These fellows imagined and designed SunCommon, and are co-managing its execution. Duane and James have been working side-by-side for 3 years, and compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses well to make an effective and fun team.
Duane Peterson, Co-President
Duane is responsible for SunCommon’s marketing, internal business operations (finances, legal, IT, HR – that’s Happiness Resources, culture) and investor relations. He’s a social entrepreneur with an eclectic 35-year career in socially responsible business, campaign management, government service and community involvement. He moved his family from California in 1996 to Vermont where he worked as Chief of Stuff at Ben & Jerry’s for 12 years — getting to execute Ben Cohen’s creative vision. Committed to advancing values-led business models, he’s a member of the national Social Venture Network, Vermont Venture Network and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. And he serves as a Director on the Boards of the HowardCenter and VPIRG. Duane lives in Essex with his wife of 23 years and their two teenaged sons, getting by on little sleep.
James Moore, Co-President
James manages all things solar at SunCommon — including design, sales, procurement and installation. Having dedicated his professional career to helping create a clean energy future, James has deep experience in energy policy, clean energy technology and government relations. He worked in Washington State, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Washington DC, New Hampshire and New Mexico before moving to Vermont in 2004. James directed VPIRG’s Clean Energy Program and co-directed, with Duane, the successful VPIRG Energy project. Family and food are two of James’ favorite pastimes and he loves to disappear into the woods on his tele skis or head out for a hike or bike ride. James lives in Montpelier with his amazing wife Mia and their toddler son William. Read more about James on our Blog!
Solar Community Organizers
Solar Community Organizers are the folks who are out and about educating and assisting Vermonters go solar, one town at a time.
Jessica Edgerly Walsh, Organizing Manager
Jessica has pent the last six years organizing on behalf of the environment and the public interest. Jessica graduated from Bates College with a degree in Biology and promptly moved to Montpelier where she worked as the State Director for Toxics Action Center, a nonprofit that works side-by-side with residents to prevent and clean up pollution. Jessica’s passion for community action led her to spend a number of summers running large door-to-door citizen outreach campaigns, building support in Vermont and Pennsylvania for clean energy and clean water programs. She continues to live in Montpelier with her husband Ben and their puppy Nico. Read more about Jessica on our Blog!
Clary Franko, Lead Solar Community Organizer
Clary grew up in a solar-powered house nestled in the southern Appalachian Mountains and enjoyed nature as her playground. She was quite disturbed to learn about Mountain Top Removal for coal extraction at an early age, and while attending college in North Carolina, she devoted herself to installing renewable energy projects on campus to lessen the reliance on coal. For the last two years she has run environmental campaigns up and down the East Coast. A favorite quote of Clary’s is one by E.B. White, “I arise every morning torn between the desire to save the world and the desire to savor the world. It makes it hard to plan my day.” So she is thrilled to be living in Burlington, surrounded by gorgeous mountains and fantastic people while working to blanket the state in solar and move towards a clean energy economy. Read more about Clary on our Blog!
Mike McCarthy, Solar Community Organizer
A graduate of St. Michaels College, Mike wandered around the country before returning home to Vermont in 2008 to start Cosmic Bakery & Café in downtown Saint Albans. While managing the bakery, Mike has been involved in the community as a volunteer with the Saint Albans Community Justice Center, as Vice Chair of the Downtown Board, and as a frequent host of events to support the arts. In November 2012, he was elected to represent Saint Albans in the Vermont House of Representatives. Mike plays guitar and sings whenever he can. He lives in Saint Albans with his wife Stephanie and their daughter Molly.
Originally from Connecticut, RJ quickly adopted Vermont as his home state while studying at Middlebury College. Before graduating in February of 2012 he competed in the 2011 Solar Decathlon, a green-building competition put on by the U.S. Department of Energy, helping Team Self Reliance place fourth. When he wasn’t at Middlebury he was working on staff at Camp Keewaydin on Lake Dunmore in Salisbury. An interest in education, swing dancing, and skiing brought him out to Jackson, WY, where he taught middle and high school, and played outside for a year. Soon enough an interest in renewable energy and sustainability got the better of him and he moved back to Vermont to be the Addison County Organizer at SunCommon. RJ is thrilled to be living back in the Green Mountain State, where he plans to ski, bike, hike, fish, and dance the mountains, roads, rivers, and floors of Vermont!
