CEE announces new board of directors

Dec 4, 2017

On the heels of a successful merger with the Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC), Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) has restructured its board of directors to include members from each organization’s former board. Each member of the newly established board served previously for at least six years with either CEE or the NEC.

“CEE’s new board mirrors other merger benefits,” explained newly elected board chair Julia Donaldson. “On our board, in our St. Paul and Minneapolis offices, and throughout the communities we serve, we are strategically building on the complementary skillsets and perspectives of both successful organizations.”

After decades building strong reputations for community-focused energy efficiency efforts, last year the boards of the two Minnesota nonprofits signaled their intent to merge for greater reach and impact. In addition to mission and program parallels dating back to the 1990s, like-minded leadership and a shifting policy framework had brought the nonprofits into even closer collaboration. When Chris Duffrin transitioned from leading the NEC to become CEE’s new president in 2016, both boards recognized a timely opportunity to explore an even tighter partnership. That strategic decision led to months of rigorous planning and preparation, culminating in the organizations’ legal merger this past June.

CEE’s newly established six-member board has elected officers and set its bylaws and governing course for the coming year, including plans to engage and inform all board members about the full range of CEE’s current operations and program offerings, alongside a focused exploration of CEE’s post-merger identity and mission.

With the new board’s formation, longtime CEE board chair Carol Johnson decided to retire earlier this year after nearly 30 years of board service. “It’s been such a good ride, and I’ve been very proud of the organization as well as the leadership and comradery of the staff — so conducive to collaboration and doing what needs to be done,” says Johnson. “This work is more important than ever. We’ll need to work very diligently and very quickly, to achieve the clean energy goals we need to achieve. CEE is well positioned to lead the way.”

In November, Dentley Haugesag also retired from CEE’s board after seven years of service. A former renewable energy specialist in Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, Haugesag assisted with merger-related transitions and offered valuable field perspectives in board discussions.

CEE Board of Directors

Julia Donaldson, Board Chair. Julia is vice president of mission advancement at Volunteers of America Minnesota and Wisconsin, bringing more than 15 years’ experience in nonprofit administration. She earned her Master’s degree from Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Julia has served on CEE’s board since 2009.

Tom Garry, Vice Chair. Tom serves as senior attorney at The Nature Conservancy. Previously he was an attorney at Best & Flanagan, working in the areas of real estate, civil litigation, and environmental law. Tom earned his Master of Laws degree in environmental law. He served on the NEC’s board since 2011.

Cameron Blodgett, Treasurer. As the former senior vice-president of ServiceLink, Cam specialized in residential mortgage servicing, property valuation, and title and escrow solutions. He is also former CEO of The Mortgage Group. Cam joined CEE’s board in 1994.

Ralph Dickinson. Ralph is principal at Dickinson Associates, providing customers with energy consulting and analysis. Earlier in his career, he was a product developer for Xcel Energy (formerly NSP). Ralph is a Minnesota registered mechanical engineer, and joined the NEC board in 2010.

John Kopchik. John is a partner at Churchill Equity, directing private investments in energy and transportation. He earned 20 years of investment experience at General Mills, Northwest Airlines, and as a consultant. John has served on CEE’s board since 2001.

Amir Nadav. Amir is a sustainability lecturer at the University of Minnesota. Previously he held positions as a program manager at Great Plains Institute and a policy analyst at Windustry. Amir holds an M.E.M. in forestry and environmental studies, and joined the NEC’s board in 2011.


About Center for Energy and Environment

Center for Energy and Environment is a Minnesota-based nonprofit that promotes energy efficiency to strengthen the economy while improving the environment. Since the 1980s, CEE has provided a range of practical and cost-effective programs to help homeowners, businesses, and communities save energy and money.

Related Links
CEE's Board of Directors
Carol Johnson: Three decades in, retiring board chair shares memories and insights
News Release: Two nonprofits merge for greater reach and impact