Michael Hart , President & CEO

Mr. Hart, President and CEO of Sierra Energy, has over 24 years of active entrepreneurial experience in forming and running industrial companies with a proven track record of success. Mr. Hart has served as Sierra’s President since he founded the company in 2004. He also serves as President of Sierra Railroad, a company he has expanded from four employees to over 140 since 1994 when he started the company.Hart was named an “Environmental Hero” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his work in biodiesel and was recently named a “Champion of Change” by the White House.

Prior to joining Sierra and Sierra Railroad Company, Hart acted as a management consultant for FMC, NASA (Mars Mission), TRW, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, GMMVO, ARS, and Hay Systems, and worked as a developer for Apple Computers Federal Systems. He led the platform development for the Intelligence All Source Analysis System for the DOD, DIA, CIA in a joint project with Steve Job’s NeXT Computers. Hart has also created a variety of software tools for the analysis of future weapon systems and operational impacts, including developing advanced weapons systems for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of California at Davis and a Stanford Advanced Management Program Certificate.

Torgny Nilsson , Executive Vice President, Secretary & General Counsel

Mr. Nilsson has been with Sierra Energy since 2004 and has extensive intellectual property, corporate governance, and corporate finance experience. Prior to joining Sierra, Mr. Nilsson worked for various law firms and companies including Thelen Reid & Priest LLP, Gartenberg, Jaffe, Gelfand & Stein LLP, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and NASA. After earning two B.A. degrees from the University of California, Davis, Mr. Nilsson received his law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law, where he was an editor of the Santa Clara Law Review and received the American Jurisprudence Award. Mr. Nilsson has also completed studies in comparative law at Magdalen College, Oxford University.

Daniel Mark Dodd , Vice President, Engineering

Mr. Dodd earned a Masters of Engineering, with first class honours, in aerospace and mechanical engineering from the University of Bristol in England. Prior to joining Sierra Energy, Mr. Dodd’s professional experience included engineering work for Goodrich Aerospace Corp., Bridgestone UK Ltd., Atkins Engineering Consultants, The European Space Agency (ESA) and Tidal Generation Ltd. In 2003 Mr. Dodd was awarded the prestigious Engineering Leadership Award Scholarship from the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, England.

Christine Taylor , Chief Financial Officer

Ms. Taylor has over 17 years of corporate accounting and finance experience. With over a decade at Ernst & Young (one of the Big 4 public accounting firms) and as the chief financial officer of an early technology startup, Ms. Taylor brings holistic, hands-on financial expertise and practical business development perspectives to Sierra Energy’s team.

Rashael Parker , Chief Marketing Officer

Ms. Parker brings over a decade of experience in design and communications to the Sierra Energy Team. Prior to Sierra Energy she led a team of designers and developers as the creative director and coowner of Studio66, a graphic design and web development firm in Davis. In which time she worked with clients such as: Target Corp., AllState Insurance, UC Davis, Regency Centers, and many other companies nationwide. She has also held design and communication positions in the television and publishing industries. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in graphic design from California State University, Sacramento.

Russell McGinnis , Chief Information Officer

Mr. McGinnis has extensive experience at building and supporting enterprise software solutions. Most recently, he served as Technical Architect and Development Lead for an online community serving the varying needs of veterinarians worldwide. Mr. McGinnis has worked on several high value projects with clients such as Honda and Toyota in the USA, and with numerous large financial companies in the UK such as GE Information Systems and Deutsche Morgan Grenfell. Mr. McGinnis earned a Bachelors Degree with Honors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Abertay in Scotland.

Rob White , Chief Strategist

Rob White brings with him a wealth of knowledge and more than 25 years of professional experience. This experience includes executive leadership and management positions in public administration, the nonprofit sector and the private sector. Most recently, Rob served as chief innovation officer to the City of Davis. Before that, he served as the director of economic development for the City of Livermore while simultaneously holding the post of CEO of The i-GATE innovation Hub.

Michael Kleist , Online Business Development Director

Michael brings more than 15-years’ experience in building revenue streams for internet platforms. Prior to joining Sierra Energy, he was the founder and COO of Tradesparq.com, a B2B platform focused on international trade that he helped grow to hundreds of thousands of members worldwide and millions in revenue. He also has served as General Manager at Globalsources.com, a NASDAQ-listed company also focused on online B2B global trade.

The Honorable Paula Stern , Chief of Overseas Markets

A former chairwoman of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and distinguished scholar, The Honorable Paula Stern founded The Stern Group, Inc. in 1988 and leads its practice, serving national and multinational companies and organizations on business, political and technological issues that affect their competitiveness in a global economy.

