Direct Gain Consulting, LLC


Rick Alfandre, AIA, LEED AP is a prolific architect who has designed and built over 200 

projects ranging from solar residences to multi-million-dollar hotels and resorts. Recent inde-

pendent commissions include new custom residences, residential additions and renovations, 

retail stores, multiple dwellings, restaurants, hotels, manufacturing facilities, furniture designs

and a sanctuary.  The founder and CEO of Alfandre Architecture, he is an expert in the 

design of maximally energy-efficient, climactically responsive buildings that are solar-ready, and 

state-of-the-art construction systems that minimize energy requirements.  Alfandre manages a youthful and motivated workforce with skills in building information modeling, computer-aided design and hand drawing, three-dimensional visualization and visual impact studies.   A leader 

in the green building movement in upstate New York, Alfandre has worked closely with the US 

Green Building Council to grow the Hudson Valley Branch's regional programs and has 

spoken extensively on green building to business and consumer audiences.   Mr. Alfandre is 

devoted to creating spaces and places of lasting beauty, working closely with clients to plan for efficient, resilient and cost-effective projects.  He launched EcoBuilders Inc. in 2009 to provide 

full design/ build services to his clients.



Rod Bergen, P.E., is a solar energy forensics consultant, entrepreneur and educator who is 

president of Quantum Sciences, Inc. and a senior executive in several other solar consultancies. 

His expertise covers energy management, photovoltaic systems design, fault analysis and communications, and advanced inverter product knowledge.  Bergen has crafted numerous solar codes and standards for cities, utilities and trade associations as well as creating California’s first 

solar consumer protection warranty.  Recognized for teaching excellence at UCLA, Rod Bergen 

has extensive experience in designing and delivering technically intensive training for engineers.   

He has designed and installed over 2000 solar energy systems for clients ranging from the Los Angeles Police Department to large residential developments.    



Gay Canough, (Ph.D. particle physics) is a NABCEP-certified PV installer who has taught 

more than 250 photovoltaic installer courses in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

She is an experienced designer of photovoltaic systems. Dr. Canough has worked with IBM, 

NASA, Fermilab, Norte Dame University, the Institute for Space Studies at Princeton, and 

 the International Space University where she directed design projects for missions to Mars 

and space solar power. After managing the startup of the Lunar Prospector Project which 

successfully orbited the moon and collected data for two years, Canough founded ETM 

Solar Works to design and install solar energy on planet earth. ETM has installed over 3 

 megawatts of photovoltaics, as well as small wind energy systems, air-sourced heat pumps 

and battery-backup systems. The author of 23 publications, Gay Canough is a founding 

member of the NY Solar Energy Industries Association and a popular speaker on solar

industry topics.



Joel Davidson is a solar industry founder and executive with over 30 years in successful                  operations, marketing and sales, engineering management, new business and product 

development.  With extensive product and industry knowledge throughout the PV value 

hain, has strong expertise in strategic planning, early-stage company-building and total 

quality control. He founded the world’s first mail-order photovoltaics company, was sales 

manager for the world’s first PV distributor, and earned the first recognition for solar vehicle performance in the 1984 Guinness Book of World Records.  Author of The New Solar 

Electric Home, now in its 3rd edition, Davidson has trained and mentored hundreds of 

solar designers and distributors.  He has designed several utility PV and solar electric vehicle programs; developed products and managed production in building-integrated photovoltaics; 

and served in marketing and management in several international PV companies.



John Easoz is an accomplished PV business and technology development consultant with 

significant international experience.  Consulting since February 2009, he has developed a 

 client base of over fifteen international companies, ranging from startups to well-established photovoltaic (PV) firms, and covering the value chain from silicon production through installed module arrays. His expertise includes strategic and business planning, process cost modeling, 

capital raising, product and market development, and organizational development.  Mr. Easoz‘ 

35 years in the solar industry have built a legacy including four companies, three factory buildings 

and hundreds of jobs created or saved.  As Executive Vice President and COO for Solar Power Industries, Inc. (SPI), Mr. Easoz was responsible for company operations, moving this 

vertically integrated manufacturer from a startup in 2003 to a profitable company with over 

$84MM in sales in 2008. From 1993 - 2003, Mr. Easoz founded and led several successful 

companies advancing dendritic web technologies.  The author or co-author of 25 technical

papers and holder of two patents, Mr. Easoz is also a board member for a major PV solar 

farm developer in Ohio.  He is an active, four-term President of a local business and 

economic development council in the Pittsburgh area. 



