The Natel team September 2023

Our team is driven to deliver sustainable solutions that work.

WHO WE ARE

We are a diverse group of engineers, entrepreneurs, and technologists who are passionate about climate solutions. We draw from our unique backgrounds and individual experiences to produce creative, collaborative results.

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Leadership

Gia Schneider
Gia Schneider
Chief Executive Officer

Gia Schneider

Chief Executive Officer

A passionate believer in finding ways to support healthy rivers, promote biodiversity and decarbonize the grid, Gia has spent more than 20 years working in the energy industry. Inspired at a young age by her father, an inventor of novel renewable energy technologies, Gia co-founded Natel Energy in 2009 with her brother, Abe.

Gia previously served as a partner at EKO Asset Management Partners and held past roles at Credit Suisse, where she established the energy trading desk and carbon emissions desk, and led commodity-focused work at Constellation Energy and Accenture. 

Schneider was selected as a 2022 Grist “Fixer,” an honor given to the top 50 emerging climate and sustainability leaders; she has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Clean Energy Champion and is an Unreasonable Fellowship recipient.

Schneider received Chemical Engineering and Economics degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently serves as a board member of the Fresh Water Trust and World Wildlife Fund National Council. 

Schneider enjoys surfing, kiting, and cooking with family and friends. Schneider lives in California with her husband and daughter.

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Abe Schneider
Abe Schneider
Chief Technology Officer

Abe Schneider

Chief Technology Officer

Abe Schneider is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Natel Energy, driving the company's commitment to the conviction that hydropower production can co-exist with biodiverse, healthy rivers. Abe leads the company’s technical teams, overseeing hydraulic design and fish passage testing for Natel’s FishSafe Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT).

Prior to co-founding Natel Energy in 2009 with his sister, Gia, Abe worked as a mechanical engineer for both large firms such as The Timken Company and innovative startups including Makani Power, which was later acquired by Google.

Abe developed and holds numerous engineering and design patents and has authored and contributed to several publications on hydropower and FishSafe turbine design. Abe earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Abe enjoys the outdoors and loves wing surfing, climbing, and fly fishing with his wife and kids. Abe and his family live in San Francisco, CA.

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Gregor Cadman
Gregor Cadman
Chief Operating Officer & VP, Engineering

Gregor Cadman

Chief Operating Officer & VP, Engineering

Gregor is Natel's Chief Operating Officer as well as VP of Engineering. As a team and project leader, Gregor's dual role allows him to closely align turbine design and testing with commercial efforts.


Gregor holds a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from MIT and has a track record of bringing new technologies to life. He began his career designing and building next generation light aircraft, focusing on aerodynamics, composite structures, and flight testing. Gregor shifted into renewables in 2013 at Makani Power / Google X; there he grew and led an 18-person airframe team, designing and flying state of the art airborne wind turbine systems while also bridging gaps across departments and leadership. He joined Natel in 2018, first leading the engineering team while taking on increasing operational responsibilities.

In addition to being passionate about climate solutions and biodiversity, Gregor enjoys scuba diving, biking, sailing, and hiking.

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Kizzie Brown
Kizzie Brown
Chief Financial Officer

Kizzie Brown

Chief Financial Officer

Kizzie Bozeman Brown, MBA, has an extensive finance background spanning both corporate finance and investment banking. Kizzie began her career on Wall Street at Morgan Stanley, Inc. where she helped to raise capital for global companies in the fixed income market. She continued her career at Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. where she provided financial advisory and capital raises for public and private real estate investment trusts. After a 10-year career in investment banking, Kizzie shifted her focus from advising large, global corporations to acting as a Chief Financial Officer for solar development firms hep Petra and ReNew Petra, and real estate firm, Bundy Development Corporation. Kizzie led the companies’ operational functions and project finance efforts, including structuring debt and tax equity capital for solar transactions.

As Chief Financial Officer at Natel Energy, Kizzie provides leadership for fundraising efforts, back-office operations, and project finance for the company’s re-powering and greenfield development projects.

Kizzie is a very active member of her community, with a special emphasis on promoting economic development in minority communities. She also enjoys entertaining and traveling.  

Kizzie has a Masters in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelors in Business Administration from Howard University.

