The Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office is comprised of 23 southeast Michigan local governments, including 22 cities and one county. Of these, four communities serve as voting members on our Board of Directors, along with representatives from each of our three main partner organizations.
Green Programs Manager, WARM Training Center
Jacob Corvidae is the Green Programs Manager at WARM Training Center, a 30 year old Detroit-based nonprofit that creates opportunities to learn and practice the sustainable use of energy and resources. Mr. Corvidae leads WARM’s Green Consulting department, which provides energy and sustainability services to residents, businesses and local governments. He also is the Regional Coordinator to the statewide BetterBuildings for Michigan program, improving 9,000 homes and building an energy efficiency market. A frequent public speaker and passionate advocate , Mr. Corvidae is most well-known for being a passionate advocate for real, practical solutions that can transform communities. Mr. Corvidae also serves as the President and Co-Founder of the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office. Mr. Corvidae wants to help southeast Michigan communities realize their vision for a better future. He uses sustainability as a tool for tackling economic development, community building, and improved quality of life. Mr. Corvidae believes that city leadership, innovation and collaboration are critical for improving our state and country and is thrilled that the Regional Energy Office can support those efforts while also providing direct benefits to city services and budgets.
City Development Manager, City of Sterling Heights
City Development Manager, City of Sterling Heights Denice A. Gerstenberg serves as the City of Sterling Heights City Development Manager. She has over 21 years of experience in construction management, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and public housing management, land acquisition and disposal, traffic sign and signal coordination, code enforcement, landscaping and park development and grant administration. She also serves as the key contact for the City’s energy efficiency initiatives, serving as the Vice President for the Regional Energy Office and the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) partnerships. Ms. Gerstenberg serves as the STEM Director for the Michigan chapter of Women in Defense. Ms. Gerstenberg is recognized by the State of Michigan as a Professional Emergency Manager (PEM) and received her undergraduate and Masters degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “I was thrilled to have been elected as the first Regional Energy Office vice president,” says Ms. Gerstenberg. “This is a young, dynamic organization is taking steps to unify energy efficiency efforts across the region and promote southeast Michigan as a great, green place to live.” According to Ms. Gerstenberg, Sterling Heights residents have already seen benefits from the City’s membership with the Regional Energy Office. As a member of the Regional Energy Office, Sterling Heights, was selected to participate in the BetterBuildings for Michigan program, which has provided incentives and improvements that encourage home energy efficiency and lower utility bills and provides more comfortable living and working spaces to city residents. The City of Sterling Heights will also be piloting the cooperative Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a program designed to encourage implementation of energy efficiency projects and renewable energy systems on privately owned commercial or industrial property. According to Ms. Gerstenberg, “Energy efficiency programs and green technologies are economic development tools that can help attract businesses and residents to the City.”
City Administrator, City of Southgate
As the City Administrator for the City of Southgate, it is Brandon Fournier’s job to ensure the coordination of all of the City’s departments and personnel toward the betterment of the entire community. The City of Southgate prides itself on offering an excellent quality of life for all its residents and businesses through outstanding services and programs. “I am very proud of the pride and effort given by all of our City employees to ensure the delivery of these outstanding amenities,” said Mr. Fournier. “The City of Southgate is always looking for ways to increase the quality of life of our residents and local energy policy is a key component. The Regional Energy Office has provided access to state and federal funds to upgrade our infrastructure. Access to the Regional Energy Office staff has led to increased operational efficiencies and a decrease of our fixed energy costs. Regional efforts such as this are a key component to our City’s continued success.”
Executive Director, Michigan Suburbs Alliance
Conan Smith, the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office’s Board Treasurer, has served as Executive Director at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance (Suburbs Alliance) since August 2004. 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. In his time at the Suburbs Alliance, he has transformed the organization. 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. As a Commissioner 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 as Board President 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.
Assistant City Administrator and DDA Executive Director, City of Lathrup Village
Matt Baumgarten oversees the Community and Economic Development efforts in the City of Lathrup Village as the Assistant to the City Administrator and Downtown Development Authority Executive Director. As one of the Regional Energy Office’s earliest members, Lathrup Village has benefitted greatly from technical support, grants, and energy efficiency planning over the last several years. According to Mr. Baumgarten, “Lathrup is a small city with a small staff but [our membership in] the Regional Energy Office provides the same opportunities that larger communities have to make efficiently improvements. We couldn’t do this without them.”
Finance Director, City of Huntington Woods
As the Finance Director for the City of Huntington Woods, Richard (Tony) Lehmann was appointed by the City Manager and is responsible for the general supervision of all City financial matters, including assisting in the preparation of the City budget. He compiles budget expense and income estimates and maintains records. The Finance Director is also responsible for the disbursement of funds for incurred debts.
Mr. Lehmann has worked for the City of Huntington Woods since 1988 as the Finance Director. He is a lifelong Huntington Woods resident and graduated from Berkley High School in 1971. He has a Master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelors Degree from Ferris State University. His previous experiences included working for the City of Wixom as Deputy Treasurer and Acting Treasurer, the City of Madison Heights as the Deputy Treasurer and the Village of Lake Orion as the Finance Director. He is the member of the Michigan Municipal Finance Officers Association, Governmental Finance Officers Association, Past President of the Huntington Woods Optimist Club and Men’s Club and Berkley Bear Athletic Boosters. “One of the largest costs a municipality pays in any given year is the cost of energy for a whole host of purposes. The cost of doing business therefore is tied directly to how well we manage those resources. Our City needs to be as vigilant as possible to determine ways to reduce our energy footprint and therefore reduce our costs. Failure to do so will cause a reduction in services and higher costs for all our residents.”
Special Projects Coordinator, City of Hazel Park
Shelley O’Brien began her employment with the City of Hazel Park as a Management Assistant for the City Manager and now serves as the City’s code enforcement supervisor, special projects manager, deputy treasurer, in addition to overseeing the City’s government access cable channel. Ms. O’Brien earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and also holds a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the same. With a strong focus on policy, Ms. O’Brien is interested in the problems plaguing inner-ring suburbs and works diligently to create innovative and strategic opportunities that seek to solve the various issues plaguing not only her distressed community but the entire region at large.
Ms. O’Brien believes that the Regional Energy Office can help cities access funding for energy-efficient infrastructure improvements for cash-strapped municipalities such as Hazel Park. These improvements in turn affect a community’s ability to enhance its sustainability and promote growth, for both the individual community, as well as the region in which it is situated. As a representative of Hazel Park, Ms. O’Brien serves on the Board of Directors of the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office so that she may help to promote and implement these cost-saving projects in the interest of strengthening the region as a whole.
Program Coordinator, Michigan Municipal League
Luke Forrest is a Project Coordinator for the Michigan Municipal League. He supports local governments around the State in their efforts to become more economically and environmentally sustainable through two projects: the Center for 21st Century Communities and Michigan Green Communities. Before joining the League, Luke worked for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and the U.S. House of Representatives. He has graduate degrees in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development from the University of Michigan. The Municipal League has been supportive of the Regional Energy Office since its early days, because, says Mr. Forrest, “we see the Regional Energy Office as an excellent model for regional collaboration, service sharing and modernizing government energy use.”