Melissa Everett, Ph.D.  is a communications and organizational development expert who specializes in helping small organizations develop cultures and tools for effectiveness in the marketplace.  She works primarily in the roles of campaign designer, writer and editor, curriculum developer, trainer, coach and business development manager, with a focus on branding strategies 

and memorable special events. As the founding Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley, 

 has guided numerous communities in climate action and energy outreach initiatives.  With a Ph.D. 

in Sustainable Development from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, she is trained in counseling and group facilitation through the Concord Institute in Massachusetts.  She is author of three books on themes of integrity, empowerment, and effectiveness, including the award-winning Making a Living While Making a Difference.   Recent projects include producing the conference Resilience 

and Renewal at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY; working with Clean Water Action to support a group of local Energy Task Forces in high-performance local initiatives; and leading the successful Solarize campaign in Enfield, Connecticut.  She manages Direct Gain's communications program.



Lane Garrett, BSEE, MSE, P.E., C.E.M. has been a pioneer since 1976 in developing a viable solar industry as a technology manager, system designer, trainer, and advocate noted for his 

 holistic approach, highly efficient systems designs and  business modeling tools. With an 

extensive corporate technology career, Garrett has helped major organizations such as 

Motorola to  chart pathways into the renewable energy sector. As the CEO of LSG Energy 

Solutions, LLC , a renewable energy and technology consulting company, he is active in the development of microgrid PV systems, PV system bifacial design and optimization, and in 

generating new business opportunities. With a master’s degree in electrical engineering from 

Arizona State and doctoral course in leadership from the University of Phoenix, he has been an

 active graduate instructor in the business and technology programs of the University of Phoenix 

and has mentored many successful solar entrepreneurs around the globe. He has developed a photovoltaic design and install curriculum that has been taught in prison to give short-term inmates the opportunity of a sustainable career upon release. He wrote and taught a 620 hour two-semester course at Mesa's East Valley Institute of Technology in RE and photovoltaics. Garrett was elected to the Drexel 100's alumni hall of fame, recognizing Drexel University's most distinguished alumni. He holds patents and has a dozen of firsts in the PV and controls field.



Joel Gordes’ policy leadership has helped to create the solar playing field in the northeastern United States.  The Principal of Environmental Energy Solutions West Hartford, CT since 1995, Mr. Gordes has extensive experience in energy efficiency, active and passive solar design, energy and environmental security and policy. He serves on the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board, the senior-most advisory group for state energy policy.  He has been Technical Coordinator of the Energy Conservation Management Board tasked with advising the state’s utilities on program development; a consultant to the $28 million per year Connecticut Clean Energy Fund; a Solar Design Analyst for the Connecticut Housing Investment Fund; and Executive Director of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association. As an elected State Representative, from 1987 to 1991 he served as Vice-Chairman of the legislature’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee and was a principal co-author of Connecticut's first global warming bill in 1990. Mr. Gordes has written numerous professional papers on energy and environmental issues including many concerning climate change, energy and environmental security.  Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and nine air medals, Gordes flew 130 combat missions in the U.S. Air Force.



John Howard’s 44-year career in industrial design and technology commercialization has achieved 35 utility patents and numerous professional awards. As CEO, President and Owner of KDA Design, an independent Industrial Design Consulting firm for over 35 years, John has developed the design process into a unique new product development approach that provides cutting edge new award winning product design solutions for diverse clients. He is skilled in the disciplines of competitive product design from market research to reverse engineering.  Trained in the Bauhaus, Technical and Fine Art approaches to design, he has matched design strategy to needs ranging from high profile consumer electronic products to capital equipment and industrial machine enclosures. He has been a member and officer in the Industrial Design Society of America and a juror in the Society’s annual competition.  He has served as an expert witness in several successful patent-related legal actions related to product safety and patent infringement. Prior to the founding of KDA Design, Howard created industrial design departments for the U.S. Army and Container Corporation of America.   John Howard is profiled in Who’s Who in the Midwest.  



