Board of Directors
AFCC's Executive Committee
Paul Zorner, Ph.D.
President, BleuJaune Advisors
Dr. Paul Zorner is President, BleuJaune Advisors where he works with several organizations to improve agricultural productivity and the economic health of rural communities. He is an executive and innovator with 40+ years of international experience in science, R&D, operations and administration, holding leadership positions at multiple agricultural organizations including Mycogen Corporation, Dow Chemical, BASF, Diversa Corporation and Locus Agricultural Solutions. Dr. Zorner is also Adjunct Professor of Horticulture at North Carolina State University, Associate Editor of the journal Industrial Biotechnology and serves on the Boards of several commercial and 501(c)(3) organizations.
Phil Van Trump
CTO, Danimer Scientific
As chief technology officer, Mr. Phil Van Trump manages research & development, product development, regulatory affairs, and intellectual property for Danimer Scientific.
Prior to this role, which he stepped into in 2014, Mr. Van Trump worked in a variety of positions within the company, performing bench-scale to pilot-level research as well as playing an integral role in the procurement of equipment and laboratory personnel to advance the company’s objectives. His undergraduate background in molecular biology and microbiology (BSc University of Central Florida) is supplemented by an MBA from Emory University.
In addition to his education, he brought to Danimer Scientific over a decade of industry experience. Mr. Van Trump’s proficiency in management and scientific insight are a rare combination and are put to use daily as he leads an innovative team of scientists and support personnel in creation of sustainable biopolymer solutions.
AFCC's Governing Board of Directors
Brent Aufdembrink, Ph.D.
Applications Technical Director, Cargill BioIndustrial
Dr. Brent Aufdembrink is the Director of Industrial Applications Technology for Cargill’s BioIndustrial business.
In this role, he aligns R&D with business commercial direction; manages intellectual property; provides strategic input for new business development; builds global R&D teams, and integrates technology across global regions. There is a special focus on agriculture-based industrial biobased products from renewable chemicals.
Dr. Aufdembrink has extensive experience in research and technology management, as well as new product and business development. Prior to joining Cargill, Dr. Aufdembrink researched petroleum catalyst and process chemistry at Mobil Research and Development Corporation. He also developed shape selective catalysis for industrial chemistry and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc, as well as developed new business by partnering with customers for custom product opportunities. He has extensive experience in successfully developing bio-based chemistry to replace petroleum products in numerous market areas.
AFCC's Governing Board of Directors
General Counsel & Vice President of Intellectual Property, Fortera Corporation
Renewable energy and cleantech attorney, Dan Cummings previously served as the Deputy General Counsel & Vice President at Brightmark, and now is at Fortera Corporation as General Counsel and Vice President of Intellectual Property. Dan is a Senior Executive and Senior Legal Advisor in the Renewable Energy space. Over two decades of experience in the renewable energy, energy and clean tech sectors. Work has included building and leading legal and commercial organizations, commercializing new technologies, project finance, mergers and acquisitions, project development, strategic partnerships, technology licensing, and legal, risk management, ESG, compliance and corporate affairs.
Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Brightmark LLC
Chad Frahm works with policymakers at the federal and state levels on waste solution initiatives for Brightmark’s biogas and plastics renewal businesses. Prior to Brightmark, Chad had roles with the innovation Center for US Dairy and BP’s Biofuels division focused on renewable energy and environmental sustainability. He has degrees in agricultural economics, law and business from Purdue and Indiana Universities.
Senior Director Business Development, Gingko Bioworks
Mr. Gay is a seasoned corporate executive with over 20 years of experience in fast paced technology companies. Mr. Gay brings a breadth of knowledge across the clean technology marketplace accelerating innovation of technology while creating dynamic commercialization strategy. He has expertise in financial and technical management of projects from bio-technology development and scaling to waste treatment and renewable energy generation.
Lori Giver, Ph.D.
Chief and Sustainability Officer, Calysta
Dr. Lori Giver, was named Vice President, Research and Development in 2019. She joined Calysta in 2013 as Vice President, Biological Engineering.
Previously, Dr. Giver was with Codexis, Inc., where she held a number of positions including Vice President of Systems Biology, Senior Director of Technology and Innovation, and Manager of Market Development. Prior to Codexis she was head of the Core Technology Group at Maxgyen, Inc.
Dr. Giver has focused her career on the directed evolution of nucleic acids, proteins and organisms. She has chaired a wide variety of conferences in the field including Enzyme Engineering XXI and Applications for Enzyme Technologies 2013. She is an author on numerous scientific publications and over 50 patents and patent applications.
Dr. Giver received a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California-Berkeley and Ph.D. in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Giver did her post-doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Dr. Frances Arnold, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Ralf Hortsch, Ph.D.
Head of Strategy & Marketing, Business Segment Biofuels & Derivatives,
Dr. Ralf Hortsch was appointed Head of Strategy & Marketing of Clariant’s Business Line Biofuels &
Derivatives in March 2021. Before his current role, Ralf held various positions at the Business Line including Head of
Licensing & Services (2018- 2021), Head of Operations sunliquid® Pre-commercial Plant (2013-2018)
and Group Leader Fermentation (2011-2013). He was part of the sunliquid® technology development
team from the beginning. Prior to that he worked as an R&D Group Leader for Süd-Chemie.
Dr. Hortsch holds a PhD in Bioprocess Engineering from the Technical University of Munich, Germany and Engineering Bachelor and Master's degrees from the Technical University Dresden.
President & General Counsel, Virent
Mr. Dave Kettner serves as the President for Virent, Inc., a renewable fuels and chemicals company working to commercialize its BioForming technology for the conversion of biomass based feedstocks to drop-in renewable fuels and chemicals.
