Our Staff

Jacob Corvidae, Co-Founder, Co-Director (bio)
Conan Smith, Co-Founder (bio)
Hayley Roberts, Communications Director
Joel Howrani Heeres, Sustainable Communities Coordinator (bio)
Debra Jensen, Lead Energy Analyst
Jennifer Young, Energy Programs Coordinator (bio)
Molly Fischhoff, Fellow (bio)
Sue McAlpine, BetterBuildings for Michigan Program Director


Staff bios (in alphabetical order)

Jacob Corvidae

Jacob Stevens Corvidae, LEED AP, is the Green Programs Manager for WARM Training Center, where he oversees WARM’s technical assistance division. With a passion for making sustainability fun and accessible, he geeks hard so you don’t have to.

An experienced program designer, Jacob has developed regional and statewide programs to advance energy efficiency and green building. He spearheads WARM’s work as a founding partner of the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office, providing technical assistance to local governments. Jacob also serves on the steering committee for Better Buildings for Michigan and oversees the program’s design and outreach efforts in Southeast Michigan. BetterBuildings for Michigan aims to provide energy retrofits to over 4,000 homes in Detroit and the Metro area.

Jacob conducts seminars and consults on energy efficiency, green building and renewable energy for a variety of audiences and clients. He performs (and sometimes that word is quite accurate) 30-50 seminars a year, including at national and statewide conferences. In addition, he has taught sustainable design at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture. He has also authored a variety of reports, guides and essays on energy savings and green building, including blog posts at and

With a passion and commitment to social and organizational sustainability, Jacob has been working with collaboratives and local groups on sustainable development since 1997 and is a co-founder of Sustainable Detroit and the Urban Ecovillage Network. He is a trained mediator and has studied integral theory and sustainable development at the Integral Institute.

And in the rest of his time? You can find him doing anything from designing games to improve the world, making music, building robots, making delicious food, climbing things that probably shouldn’t be climbed on, and making impromptu obstacle courses with his kids. While this is the “rest of the time” there’s no real “rest” in that time. But apparently, that’s the way he likes it.

REO_Headshot_Fischhoff_v3Molly Fischhoff

Molly Fischhoff joined the Regional Energy Office Team as a 2013 spring/summer Fellow. She is responsible for a project focusing on understanding and promoting sustainable practices at zoological institutions. Because of their large and diverse public appeal, zoos have a unique opportunity to showcase best practices for sustainability, which can be adapted by community members for use in their own lives. Molly’s goals are to find innovative and efficient methods for zoos to become more environmentally friendly and to serve as models and educators of sustainability for individuals and organizations throughout the region. Her work will identify solutions to improve zoos energy efficiency, waste and water management and general environmental sensitivity.

A southeast Michigan native, Molly grew up in West Bloomfield and Ann Arbor before moving to East Lansing to pursue dual Bachelor of Science degrees in zoology and psychology from Michigan State University. She also studied in Antarctica, learning about Antarctic system science and writing an article about the impact of commercial fishing on albatross populations. Molly has since worked on a number of research projects, across a broad spectrum of disciplines. She will use her knowledge of the needs of zoological institutions coupled with her research experience to determine the best way to increase sustainability in such facilities.

Molly looks forward to contributing to the Regional Energy Office’s work, demonstrating to the region that it’s easy being green.

Joel Howrani Heeres
Sustainable Communities Coordinator

Joel has been at WARM Training Center since March 2010, serving as the sustainable communities coordinator, which is the main liaison to local governments around energy, climate and sustainability issues.

Prior to joining WARM Training Center, Joel earned a dual Master’s Degree focused on Urban Sustainability from the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the School of Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. He is a passionate advocate for sustainability as the force through which cities can revitalize, thrive, and innovate. Prior to graduate school, Joel spent 5 years teaching high school in the City of Detroit, preceded by several years working in organic agriculture.

