About Us:

Staff & Board Members


Meet the Hard Working RREAL Staff!

Jason Edens – Founding Director

With the help of a small group of dedicated volunteers, Jason started RREAL in his basement and garage back in 2000. Under his leadership, RREAL has grown out of the basement and has performed over one hundred Solar Assistance installations and over fifty Solar Electric and Solar Hot Water installations. Jason holds his Masters in Environmental Studies from Bemidji State University. jason@rreal.org


Roger Garton – Technical Director, Engineer

Roger is a graduate from University of Minnesota where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He started volunteering with RREAL at the beginning of 2010 and then served for a full year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Roger is now a full time Engineer and the Technical Director with RREAL. Recently, Roger became NABCEP certified in Solar Heating Installation.  roger@rreal.org


BJ Allen - Special Projects Manager

BJBJ is Special Projects Manager at RREAL. She received her B.S. from the University of San Diego in Electrical Engineering before managing at RREAL, and has contributed to the team in product development, manufacturing engineering, supply chain development, logistics, renewable energy systems design and installation, and implementation of business goals and priorities. In addition to managing Skip the Grid and other Special Projects at RREAL, BJ is currently a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she is studying Engineering Management. She enjoys traveling, woodworking and fishing when not occupied with homework. She has collaborated to publish key research papers, including one on a solar software analysis tool, TRNSYS, managed a $4m+ budget, and raised millions of dollars for projects. BJ has loved traveling around the world, including co-founding an international environmental awareness organization based in Japan. She currently resides in Northern Minnesota with her husband and their two dogs. bj@rreal.org

Ryan Burns – Dealer Community Coordinator

With a long history of commercial and residential construction experience Ryan graduated from St Paul Technical College in 1994 from the construction and welding program at the top of his class. He worked in the Twin Cities on commercial and residential sites eventually becoming lead foreman for a large commercial contractor. In 2000 Ryan moved to Walker MN and continued to work in the construction industry. Years later Ryan, a single father of two, has now owned and operated his DJ business since 2001. As a recipient of fuel assistance from Minnesota’s Bi Cap organization Ryan has lived with both Solar Air Heat and Solar Hot Water for years . With Ryan’s construction experience, his success in running a small business and in his deep understanding of solar thermal technology, Ryan is a crucial part of the RREAL team. ryan@rreal.org

Jan Hubbard - Director of Business Development

Jan_Hubbard - Picture_(120x120)Jan has extensive experience in the solar and electronic manufacturing industries in sales management, strategic relations, and business development roles. He has a master of business administration degree from St. Cloud State University, a bachelors degree in economics and business from the U of MN, and electronics diploma from Anoka Technical College. He is also a graduate of the St. Paul College PV Technical Sales program, Midwest Renewable Energy Association solar training, and has a NABCEP PV certificate of knowledge. Jan has homes in Walker and Brooklyn Park, MN and works with clients around the Midwest. jan@rreal.org

Ben Butcher - Construction Manager

Ben ButcherPrior to his employment with RREAL Ben Butcher spent 14 years as an ASE Certified Automotive Technician helping folks maintain safe, reliable, and efficient vehicles.  In 2006 Ben accepted a position as Shop Steward at the Hunt Utilities Group campus and played a major role in the research and development of technologies to be applied to building science around the globe for more sustainable and resilient living.  Seeing a need in 2009, Mr. Butcher successfully started and operated Energy Savers Home Improvement, a weatherization company focused on air sealing and insulating homes to make them more efficient.  Certified by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society in Solar Thermal Design and Installation since 2008, Ben is proud to be a member of the RREAL team and excited to help with your solar project! ben@rreal.org

John Ruvelson – Solar Technical Sales

John Ruvelson 2

John Ruvelson, joined RREAL in December, bringing his wide range of training and experience to our team. He has a  background in residential construction, is certified as a MREA site assessor and as a NABCEP Solar Technical Salesperson. He loves hands on designing and installing of solar, has experience with battery systems and has studied wind systems. He is working on completing his NABCEP certification. John is an environmentalist, lives in Duluth, loves canoeing, trail running and the outdoors. john@rreal.org


Barb Beck - Office Manager

Barb Bio 3Barb joined our staff in December of 2013. She is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she earned a degree in Elementary Education. She has over 30 years of teaching experience in IL, MD, and MN, and has most recently worked as the Educational Program & Events Coordinator at Happy Dancing Turtle. Barb provides administrative support to the whole staff and works on customer relations, information management, and helping to streamline our daily business operations. barb@rreal.org