Mark Kapner, P.E. has drawn from his more than 30 years of experience in energy technology, engineering and policy to help create the renewable energy scene in Austin, Texas. He was instrumental in developing and running Austin’s GreenChoice Program, the nation’s leading renewable energy marketing program.  He originated the “dual storage media” system for integrating off-peak wind energy and solar thermal to produce utility-scale dispatchable energy.  Kapner also helped to launch Plug-In Partners, the Austin Energy-led campaign to persuade the automobile industry to build plug-in hybrid vehicles. He became Director of Engineering at Frontier Associates, after retiring from his position as Senior Strategy Engineer at Austin Energy in July 2011.  Prior to coming to Austin,  Kapner founded TerraSolar USA, a solar photovoltaics company based in New Jersey.  He was a research and development manager in the New York Power Authority where he developed demonstration projects in energy storage, biomass energy, solar, and cogeneration.  Kapner spent ten years as a consultant to federal government agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency.  He has a BS in Engineering Science from the State University of New York and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.



Jeremy Leggett is founder and President of Solarcentury, the UK's largest independent solar company and a trusted supplier to government, industry, schools and thousands of homeowners.  Installer of over a thousand projects in Europe, Solarcentury has been associated with many of the UK's highest profile solar power projects, including work with the Eden Project, the Environment Agency, the National Trust Headquarters, the CIS Tower, the Big Brother House, and a number of solar parks.  Employing over 100 people with diverse expertise, the firm’s work spans the entire solar process, from designing and manufacturing to advising, specifying and installation.  The company is a leading producer of solar tiles and building-integrated photovoltaic systems.   A prolific writer, industry analyst, and advocate, Leggett is lead author of The Solar Century, an examination of solar energy’s potential to ameliorate the climate crisis, soften the energy crisis, help rebuild the damage caused by the financial crisis, and spread much hope besides. A former oil geologist, he tracks energy industry and policy trends on his popular “Triple Crunch Log”.  



Steven Levine is an energy services professional and attorney specializing in private power generation, energy technology development and applications, and energy services and management with a focus on solar projects. He founded and took public a green energy fund on the London stock market (AIM exchange).  He has led a number of growth companies in the sector including serving as CEO for Tersus Energy PLC; Vice President of AES/New Energy (now Constellation New Energy), the largest deregulated electricity provider; President and Founder of Metro Energy LLC; President of the unregulated power generation subsidiary of publicly-traded Besicorp Group Inc.; a member of the board of Stirling Energy Systems; and principal and general counsel of Indian and Chinese hydropower development companies.



Rick Lewandowski  is a senior market development professional with a proven track record of achievement during 28 years in renewable energy and distributed generation markets and technologies. His technology expertise includes photovoltaic, fuel cell, solar thermal and hybrid products as well as manufacturing.  He has strong skills in team building, communications and leadership, as well as implementing creative business models.  Mr. Lewandowski’s accomplishments include: successfully forming companies including SunWize Technologies, Direct Global Power, Inc. and Prism Solar Technologies;  starting a photovoltaic (PV) systems integration company that he built into one of the largest PV distributors in North America; winning numerous grants from the USDOE, DARPA, USDOD, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Illinois Department of Conservation (IDOC); coordinating the development of a new marketing and financial products including trade finance and barter systems for international programs for the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP); successfully (and consistently) developing strategic marketing plans for new renewable energy products under contract for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); providing market-oriented technology due-diligence for venture capital and larger consulting firms; and structuring complex joint ventures and strategic relationships with stakeholders, multidisciplinary divisions and organizations.  He co-founded two state renewable energy industry associations and served as their President.




Ralph Mitchell is a mentor to technology innovators with a special talent in coordinating high-performance teams. He is active in the commercialization of patents and promotion of the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation, which mentors new high-tech businesses.   With twenty years of broad experience in Computer Hardware and Software design with IBM, Mitchell started two new consulting companies to work one-on-one with small business in order to maximize the benefits of computer and telecommunications technology, specializing in databases.  He is a technical advisor to patent attorneys, conducting searches and writing over 60 patent applications.  At SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Empire State College, he has taught courses on Web Publishing, Networking, and Everyday Science as well as serving as a Local Area Network and Tutoring Specialist.  With a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from RPI, he was winner of the 1972 Ricketts Prize for excellence in engineering.  



