Speaker Bios

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Keynote Speaker
President Barack Obama

 

Secretary Ernest Moniz

US Department of Energy 

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As United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz is tasked with implementing critical Department of Energy missions in support of President Obama’s goals of growing the economy, enhancing security and protecting the environment. This encompasses advancing the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, maintaining the nuclear deterrent and reducing the nuclear danger, promoting American leadership in science and clean energy technology innovation, cleaning up the legacy of the cold war, and strengthening management and performance.
 
Prior to his appointment, Dr. Moniz was the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a faculty member since 1973. At MIT, he headed the Department of Physics and the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. Most recently, Dr. Moniz served as the founding Director of the MIT Energy Initiative and as Director of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment where he was a leader of multidisciplinary technology and policy studies on the future of nuclear power, coal, nuclear fuel cycles, natural gas and solar energy in a low-carbon world.
 
From 1997 until January 2001, Dr. Moniz served as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy. He was responsible for overseeing the Department’s science and energy programs, leading a comprehensive review of nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship, and serving as the Secretary’s special negotiator for the disposition of Russian nuclear materials. From 1995 to 1997, he served as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.
 
In addition to his work at MIT, the White House and the Department of Energy, Dr. Moniz has served on a number of boards of directors and commissions involving science, energy and security. These include President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
 
A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Moniz is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Humboldt Foundation, and the American Physical Society.
 
Dr. Moniz received a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in Physics from Boston College, a Doctorate in Theoretical Physics from Stanford University, and honorary degrees from the University of Athens, the University of Erlangen-Nurenberg, Michigan State University and Universidad Pontificia de Comillas.
 
 

Amy Ericson

President, Alstom Inc.

Amy Ericson  

Amy Ericson is President and CEO of Alstom Inc. and head of Alstom’s U.S. businesses. Alstom is a global leader in electric power and rail transportation technology. In the U.S., Amy oversees Alstom’s engagement with industry and government while directly supporting existing businesses and their pursuit of new business opportunities in the areas of thermal and renewable power generation, rail transit and electricity transmission and distribution.
 
While at Alstom, she led the development of key products in Alstom’s sustainable technology portfolio including advanced gas turbine applications, clean coal technology and renewables. Amy is a proponent of competitiveness and productivity both for Alstom and the nation. Internally, she oversees the development and implementation of common core systems across all Alstom businesses in the U.S. Externally, Amy serves as the liaison to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its national laboratories and bridges B to B technology partnerships that are critical to Alstom’s growth.
 
Passionate about the importance of STEM education (Science, technology, Engineering, Math) and skills development, she speaks regularly to men and women on the need for companies to educate youth on the opportunities for applying STEM to ensure a better world.
 
Amy has over 20 years of experience in the international energy industry, having held a variety of positions with DuPont, Exxon-Mobil, ABB and Alstom in the areas of product and business development, energy trading, production network optimization, long range planning, industrial mergers and acquisitions, and marketing and communications. She is actively involved in a number of industry groups including The National Coal Council, The Council on Competiveness (CoC) and DOE’s Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030 initiative as well as the American Energy and Manufacturing Competiveness partnership, Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI) partner roundtable and serves as an ambassador for Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (CEEE).
 
Amy holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from Harvard University where she served as the President of the Corporate Leadership and Ethics Forum.
 
 

Jamie Evans

Managing Director and Head of U.S. Eco Solutions, Panasonic

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Jamie Evans is Managing Director and Head of U.S. Eco Solutions for Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company, a unit company of Panasonic North America with the mission to bring comprehensive clean technology and energy efficiency solutions to leading organizations.

Mr. Evans is charged with managing all aspects of Panasonic’s expanding U.S. Eco Solutions platform. He joined Panasonic in August 2011 and previously served as Director of Project Finance.
 
Mr. Evans has over a decade of energy, banking, finance and capital markets experience, having worked previously at UBS, Oliver Wyman, and BlackRock.
 
Mr. Evans holds a BA in Environmental Science and Economics from Duke University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. He resides with his family in New York City.