Nicole Lloyd – Accounting

Nicole Pic

Nicole joined our staff in January 2012. She began RREAL through an internship program from Central Lakes College and has remained at RREAL ever since. Nicole has an Accounting AAS degree from Central Lakes College and will graduate in May 2015 with an Accounting BS degree from Bemidji State University. Nicole is responsible for all financial aspects of RREAL and helps utilize funds effectively to benefit the solar assistance program to its full potential.  nicole@rreal.org


Shannon Wheeler - AmeriCorps – Solar Heat Outreach

Shannon, served a year with RREAL as an AmeriCorps volunteer, in collaboration with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. Shannon enjoyed working with RREAL and our clients during that time and has now joined us as our Program Manager.  With Shannon’s background in education and program management she is excited to continue her work at RREAL in our Solar Assistance Program along with our Outreach and Education efforts. shannon@rreal.org

Adam Mehr - AmeriCorps – Solar Heat Outreach

Adam Mehr is continuing in his second AmeriCorps term in collaboration with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. A Solar Heat Outreach Specialist for Minnesota, Adam works on furthering RREAL’s Solar Assistance program (Solar heat for low-income families on energy assistance) and establishing new partnerships across the state and region. adamm@rreal.org


Nick Chmura - Conservation Corps – Solar Educator

Nick ChmuraNick is one of our new AmeriCorps team members that will be working in collaboration with the Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa. He is a graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation, and a minor in Environmental Science. Nick is one of RREAL’s newest Solar Educators. He will conduct community outreach and education, support the Solar Assistance program, and assist with solar energy system installations. nick@rreal.org


Tyler Bublitz - Conservation Corps – Solar Educator

BublitzTylerTyler is one of our new AmeriCorps team members that will be working in collaboration with the Conservation Corps Minnesota and
Iowa. Originally from Northwest Wisconsin, he went Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology with minors in Environmental Studies and Religion. Tyler is one of RREAL’s newest Solar Educators, furthering our Solar Assistance program while continuing to bring the news to people that Solar Energy works in the United States especially the Midwest! tyler@rreal.org

Heather Butcher - Production Manager

Heather has been with RREAL six years!  She leads in the manufacture of SPF, ensures maximum quality assurance and quality control, and manages additional manufacturing staff on a day-to-day basis. When not at RREAL, Heather is busy spending time with family. heather@rreal.org


Joel Lindstrom – Master Electrician

Joel Lindstrom is the person behind JoelT Electric, with whom RREAL contracts its electrical work. Joel is a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Certified Master Electrician, and an all around swell guy!



Guy Dibble - Manufacturing Assistant

Guy Installing PV at NEWBGuy started at RREAL in the summer of 2014, participating in an internship through Mesabi Range Community & Technical College, working mainly in manufacturing. He officially joined our staff in September of 2014, continuing his work in manufacturing. Guy is currently pursuing an education in Wind Turbine Technology, but working with solar provides a nice balance to his understanding of renewable energy technologies.


Tay Stevenson - Program Development Specialist

Tay StevensonTay was born and raised in Brainerd, MN and received degrees in Government and Philosophy from Dartmouth College. He was twice-nominated as a candidate for the Minnesota State Senate, earning the Candidate of the Year award in 2010, and was named one of the Minnesota Jaycee’s Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans in 2012. Tay joined RREAL in 2015 as a Program Development Specialist to help raise the profile of RREAL’s international solar assistance efforts. taylor@rreal.org


RREAL Board Members – Updated February 14, 2014

Jed Norgaarden - Executive Director, Sustainable Resources Center                                                                   

3/21/2014-3/21/2017: 1st consecutive term

Danielle Butenhoff – Board Secretary,  Administration and Outreach Coordinator, Neighborhood Energy Connection

8/20/2007-8/20/2015: 3rd consecutive term

Janelle Riley – Board Treasurer, President, Syvantis
9/22/2012-9/22/2015: 1st consecutive term

Erika Bailey-Johnson, Sustainability Coordinator, Bemidji State University,
1/1/2009-1/1/2015: 2nd consecutive term

Dan Bye, Solar Assistance Recipient
5/11/2012-5/8/2015: 1st consecutive term

Jean Christensen, PSYD, LP, LICSW, Psychologist/Owner, Great River Psychological Services
1/28/2012-1/28/2015: 1st consecutive term

Paul Johnson, Solar Assistance Recipient

5/24/2014-5/24/2017: 1st consecutive term

Thomas Kirzeder, Construction Project Manager, Kuhl’s Contracting
5/11/2012-5/8/2015: 1st consecutive term

Mike Spry, Co-Owner and Operator of Emmaville Store, LLC
10/21/2012-10/21/2015: 1st consecutive term

Michelle Wilwerding, Attorney, Root Legal, LLC and 3M
2/8/2012-2/8/2015: 1st consecutive term