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Sales & Contract Execution

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Nick Arnold
VP, Contract Delivery & Customer Success

Nick Arnold

VP, Contract Delivery & Customer Success

Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University. He has a broad set of previous experiences managing complex hydropower, commercial, industrial, institutional, and government projects to successfully achieve corporate goals and objectives. He is adept at cultivating partnerships and building lasting relationships with customers and colleagues, and experienced with leading continuous improvement objectives to consistently transform productivity, improve efficiency and drive profitability. At Natel, Nick develops robust project execution mechanisms and leads the execution of projects that are developed by Natel or sold by Natel to its customers.

Nick also enjoys watching his two daughters play competitive soccer, watching his son play basketball and lacrosse, snowboarding, mountain biking, riding electric skateboards, hiking with his family and three dogs, working out, camping and four-wheeling.

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Harry Driscoll
Senior Manager, Sales

Harry Driscoll

Senior Manager, Sales

Harry is based in the UK and specializes in Natel's sales in Europe, although he also works on North American projects. Harry has more than 15 years of experience in the small hydropower sector, beginning with the publication of his undergraduate thesis on powering up old watermills in his home county of Dorset, in the South of England. Prior to joining Natel, Harry was a director of the UK-based hydropower consultancy Hydroplan, where he was involved in the design and construction of more than 50 hydropower projects, delivering over 40MW of renewable power to the grid. Harry holds a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Leeds and an Advanced Apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering. Outside of work, Harry plays the drums and helps his wife to raise their three young sons.

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Pat Donahue
VP, Project Services

Pat Donahue

VP, Project Services

Pat is the Vice President of Project Services for Natel Energy. Recently he managed Wind Farms in New England for Siemens Gamesa. Prior to that, he was with Enel and CHI Energy for 18 years, serving in various roles in Hydropower Operations and Maintenance. Pat is an advocate for Hydropower. He has lobbied for Energy bills at the Massachusetts Statehouse. He also has led dozens of walking tours and speaking events at various sites to further the understanding of how hydropower and communities coexist. At Natel, Pat is responsible for the day-to-day Operations of the Portfolio, as well as agency and utility relationships, fish passage performance, maintenance planning, community/stakeholder engagement, and strategic alliances.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three children.

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Tatiana Emrat Marzan
Senior Hydropower Technical Associate

Tatiana Emrat Marzan

Senior Hydropower Technical Associate

Tatiana supports Natel’s Business Development team through the provision of GIS-based analysis and related research of prospective project sites and the ecosystem service endowments associated with these sites. She also uses her background in civil engineering to support our development team on one-off projects. She graduated with an MS in Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University and earned bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. In her free time, she enjoys good food, books, and traveling.

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Ian Gagnon
Senior Mechanical Engineer

Ian Gagnon

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Ian is a mechanical engineer at Natel. His work focuses on the installation, operation, and maintenance of the RHT fleet and the plants that they operate in. He particularly enjoys working in the field and working with the on-site teams that install and operate Natel’s turbines. Ian developed his passion for this type of work during his masters degree at the University of New Hampshire, where he helped to deploy what, at the time, was one of the only grid connected tidal turbines in the US. Ian is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of California. Outside of work he spends his time cooking, cycling, surfing (sort of), and ski touring all over Tahoe.

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Jessica Penrod
Senior Manager, Development Services

Jessica Penrod

Senior Manager, Development Services

Jessica builds strategic partnerships for Natel Energy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Oregon and a Master of Science in Energy Systems Management from the University of San Francisco.

In her free time, she can be found exploring oceans and the water as Captain Jess and working with organizations to bring awareness to plastic pollution and ways to manage the damaging elements of plastics in the ocean. She is passionate about sharing her respect of water, and helping others understand the importance of conservation and conscious living.

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Adam Smith
Associate Director, Project Engineering

Adam Smith

Associate Director, Project Engineering

Adam is a project engineer at Natel, focused on project diligence, interconnection, and construction design. Prior to joining Natel, Adam was lead electrical engineer for the distributed generation solar group at NextEra Energy Resources. He  spent 12 years as a senior engineer in the solar industry on many sides of the table - EPC contractor, developer, and owner. Adam’s expertise includes solar design, electrical engineering, grid interconnection, electrical code compliance and production modeling, and he has a portfolio of over 600 projects totaling over 300 MW.

Adam holds a M.S. in Engineering from the Building Systems Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.