Susan Kennedy

President and CEO, Advanced Microgrid Solutions

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Susan served for two decades at the highest levels of state and federal government, most recently as chief of staff to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, cabinet secretary and deputy chief of staff to Governor Gray Davis and communications director for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. She served from 2003- 2006 on California's Public Utilities Commission, regulating the state's investor- owned electric utilities, telecommunications providers and private water companies.
 
Susan was at the center of many of California's groundbreaking environmental policies, including the carbon reduction mandate and cap-and-trade program under AB 32, the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, auto emission standards and Renewable Portfolio Standard. She coordinated the State's emergency demand response efforts during the energy crisis of 2000-2001 and as a member of the PUC she authored what was then the largest energy efficiency program in utility history. She holds a B.A. in Management from Saint Mary's College of California.
 
  

Dan Klaich 

Chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education

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Daniel Klaich was appointed by the Board of Regents to serve as the NSHE's tenth chancellor on June 18, 2009. 
 
He is an attorney, admitted to the bar in Nevada and California, and was in private practice for almost 30 years prior to joining the NSHE. He is a native Nevadan and a 1972 graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law in 1975, and in 1978 received a Master in Taxation from New York University.
 
Mr. Klaich is married to the former Denise Woods (University of Nevada, Reno 1973). They have four children and nine grandchildren.
 

 
Rose McKinney-James 

Managing Principal at Energy Works

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Rose McKinney-James is widely recognized as one of the most prominent advocates for the commercial deployment of solar resources in the state of Nevada. In 1997, working with the leadership of the Nevada legislature, she facilitated the drafting and passage of Nevada’s first RPS. As CEO for the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources, (CSTRR) McKinney-James worked with the U.S. Department of Energy and the solar industry in establishing the policy framework for the original solar energy zones in the state. A former Commissioner with the Nevada Public Service Commission, she also served as Nevada’s first Director of the Department of Business and Industry. She is currently the Managing Principal of Energy Works LLC and McKinney-James & Associates. Her firms provide business-consulting services and advocacy in the areas of public affairs, energy policy, and economic and sustainable development. Prior to establishing her own firm, she served as President of Brown & Partners, and President of Government Affairs for Faiss Foley Merica. In her current capacity, she provides consulting and strategic guidance to businesses engaged in energy related matters. A registered lobbyist with the Nevada Legislature, Rose currently represents a range of public and private entities with interests in regulatory and energy policy. Ms. Mckinney-James served for twelve years as a member of the Board of Directors for Employers Holdings Inc. She was a member of the Finance Committee and Chaired the Governance and Nomination Committee. 
 
She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of MGM Resorts International and MGM Detroit, she also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Toyota Financial Savings Bank, the Alliance to Save Energy and the American Association for Blacks in Energy (AABE). She serves on the Board of Three Square, and NACD Southern California and is also a member of the International Women’s Forum. In 2013 Rose was selected to serve as an Inaugural Ambassador for the C3E initiative supporting increased participation by women in the clean energy sector. Rose is the immediate past Chair of The Clean Energy Project and  Chair of Nevada Partners, a nationally recognized workforce development agency.
 
A former candidate for Lieutenant Governor, McKinney-James was the first African-American to win a statewide primary in the state of Nevada. Ms. McKinney-James served as a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Team with responsibility for the US Department of Energy and the Team Lead for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Ms. Mckinney-James is a graduate of the FBI Citizen's Academy. A native of Detroit, Michigan, she is a graduate of Antioch School of Law in Washington D.C., and secured her undergraduate degree from Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan where she was honored with the Distinguished Alumna Award 2013. Ms. McKinney-James is married and the mother of two sons.
 
 

Diarmuid O'Connell 

Vice President, Business Development at Tesla Motors

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Diarmuid joined Tesla in 2006, and currently serves as the Vice President of Business Development, in which capacity he manages commercial relationships and all aspects of government affairs. Before joining Tesla, Diarmuid served as Chief of Staff for Political Military Affairs at the US State Department, where he was involved in policy and operational support to the U.S military in various theaters of operation.
 