Richard Perez, Ph.D. is an internationally respected researcher and advocate who has advanced the solar field by supporting technological innovation while at the same time making a compelling public case for the role of solar energy.  Dr. Perez is Research Professor at SUNY Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC). He has obtained external funding for and directed research contracts and grants totaling $5 million on behalf of Federal, State, international institutions, utilities and private industry.  He has published over 250 articles and reports in the fields of solar radiation, renewable energy applications and daylighting. He served as Associate Editor of Solar Energy Journal from 1995-2002.  As a member of the New York, American, & International Solar Energy Societies (NYSES, ASES & ISES), Dr. Perez served on the Board of directors of ASES; was technical chair of five ASES annual conferences (1995,1998,2003,2008 and 2009); was Vice Technical Chair of 2004 World Renewable Energy Conference; and served as a US expert in four International Energy Agency (IEA) Tasks. He holds two patents and has received numerous professional awards including the First International Building and Daylight Award from the Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation,  Renewable Energy Innovator of the Year from the U.S. Association of Energy Engineers, ASES’ Charles Greely Abbott Award for Special Contribution in the Field of Solar Energy, and a Special Recognition Award from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.  



Richard Rupnik is an experienced engineer, manager and consultant working at the unique intersection of energy technology, waste management, general public education and disaster restoration.  Augmenting his career designing, constructing and managing innovative energy and waste management systems, he founded a company dedicated to science education and managed a disaster restoration service.  Rupnik began his career in engineering and management at Westinghouse, where following his role as an experimental and safety analyst for advanced nuclear power systems he led marketing and product design for a proprietary photovoltaic technology and also managed marketing initiatives for other renewable energy technologies.  He then held progressively responsible management positions in several waste disposal, recycling and medical waste companies drawing on his talents in project and business management, technology assessment, facility permitting, staffing and training, logistics and troubleshooting, and the management of complex stakeholder and community relationships relating to the financing, siting and public acceptance of waste management facilities.  Today, as Principal in the energy and waste consulting firm Richard & James, he is focusing on customized energy-efficiency enhancements and progressive waste management programs for commercial and industrial clients.



Stefano Russo, Ph.D  is an entrepreneur and consultant who has grown technology companies in Europe since 2002.  As Vice President for Strategy and Business Development at the 180-person DC Wafers in Leon, Spain, he successfully managed doubling of the company’s initial capacity, implemented cost reduction strategies, established, and monitored key performance indicators and organized production to rely on the lowest-cost technologies.  As a General Manager of DCIngenieria Dr. Russo financed and managed an 80MEuro project to install PV on ten power plants.  Prior to joining DC Wafers, Stefano Russo held increasingly responsible positions at McKinsey and Company in Milan, Italy, assisting diverse clients in strategic planning for startups and turnarounds, with a focus on risk and risk appetite assessment. Dr. Russo holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Yale. 



Zack (Zhiqin) Shen has contributed to solar markets through twenty years’ work in the mechanical and electrical and import and export industries. He was the vice general manager for an electrical machinery corporation in China where he led product and manufacturing development. He was the general manager for two international business corporations in China where he expanded the market and improved profitability, winning annual international trade prizes awarded by the municipal government for 5 years. With rich experience in strategic management, reorganizing and merging enterprises, and the import and export business, he is a consultative Specialist of Purchase to the Shanghai municipal government and companies.  He owns and operates Zack International Company, a Los Angeles based import and export company. He is interested in climate protection and local solar power and is a member of the Los Angeles Sierra Club.  He earned a Master in Economics degree from Fudan University in China and studied at Tufts and the University of Illinois.



William “Bud” Sherman has extensive senior level experience as an engineering and manufacturing leader with broad and deep technical knowledge spanning industries from electronics and aerospace to solar energy.  Skilled in issue/needs identification, change management, and process improvement, he brings a systems-engineering approach to problem solving. Sherman’s manufacturing specialties include design for manufacturing, process design and evaluation, cost/scrap/yield improvement, supply chain partner selection, automated manufacturing, requirements analysis and flow down, quality and verification systems, and design for automation.  As Principal Consultant at The Upwind Group, Sherman has led the development of design and manufacturing solutions for concentrating photovoltaic, thin film, prism-based concentrator, flat panel tracker, and other solar technologies as well as managing a quality management initiative for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and conducting an in-depth solar market-entry strategy for a regional utility.  The holder of two patents in communications technology, Sherman has held progressively responsible positions in the aerospace, communications, and storage industries.  



