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2011 Judges
The 2011 New York State Business Plan Competition is pleased to introduce the judges that will be evaluating the students' applications in the first round and the teams' presentations on April 28. The judges are a mix of representatives from the local energy industry, financial, and legal sectors.
  • Michael J. Castellana, SEFCU
  • Clayton Besch, NYSTAR
  • Sean Branagan, Communigration
  • Allen Goodman, ECG Consulting
  • James Groelinger, Clean Energy Alliance
  • Cathy Hill, CooperHill
  • Richard Honen, Phillips Lytle 
  • Russ Howard, High Peaks Venture Partners
  • Charles Cavanaugh, KPMG (Retired)
  • Bob Kennedy, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering
  • Steve Lobel, Anchor Agency
  • J. Peter Lynch, Salem Financial
  • Laura Mann, Center for Economic Growth
  • Gavin McIntyre, Ecovative Design
  • Nick Mesiti, Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti 
  • Eric Minkiewicz, Huff ‘N Puff 
  • Les Neumann, Hudson Valley Center for Innovation 
  • Michael Newell, Ener-G-Rotors 
  • Michael Shimazu, NYSERDA 
  • Jan Woodcock, Wipro Technologies
Michael J. Castellana
Michael J. Castellana is President and CEO of SEFCU, the largest credit union in the Capital Region and the seventh largest in the State of New York. Mr. Castellana joined SEFCU more than 22 years ago as a member of the executive management team. During his tenure he has overseen SEFCU's growth in Albany County and expansion into Saratoga, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Broome, Onondaga, and Erie Counties.

Mr. Castellana directs all functional areas of the credit union and is responsible for its business planning and asset management. In addition, he serves as chairman of the SECU Foundation, a non-profit affiliation he formed to pool the time, talent, and financial resources of SEFCU staff in support of children's causes.

He also sits on several advisory boards, including: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Anne Institute, the University at Albany MBA Advisory Council, the Dean's Council of the Lally School of Management of RPI and the President's Advisory Council of Hudson Valley Community College.

Mr. Castellana received his bachelor's degree in Accounting and his MBA from the University at Albany in 1984 and 1992, respectively.

Sean Branagan

Sean Branagan is founder and president of Communigration (, a technology marketing firm, as well as CEO and eVangelist of Digital Vertical Marketing (, a search and social media marketing firm, serving companies in key vertical industries. Sean is also a general partner in C3 Strategic, LLC (, a boutique management consulting and venture firm that works with early-stage tech companies. He holds board and advisory board positions with four early-stage tech companies, including

A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Sean's experience with the Internet and World Wide Web began in 1993 at a national super computing center. Since then, he has engaged in online strategy and interactive marketing for all kinds of organizations. He has served as Senior Director of Marketing for a $125 million Internet services company in Boston's Route 128 technology sector, head of e-commerce strategy and interactive marketing for a New York City public company, and corporate communications manager for a public traded distribution company. For five years, Sean taught a graduate-level course in interactive marketing and advertising at Syracuse University's Newhouse School, and today teaches courses in Interactive Marketing and Entrepreneurship, including "What's the Big Idea" ( at Syracuse University. He is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Syracuse's Technology Garden, helping start-up and early stage technology companies in Upstate NY and works with student startups via and other projects and programs.

Sean has presented at seminars, conferences and trade shows in across the country, including Internet World in San Jose, CA.

Allen Goodman

Mr. Allen S. Goodman is President of ECG Consulting Group Inc. and has extensive experience working with U.S. and international clients providing them with strategic market planning, technology commercialization, business strategy & development and business restructuring services to help accelerate the growth and development of their businesses. Mr. Goodman's clients range from Fortune 100 global market leaders to emerging technology growth companies to R&D organizations to investment firms in the energy, environmental, advanced materials, communications, information technology and electronics industries. He has held senior management and consulting positions at ECG, Booz Allen & Hamilton and Simon & Schuster.

Mr. Goodman has worked with manufacturing, service and technology developer clients in a wide variety of business sectors including power systems (e.g. turbines, engines, fuel cells, renewables), environmental (e.g. water, air, filtration, particulate measurement & control), oil & gas (e.g. compression, subsea, fuels), T & D (e.g. cable, substations), energy storage (e.g. batteries, flywheels), instrumentation (e.g. monitoring, diagnostics & control systems, smart grid), specialty materials (e.g. metal matrix composites, glass, silicon carbide), information technology (e.g. telecommunications, computer H/W & S/W), electronics (e.g. consumer, enterprise and industrial EMS) and transportation (electric vehicles).

