Our Team

Staff & Leadership

A complete listing of our Oregon BEST Staff and Board of Directors.

Oregon BEST Staff

David Kenney 

President & Executive Director, Oregon BEST

Prior to joining Oregon BEST, David Kenney held a wide range of roles during a 12-year tenure at Intel Corporation, including finance, project management, and business/organizational operations. He helped build Intel Solution Services, a technical consulting organization, to an organization operating in more than ten countries worldwide. He also co-founded and led the Intel Employee Sustainability Network. Before joining Intel, he was a Senior Consultant with Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group in Portland, working with federal and local government clients. He holds an MBA and Certificate of Public Management from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

email David Kenney

Johanna Brickman

Director of Collaborative Innovation, Oregon BEST 

Johanna engages Oregon BEST’s diverse partners in collaborative clean technology innovation to achieve economic strength in Oregon. She leads the Oregon BEST Agenda Development Series, brings together applied research teams, acts as a liaison to complementary regional and national organizations, and serves as an advocate to policy makers, industry and university partners, nonprofits and the media. Johanna’s volunteer efforts include two terms as an elected board member of the International Living Future Institute, where she served a year as Chair. Prior to joining Oregon BEST, Johanna served for nine years as Associate Partner and Director of Sustainability at ZGF Architects. 

email Johanna Brickman

Ken Vaughn    

Director of Commercialization Programs, Oregon BEST

Leading the Oregon BEST Commercialization Program, which includes entrepreneurial support and grant funding for cleantech innovators in Oregon, Ken Vaughn works with university researchers and private entrepreneurs who have new cleantech products transitioning from the development phase to the commercial phase. He collaborates with innovators, investors, mentors, support organizations, and senior management to help assemble the elements necessary for launching a successful business in the cleantech sector. Before joining Oregon BEST, he held senior management positions in engineering, product management, and marketing, and has experience starting companies, advising early-stage companies, and investing in early-stage ventures.

email Ken Vaughn 

Karl Mundorff

Director of Research Programs, Oregon BEST

Leading coordination of Oregon BEST-related research programs at partner universities and national labs, Kark Mundorff helps develop collaborative research endeavors with the goal of creating solutions to the challenges industry faces in times of resource constraint. Prior to joining Oregon BEST, he worked in the entrepreneurial business community for more than 20 years, starting with Gardenburger, where he drove sales to triple digit growth rates and helped take the company public, and most recently, as president and CEO of BioReaction Industries, which designed and constructed air pollution control equipment that used microbes as its catalyst.

email Karl Mundorff

Cat Schultheis

Finance + Operations Manager, Oregon BEST

As Finance and Operations Manager, Cat manages all of Oregon BEST’s finance and contracting processes.  Her background includes experience as the non-profit Accounting Manager for the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, California. Cat also provides consultation to local for-profit and non-profit organizations with her accounting and operations expertise. 

email Cat Schultheis

Gwenyth Barrow

Outreach + Engagement Manager, Oregon BEST

Gwenyth Barrow recently joined Oregon BEST as Outreach & Engagement Manager. She helps coordinate Oregon BEST events, website, communications, marketing, branding, and collateral. Prior to joining Oregon BEST, Gwenyth worked for five years in the National Park Service Museum Program at Yosemite. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom.

email Gwenyth Barrow

Gregg Kleiner | Cloudburst Creative

Marketing, Communications, & Media Relations Contractor

email Gregg Kleiner



Michael Baker, Baker Group, LLP

Chair, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Mr. Michael Baker, Managing Partner for the Baker Group, LLP (BG) , with over 25 years of executive experience with Philips Medical Systems, Inc., Lockheed Martin, Lockheed Martin Medical Systems and GE Medical Systems.  Through this executive management experience, Mr. Baker has launch new technologies in medicine to market, managed research and FDA process and successfully exited technologies into the market.   Additionally, Michael and the team at BG have invented, developed and successfully launch several companies/technologies in the medical and energy markets.  Currently, BG manages and has an equity proposition in Applied Exergy, Inc., Otoharmonics Corporation, and is on contract to assist Cedar Sinai in commercializing their intellectual property portfolio and manage their research vision for successful minimization.  Michael and the team at BG also work closely with the national labs, universities and industry to develop their intellectual property assets.