Taylor Ralph, Solar Community Organizer
Taylor grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley and was drawn to Vermont to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies and Religion. She spent her college years seeking enlightenment and traveled to India to study sustainability. Her passion for the environment evolved into a love of food and all things sustainable agriculture. With this, she spent the next few years teaching Vermont’s children about local veggies with Vermont FEED and marketing books about the politics and practice of sustainable living with Chelsea Green Publishing. She values community, resilience and creativity and is inspired by the support of our strong Vermont networks that make outreach and advocacy here so engaging. She is thrilled to join SunCommon in its efforts to empower Vermonters to produce their own energy, and indeed to produce a healthier, happier living system in which we all may thrive. She has a black pug named Feng Shui whom she adores.
Our Solar Designers each have college degrees and special training in the design of solar systems. They’ll use an aerial image of your place in addition to the information you provide to design the just the right solar system for you.
Jacob Flanigan, Lead Solar Designer
Jacob dedicated his college years to studying electrical engineering and participating in environmental and local foods movements. Jacob started working in construction and farming (Intervale Community Farm) but pursued continuing education in photovoltaic design and installation. Later he worked for Alteris Renewables first as their Residential Electrical Engineer then as their Commercial Electrical Engineer. In his free time Jacob has been pursuing his love of music. He preforms with Burlington’s Brazilian street band, Sambatucada, and sings with Burlington’s Shape Note community. He can also be seen at local contra dances (Queen City Contra, Mad Robins Callers, Montpelier Grange), stretching he’s legs on the green mountains, and biking around his hometown of Burlington. Read more about Jacob on our Blog!
Sam Lau, Solar Designer
Sam recently graduated from Vermont Technical College with a focus on Sustainable Systems and their integration into the home. Originally from Springfield, Vermont, he grew up on a horse farm and enjoyed family forays to our state’s county fairs to race their horses. His family restaurants taught him an intense work ethic and love of people. Sam is a dedicated athlete — playing, coaching and supporting his local Rugby team, Mad River. Sam and his dog live in Burlington. Read more about Sam on our Blog!
Chris Heine, Solar Designer
Chris has been working in the solar industry for four years, installing PV and thermal systems around the state. After studying at Norwich university he gained a well rounded design education in the architecture and construction fields. Originally from Northern Virginia, Chris now lives in Montpelier. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, playing sports – rugby in particular, and being outdoors.
Dayton Brown, Solar Designer
Dayton was busy at Vermont Technical College, earning two BA degrees in Architectural Engineering and Sustainable Design. He serves in the Vermont Air National Guard as an Engineering Associate in Civil Engineering. Experienced as well in construction, Dayton has developed loves for building, engineering and renewable energy. He enjoys traveling, designing and trying new things. Dayton returned safely in June after serving 8 months in Afghanistan with the Vermont Air National Guard Civil Engineering Squadron. We’re really happy that’s he back with the SunCommon family.
Chris sampled a few technical concentrations at UVM including Engineering and Architecture before settling on Environmental Studies with a focus on Green Building Design –specializing in solar and sustainable building systems. When his head wasn’t buried in the books, Chris was active with Power Shift – the nations’ youth movement to reverse climate change. He’s worked in the solar field with experience in solar installations, site visits and design. Chris grew up in New Jersey and enjoyed playing sports like baseball,soccer, and (no doubt his favorite) sprint kart racing. He’s quite mechanical with a huge love of cars and dreams of one day solar powering his pick up truck.
One of our trained technicians known as Advisors will visit your home to confirm the design is accurate, make any necessary tweaks, inspect your roof and electrical panel to ensure they’re good for solar and answer any of your questions in person. After that’s done, then it’s time to go solar.
Kristi Gorton, Solar Sales Manager
Kristi hails from the Green Mountain State — born, raised, and educated in Vermont. She is a Champlain College graduate who made her mark on the business world over the past 10 years as a Relationship Manager at Keybank. Additionally she served as Brand Ambassador with Ski Vermont helping them nearly double participation in their youth based ski/ride program. Kristi is a mom of three adventurous children, and an outdoor enthusiast who is passionate about preserving the world we live in. Read more about Kristi on our Blog!