David Magaw , Treasurer

Mr. Magaw has extensive experience in the electric power industry, as an engineer, a staff attorney, as Manager of Power Marketing for a federal power agency Western States Power, and as a partner with Henwood Energy. He has worked with electric and water utilities in maintenance, construction, power marketing, regulation, and power and facility contracts since 1974.

Development Team

Craig Jones , Project Engineer

Mr. Jones earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Mr. Jones worked collaboratively through college helping reform California’s recycling and composting regulations towards sustainable and progressive standards. Most recently Mr. Jones worked with Adaptive Arc designing, installing, and operating 25 TPD plasma gasifiers converting waste into electricity.

Paul Vergnani , Process Engineer

Paul has over ten years of experience developing and operating innovative energy and environmental cleanup technologies. Much of this work was performed under grants from the California Energy Commission and Small Business Innovative Research Grants from various federal agencies.  Paul joins the team from CHA Corporation, where he worked five years as a research engineer and seven as the laboratory director.

Michael Anderson , Process Engineer

Michael Anderson brings twenty years of chemical engineering to Sierra Energy's staff. Since obtaining a degree in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, Michael has worked for a number of top flight engineering companies. Most recently, Michael was a plant engineer for Agrium Wholesale. Michael adds extensive skills in chemical engineering, designing process systems, as well as designing and implementing safety and training procedures. These skills will be invaluable in the implementation of Sierra Energy's current and future projects.

Robert Mitchell , Sales Engineer

Mr. Mitchell recently earned a Mechanical Engineering degree with an emphasis in Materials Science from University of California, Davis. His efforts in research in fuel cell technology and assistance with cryomilling of high strength aluminum alloys adds valuable and dynamic experience to the Sierra development team. His dedication to the development and implementation of renewable and green technologies is a driving force in his career.

Corporate Team

Alex Bieda , Graphic Designer

Ms. Bieda comes to Sierra Energy with over ten years of design, web development, and marketing experience. Over the course of her career, she served as the Art Director for a Fortune 100 scientific manufacturing conglomerate: Thermo Fisher Scientific, the Marketing Manager for a technology start-up, and the Creative Director for a green building manufacturing concern. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Art and Technology from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Arima Claypool , Sales Engineer

Arima earned a degree in environmental policy and anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a certificate in sustainable agriculture. She is also an MBA candidate at University of California, Davis. Arima previously worked for five years in the non-profit sector as a client relations specialist and research systems manager. Her experience and interest in green product development and sales are an asset in her role as sales engineer at Sierra Energy. 

Kathleen Jerrick , Office Manager

Kathleen brings to Sierra Energy 30+ years of office/administrative management experience. She has worked in a variety of fast-paced environments that demanded strong organizational, technical and interpersonal skills. Her commitment towards excellence and high performance will most definitely assist Sierra Energy in the exciting years to come.

Sylvia Pham , Executive Assistant

Sylvia Pham is currently the Executive Assistant to CEO Mike Hart. Ms. Pham earned a Bachelor of Science in Managerial Economics and a Minor in Communication from the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining Sierra Energy, Ms. Pham worked in finance and sales/marketing at a Molecular Matrix, Inc.

Industry Advisors

Dr. David H. Wakelin

Dr. Wakelin received his B.Sc and Ph.D degrees in engineering metallurgy from Imperial College, University of London. He has been employed by LTV Steel Company, and its predecessors Jones and Laughlin, his entire career. He began as a Research Engineer in the steelmaking group at the Graham Research Laboratory in Pittsburgh in 1966. After transferring to Development Engineering in 1974, he became Supervisor of Ironmaking Engineering in 1979. Upon the merger of Republic Steel with LTV Steel in 1984, he assumed his current position of Manager, Development Engineering Primary. Dr. Wakelin has authored numerous papers on iron and steelmaking and is the holder of a patent for the manufacture of high chromium steels. He is a member of AISE, Eastern States Blast Furnace and Coke Oven Association, and the Iron and Steel Society of AIME, for whom he has lectured on blast furnace topics at continuing education courses. He served as Chairman of the Ironmaking Division of ISS from 1995-96, and was a member of the ISS Board of Directors from 1995 to 1997.

Dr. WeiKao Lu , Professor Emeritus, University of McMaster, Canada

Dr. Lu received his B.S. from National ChengKung University and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Lu holds the position of Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at McMaster University, Canada where he is engaged in research into heterogeneous kinetics and mechanisms of ironmaking reactions in blast furnaces and rotary hearth furnace, carbonization, reducibilities of iron ore agglomerates, melting of DRI and HBI, and waste oxide recycling. Dr. Lu has authored numerous papers on iron and steelmaking and received the Josef S. Kapitan Ironmaking Best Paper Award from the Association for Iron and Steel Technology in 2007 for a paper entitled “Blast Furnace Performance and Tuyere Practice at Stelco Hamilton No. 5 Blast Furnace”, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 2007.