Michael has served on the Board of Directors for many companies and has served as the Chairman of Board for HD+ , Otoharmonics, as well as, Applied Exergy, Inc.  Michael, also, holds a Courtesy Faculty position at Oregon State University School of Business.

Kirsten Sommer, CH2M HILL 

Secretary/Treasurer, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Kirsten Sommer, P.E., is a Chemical Engineer, Technologist and Design Manager specializing in design, construction, and consulting related to sustainable systems and buildings for CH2M HILL in such advanced technology markets as semiconductor, life sciences, chemical, specialty metals, advanced research and manufacturing.  As a Technologist, Ms. Sommer’s areas of expertise include the design of ultrapure water systems, recycle/reclaim systems, wastewater treatment systems, and chemical handling/distribution systems that have achieved industry-leading levels of recycle/reuse.  She is also a specialist in the design of industrial wastewater systems that have greatly advanced the environmental quality of industrial waste.  Her interest and leadership in sustainability extends to her personal life as well through her support of numerous environmental advocacy groups. 

Mateo Aboy, Oregon Institute of Technology

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Dr. Mateo Aboy serves as the Associate Provost and Vice President for Research at the Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) since 2012. In his Associate Provost role he serves as the chief academic and chief operating officer for the Oregon Tech Wilsonville Campus. As the Vice President for Research, Dr. Aboy promotes and oversees sponsored projects, innovation, and technology transfer at all Oregon Tech campuses. He founded and currently oversees the Office of Innovation & Tech Transfer (OITT) and the Office of Sponsored Projects & Grants Administration (SPA). Dr. Aboy is passionate about education, research, and innovation. While at Oregon Tech he has taught over 130 courses, helped secure funding through grants in excess of $3.5 million, published over 75 scholarly articles, and invented or co-invented over 25 patented or patent pending inventions. Dr. Aboy’s academic background encompasses the areas of engineering, management, and intellectual property. His technical education background includes a BS in Electrical Engineering, a BS in Physics with a Minor in Applied Mathematics, a MS in Electrical & Computer Engineering, a MS in Telecommunications Engineering, a Professional Certificate in Energy Storage (Stanford University) and a PhD in Electrical Engineering (ETSIT-University of Vigo, Spain). Additionally, he holds a MBA in International Management from University of London, completed the Executive Program in Management & Leadership at MIT Sloan, and has a Bar Admission to practice patent law before the United States Patent & Trademark Office as a Registered Patent Agent. 

Gordon Brinser, SolarWorld Industries America Inc.

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Gordon Brinser was Special U.S. counsel to Chairman at SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the only vertically integrated manufacturer in the Americas, located in Hillsboro, Oregon. Mr. Brinser started his career at Wacker Siltronic Corp., a world producer of silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry, in Portland, Oregon. His work in Wacker’s process technology group led to roles in engineering, engineering management, then manufacturing leadership. He oversaw startups of two manufacturing plants: first in Portland, then in Singapore, where he worked as vice president for operations. He earned an MBA at Portland State University. From 2002 through 2007, he worked for SUMCO USA, another global provider of silicon wafers to the semiconductor industry. With SUMCO, he was vice president of operations and plant manager of two of its U.S. facilities. In 2008, Mr. Brinser joined SolarWorld as vice president of operations, overseeing the ramp of the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturing plant. In addition to his service on the board of Oregon BEST, he also is president of the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws.

Senator Richard Devlin, Oregon State Senate, District 19

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Richard Devlin began his service in the Oregon Legislature after being elected to the House of Representatives in 1996.  He served three terms in the House before his election to the Oregon Senate in 2002 and was the Senate Majority Leader from 2007-2010.