Prior to joining ECG, Mr. Goodman was Vice President - Planning at Simon & Schuster. Mr. Goodman worked with the Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officers and Group Presidents to restructure this $2 billion publishing and information technology firm. He led major projects that streamlined and integrated operations from more than 50 acquisitions and achieved operating cost savings of more than $100 million. At Booz Allen & Hamilton, Mr. Goodman specialized in strategic market planning, technology commercialization and business restructuring for U.S., Canadian, Japanese, U.K. and French firms in the information technology and telecommunications industries. He managed engagements, worked with more than 25 Fortune 1000 clients and developed Booz Allen's U.S. Information Industry Practice strategic plan. While attending The Wharton School, Mr. Goodman was awarded a Management Consulting Fellowship. Under this Fellowship, he developed and implemented business and marketing strategies for more than 25 new ventures and firms in the information technology, consumer products and healthcare industries.

Mr. Goodman has Chaired panels on "Accelerating Commercialization of New Technologies" at national and international tradeshows, serves on the Center for Economic Growth (CEG)'s Technology Council, Chairs CEG's Business Acceleration Committee and serves on the Advisory Board of iClean Incubators and other community non-profit Boards. Mr. Goodman was also a member of Harvard Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2004-2008, serving as Regional Director and member of the Clubs and Communications Committees. He was Co-Chair of Harvard's 2006 and 2007 Global Alumni Leadership Conferences and is a Board Member and past President of the Harvard University Club of Eastern New York. Mr. Goodman has an A.B. degree, with honors, from Harvard University and an M.B.A. degree from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

James Groelinger
Mr. James F. Groelinger is an internationally experienced energy expert who focuses on business and technology development and commercialization. Currently, he is:
  • Executive Director of the Clean Energy Alliance, Inc., a rapidly growing national association of clean energy business incubators and related companies;
  • Chairman, President, and CEO of Heartland Bridge Capital, Inc., a publicly-traded private equity fund focusing on, among other things, clean energy technology investments; 
  • CTO of Grid Thermal Solutions, Inc., a development-stage company that is commercializing a utility-scale thermal energy storage technology; and 
  • Managing Director of Bellegrove Associates, a consulting company focusing on clean energy strategy and business development.
Previously, he was CEO and President of EPV Solar, Inc., a solar energy technology company that designed, manufactured, and sold amorphous silicon ("a-Si") thin-film photovoltaic ("PV") modules for power and BIPV applications. Earlier, he was Senior Vice President for business development for CHI Energy, Inc., a Stamford, CT-based renewable energy company operating in hydroelectricity, biomass cogeneration, wind, and solar. Before that he was a director of Putnam, Hayes & Bartlett, Inc., an international energy strategy firm at which he was involved in numerous activities related to electric industry strategy and restructuring around the world.

Mr. Groelinger started his career as a process engineer for Monsanto Chemical Company. He has a BChE from City College of New York and an MBA-Finance from Temple University.

Richard Honen
Richard Honen is partner in charge, Albany Office, Phillips Lytle, LLP. Mr. Honen focuses his practice in corporate and venture capital law and commercial litigation. He provides corporate counsel to a broad spectrum of companies with a particular emphasis on emerging growth and start-up companies. Mr. Honen has written and lectured extensively on topics of corporate law, venture capital and angel investing to various national and local groups. His most current publication is the chapter entitled "Legal Issues Affecting Private Equity and Venture Backed Companies" in Representing Private Equity and Venture Capital Backed Portfolio Companies (Aspatore/Thomson Reuters 2010). Mr. Honen earned a bachelor's degree from the University at Albany in 1982 and his J.D. from Albany Law School in 1985.

Russ Howard
Russ is a founding Partner of High Peaks and brings over twenty years of business and investing experience to High Peaks. Russ led High Peaks' investment in Auterra and serves on the company's board of directors. Prior to the formation of High Peaks, Russ was a Managing Director with The Berkshires Capital Investors (BCI), a western Massachusetts-based early stage venture capital fund that is also part of the Village Ventures network of funds. At BCI Russ invested in numerous start-up companies including VoodooVox, Optasite, and Waterfront Media.

Prior to joining BCI, Russ was a Senior Vice President in the Technology and Communications Group at GE Equity, the venture capital arm of GE Capital. During his six-year tenure with GE Equity from 1994 to 2000, Russ was responsible for numerous investments in technology companies including CyberSource, CommerceOne, Acuity, and Launch Media. Prior to GE Equity, Russ worked for Equitable Capital Management and Alliance Capital Management in New York City and for The Futures Group, a Connecticut-based management consulting company.

Russ holds an M.B.A. from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and a B.A. cum laude in Economics from Williams College. He has served as a board representative for many private companies and has also been a frequent speaker and panelist at venture capital conferences.