Before his tenure in Washington, Diarmuid worked in corporate strategy as a management consultant for Accenture, as a founder of educational software developer, Real Time Learning, and as a senior executive with both McCann Erickson Worldwide and Young and Rubicam. Over the course of his career, he has managed international operations, projects and marketing for such brands as Coca Cola, Gillette, and AT&T, among others.
 
Diarmuid has earned a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College, a master's degree in Foreign Policy from the University of Virginia, and an MBA from Kellogg.
 
 

Nancy Pfund 

Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Investors

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Nancy E. Pfund is Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm whose goal is to combine top-tier financial returns with meaningful social, economic and environmental returns in the regions and sectors in which it invests. Nancy is also the Founder of DBL Investors. As a leading player in the growing field of “impact investing”, DBL has helped to reveal the power of venture capital to promote social change and environmental improvement, and Ms. Pfund writes and speaks frequently on this topic.
 
Ms. Pfund currently sponsors or sits on the board of directors of several companies, including; SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) Chair of the governance committee and on both the audit and compensation committees, BrightSource Energy, Primus Power, Eco.logic Brands, Farmers Business Network, The Muse and Powergenix, and, prior to their public offerings, Tesla Motors and Pandora Media.  Prior to founding DBL Investors, Ms. Pfund was a Managing Director in Venture Capital at JPMorgan, having started her investment career at Hambrecht & Quist in 1984. Previously, Ms. Pfund worked at Intel Corporation, the State of California, Stanford University and the Sierra Club.
 
Ms. Pfund was featured #17 in the FORTUNE World’s Top 25 Eco-Innovators and is: Chair of the Advisory Council of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University; a member of the Advisory Board of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; a member of the Advisory Board of the UC Davis Center for Energy Efficiency; Lecturer in Management at the Stanford University Graduate School business; a past Lecturer in the Practice of Management at the Yale School of Management; a C3E Ambassador to the U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Program, led by the U.S. Department of Energy; and is a founding officer and director of ABC2, a foundation aimed at accelerating a cure for brain cancer. In 1988, President Bush appointed Ms. Pfund as a charter member of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. In 1999, Ms. Pfund was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Congressional Web-Based Education Commission.
 
Ms. Pfund is the author, along with Benjamin Healey of the widely cited report on the history of U.S. energy subsidies entitled, “What Would Jefferson Do? The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America’s Energy Future”, co-authored with Michael Lazar, “Red, White & Green: The True Colors of America’s Clean Tech Jobs”, co-authored with Noah Walker, “Ask Saint Onofrio: Finding What Has Been Lost in A Tale of Two Energy Sources”, and co-authored with Anand Chhabra, “Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices: Wait, What?
Ms. Pfund received her BA and MA in anthropology from Stanford University, and her MBA from the Yale School of Management.
 
 

John Podesta

Former Counselor to President Barack Obama  

John Podesta
John Podesta served as Counselor to President Barack Obama from January 2014 to February 2015. His duties included overseeing climate change and energy policy. In 2008, he served as co-chair of President Obama’s transition team, where he coordinated the priorities of the incoming administration's agenda, oversaw the development of its policies, and spearheaded its appointments of major cabinet secretaries and political appointees. 

He is the former Chair of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Prior to founding the Center in 2003, he served as White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. He also recently served on the President’s Global Development Council and the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
 
Additionally, Podesta has held numerous positions on Capitol Hill, including counselor to Democratic Leader Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (1995-1996). A Chicago native, Podesta is a graduate of Knox College and the Georgetown University Law Center, where he is currently a visiting professor of law. He is the author of The Power of Progress: How America's Progressives Can (Once Again) Save Our Economy, Our Climate and Our Country. John Podesta is currently serving as Chair of Hillary for America, where he oversees campaign policy, communications, and strategic engagement.
 
John Podesta has been a part of every National Clean Energy Summit. He is a past member of the Clean Energy Project Board of Directors. 
 
 

Bill Ritter

Former Governor of Colorado 

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Bill Ritter, Jr. is the founder and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) at Colorado State University which launched on February 1, 2011. The Center employs an assistant director, three senior policy advisors, an executive assistant and a team of student researchers.
 
