, and has industrialized technologies that would help increase efficiencies in the antiquated utility grid of today. Don earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) where he was honored in 2006 as the Distinguished International Alumnus of the Year. Today Don Serves as an advisor to several groups, including the UCM Missouri Innovation Campus, an idea Don originated with the President of the University to allow for a unique public/private partnership between education and industry. With a passion to bring education and advanced technologies together, Don has invested in a number of very strategic green-tech and other advanced technology companies. Don also serves on the Board of Trustees of MRI Global, the parent body of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the United States.
Brent Franzel is Senior Executive Vice President and also the founder and Principal at Cardinal Point Partners, a Washington, D.C. based government relations firm, and he serves as Executive Vice President of Neighborhood Power. He has more than 3 decades of experience in federal and state government. Brent began his career in 1981 on the legislative staff of then Missouri Governor Christopher S. Bond. In 1986, he was Director of Research and Policy Development on Senator Bond’s first campaign. He served as Legislative Counsel in Bond’s Senate Office and then was Staff Director of the Senate Subcommittee on International Finance. He left his political affiliation in 1996 and was a partner in the Washington, D.C. Law firm of Tighe, Patton, Armstrong, Teasdale where he headed the government relations practice. He served as Senior Advisor to the U.S.- ASEAN Business Council from 1996-2006 and Washington representative of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce from 1997-2006, as well as Washington representative of the American Chambers of Commerce in Japan, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia. Brent is a graduate of the University of Missouri and the Duke University School of Law and is one of the founders of Exergonix.
Ken Barnes is General Counsel and VP, and the founding member of the Barnes Law Firm which enjoys a nationwide practice. Ken received his B.A. with honors from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri– Kansas City School of Law where he was on the editorial staff of the Urban Lawyer. Ken is licensed to practice law in all state and federal courts in Missouri and Kansas, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Southern District of Illinois, the District of Colorado and the District of Oklahoma. In addition, Ken has been admitted to practice pro hac vice in numerous state and federal courts throughout the country. Ken has been successful in representing a wide range of areas of law, successfully arguing cases nationally. With the backing of his firm, Ken represents Neighborhood Power as General Counsel. Ken is also active in many civic and professional organizations. He is a member of the Missouri Bar, the American Association of Justice, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys where he has been elected by his peers to serve on the Executive Committee and Board of Governors. Ken has received the AV Preeminent rating with Martindale-Hubbell, has been listed in Super Lawyers, named Top Lawyers in Missouri and Kansas and has twice been named one of the Top 40 Under 40 lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Stephen Gates is the Founder and President of Neighborhood Power Corporation (NPC). He has been working in the renewable energy and appropriate technology fields for the past 12 years. His focus has been to mainstream the broad scale adoption of solar energy, mainly photovoltaic (PV), for use in distributed generation applications for homes and commercial spaces. Before founding NPC, Stephen co- developed one of the largest residential installations in the United States, Humming Bird Ranch in Simi Valley, CA with EE Solar. He pioneered Big Box store solar sales through Costco with Solar Systems International, and helped with one of the largest rooftop commercial installations in the United States, GM parts distribution center Ontario CA with ACS. Stephen has been featured designing and installing Solar Energy on HGTV and Discovery Channel’s Greenovate. Stephen and his wife, Deyla, have also been featured in Santa Barbara Magazine, in the Green Scene Issue, highlighting the couple’s ecological business and personal lifestyle. Stephen studied renewable energy at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Pomona. He also apprenticed with world renowned ecological designers, Sim Van Der Ryn and Nader Khalili as well as visionary business leader Rinaldo Brutoco at the World Business Academy.
Mike Weyant is the Head Electrical Engineer. Mike retired from the U.S. Air Force with over 32 years of experience working with aircraft electrical power systems. He gained experience with every different type of electrical generation and distribution system in the Air Force aircraft inventory. Mike worked closely with the Air Force Research Labs (AFRL), the US Navy, the FAA and industry OEMs to validate new technologies or products with potential military and commercial applications. Mike was with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/Engineering Directorate from 2006 to 2014 in the position of Electrical Power and Wiring System, Subject Matter Expert (SME). After his retirement, he established M Weyant Consulting LLC and worked as a consultant to provide system engineer and technical support to the aviation and renewable energy industry. Mike has a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Ohio State University and majored in Electrical Power, Generation and Transmission.