Sen. Devlin is currently serving as the Co-Chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Prior to becoming co-chair, he served as a member on the Committee for several sessions. Sen. Devlin joined Ways and Means in 2003.  In 2005, he chaired the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education.  In 2007, he chaired the Subcommittee on Natural Resources; served as vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Education; and served as a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Construction and Bonding.  In 2009, Sen. Devlin was a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education.

In addition, to his work in Joint Ways and Means, Sen. Devlin was chair of the Senate Rules and Executive Appointment Committee during the 2009 legislative session.  In the 2009/10 interim, he served as the chair of the Senate Rules and Executive Appointment Committee.  Throughout his career, Senator Devlin has been a leading advocate on education and child safety issues.

Kimberly Andrews Espy, University of Oregon

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

As the University of Oregon's Vice President for Research and Innovation, in addition to overseeing over 70 graduate programs, Espy is responsible for over 20 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes, ranging from the physical and life sciences to the social sciences and humanities disciplines. As UO's Chief Research Officer, Espy oversees sponsored research, research compliance, research development, and innovation services, as well as represents the UO in national graduate research organizations.

Espy, a trained clinical neuroscientist and professor of Psychology, is the Director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory. In her federally-funded research, she pioneered the integration of cognitive neuroscience tools and advanced multilevel growth modeling methods to 1) characterize the normative development of emergent self-regulation skills in young children and infants, and 2) identify the antecedents of learning and behavioral disorders in medically at-risk populations. As a co-author of the BRIEF-P®, a standardized rating scale to measure the behavioral manifestations of preschool regulatory skills, Espy is active in technology transfer and clinical translational application. Publications from the laboratory appear routinely in neuroscience, developmental, pediatric, and child psychiatry journals.

Jonathan Fink, Portland State University

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

As Vice President for Research and Strategic Partnerships at Portland State University, Jonathan Fink oversees the administration of university research and helps build regional and international partnerships that promote the economic and cultural development of Metro Portland. Previously, Jon spent 30 years at Arizona State University as a professor of geology, specializing in volcanic eruptions on Earth and other planets, as VP for Research and Economic Affairs, and as Director of the Global Institute of Sustainability. In recent years his research and policy interests have shifted to urban sustainability initiatives that bring together the private sector, government, NGOs and academia. This focus on “smart cities” influenced his 2010 move to Portland, where he is helping PSU and Metro Portland build collaborations in East Asia, the Middle East and the UK, around urbanization, water supply, renewable energy, biodiversity, and space science. Jon is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a Trustee of the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and the National Advisory Board for KB Home. 

Bill Nicholson, Portland General Electric

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

As senior vice president, Bill Nicholson oversees Transmission, Distribution, Customer Service, and Customer Strategies & Business Development. He previously served as vice president of Distribution Operations and was vice president of Customers & Economic Development for two years. Nicholson joined PGE in 1980 as an engineer at the Trojan Plant and has served in a variety of capacities in Distribution Operations and Generation Engineering.

Nicholson earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from Oregon State University in 1980 and has successfully completed the Harvard University Program on Negotiation, the Utility Executive program from the University of Idaho and the American Leadership Forum, where he serves as a senior fellow. A registered professional engineer, Nicholson belongs to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

He is also involved with a number of community organizations and currently serves on the boards of Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon BEST (Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies) and the Board of Regents for the Museum at Warm Springs.

Cynthia A Powell, National Energy Technology Laboratory

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Dr. Cynthia A. Powell is the Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Office of Research & Development, where she leads a comprehensive research effort to discover and develop the solutions that will make sustainable fossil energy utilization a reality.  With research facilities in Albany, OR, Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA, a research staff of more than 400 scientists and engineers, and a large portfolio of successful collaborations with partners from industry and academia, NETL’s ORD has had a strong track record of research success under Dr. Powell’s leadership that includes numerous publications in high-impact journals, multiple R&D 100 awards, and patents and licenses of NETL-developed intellectual property.  A materials scientist by education, Dr. Powell has also worked as the Materials Science Focus Area Lead, and as the Director of the Materials Performance Division for NETL, and previously for the Albany Research Center.  She has 20+ years of hands-on research experience in high-temperature phase and microstructural development of engineered materials and the effects of these phase changes on the bulk properties of these materials. She received her Ph.D. in materials science from Case Western Reserve University, preceded by an M.S. and B.S. in ceramic engineering from Clemson University.