Jon Budreski, Lead Solar Advisor
Jon can be found outdoors biking, hiking, skiing, running, swimming or rowing with friends and family when he is not helping others go solar. After several years in Colorado at Colorado State (BS) and the US Forest Service and Denver Centennial Airport (Flight School), Jon came back to New England to work for the National Park Service putting learned skills to work looking at the “anthropogenic effect” of the human – kettle pond relationship. This led into technical sales for a water quality instrumentation company and eventually 6 years working out of Montpelier for a growing solar company. A member of NESEA and active in REV for several years, Jon lives in Montpelier with his wife Katie on a rather steep hill. Read more about Jon on our Blog!
Chris McLernon, Solar Advisor
Chris grew up in the Green Mountain state enjoying all it has to offer and developed a love for the outdoors and the great seasonal activities that go with it. He earned a BA from UVM in Biology and joined the Coast Guard to get a taste for life on the open sea. He worked as an electrician and diver while making a few trips to the wilds of Antarctica. Chris found his way back to Vermont and nurtured his growing interest in renewable energy, earning an electrical engineering degree from Vermont Technical College, and now finding himself happily designing solar systems with SunCommon for the people of Vermont. He lives in Montpelier with his wife Joey, daughter Lila, and dog Blue. Read more about Chris on our Blog!
Nick Governale, Solar Advisor
Nick is a local businessman with a solid background in sales and customer service. Nick made his way to Vermont in 2006 to fly jets for a charter company. After flying passengers around North America for a couple years he met his future wife and decided he no longer wanted to travel for a living. Before coming to SunCommon, Nick was the owner of a successful house painting company serving the local area. He hopes, with the help of SunCommon, to see every house in Vermont go solar. Nick enjoys spending all his free time outside hiking and skiing with his wife Deborah.
Kristin Cadwalader, Solar Advisor
Kristin is a sociologist with a young career in community empowerment. She has represented an Indian NGO at a collaborative conference in Thailand, directed school-age programming for the YMCA, consulted with adult leaders of Vermont’s Girl Scouts, and most recently sowed the spirit of sustainable agriculture at the National Gardening Association. An avid skier, hiker, localvore and outdoors-woman, Kristin is committed to environmental stewardship and energy sustainability. Kristin moved to Vermont in 2010 with her partner and their dog because, well, where else would anyone want to live? Read more about Kristin on our Blog!
Kate Valade, Solar Advisor
Kate has a passion for the outdoors and is committed to preserving this planet for both people and animals. She has spent the last few years rehabilitating wildlife and striving towards a greener lifestyle. Recently relocating to Vermont has welcomed this transition with open arms. She is an avid hiker and loves being a part of the local food community. She lives in Burlington with her partner, Parish, dog Scout and cats Harley and Simon. Kate joined SunCommon to help Vermonters go solar!
Will McGrath, Solar Advisor
Will was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but has been a Vermonter since the age of one. With a degree in Speech and Communications from St. Lawrence University, Will has successfully brought his people-to-people skills along with his sales and marketing expertise to the various positions he has held over the past 16 years. Will has always been interested in innovative solutions to problems, and is very proud and enthusiastic to be part of the SunCommon team. He has an uncle in Florida who now gets all his electricity from solar, and Will is anxious to help Vermonters go solar as well. Will lives in South Burlington with his partner Diana, 9 year old daughter Makayla, a pug named Princess and a pit bull named Champ. Will enjoys outdoor activities, sports and reading and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets he is privileged to view each day from his home.
John Knox, Solar Advisor
John was born and raised in the Green Mountain State. He graduated from Castleton State College and has spent the last fifteen years working in the banking industry, mostly making loans to Vermonters so they could pursue their dreams. His strong desire to see the country less dependent on fossil fuels has led him to a career in solar. When he’s not helping homeowners go solar, he enjoys spending time with his wife and six year old son….and golfing whenever he can.
After you and your Solar Guide conclude the paperwork (either through the no-money down loan or outright purchase), the Solar Orchestra Conductor orders the equipment, arranges the state permit and schedules your installation. A typical installation by our licensed and certified union crews takes just a couple of days, after which your utility will inspect the system and approve its connection – flipping the switch and commencing your meter running backwards. Let the celebrating begin.