The Center works directly with governors, legislators, regulators, planners, policymakers, and other decision makers. It provides technical assistance to help officials create the policies and practices that will facilitate America’s transition to a clean-energy economy. 
 
Ritter was elected as Colorado's 41st governor in 2006, and built consensus to tackle some of the state's biggest challenges. During his four-year term, Ritter established Colorado as a national and international leader in clean energy, by building a new energy economy. He signed 57 new energy bills into law, including a 30% Renewable Portfolio Standard and a Clean Air Clean Jobs Act that replaced nearly a gigawatt of coal-fired generation with natural gas. In total, the Colorado new energy economy created thousands of new jobs. 
 
Ritter is a member of the board of the directors of the Energy Foundation and a senior fellow and member of the board of directors of the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. Ritter earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Colorado State University (1978) and his law degree from the University of Colorado (1981). With his wife Jeannie, he operated a food distribution and nutrition center in Zambia. He then served as Denver's district attorney from 1993 to January 2005.
 
The Ritters have four children: August, Abe, Sam, and Tally. 

 

Neera Tanden

President of the Center for American Progress and Counselor to the Center for American Progress Action Fund 

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Neera Tanden is the President of the Center for American Progress and Counselor to the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Tanden has served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as well as presidential campaigns and think tanks. Most recently, Tanden served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Center, where she oversaw strategic planning, operations, and fundraising.
 
Tanden previously served as senior advisor for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services, working on President Barack Obama’s health reform team in the White House. In that role, she developed policies around reform and worked with Congress and stakeholders on particular provisions of the legislation.
Prior to that, Tanden was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, where she managed all domestic policy proposals. Tanden had also served as policy director for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, where she directed all policy work, ranging from domestic policy to the economy to foreign affairs, and managed day-to-day policy announcements. In that role, she also oversaw the debate preparation process for then-Sen. Clinton (D-NY).
 
Before the presidential campaign, Tanden was Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at CAP. Prior to that, she was one of the first senior staff members at the Center, joining as Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy when CAP first opened its doors. In between, Tanden was legislative director for Sen. Clinton, where she oversaw all policy and legislation in the Senate office. In 2000, she was Hillary Clinton’s deputy campaign manager and issues director for her Senate campaign in New York. Tanden also served as associate director for domestic policy in the Clinton White House and senior policy advisor to the first lady.
 
Tanden has appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” MSNBC, CNN, and Fox. She was named one of the “Most Influential Women in Washington” by National Journal and received the India Abroad Publisher’s Award for Excellence in 2011. Tanden was recently included on Elle magazine’s “Women in Washington Power List” and recognized as one of Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women in Politics.” She received her bachelor of science from UCLA and her law degree from Yale Law School.
 
 

Thomas Voss

Chairman, Smart Wires, Inc. 

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Thomas R. Voss was elected to the position of Chairman of Smart Wire in 2014 after retiring as Chairman, President and CEO of Ameren Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, on July 1, 2014 – positions he held since May 2009. Voss served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ameren from 2004 to 2009. In December 2006, he was elected to the additional position of President and CEO of AmerenUE, Ameren’s Missouri operations.
 
Prior to this appointment, he held the title of Senior Vice President, Generation, and President, Ameren Energy and Ameren Energy Resources. In this position, he was responsible for generation, fuels and services and related trading and marketing operations.
 
Previously, he served as Senior Vice President for Energy Delivery/Customer Services. In this position, Voss was responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of all gas and electric delivery systems and also for all customer care activities for Ameren’s operating utility companies.
 
Voss began his career with Union Electric (now doing business as Ameren Missouri) in 1969 as an engineer after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, now Missouri University of Science & Technology (MS&T). After serving four years as an U.S. Air Force officer, he returned to Union Electric as an engineer. From 1975-1987, he held a series of successively higher positions – moving from engineer to staff engineer, superintendent and district manager. In 1988, he became Manager of Distribution Operating. He was named Vice President, Region Operations for AmerenCIPS in July 1998.
 
