Advisory Council

Haven Allen

Haven Allen

CEO and Co-Founder, mHUB

Haven Allen, chief executive officer and co-founder of mHUB, is an entrepreneur and technology strategist who most recently concentrated on growing the manufacturing industry and strengthening its community throughout Chicagoland. In 2018, Haven was named to the Chicago Tribune Blue Sky Vault Blue Network of Chicago tech and innovation leaders and the 2018 Crain’s 40 under 40 class. In addition, Haven was recently appointed to a three-year term to the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Board of Directors, participated in the P33 Business, Civic and Culture planning committees, and selected for Argonne National Laboratories Chain Reaction Initiative’s Advisory Board.

Erik G. Birkerts

Erik G. Birkerts

CEO, Clean Energy Trust

Erik Birkerts has over 25 years of operational and general management experience, including project financing and strategy development for energy efficiency and clean technology companies.  Erik Birkerts is the CEO of Clean Energy Trust, responsible for leading the organization in its mission of bringing cleantech innovation to market by finding, funding, and growing high-impact clean technology startups from the Midwest. Erik brings over 25 years of operational, financial, and general management experience to the role and has been active in the energy efficiency and clean technology sector for over 15 years.

Jason Blumberg

Jason Blumberg

Managing Director, Energy Foundry

Jason is a Managing Director at Energy Foundry, a leading early stage venture capital fund that builds groundbreaking energy companies. Jason sets the firm’s vision, leads investments, and coaches entrepreneurs. Energy Foundry has backed some of the top entrepreneurs and companies in the energy space. Jason is also Executive Director of ISEIF, the nation’s largest independent smart grid education fund.  He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he leads its energy and cleantech lab.  Jason is also a Board member of multiple high growth companies and is on the Advisory Boards of a number of leading industry organizations.

K'Lynne Johnson

K'Lynne Johnson

Board Director, FMC Corporation

An entrepreneurial leader leveraging over 25 years of experience, K’Lynne successfully bridges the capability to both build new innovative new technology businesses and transform existing large multi-billion traditional commodity organizations. Her broad experience includes identifying and commercializing transformational technology and implementing growth strategies for existing businesses. K’Lynne was the founding CEO of Elevance Renewable Sciences, a leading specialty chemicals company utilizing renewable feedstocks, and has a broad background of global operational management in both P&L and functional leadership roles within Innovene, BP and Amoco Corporation.

Karen Kerr

Karen Kerr

Venture Capitalist

Karen Kerr is passionate about partnering with entrepreneurs to build technology-based companies.  She has spent more than two decades as a venture investor, instigator, and advisor to intrepid entrepreneurs. Most recently she was Executive Managing Director at GE Ventures where she lead a team investing in advanced manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, and enterprise software companies that drove productivity at General Electric.  She was previously a Managing Director at ARCH Venture Partners and started her career as a Sr. Associate and Kauffman Fellow at Patricof & Co.  Karen was a Director at Intellectual Ventures and helped to launch numerous startups as Senior Director of New Ventures and Alliances at the University of Southern California.

Steve Kloos

Steve Kloos

Partner, True North Venture Partners

Steve Kloos is a Partner with True North Venture Partners, a Chicago-based firm that invests in early stage disruptive innovations in cleantech and supports those companies on their journey to transform and lead global industries over time.  At True North, Steve focuses on identifying technology trends and market needs, sourcing and leading investment opportunities, assisting portfolio companies, and helping with firm management.  Steve is the Chairman of the board of Current, a non-profit platform for water innovation, he serves on the ImagineH2O Advisory Board, and is as a judge for the Global Cleantech 100.  Prior to joining True North, Steve worked in various R&D roles at General Electric in the US and Asia.

William Lese

William Lese

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Braemar Energy Ventures

Bill is a Co-founder and Managing Partner of Braemar Energy Ventures. Since Braemar began investing in 2003, Bill has led or co-led investments across multiple segments and stages, including EnerNOC “ENOC”, Enerkem, Renew Financial, General Fusion, Utility, Carbon Free Chemicals, Sirrus, LusBio, TerraVia, Verenium “VRNM”, Ioxus, Katech, Flywheel, Proterro, OPX BIO and BrightVolt. He was formerly the Chairman of the Board of Ioxus and BrightVolt. Bill serves on the Advisory Committee of the New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (NYC ACRE) and Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) which operates out of Argonne National Laboratory to accelerate emerging energy technologies from lab to market.