Otie Filkorn, Solar Orchestra Conductor
From the land of traffic and sunshine, Otie Filkorn returned home to New England in the late 90′s after spending more than a decade wrangling starlets, grips and teamsters as an assistant director in Hollywood. In Vermont, she has helped bring products to market for good guys like Autumn Harp and the Vermont Coffee Company. An early adopter of solar thermal and co-owner of the only wind turbine in Richmond, solar electricity is a natural addition to her personal and professional portfolio. In her spare time, she keeps up with her rock and roll husband and two young children as they ski at alarming speeds and ponder their collective renewable energy potential. Read more about Otie on our Blog!
Allie Robinson, Solar Guide
Allie originates from a tiny close-knit town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where she learned to fish, swim, hike, and savor life. She came to Vermont after working on trail crews to study Conservation Ecology at Sterling College; after which she started her own business serving family needs in the community of Stowe. She has been calling Vermont home for the past seven years and keeps busy tearing it up on her telemark skis, doing yoga, working in her garden, or seeking out swimming holes. She is the most excitable new addition to the SunCommon team and she looks forward to being a piece of the puzzle that makes solar possible for Vermonters.
After graduating from UVM, RJ moved to Jackson, Wyoming to play in the snow, mountain bike, run, explore, and travel for three years. A business venture brought him back to the Green Mountain State in 2009 and allowed him to discover his true passion – sustainability and renewable energies. With just under a year remaining in his graduate program in Environmental Studies, RJ is thrilled to work with Vermonters to help them harness the power of the sun. He’s dedicated to the notion that large movements begin with individual action. Outside of SunCommon, you can find RJ skiing in Vermont’s beautiful backcountry, running on the Long Trail in training for his next ultra-marathon or (alas) writing one of many research papers.
These folks make the SunCommon trains run, mastering all of the back office functions that allow the solar professionals to do their jobs so Vermonters can go solar.
Charity Carbine-March, Business Operations and Sustainability Manager
Charity is a steadfast environmentalist who is grounded in the belief that change only comes when people demand it. To this end, Charity has been actively raising muck for the last ten years, mobilizing students and community members, and advocating for stronger environmental protections. Most recently, Charity was the environmental health advocate for VPIRG where she led efforts to increase recycling in the state and protect Vermonters from toxic chemicals. Charity lives in Wolcott with her wife, Amber, and her 2 year-old son, Finn. Read more about Charity on our Blog!
Spencer Newman, Chief Financial Officer
Spencer is a seasoned executive with nearly twenty years of experience in helping companies develop and execute growth strategies in new and emerging markets. Spencer has held positions as CEO of Jvillage Network, Chair of the Board of Burlington Electric Commissioners, Director of the TastyGram division at Vermont Teddy Bear, and CEO/ founder of Adventurous Traveler, which was sold to the Away Network in 2000. Spencer is currently President of Green Mountain Insight, a strategic and financial planning firm for high growth tech and energy companies. Spencer received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University. Spencer is an avid skier, hiker and cook.
Kevin Lehman, Story Teller
Kevin brings a varied background to SunCommon. His energy experience includes Energy Planner for a regional planning commission and Product Manager for a solar company. As a professional photographer and former Web Producer, Kevin is well steeped in the world of marketing and visual storytelling.
Kevin is thrilled to combine his passions in solar energy, photography and mission-driven business as SunCommon’s Story Teller, where he spreads the word about going solar through photography, video, social media, writing and the web.
Besides enjoying the glories of Vermont with his girlfriend and son, Kevin enjoys good food (both cooking and eating!), hiking, swimming, skiing, photography, and travel. Kevin has traveled to over 20 countries and has an MBA in Sustainability.
Megan Taylor, Superintendent of the Solar System
Meg grew up in Waterbury, VT and was fortunate to experience a childhood enriched with outdoor exploration and education, a lifestyle that she hopes to continue to enjoy and pass on to generations to come. Living amidst the natural environment that Vermont is known for, has allowed Meg to foster a great appreciation for the health of humans in connection with the health of the environment. This passion led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on “Nature, Culture, and Justice” at the University of Vermont (UVM). During her time at UVM and while living in Burlington, Meg became fascinated by people-powered transportation, environmental advocacy, and community involvement. As a culmination of her educational experience, she wrote an undergraduate honors thesis on the female experience of bicycling in Burlington, a study of gender and the bicycle as an agent for mobility. Following graduation, she worked with the non-profit, Local Motion, to connect with people in the community to encourage forms of transportation that are healthy and sustainable for Vermont communities. Meg is excited to now be spreading the good word of solar power and renewable energy to friends and family, while helping to coordinate SunCommon’s essential everyday operations and traffic tasks.