Steven J. Strong is President of Solar Design Associates, Inc. an interdisciplinary group dedicated exclusively to the design of environmentally responsive buildings, and the engineering and integration of renewable energy systems.  Drawing on his background in architecture and engineering, he has earned the firm an international reputation for the pioneering integration of renewable energy systems - especially solar electricity - with environmentally responsive building design. He designed the world’s 1st all-solar residence to be powered by solar electricity and export a surplus to the utility grid and the 1st solar-powered neighborhood.  Other project firsts include the 1st solar-powered Olympics, the 1st solar-powered Major-league sports stadium, the 1st solar-powered network TV studio, the 1st solar-powered, zero-net-energy college academic facility, the 1st solar-powered US embassy, and solar energy systems for the White House. Mr. Strong’s skill set includes expertise in solar electric, solar thermal and wind energy system engineering and zero-net-energy building design.   Strong has served as an advisor on energy and environmental issues to 3 Governors, 8 US Senators and 3 presidential candidates as well as a number of electric utilities.  He is the author of The Solar Electric House and Solar Electric Buildings, an Overview of Today’s Applications and editor and contributing author of Photovoltaics in the Built Environment, a Design Guide for Architects and Engineers.   TIME Magazine honored him as an ‘environmental hero’ and, the American Solar Energy Society presented him with its Charles Greeley Abbot Award - the Society’s highest honor, for outstanding achievement in the advancement of solar energy.



Tom Surek, Ph.D a 38 year veteran devoted to the advancement of  photovoltaic (PV) technologies, began his pioneering work on the growth of shaped silicon crystals at Harvard University and Mobil Tyco Solar Energy Corporation. This research culminated in the first of the "new" PV technologies to be commercialized on a large scale - the "edge-defined film-fed growth" (EFG) process and was instrumental in the successful commercialization of the String RibbonTM process for silicon (by Evergreen Solar). His expertise encompasses crystalline silicon, thin-film technologies, concentrators, innovative and third-generation technologies, PV systems and worldwide markets, technology evaluations, critical R & D issues, product and manufacturing analysis, due diligence and partnership evaluation.  For twenty years, Dr. Surek led the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, responsible for managing the NREL Photovoltaics (PV) Program with an annual budget of approximately $60 million.  Under his leadership, U.S. photovoltaics research became the world leader across most PV technologies. World-record efficiencies were achieved in thin-film and concentrator solar cells, and many of these technologies are now being commercialized worldwide.  A highly sought-after speaker, Dr. Surek has authored more than 100 technical articles and reports.  He holds two patents. He has a Ph.D. (1971) and M.S. (1968) in Materials Science from Stanford University. 



Neville Williams, founder of Standard Solar Inc., originally became involved with solar energy, working for the Department of Energy during the Carter administration. In 1990, he launched the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) to bring solar power to people without electricity in the developing world. SELF has assisted national governments and community organizations to implement "solar seed" projects in India, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Brazil, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands.   Later, Williams founded the Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO) and was its chairman and CEO until 2003. Now headquartered in Bangalore, India, SELCO has installed over 130,000 solar home lighting systems, bringing household electricity to a nearly a million people in India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.  Mr. Williams has been a consultant/advisor to the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank for which he designed the national solar electrification programs for Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka respectively.  He is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. Mr. Williams launched Standard Solar in Maryland in 2005, which was named the 73rd fastest growing company in the U.S. by Inc. Magazine.   He resigned from management of Standard Solar in 2008, and currently develops utility-scale solar PV projects in partnership with several clients.  The author of many articles on solar power, he published Chasing the Sun, an account of bringing solar energy to the developing world, in 2005.  





Dr. Roland Winston is a distinguished Professor and founding faculty member in the schools of Natural Science and Engineering at University of California at Merced. He is also the Director of the University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar), a system wide research collaboration funded by the UC office of the President. Dr. Winston’s research and teaching focuses on concentrating solar energy systems and applied non imaging optics. The concepts developed and the devices invented by Dr. Winston have formed the core of a new technology which carries the promise of making solar energy a truly viable energy source for society. Devices to which Winston’s name has become attached include the CPC itself, which is sometimes known as “Winston Solar Collector” and “Winston Cones”, the individual parabolic elements that make up a CPC.

Practical applications can be found in photovoltaic, natural lighting of buildings, water heating, space heating and cooling, desalinization, cooking and in the collection of solar UV radiation for the photo-catalytic treatment of contaminated wastewater. Non-imaging optics proved to be an important tool in several other areas including astrophysics, elementary particle physics, infrared physics, and vision research. He has had over 200 articles published in scientific journals and over 100 patents.