Bob Kennedy
Bob Kennedy, PE, CEM. LEED® AP joined Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering in June 2007 as its Director of Energy Services to provide its clients with comprehensive energy & sustainability consulting services that save energy, lower costs and improve performance. Bob has been involved with analysis, design & installation of energy conservation and renewable energy systems in a wide range of building types for over 30 years which collectively have saved over $100 million in energy costs. He is a registered Professional Engineer, a Certified Energy Manager and a charter member of the Association of Energy Engineers. Bob received his BSME from Union College in Schenectady NY, with specialties in thermodynamics, fluids and economics.

J. Peter Lynch
J. Peter Lynch is the president of Salem Financial, Inc. Mr. Lynch has worked for 33 years as a security analyst, an investment banker and a private investor in small emerging technology companies. He has been actively involved in following developments in the renewable energy sector since 1977 and is regarded as an expert in this field, especially the PV segment. During this time he assisted a number of renewable energy companies with private placements and public offerings in the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's and has assisted in raising over $600M for renewable energy companies in the Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal, Wind and Biomass areas.

Mr. Lynch was the contributing editor for 17 years to the Photovoltaic Insider Report, the first publication in Photovoltaics (PV) that was directed at industrial subscribers, such as major energy companies, utilities and governments around the world.

Mr. Lynch is currently a private investor, contributing writer to numerous renewable publications, and has from time to time been a financial/technology consultant to a number of emerging technology and renewable energy companies. He can be reached via e-mail at or at his website for the promotion of solar,

Laura Mann
Laura serves as Program Director of Business Growth Services at the Center for Economic Growth. Since 2009, Laura served in a government relations role at the New York State School Boards Association, advocating on behalf of the school board membership on public education issues related to school finance and management, state aid and real property taxation. In 2006, she formed a partnership as one of three founders of Glenmont Partners LLC and Glenmont Venture Capital Management where she sought limited partner investments for deployment into early-stage technology companies. She previously held a position with the New York State's Small Business Technology Investment Fund as an Investment Principal and was responsible for sourcing and structuring venture investments in early-stage technology companies throughout New York.

At CEG, Laura oversees the portfolio of services focused on growth and enhancement of early stage manufacturing and technology companies throughout the region.

Gavin McIntyre

Gavin McIntyre is Co-Founder and Chief Scientist of Ecovative Design, a bio-materials company located in Green Island, NY. Gavin received a dual B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design and Innovation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in May of 2007. Before founding Ecovative, Gavin worked for the Department of Energy at Brookhaven National Laboratory. At Brookhaven, Gavin worked on a variety of projects, including the design and analysis of electrostatic devices for high-energy physics experiments, and structural and thermal diagnostics of equipment to ensure experiment quality and accuracy.

Nicholas Mesiti
Nicholas Mesiti, a Partner in Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti, is an experienced and versatile intellectual property law practitioner and litigator. Mr. Mesiti's practice includes patent infringement, trademark, false advertising, copyrights and unfair competition cases. Mr. Mesiti has been lead trial counsel in numerous infringement jury and non-jury trials, and appeals. Mr. Mesiti's technical and legal abilities have enabled him to handle complex patent infringement cases in various technologies including medical devices, semiconductors, electronics, communication systems, optics, industrial and power generation machinery, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products. His cases have also included other consumer products such as furniture, backpacks, and protein bars.

Mr. Mesiti also counsels clients in all aspects of intellectual property law including rendering of non-infringement, validity and patentability opinions; due diligence investigations, audits and opinions; as well as managing, licensing and acquiring intellectual property portfolios. Mr. Mesiti has been recognized by his peers as a "Super Lawyer' in the area of Intellectual Property Law as published in Law & Politics. He is a frequent guest lecturer and presenter in the area of Intellectual Property.

Mr. Mesiti graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1985. He acquired his law degree from Albany Law School in 1988. He is admitted to the bar in New York, and before the U.S. District Court for the Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Districts of New York, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal, Fourth and Second Circuits. Mr. Mesiti has successfully represented clients in many Federal District Courts throughout the United States. Mr. Mesiti is also registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Eric Minkiewicz
Eric Minkiewicz is the President of Huff ‘N Puff, a leading specialty home improvement company serving customers in the Albany and Hudson Valley markets of New York State. The company is the sole distributor of leading brands like Renewal by Andersen® replacement windows and doors and Gutter Helmet® gutter protection systems. Eric is also a founder of Endai Worldwide, a marketing services and technology firm headquartered in New York City.

His leadership and entrepreneurial expertise has led Huff ‘N Puff to revenue growth of 530% over a 5 year period, resulting in the company being included in Inc. Magazine's 2007 list of fastest growing private companies. He has received numerous awards for achievements in his industry.

