Growth Energy represents the producers and supporters of biofuels who feed the world and fuel America in ways that achieve energy independence, improve economic well-being and create a healthier environment for all Americans now.
Prior to joining Growth Energy, Emily Skor served as the Vice President of Communications for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and the Executive Director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. At CHPA, a member-based trade association advocating for consumer healthcare products and serving as leader on regulatory and scientific issues for the industry, Skor oversaw public affairs campaigns, integrating strategic communications into legislative campaigns and coordinating ally development. Before joining CHPA in February 2011, Skor served as Senior Vice President at Dezenhall Resources, a nationally recognized crisis communications and issues management firm. For more than a decade, she helped Fortune 500 companies and industry associations manage issues affecting brand confidence and corporate reputation through media, advocacy, coalition building and consumer education campaigns.
Jeff Broin is the Chairman and CEO of POET, the largest producer of biofuels worldwide. The 28 U.S. plants, designed and constructed by POET, have a combined annual production capacity of 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol. Mr. Broin grew the company from one small plant to the current comprehensive network of facilities, and simultaneously founded and built joint management, marketing, research and design companies that continually work with the POET network of plants. POET has also been a pioneer in the area of cellulosic biofuel technology. POET recently built and operates Project Liberty, one of the first cellulosic ethanol plants in the U.S. Mr. Broin has been heavily involved in biofuels advocacy and promotion on both the federal and state levels for more than 25 years.
Tom Buis joined Growth Energy in March 2009 and served as the CEO of the organization until July of 2015. Prior to joining Growth Energy, Buis was elected National Farmers Union’s 13th president. Buis had been with the organization since March 1998, previously serving as vice president of government relations. Buis served for nearly five years as senior agriculture policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. In addition, Buis worked for U.S. Rep. Jim Jontz, D-Ind., for nearly five years as legislative assistant and legislative director. He was also special assistant for agriculture to U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, D-Ind. Before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1987, Buis was a full-time grain and livestock farmer in Putnam and Morgan Counties in West Central Indiana, with brothers Mike and Jeff, who continue to operate the family farm.
Dan Sanders is the Vice President of Front Range Energy, an ethanol production facility located in Windsor, Colo. After helping to form Front Range Energy in 2004, Mr. Sanders led the development of the company which started production in mid-2006. He has over 13 years of experience in the ethanol industry and has been active in promoting biofuels through both public relation and educational campaigns in Colorado, and industry advocacy work on Capitol Hill. Mr. Sanders holds a business management degree from Arizona State University, and has served on Growth Energy’s board of directors since 2013.
Green Plains is a publicly traded company, focused on risk management, operational excellence, and safety, operating at the intersection of agriculture and energy. Since 2007, Mr. Becker has led the company through rapid growth to become the second largest consolidated owner of ethanol production capacity in the world, with nearly 1.5 billion gallons of operating capacity. Green Plains is also the fourth largest cattle feeder in the United States and the world’s largest industrial vinegar producer with the recent acquisition of the Fleishmann’s Vinegar Company.
Mr. Becker currently serves as chairman, CEO and director of Green Plains Partners, a first-of-its-kind master limited partnership focused on ethanol storage, handling and transportation assets, which went public in June of 2015. He earned a Master’s degree in Finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from the University of Kansas.
Richard Childress is the Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, a renowned, performance-driven racing, marketing and manufacturing organization with over 200 victories and 17 championships. A former NASCAR driver himself, Mr. Childress got his start in 1969 and earned 76 top-10 finishes in 285 races before handing over driving duties to Dale Earnhardt in 1981. Together, they established RCR as one of the premier teams in all of motorsports. Mr. Childress is also proprietor of Childress Vineyards, founder of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, and owner of Yadkin River Angus, a Black Angus cattle ranch. He is an avid outdoorsman with a strong commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation.
Raymond Defenbaugh is a founding member, President, CEO and Chairman of Big River Resources, LLC, a tristate ethanol organization with facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition to serving as president of Big River Resources Cooperative, he also sits on the board of Absolute Energy, LLC, is a delegate to the U.S. Grains Council, and is a member of The National Grain and Feed Association. Mr. Defenbaugh has farmed, banked and taught vocational agriculture in Illinois, as well co-op development, business plan development and business techniques in Moldova and Russia. He holds a Master’s in economics and has been awarded the Prairie Farmer Master Farmer Award.
Kyle joined POET in July 2012 and is the Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Communications. Gilley is responsible for developing policy, public affairs and communications strategies and managing resources that advance the business objectives of POET and the renewable fuels industry. Prior to joining POET, Gilley held public policy and business development positions for Lennox International, Inc., in Richardson, TX; in April 2007, he was promoted to the Vice President of Government Affairs. Before joining Lennox, Gilley worked for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Baylor University. He currently serves as a board member of Growth Energy, a leading voice for U.S. ethanol supporters. Gilley is also involved with Fuels America and America’s Renewable Future efforts in Iowa. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors for POET Biorefining – Corning and POET Biorefining – Ashton. Gilley received his Bachelor of Business Administration, Management from Baylor University. He previously served as a board member for the Baylor Alumni Association.