Voss is also a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Public Utility Executive Program and the Westinghouse Advanced Power Systems School. In addition, he completed the Reactor Technology Course for Utility Executives – an intensive three-week program on nuclear technology offered through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Academy for Nuclear Training. Voss is a registered professional engineer in Missouri and Illinois. In 2011 Voss was selected by the National Society of Professional Engineers for national recognition as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.
 
Voss serves on several St. Louis area civic and arts organizations, including, Dance St. Louis (Chairman Emeritus), the MUNY, stl250 (Chairman), MS&T, and Grand Center. Voss has been a champion of safety and diversity both within and outside Ameren Corporation. A native of St. Louis and a graduate of St. Louis University High School, Voss and his wife of 45 years, Carol, have three children and four grandchildren.

 

Dr. Ellen Williams

Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E)

 
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Dr. Ellen Williams is the Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), responsible for oversight of the Agency.
 
Prior to joining ARPA-E, Dr. Williams served as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy and the Chief Scientist for BP. She is currently on a leave of absence from the University of Maryland where she has served as a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology since 2000. Dr. Williams has served as a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland since 1991. She founded the University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and served as its Director from 1996 through 2009.
 
Dr. Williams received a B.S. in Chemistry from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.

 

Geisha Williams

President of Electric Operations at Pacific Gas and Electric Company

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Geisha J. Williams is Executive Vice President, Electric Operations for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. She is responsible for the end-to-end delivery of safe, reliable, affordable and clean electric service to 16 million people in northern and central California, including hydroelectric and fossil generation, energy procurement and trading, and electric transmission and distribution operations. Williams also oversees the integration of new smart grid technologies, leads PG&E’s planning and response to emergencies and natural disasters, and oversees enterprise project governance. 
 
Before joining PG&E, Williams held officer-level positions leading electric distribution, as well as a variety of positions of increasing responsibility in customer service, marketing, external affairs, and electric operations at Florida Power and Light Company. She is a trustee of the California Academy of Sciences, and on the Boards of Directors of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, the Center for Energy and Workforce Development and the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies. Williams is also active in Executive Women in Energy and the University of Miami President’s Council. 
 
A contributing member of the PG&E employee community, Williams is the executive sponsoring officer of both the Black Employee Resource Group as well as the Latino Employee Resource Group. She was also the former executive sponsor of PG&E's Women's Network and Nu Energy Employee Resource Group. Williams holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Miami and a MBA from Nova Southeastern University. She lives in Tiburon with her family.
 
 
 

Lisa Wood, Ph.D.

Executive Director of the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI) and Vice President of The Edison Foundation

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Lisa Wood is Vice President of The Edison Foundation and Executive Director of the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI). As Executive Director of IEI she promotes the sharing of information, ideas, and experiences among regulators, policymakers, technology companies, thought leaders, and the electric power industry; collaborates with a Management Committee of over 20 electric utility chief executive officers; and provides thought leadership on current issues and innovation in the power sector through articles, dialogues, and speaking engagements. Under Ms. Wood’s leadership, IEI published three recent books: Innovations across the Grid: Partnerships Transforming the Power Sector, in 2013; Innovations Across the Grid: Volume II, in 2014; and Thought Leaders Speak Out: The Evolving Electric Power Industry in 2015.
 
Ms. Wood is currently an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins
University School of Advanced International Studies and is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at The Brookings Institution. She was previously an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
 
Ms. Wood is an active member of both for-profit and not-for-profit boards including:
 
 • Advisory Board, GE Energy New Business; 
 • Board of Directors, Energate, Inc.; 
 • Board of Directors, National Energy Foundation. 

 
She previously served on the Executive Leadership Group for the State Energy Efficiency Action Network; the Advisory Board for Johnson Controls’ Institute for Building Efficiency; the Advisory Board for American Efficient; and the Board of Directors of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Wood is a member of the International Association for Energy Economics. 
Prior to launching IEI, Wood was a Principal with The Brattle Group and Director of Brattle’s Washington DC office; a Principal with PHB Hagler Bailly; and a Program Director at RTI International. In those positions, she directed economic, financial, and market analysis studies for leading electric utilities nationwide.

Wood holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania; and a B.A. from Rutgers College.