Rachel Yeager, Office Administrator
Rachel grew up in Vermont and never lived outside this beautiful state, although she often ventures over to Maine to enjoy the ocean. With her husband, Al, of 22 years, she has raised two sons, Tyler 17 and Alex 20. With the experience of owning a couple small businesses, Party Adventures and Vanguard Properties, along with being a former Human Resource Admin, she is eager to use her experience to be part of the SunCommon team. The ability to be part of the SunCommon team which is bringing solar energy to our communities, being part of the positive environment change, is a passion for her.
Elise Contas, Solar Guide Intern
Elise grew up on the New Hampshire Seacoast where she developed a love for the outdoors and spent much of her time at the beach relaxing and surfing as well as hiking and exploring the great Granite State.
Today, Elise lives in downtown Burlington and is a senior at UVM working towards a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing. When she’s not studying or at SunCommon you can find her biking or bopping around Burlington with her friends, swimming in Lake Champlain, or hitting the slopes at Stowe.
Elise’s interest in renewable energy led her to recently join the SunCommon team. She is very enthusiastic to be a part of the process that helps VT homeowners go solar.
Our advisory board
SunCommon benefits from a talented, Board of Advisors that brings tremendous experience in renewable energy economics, values-led business, venture capital, technology and intentional business culture.
Ben Cohen, marketing and values-led business
Ben co-founded Ben&Jerry’s and pioneered its values-led business practices. His innovative marketing engaged the company on progressive issues and campaigns that produced meaningful change while building the iconic brand based on meaning. Ben was central to the creation of the national networks Businesses for Social Responsibility and Social Venture Network.
Cairn Cross, start-up strategies and growth investing
Cairn is a co-founder of FreshTracks Capital and serves as a Managing Director of the Fund. Cross serves on the boards of FreshTracks portfolio companies Vermont Teddy Bear, NEHP, and NativeEnergy. Cairn was formerly the Chair of the Board for the EatingWell Media Group which was sold to Meredith Corporation in 2011. He is a member manager of Snow Farm Vineyard, LLC, Vermont’s first grape wine producer located on Grand Isle.
Cairn spent the 1990s in strategic and financial consultancy to Vermont banks and growth businesses such as Collector Online, Otter Creek Industries, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and the Merchants Bank and various senior positions at the Howard Bank and Vermont National Bank. He has served as Co-Chair of the Vermont Investors’ Forum, an annual “venture fair” for Vermont companies, and on the Boards of Opportunities Credit Union and Vermont Community Loan Fund.
Matt Ewing, technology and online organizing
Matt has worked at the intersection of technology and social change for the last decade. He recently co-founded Rewire, a cleantech software firm that specializes in helping companies turn their customers into evangelists for clean energy. Rewire also managed the Sierra Club’s successful Solar Homes Campaign in California, a partnership between the Sierra Club and leading solar home companies. Prior to Rewire, he was the founding director of New Media Ventures (NMV), a network of progressive angel investors that closed $1m in startup deals.
Previously, Matt spent 5 years at MoveOn.org, ultimately serving as National Field Director where he developed the organization’s innovative online-to-offline national grassroots organizing model and the successful 2006 and 2008 Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns.
Matt serves on the board of GreenCorps, the national training institute for community organizers where James and he met. Matt lives in San Francisco.
Mathew Rubin, renewable energy technology and finance
Mathew is the President of Spruce Mountain Design and developer and operator of renewable energy projects, including the Winooski One Hydroelectric Project. Matt is an outspoken practitioner of environmental sustainability from food production to electric generation, and consults on hydro projects in New England and globally. A leading proponent of renewable sources of electricity and supporter of efforts to mitigate the effects of business operations on our natural and social environment, Matt was a founding member of VBSR and serves on the boards of Renewable Energy Vermont, the Vermont Independent Power Producers Association and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.