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Will Shields
Senior Manager, Turbine Partners

Will Shields

Senior Manager, Turbine Partners

In his role overseeing Natel's partnerships with hydroelectric turbine manufacturers, Will is responsible for interfacing between sales and engineering to facilitate successful deals and deliver FIshSafe hydraulic designs to the hydropower market. He leads a technical sales team and leverages his expertise as a technical program manager with supply chain and product development experience to drive success. Before joining Natel, Will played a pivotal role in launching various programs at Google [x], spanning early decarbonization initiatives to the development of wearable VR headsets. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of San Diego, is a co-inventor of a floating photovoltaic power generation system, and brings a spirit of enthusiasm for scaling technologies that generate clean power and preserve biodiversity.

Outside of work, Will enjoys learning to speak Norwegian, surfing, and getting to the beach with his family whenever possible, rain or shine!

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Jin Zhao
Senior Technical Sales Engineer

Jin Zhao

Senior Technical Sales Engineer

Jin works as a Technical Sales Engineer supporting both Natel's project development arm and Natel's sales team. Jin graduated from UC Berkeley with a M.S. degree in environmental engineering in 2015. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from University of Michigan, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University.

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Marketing & External Affairs

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Miles Hall
Policy Manager

Miles Hall

Policy Manager

Miles's primary duties include promoting legislative, regulatory, and budgetary policies to enable and support growth of Natel's business, expanding relationships with key stakeholders, and deepening the company's work with federal and state agencies, industry groups, and with the national labs. Prior to Natel, Miles was a DOE contractor to the Water Power Technologies Office, where he helped develop and execute stakeholder engagement campaigns as well as tech-to-market programs for the hydropower and marine energy sectors. He holds undergraduate degrees in economics and Spanish and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico.

In his spare time, Miles enjoys playing and watching soccer, discovering new bands, and spending too much money on craft beer.

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Betsy Pfeiffer
Senior Marketing Manager

Betsy Pfeiffer

Senior Marketing Manager

Betsy is a California native with a BA in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. She began her communications career at non-profit organizations and universities, and since 2008 has been working as a writer, project manager, and multimedia generalist at research and development projects in the Bay Area. In support of flying wind turbines, kite- and battery-powered hydrofoils, wave power devices, and electric air taxis, she has photographed and filmed engineering tests in Hawaii, Norway, and throughout California. Betsy loves rock climbing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and traveling in her van.

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Kate Stirr
VP, External Affairs

Kate Stirr

VP, External Affairs

Kate Stirr is the Vice President of External Affairs at Natel. She is responsible for introducing Natel’s FishSafe turbine technology to the world through marketing, communications, and stakeholder engagement, as well as for leading policy and government affairs for the company. She is an active participant in the Uncommon Dialogue and is co-chair of NHA’s new Technology Innovation Roundtable. Prior to Natel Kate spent seven years at Alphabet, where she prototyped hardware for early-stage Google X projects including self-driving cars, delivery drones, wearable devices, and internet balloons, and later managed flight testing logistics, outreach, and communications for Makani, an airborne wind turbine project. While at Makani, Kate wrote and directed a feature-length film, Pulling Power from the Sky, that tells the story of the team’s incredible engineering effort. Kate holds undergraduate degrees in art and Spanish from Lewis & Clark College, and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in sculpture from San Francisco Art Institute. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Mills College.

Kate is interested in telling stories about technology that can strengthen connections to the natural world and facilitate balanced access to the world’s resources as our planet rapidly changes.

Outside of work, Kate enjoys exploring beaches and forests with her husband and kids, cooking, and climbing and paddling when she has the opportunity.

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Engineering

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Chris Bechtel
Mechanical Technician

Chris Bechtel

Mechanical Technician

As a technician for Natel, Chris draws from experience in a broad range of fields including the building trades, motion picture production, and the automotive industry. He is excited to be working in clean energy.

Chris is an East Bay native and, before joining Natel, maintained his own workshop in Alameda for 10 years where he performed general fabrication and prototyping for a variety of clients including designers and scientists.

Chris enjoys eating out, cycling, motorcycling, dreaming up mechanical design projects, and rescuing stray cats.