Mr. Kettner previously served as Virent's VP of Legal and Business Operations and has been responsible for managing its legal affairs since joining the company in early 2007. Mr. Kettner is a licensed patent attorney with extensive years of experience in intellectual property management and other legal matters, including patent prosecution, licensing, enforcement, and strategic planning.
Before joining Virent, Mr. Kettner served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and was as an attorney in private practice. Mr. Kettner holds a JD in Law and BS in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota.
CEO, Energy Transitions, Inc.
Mr. Terry Kulesa, is the CEO for Energy Transitions, Inc., developing Shasta Biofuels Project utilizing waste woody biomass and ag waste to renewable natural gas (RNG), negative carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), naphtha and biochar. Mr. Terry Kulesa, previously was the co-founder and CEO of Red Rock Biofuels Holdings and co-founder and CEO of RRBH. Mr. Kulesa handles business development, team management and construction and operations. His previous experience included the design, construction and operation of five ethanol plants totaling over $500 million of construction and over $500 million of annual revenues.
Mr. Kulesa has over 20 years’ experience in managing biofuel operations. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Ag-Biosciences (Dairy Manufacturing) from South Dakota State University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.
Managing Director, Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
In his 30-plus year tenure at Citigroup, David Livingstone has assisted corporate clients raise more than $40 billion of tax-exempt and taxable municipal bonds for infrastructure projects primarily on a project finance basis. He is specialist in financing circular economy and waste-to-value projects, having led over 40 waste-to-value tax-exempt financings. Most recently, he managed the financing of Gevo’s Iowa dairy manure-to-RNG project, Enviva’s Epes, AL wood pellet manufacturing facility, GO Lab’s Madison, ME carbon negative insulation production facility and AMG’s spent residual catalyst-to-vanadium project. David has a BS degree in Civil Engineering from Brown University and was a registered Professional Engineer.
VP, New Projects, Velocys
Project Developer, bofuels veteran, MBA/MS-Env. Science/Chem. Eng. Jeff sets the strategy for and leads Velocys’ site selection, local government affairs, and early stage project development/financing efforts for biorefinery/carbon capture facilities. Deep knowledge of technology and project development pathways from inception to commercial revenues. Identifying, selecting and developing biorefinery/carbon capture project opportunities in North America. Lead fund-raising, partnership and regulatory activities. Secured $60+ million of local and state incentives. Established long-term offtake jet fuel agreements totaling over $2B for Bayou Fuels project.
CEO, Greeley Green Energy
Mr. Richard J. Nordin, CFA, Managing Director, has over 25 years of experience in project development and private equity capital markets, with extensive experience living and working in the emerging markets of Russia and Eastern Europe.
Mr. Nordin is an Investment Banker registered with Chatsworth Securities LLC, with a deep focus on emerging technologies in the clean-tech, renewables, and infrastructure spaces. He serves as Plasma Development’s Managing Director and will manage the capital campaign, sourcing of key staff, facility development logistics, and development of key sales and service functions.
Mr. Nordin’s previous positions include Managing Partner of Lone Star Ventures, a Moscow based property developer, in which role he raised and deployed nearly $1 Billion in equity and debt capital for over 10 million square feet of industrial developments in Russia and Kazakhstan.
David P. Smoot
CEO, Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels
Mr. David Smoot has an extensive business background covering almost 45 years. His business career started after an honorable discharge from the US Army Reserves. He then spent 20 years in the micro-computer hardware and software industries in Operations and numerous other senior positions. He then founded the nation’s first “software-only” leasing company which financed transactions involving Fortune 100 companies.
Mr. Smoot then retired to Arizona. After that, he started a real estate infrastructure development company, he turned his sights to renewable energy which morphed into renewable fuels. He started Hawaii Renewable Fuels, LLC in 2014 and Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels, Inc. in 2016-17.
Mr. Smoot has created a model not seen in this industry to date: a turnkey solution to developing Bio-mass-to-Fuel that is 100% guaranteed with world-class partners, second-generation and proven technologies, fixed “cradle to grave” feed stock, operating and sale of fuel costs, operated by a world-class O&M, all under the umbrella of world-class EPC Wrap.
Mr. Smoot was twice named a regional finalist to Ernst & Young’s and Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. He served on the boards of five well-known charities and is still active in the Prostate-On-Site-Project, POP, which annually does the Legends Golf Tournament held at the Biltmore, with Jerry Colangelo asChairman of the event.
Managing Partner, Virentis Advisors
Max Vernier is an investor, developer, and capital advisor in the sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. He is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Virentis Advisors, a boutique renewable energy investment banking firm with a niche focus on the bioenergy industry. The company helps developers and businesses raise capital and bring projects to successful financial closing, specializing in project debt, equity, and tax incentive monetization. Max is also an investor in a small renewable energy development company. He previously spent nine years at Live Oak Bank, most recently as an SVP, where he started an alternative investment platform to provide debt solutions for projects and developers across the bioeconomy, deploying over $1B across 100+ projects, with a specialty in project finance and government guaranteed loans. He currently maintains a seat on the Board of Directors of both the American Biogas Council and the Alternative Fuels & Chemicals Coalition, advocating for support to accelerate growth in the circular economy transition. Max received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the Williams School at Washington & Lee University.
SVP, Head of Bioenergy and E&I Strategic Development, Live Oak Bank
Derek Welsh joined Live Oak Bank in 2014 after receiving his BSBA from the UNC Wilmington Cameron School of Business. Since joining Live Oak, Mr. Welsh has managed a $100 million portfolio as a relationship manager, underwritten for multiple business segments under the SBA's 7a and 504 programs, and, as part of the founding team that brought renewable energy lending to Live Oak, helped establish its underwriting standards. He also played a similar foundation laying role in the bank's sale leaseback group. Mr. Welsh is now the head of small business bioenergy and E&I strategic development.