In his time at WARM Training Center, Joel has served as a main technical liaison to local governments regarding energy, climate, and sustainability issues. He led a project that provided technical assistance to 41 local governments that received EECBG grants through the State of Michigan Energy Office. That assistance ranged from presenting at workshops and conferences to compiling case studies on key projects and providing one-on-one assistance. Joel handled energy data analysis and DTE rebates for Regional Energy Office members who received EECBG grants. Over the last 10 months, Joel has spearheaded WARM’s work with Oakland County on a Tri-City Sustainability Plan. In addition, he has be the project manager for the GHG Assessment portion of three Climate Action Planning grants. Furthermore, Joel is involved with the City of Detroit’s Green Task Force, helping the City develop green building policies and other policies to move the city towards greater sustainability.

Joel is an avid, year round bike commuter, gardener, cook, and athlete. He loves and lives in the City of Detroit with his wife; Ana Howrani Heeres. He serves as the President of the Board of The Hub of Detroit, a non-profit that educates and empowers youth and adults to build, fix, maintain, and ride bicycles as means of both transportation and recreation.

Joel’s wide-ranging skills include policy and program development, data analysis and systems, and the design and facilitation of public processes.


Conan Smith

Conan, our noble leader, has served as Executive Director at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance since August 2004. His passion for cities – matched only by his insatiable desire to create straw replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World – stems from a life supporting innovative policies for urban development and regional collaboration strategies. (We’re serious about the straw; plans are already in the works for a backyard Stonehenge.)

Prior to joining Suburbs Alliance, Conan worked with the Michigan Environmental Council. As their Land Programs Director, he helped build cohesive support in the environmental community for Smart Growth policies among the state’s environmental organizations and their constituents. His past work has been integral in creating conservation subdivision design standards for local governments, instituting an asset management program within the Michigan Department of Transportation, advancing regional governance opportunities and securing more than $55 million in increased funding for mass transit in the state.

In his time at the Suburbs Alliance, he has transformed the organization. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is the Lego building he recently architected – all by himself, might I add. However, his white board drawings have given new life to our office space, and undoubtedly take a close second.  Others point to his more pragmatic impacts, including a budget that has grown from $150,000 to more than $4M in FY 2011.   Under his leadership the Suburbs Alliance was named one of the state’s “Most Innovative Companies” in 2006 by the Michigan Business Review.  The organization’s programs have brought more than $40M to Michigan communities and advanced pioneering approaches to redevelopment, climate change and talent attraction and retention.

Conan also serves as a Washtenaw County Commissioner representing the City of Ann Arbor, a position he’s held since 2005. He serves as chair of the board for 2011.  For the previous two years, he chaired the Ways & Means Committee, successfully leading the County through a $30M budget deficit challenge by working to address strategic cuts and restructurings that saved hundreds of jobs and protected critical public services.

Conan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he lives today with his wife, Michigan State Senator Rebekah Warren. He serves on the board of directors of Michigan Saves and as an executive committee member at SEMCOG. Conan attended the Residential College at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature.

With his combination of professional, personal and educational qualifications, Conan is the ideal leader of the Suburbs Alliance and a role model for its employees. It is his habit of picking up the lunch tab, however, that has secured his popularity with the staff.

Jennifer Young
Energy Programs Coordinator
866.402.1061 x712

As the Energy Office’s program coordinator, Jennifer provides grant administration and project management assistance on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to local governments throughout Southeast Michigan. In this capacity, she facilitates communication and collaboration among City staff, grant administrators and the Energy Office’s project team.

Since May 2010, she has provided grant administration and project management assistance to over 10 local governments on over 38 municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. These projects range from interior lighting upgrades to solar panel installations.

Jen also coordinated the efforts of six participating communities in a joint bid effort to receive bulk pricing on energy efficient lighting equipment, resulting in the communities saving over $50,000. She also works closely with local governments build a regional endowment to fund energy programs and services accessible to Energy Office member governments, creating a sustainable source of funding for energy programs and services that will benefit member communities for years to come.

Prior to working with the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Jennifer worked as an independent consultant on energy and environmental projects. Jennifer holds an M.S. in Resource Policy and Behavior from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Biology from Eastern Michigan University. For her master’s thesis, Jennifer conducted a social science research project in the Galápagos Islands to discover the motivations for volunteer participation in a conservation research project in the famous archipelago.

It is Jennifer’s privilege and honor to serve communities in fulfilling their commitment to creating vibrant, sustainable and attractive communities where residents live, work and play.

Print Friendly