Eric received an MBA from the University at Albany and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition to several other board positions he has held, he has most recently served as President of Entrepreneurs' Organization (formerly YEO), a non-profit organization. Eric is also a recipient of the Capital District Business Review's prestigious ‘40 Under Forty' award.

Les Neumann
Mr. Neumann is the current Managing Director of the Hudson Valley Center for Innovation (HVCFI), a business accelerator which he co-founded in 2005 along with the Hudson Valley Technology Development Center. Mr. Neumann conceived of the HVCFI's unique business proposition to assist regional entrepreneurs by accelerating the development and commercialization of their products and services through the support of a national team of Executive Mentors, cultivated business professionals and global business contacts. As HVCFI's Managing Director, Mr. Neumann formed the Board of Directors, chairs the multi-disciplined Board of Advisors and was responsible for creating the HVCFI Cleantech Acceleration Program (CAP) in 2007 and the WindPower Initiative (WPI) in March of 2009.

Prior to becoming Managing Director of the HVCFI, Mr. Neumann served as the Chief Operating Officer of VRSim, a Connecticut based virtual reality development company charged with the development of numerous simulations for private industry, government and military applications. Mr. Neumann was also Director of New Technologies for RCC a global cosmetic sampling company located in Manhattan where he developed several revolutionary electronic, virtual reality based self-serve kiosks and on-shelf technologies featuring the electronic release of branded fragrances as well as co-owner of an established point of purchase display brokerage specializing in interactive display techniques.

Mr. Neumann has several patents and was a contributing author of a recently published book on branding (Living Brands) and experiential marketing techniques. Les also founded and was CEO of Interpreter Inc. in Westminster, Colorado where he was responsible for an initial public offering of the company's securities in 1983. The company developed a series of proprietary hardware/software devices dedicated to document translation and transmission. Interpreter Inc. was the first company to be granted the use of a video prospectus as a component of its offering prospectus and Les was instrumental in the Securities and Exchange Commission honoring digitally produced signatures as authentic for filing SEC documents.

Mr. Neumann serves as the current Chair of the Rockland Business Association's Technology Initiative, is a founding member of the New York State Business Incubator Association and serves as a Director with a New Jersey operated Wind development company.

Michael Newell
Michael Newell is CEO of Ener-G-Rotors, Inc. an early stage company commercializing products for converting heat into electricity in industrial processes, solar thermal, geothermal, and biomass installations. He is an experienced entrepreneur and new venture leader with over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, strategic planning, and general management for technology based industrial products in new businesses and new markets. Besides Ener-G-Rotors Inc. he has held key leadership positions in U.S. Analytical Instruments, AT&T Capital Corporation, Inficon, Rheodyne, and IDEX Health and Science Technologies, managing sales, marketing, and business development efforts in North America, Europe, China, and Japan.

Mr. Newell received a BS in Chemistry in three years at Union College, Schenectady, NY. Mr. Newell is a member of the Board of Trustees of Union College, the Board of Trustees of Union Graduate College (and past Chair), an Executive Committee Member of the Union College Alumni Council, Schenectady, NY, and a member of the American Chemical Society. He has served as a Technical Entrepreneur in Residence for the New York State Small Business Development Center, a Severino Fellow for the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer, and is a mentor at the UStart Incubator in Schenectady, NY.

Michael Shimazu
Michael Shimazu is a Project Manager at NYSERDA in Clean Energy Innovation and Business Development. He manages NYSERDA's incubator, manufacturing incentive, and business development programs to increase the opportunities for clean technology companies to commercialize new products and grow their business. He has more than 20 years experience in technology commercialization at the intersection of startup companies, universities and government. He was a co-founder and corporate officer at Molecular OptoElectronics Corp., an optical components company, where he raised more than $27 million in venture capital and launched several profitable new products. He has advised several technology startups as a consultant and Business Development Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and held positions in technology-based economic development in New York, Massachusetts and Hawaii. He holds the S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Jan Woodcock

Jan Timothy Woodcock is a Consulting Partner delivering management consulting solutions in strategy, operations, and technology. Mr. Woodcock has more than 20 years of consulting experience with a focus on global Media and Telecommunications clients. He specializes in the areas of strategy and operations, with experience spanning the major players of the media and communications industries. He is a specialist in financial management, operational efficiency, customer and product analytics, and strategy. His industry experience encompasses major media conglomerates, networks, studios, publishers, communications and cable companies.

Mr. Woodcock has recently completed projects in digital transformation of a national network, growth strategy of cable network, and strategic cost management of a media conglomerate. Prior to joining Wipro, Mr. Woodcock was senior partner at Deloitte Consulting, holding key leadership roles while building their Telecom, Media, and Technology practice. Jan has published numerous articles and has spoken extensively.

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