Bret Lieberman currently serves as the Vice President, New Holland North America for CNHi in New Holland, PA. He has been with CNHi for 27 years. From 2009 – 2015, Mr. Lieberman served as the Vice President of NAFTA Manufacturing. From 2006-2009, he served as the Plant Manager, New Holland. From 2004-2006, he served as Operations Manager, New Holland. From 2000-2004, he served as Area Manager, Round Balers, New Holland. From 1999-2000, he served as Area Manager, Haytools, New Holland. From 1996-1999, Bret served as Plant Human Resources Manager, Belleville, PA. From 1995-1996, Mr. Lieberman served as Process Specialist, Leadership Through Customer Satisfaction (TQM), New Holland. From 1993-1994, he served as Plant Human Resources Representative, New Holland. From 1993-1993, he served as Buyer – Purchasing, New Holland. From 1992-1993, he served as Production Supervisor, New Holland. From 1990-1992, he served as Service Parts Planner, New Holland.
Mr. Lieberman is a member of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Consortium. He is on the Ag Sector Board of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business in Management from Bloomsburg University, and a Masters in Business Administration in Management from St. Francis College.
Darrell L. “Mark” Marquis has served as a member of the board of managers of Marquis Energy since co-founding it in 2005, and as Chief Executive Officer and President. In addition to co-founding Marquis Energy, Mr. Marquis co-founded Marquis Management and certain other affiliated Marquis entities, which serve an important role in the ethanol production process at the facility. Mr. Marquis has founded and led 11 businesses over 39 years across various ethanol-related sectors such as grain procurement, risk management, logistics, trucking, rail, barge, construction, agriculture, project financing and energy.
Mitch Miller currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director for Carbon Green BioEnergy, LLC and is the President of Iroquois Bio-Energy Company, LLC and Managing Partner of NUVU Fuels. Mr. Miller has had an extensive history in the ethanol industry dating back to 1994. Mr. Miller’s education has been in Process Plant Technology from Bismarck State College and Technical Business Management from Southwest State University in Minnesota.
Rick Schwarck was born and raised on a family farm in Mitchell County, Iowa and is still involved in the family farm. Since its inception, Mr. Schwarck has served as the President, Chairman and CEO of Absolute Energy, LLC, an ethanol plant located near St. Ansgar, Iowa. Prior to co-founding Absolute Energy, LLC, Mr. Schwarck had a successful, 30 year financial services career. He was co-owner of The Schwarck Agency, LLC, an insurance and investment firm. Mr. Schwarck was a 30-year member of the National Association of Insurance and Investment Advisors. Mr. Schwarck was a Certified Senior Advisor and Registered Representative of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He also serves as Board Member of the Renewable Products Marketing Group (RPMG), Board Member of the RFA, Governing Board Member of Growth Energy, Director of America’s Renewable Future and is the Secretary of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; Founder of Further Fuels LLC, and is involved in numerous other activities in support of agriculture and the ethanol industry.
Kip Tom is the Managing Member of Tom Farms, LLC, one of Monsanto’s largest seed producers as well as one of Indiana’s largest grain commodity production businesses. He also serves as President of CereServ Inc. In addition to being active in Agri-Business operations in Indiana for the past 42 years, Mr. Tom has also served as a crop production consultant to various companies in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Today he leads finance, strategy and production operations for Tom Farms and CereServ in the U.S. and Argentina.
Tom Willis is currently serving as the CEO/President of Conestoga Energy Holdings, LLC, whose primary business is the production and trading of renewable fuels. Under Tom’s direction, Conestoga Energy Holdings has grown from a startup company with four employees 11 years ago to a diversified company with current gross annual revenues of over $1.5 billion. In addition to CEH, Tom is involved in several other diverse business ventures including farming, a trailer leasing and repair business, and a feed manufacturing company. Tom currently serves on the National Sorghum Producers Board of Directors, The Koch Foundation’s Youth Entrepreneur Board, and the Seward County Hospital Board of Trustees. He is past Chairman of the Kansas Association of Ethanol Producers and past President of the Montana Grain and Feed Association. He is also very active in local, state and national politics.
Shai Sahay is acting general counsel of Growth Energy. In this role, he advises Growth Energy on all legal issues related to ethanol policy, as well as Growth Energy management and operations. He recently led Growth Energy’s successful legal challenge to EPA’s repeated attempts to lower RVO volumes using the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver, paving the way for a stronger RFS into the future. He also assists with other state, federal, and international regulatory and legislative efforts that work to advance ethanol. Sahay also serves as Senior Regulatory Counsel at Growth Energy member company POET.
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