Each year, the TOBI awards recognize Growth Energy members for their innovation, fortitude, perseverance, and leadership in the biofuels industry. From communication professionals and political advocates to technical experts and corporate leaders, the TOBI awards acknowledge the achievements of members who go the extra mile to drive progress within their organizations and the industry. Growth Energy proudly announced the winners of the 2024 TOBI awards at the 2024 Executive Leadership Conference. Learn more about them below.
Winner, Public Affairs – Dawn Caldwell, Executive Director of Renewable Fuels Nebraska
This year’s TOBI Award for Public Affairs goes to Dawn Caldwell, Executive Director of Renewable Fuels Nebraska. Caldwell has worked alongside many in our industry to expand access to E15 in Nebraska. Her efforts were instrumental in successfully shepherding through legislation to provide affordable, homegrown, fuel options for Nebraskans. By taking advantage of hallway conversations both in the capitol and in the Governor’s office and working to ensure stakeholders understood the bill’s benefits for state’s rural economy, her drive and determination helped catalyze enactment of this key legislation in the Husker state.
Winner, Technical Excellence – Jennifer Aurandt-Pilgrim, Vice President of Research & Development and Director of Innovation at Marquis Energy
This year’s TOBI Award for Technical Excellence goes to Jennifer Aurandt-Pilgrim, Vice President of Research & Development and Director of Innovation at Marquis Energy. As our industry embarks on new sustainable products within the bioeconomy, this year’s recipient for technical excellence is at the tip of the spear. With both academic and industry bona fides, she is at the forefront of industry innovation, helping develop and implement new technologies for carbon capture and sequestration and sustainable aviation fuel. Every day, she drives progress on new frontiers for the industry, advancing modern technologies and improving scientific understanding.
Winner, Advocacy – Michael Walz, Vice President of Public Affairs at POET
This year’s TOBI Award for Advocacy goes to Michael Walz, Vice President of Public Affairs at POET. The expansion of E15 holds huge promise for America’s bioethanol industry, with the potential to increase in our domestic market share by 50 percent. This year’s TOBI award winner for Advocacy has led the charge on efforts in the states to make this a reality through the passage of E15 standards in Iowa and Nebraska, and the enactment of E15 tax incentives in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. His tireless work is already paying dividends with E15 sales increasing to the highest levels on record. While America’s bioethanol industry has many strategic advocates around the country, no one has done more to ensure success in the states than Walz.
Winner, Global Market Development – Andrea Kent, Vice President of Industry and Government Affairs at Greenfield Global
This year’s TOBI Award for Global Market Development goes to Andrea Kent, Vice President of Industry and Government Affairs at Greenfield Global. As the industry seeks to generate greater demand for U.S. bioethanol by expanding markets abroad, we recognize the work of a particular strategic partner in Canada, our top export destination. Kent is a recognized expert, lecturing and publishing in her home country and around the world to promote the importance of biofuels. She has worked tirelessly over the last six years to see Canada’s Clean Fuel Regulation enacted, a victory that will grow future demand for our industry. With this award, we acknowledge her relentless advocacy for bioethanol in her home country and across the globe.
Winner, Market Development – Doug Vind, Managing Member at Pearson Fuels
This year’s TOBI Award for Market Development goes to Doug Vind, Managing Member at Pearson Fuels. Vind is a true industry pioneer, offering the first bioethanol blends into California in the 1980s. He continues successfully marketing higher blends of bioethanol today at Pearson’s, with California now selling over one-hundred million gallons of E85 annually. Pearson supplies E85 to over 350 stores in California, operates over a dozen E85 rail and truck distribution facilities, with hundreds more retail stations under contract. Through staunch support of higher blends over many years, he continues to transform the California market for the better.
Winner, Get Biofuel – Ryan Sauer, Vice President of Market Development at Iowa Corn
This year’s TOBI Award for Get Biofuel goes to Ryan Sauer, Vice President of Market Development at Iowa Corn. In his new role at Iowa Corn, Sauer has been a tireless advocate for our award-winning Get Biofuel consumer campaign. His resolve helped ensure a well-coordinated initiative which also highlights Iowa Corn’s support for last summer’s Green American Road Trip with a Des Moines photo op and E15 fill-up as final stop. Sauer not only served as a strong partner in promoting the success of the campaign, but he also raised awareness among new audiences on the benefits of higher blends and identified ways to grow demand.
Winner, Membership – Ryan Carter, Chief Operating Officer of Tharaldson Ethanol
This year’s TOBI Award for Membership goes to Ryan Carter, Chief Operating Officer of Tharaldson Ethanol. With over twenty years in the bioethanol industry, he has weathered the storms of the industry in a storied career of building, operationalizing, and managing several bioethanol production facilities across the country. He currently operates one of the country’s largest dry–mill facilities in Fargo, North Dakota, and is leading the next generation of low carbon fuel producers. He is a true advocate for Growth Energy, supporting our efforts at every turn and inspiring other producers and vendors to join our cause.
Congratulations to all of our TOBI award winners! Thank you for making such dynamic contributions to Growth Energy and to the biofuels industry as a whole.