Richard Spinrad, Oregon State University

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Dr. Richard W. (Rick) Spinrad became Vice President for Research at Oregon State University (OSU) in July of 2010. He also currently serves as Chair of the Commercialized Research Committee of the Oregon Innovation Council, and is Chair of the Board for the Oregon Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Business Enterprise.  Prior to this role, he served as Assistant Administrator for research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in Washington, D.C. As NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for research, Spinrad directed the agency’s programs in oceanography, atmospheric science and climate from 2005-2010. In addition to his NOAA stint, Spinrad has served as a research director with the U.S. Office of Naval Research, was the Technical Director for the Oceanographer of the Navy, taught at two universities, directed a major national non-profit organization, presided over a private company and worked as a research scientist. Spinrad is the recipient of Presidential Rank Awards from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama and the Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Navy. He is a member of the Corvallis Economic Development Commission, President-Elect of the Marine Technology Society, past President of The Oceanography Society and is a Fellow of three professional societies.  Dr. Spinrad is an alumnus of The Johns Hopkins University and Oregon State University.

Jud W. Virden, Jr., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Dr. Virden is the Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy and Environment Direc­torate (EED) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Wash. He leads a team of 1,000 staff in delivering science and technology solutions for energy and environmental challenges. In fiscal year 2012, EED’s research sales to government and industry clients totaled $210 million. Dr. Virden joined PNNL in 1991 as a researcher, and through the years has served in a variety of leadership roles. Prior to his current position, he was EED’s Chief Science and Technology Officer, managing the directorate’s science and technology capabilities to ensure they impact energy and environment challenges. As part of Dr. Virden’s involvement in the strategic direction and growth of PNNL energy programs, he has helped shape national and international public/private technology partnerships to accelerate technology deployment. Dr. Virden holds a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington.

Kirk Washington, Yaletown Venture Partners

Member, Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Kirk Washington is a co-founder and General Partner of Yaletown Venture Partners, an early stage venture capital firm with offices in Vancouver, Seattle and Calgary. He focuses on clean technology investments.  Mr. Washington was responsible for Yaletown’s investments in 6N Silicon (acquired by Silicor), Microstaq (acquired by Zhejiang DunAn), and played a key role in the formation and initial funding of NxtGEN Emission Controls.  He is a director of Endurance Wind Power, Cooledge Lighting, and a board observer of EnerG2. Prior to founding Yaletown, Mr. Washington worked with Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP), MacDonald Dettwiler in Vancouver, several disk drive companies in the Silicon Valley, and began his career with IBM Corporation in San Jose CA.  Kirk is a mechanical engineer, and holds 11 patents related to his work in clean energy technology.

Dennis Wilde, Popeye's Girlfriend Olive Oil

Member, Ex Officio (Past Chair), Oregon BEST Board of Directors

Dennis Wilde was Chief Sustainability Officer for Gerding Edlen, a full service real estate investment, development and asset management firm that has been pioneering the standards of excellence in Green Real Estate development and investment since 1996.  In 2008 he helped launch Gerding Edlen Sustainable Solutions, a separate business entity committed to engaging strategies where building projects generate more energy than they consume and consume more waste than they produce.  GESS is also working on several district scale distributed energy and waste management systems.  Dennis was active in the US Green Building Council for over a decade.  He has served on USGBC panels and taskforces was an active board member of the Cascadia Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council from 2003 until 2011.  He also served on the board of the Living Future Institute until 2013.  In 2008 Dennis and other green building experts made several presentations in China on green building strategies. Dennis was also chair of the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST), one of Oregon's Signature Research Centers until 2013.  He was also chair of South Waterfront Community Association and currently serves on the board of Caldera, an arts and environment education program for at risk youth. 

He is currently co-founder of Popeye's Girlfriend, an environmentally responsible farm growing olives for olive oil in the Umpqua Valley of southern Oregon.