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Board and Staff

Board of Directors

Brad Van Wert, President

Brad brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge MREA as an independent consultant and contractor in the solar industry. While he is experienced working in every step of the process, he is most passionate about working one-on-one with clients and explaining how solar is a good fit for them.

Together with his business partner Kyle MacVean, Brad was a co-founder Harvest Solar in 2012. Throughout each of the past four Montana legislative sessions Brad has taken an active interest in helping move forward responsible policy that is good for the industry in this state. During the 2017 legislative session he took on the persona of ‘Solar Guy’ to help spread the word to Montanans from around the state and rally their support. This campaign showed him first hand just how excited the citizens of Montana are about renewable energy.

Whether Brad is wiring panels on a roof; advocating for responsible legislation and public policy; or outside playing in the mountains, he is proud to say that he wakes up every day going to work for the sun.

Susan Bilo, Vice President

Susan has been an active member of MREA since 2010. She serves on the Policy Committee and is Chair of the Fair & Events Committee. Susan has worked to advance energy efficiency and solar energy for a state energy office, a U.S. Department of Energy regional office, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. She currently teaches a course on energy and sustainability for Montana State University's Gallatin College. Some of Susan's particular interests include education and promotion of net zero energy buildings and the electrification of the transportation sector.

Brian Solan, Secretary

A Montana native, Brian manages the business development efforts for Ameresco, Inc. - an international Energy Services Company and Clean Tech Integrator. Ameresco focuses on Energy Savings Performance Contracting, Renewable Energy and Microgrid development, construction, and operation. Brian is a registered Professional Engineer, located in Helena, MT and has been working in energy conservation and renewable construction market for the past 22+ years. He’s a Mechanical Engineering graduate of Montana Tech and has advocated for efficiency and renewables in the Northwest throughout his career.

Brian has an extensive non-profit volunteer background and currently serves on the Helena Citizen Conservation Board as well as being the Executive Director for the Montana Wild Sheep Foundation (a wildlife conservation organization). An avid outdoorsman, conservationist, mountain hunter and family man, Brian spends his free time in the backcountry and coaching youth sports in Helena.

Patrick Judge, Treasurer

Pat Judge has advocated for clean energy policies in Montana since 1996. Most of that time was spent working for the Montana Environmental Information Center, as lobbyist and energy program director. He served on the Governor’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and the Helena Climate Change Task Force, and continues to serve on NorthWestern Energy’s USB Renewable Energy Advisory Committee. In 2000, he completed his master’s thesis on Montana’s misguided experiment with electric utility deregulation. Currently, he is employed as a physics instructor at Carroll College.

Caroline Bean

Caroline Bean is Missoula County’s Climate Resilience Coordinator, where she oversees the implementation of climate adaptation strategies across the County. Previously, Caroline was the Program Director for Climate Smart Missoula, where she worked on a variety of local climate mitigation and resiliency efforts. She holds a Masters in Urban Planning from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and has begun pursuing a PhD in Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana. She is grateful to spend her days working towards a more resilient and equitable community.

Christopher Borton bio photoChristopher Borton

Chris is the director and co-founder of Sage Mountain Center, an off-grid, sustainably designed educational facility located in Whitehall, Montana. Sage Mountain Center’s mission is to promote personal and environmental awareness. For over twenty years Sage Mountain Center has provided consultation services, seminars and tours in everything from straw bale home building and cordwood construction to solar and wind power for thousands of students, homeowners, and businesses across the state. Chris’ avocations include playing drums for the Butte Symphony Orchestra and various jazz ensembles and competing nationally as a freestyle figure skater.

Mark Juedeman

Mark grew up on a ranch between Helena and Great Falls.  He moved to Houston to work for an energy company in 1980 after graduating with a degree in Earth Science from MSU. In 1991 he and his family moved to New Orleans, where Mark was active in historic preservation, bicycle advocacy, education, building material reuse, and obtaining personal experience with clean energy like small wind and PV. Hurricane Katrina displaced Mark and family back to Houston, where he was involved with local food, urban sustainability, university teaching, and permaculture, and where he helped found Transition Houston. He and his wife Kathy moved home to Montana in 2015 upon her retirement and live in Helena, while spending much of their time working on the family ranch. Mark has served on the boards of AERO, Transition US, and the Helena Citizen Conservation Board, and is a member of the steering team for Resilient Helena.

Nicola Laverack

Nicola is a native New Englander who came to Montana as a wrangler on a horse ranch in 2007. Her interest in renewable energy was sparked during a permaculture design course she took while traveling after undergrad, which eventually led her to get her Masters degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. During graduate school Nicola studied renewable energy policy and was fortunate to intern for MREA during the 2015 legislative session. Currently living in the Bitterroot Valley, Nicola works as the Communications Director for the solar electric design and build firm OnSite Energy and has served on the MREA Policy Committee since 2019.

Sarah Stands

Born and raised in Livingston, Montana, Sarah is an alumni of UofM and began a career in renewable energy and low carbon development in 2009. She holds a Masters in Sustainable Development Planning and Management and is interested in equitable access and supporting a socially and environmentally just energy transition. A majority of her work has focused on utility/commercial-scale independent power producers in sub-Saharan Africa, consulting to international market entrants, developers/operators, and development institutions with special references to meaningful job creation, skills development, gender equality and rural development. Some of the projects Sarah has worked on include job creation and skills development analysis; community needs assessments; structuring economic development plans for private-public-partnerships; identifying regional socio-economic development good practice; and creating gender and diversity strategies for the global sustainable energy sector. She has previously worked with industry associations, such as the South African Wind Energy Association and South African PV Association – and is currently a member of the Global Women’s Network of the Energy Transition, the Yellowstone Bend Citizen’s Council of the Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana Matriarch’s Grant Committee, and sits on the City of Livingston’s Parks and Trails Committee.


Makenna Sellers, Executive Director

Makenna joined MREA as Executive Director in 2022. Her professional background includes community organizing and renewable energy advocacy at the state and municipal levels. Earning her degree from Gonzaga University in Environmental Studies, Sustainable Business, and Music, Makenna's academic pursuits included climate adaptation strategies while building the university's first campus-wide composting program and climate-driven interdisciplinary dialogue through the GU Office of Sustainability. Before joining MREA, Makenna led a diverse coalition of Montana businesses, conservation groups, and financing institutions to enable C-PACE, an energy efficiency financing and economic development tool for commercial buildings. Makenna lives in Helena, MT and can typically be spotted basking in the glory of the town's top notch trail system with her dog Junie, or performing with the Helena Symphony.

Contact Makenna at (406) 214-9405 or