S.J. Maxted

S.J. Maxted

Director of Strategic Initiatives, The Engine

SJ Maxted accelerates innovation ecosystems at organizations and broader regional, national, and global levels. At The Engine, she focuses on early stage investment and support for tough technology that will enhance the world’s innovation ecosystem. She is also on the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Innovation Ecosystems. Prior to The Engine, she scaled an MIT start-up, the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program; held positions at Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness; and spent time working on innovation ecosystems, technology transfer and commercialization at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and 17 DOE National Laboratories.

Jason Pariso

Jason Pariso

Director, George Shultz Innovation Fund

Jason is the Director of the George Shultz Innovation Fund, an early stage fund dedicated to the commercialization of research and technology generated at the University of Chicago. He also works on University-wide strategic initiatives as a member of the leadership team of the University’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Jason is a member of Class 21 of the Kauffman Fellows, a prestigious leadership program for venture capitalists to create smart, connected capital. He previously served as the Vice President of Product Management for Pinpoint MD, a Healthcare startup building the first patient-physician engagement platform. Jason built a diverse set of skills while working as a Media & Telecommunications Investment Banker, founding an educational nonprofit, restructuring a textile manufacturer, developing corporate strategy for Dell Financial Services, and launching a SaaS call center telephony startup.

James Schulte

James Schulte

Director, Exelorate Growth

James Schulte is the Director of Exelorate Growth, Exelon Corporation’s internal entrepreneurship program. Within Corporate Innovation, Exelorate Growth’s mandate is to launch new customer-centered businesses, products, and services in a de-risked, low cost manner by utilizing a stage gate Lean Startup model. Schulte leads the team working across Exelon’s entire corporate footprint to innovate within strategic priority areas across the electricity ecosystem and to create value for our customers. Schulte’s energy tech experience extends directly into the startup world, where he worked on business development and finance at Energy Intelligence, an inaugural winner of the 43North startup competiton, and HEVT, the winner of the 2012 Cleantech Open Global Forum.

Brian Tolliver

Brian Tolliver

Senior Director of Corporate Development, Cabot Microelectronics

Brian brings more than 20 years of Fortune Global 500 experience spanning high-technology, energy, corporate development, strategy, business development, and investment banking. Prior to joining Cabot Microelectronics, he was Director of Strategy & Business Development at Schneider Electric. His prior experience includes corporate development, business development and finance at Microsoft; and at Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown’s Technology Investment Banking Group, he focused on private equity, IPOs and M&A transactions for companies ranging from early stage to blue chip multinationals. Earlier in his career he gained deep expertise in software development, consumer finance and capital markets.

Eric Toone

Eric Toone

Executive Managing Director for Technology, Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Dr. Eric Toone  is currently Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University. Professor Toone has authored over 220 original papers, reviews, book chapters and abstracts in physical organic and biophysical chemistry.  He is also listed as an inventor on more than 20 patents in a range of biomedical fields and is a scientific founder of three research-based pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Toone is currently the Executive Managing Director for Technology at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, $1 Billion investment fund of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of the world’s most influential leaders assembled by Bill Gates to advance clean energy technologies.

Mark Werwath

Mark Werwath

Director, Master of Engineering Program at Northwestern University

Mark Werwath, (PMP), has a history of managing complex system (software) and product development, IT, and manufacturing and system implementation projects in four continents. Most of Mark’s career has been spent program managing high-tech R&D and change management programs in large Fortune 500 firms. Mark is an investor who sits on the boards of several startups in the Chicagoland area. He is a clinical associate professor at Northwestern University, the director of Northwestern’s Master of Engineering Management program, and co-director of the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Jetta Wong

Jetta Wong

Senior Advisor, Northern California LA Cleantech Incubator

Jetta Wong has over 14 years of experience developing policies that support energy and environment technologies. She is currently a consultant working to develop strategic partnerships for her clients that bring new clean energy technologies to the market. One of her main clients is the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. Jetta is LACI’s representative in the cleantech ecosystem of northern California. Her objective is to coordinate engagement with entrepreneurs, funders, investors, R&D institutions, and governmental organizations. Prior to consulting, Jetta Wong established the Office of Technology Transitions for the United States Department of Energy in 2015 and served as its first Director.