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Alex Conn
Mechanical Technician

Alex Conn

Mechanical Technician

Alex is a testing and mechanical technician at Natel. He spends his time fabricating, assembling, and troubleshooting machinery for Natel's closed loop hydraulic test facility and fish passage tests. He previously worked on turbine manufacturing for Natel. He has experience operating both manual and CNC machine tools, welding, and repairing electronic components. Prior to Natel, Alex worked as a bicycle mechanic.

In his free time Alex enjoys building and flying quadcopters, watching documentary films, reading nonfiction books, and mountain biking.

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Saksham Garg
Mechanical Engineering Intern

Saksham Garg

Mechanical Engineering Intern

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Owen Hale
Senior Mechanical Engineer

Owen Hale

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Owen's primary focus at Natel is mechanical design. Owen holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Santa Clara University. Prior to joining Natel, he worked on the iPhone systems engineering team where he shipped several generations of iPhone and patented several designs for both shipping and future products. So if you have a gripe about your iPhone, he’s the one you can blame ;). Prior to that experience, Owen worked for a few Bay Area startups, primarily in the fields of subsea robotics and aviation.

Outside of work you can probably find Owen building things and tinkering in his garage, backpacking in the Sierras, or training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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Simone Lassar
Research Engineer

Simone Lassar

Research Engineer

Simone's primary focus at Natel is on fish passage testing. She received her B.S. in environmental engineering from MIT with a minor in design. She became interested in fluids research specifically pertaining to fish at MIT, and Simone was awarded the Civil and Environmental Engineering Best Undergraduate Research Award for her work on sediment transport in fish bypasses. Simone is excited by nature-based solutions to climate change, engineering that champions diversity and biodiversity, and the pronunciation of the word “ichthyology” (the study of fish). Outside of work, she enjoys making zines, biking around the Bay, and playing cards.

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Johannes Santen
Staff Mechanical Engineer

Johannes Santen

Staff Mechanical Engineer

Johannes works on testing, control systems, and mechanical design at Natel. Prior to joining Natel he spent five years working at a startup building a high-compression ratio, liquid tolerant natural gas compressor and gaining experience with taking a new technology from concept to field operation.

Johannes holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

Outside of work, he enjoys building an riding his bikes, photography, and eating delicious food.

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Ryan Scribner
Senior Program Manager

Ryan Scribner

Senior Program Manager

Ryan is a Technical Program Manager working with the product development team to deliver Natel’s Restoration Hydro Turbine to a growing list of customers. Passionate about  ongoing process improvement, driving data-based decisions, and collaborative development, Ryan is energized by the opportunity to apply his experience to renewable energy. Ryan holds a BSME from Northeastern University and prior to working at Natel, he gained extensive experience as a product development consultant bringing kitchen appliances, juvenile products, IoT devices, micromobility vehicles, and vertical farms to market.

Outside of work, Ryan enjoys cycling, graphic design projects, evaluating jelly beans, and the (fringe) sport of Goaltimate.

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Bobby Stone
Test Engineer

Bobby Stone

Test Engineer

Bobby helps to commission and test new hydro turbine systems at site installations and at Natel headquarters in Alameda, CA. Prior to starting at Natel he worked at an Alphabet company called Makani, filling engineering roles designing, building, and testing flight electronics assemblies and packaging on prototype 600kW energy kites. He helped to commission energy kites in Alameda, Southern California, Hawaii, and in Norway. 2 years prior to that he worked as a technician helping to build a prototyping shop and then an electronics technician assembling avionics. Bobby studied English literature and sculpture at San Francisco State University and worked at Half Price Books for 8 years. In his free time he works on (and sometimes drives) an OEM 2000 Ford Ranger EV. He also makes art and music and likes going on hikes with his family and friends in the Oakland redwoods.

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Onur Talu
Mechanical Engineer

Onur Talu

Mechanical Engineer

Onur's primary focus at Natel is mechanical design. He graduated from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. At Olin, he found a passion for alternative energy generation and storage, and designed the chassis and suspension geometry subsystems for his Formula SAE Electric team.

In his free time, Onur likes to read and explore cities on foot. He also loves trying out new recipes, particularly Turkish ones, and cooking large meals for his friends.

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Jue Wang
Senior Hydraulic Design Engineer

Jue Wang

Senior Hydraulic Design Engineer

Jue is a hydraulic design engineer at Natel. He earned his Ph.D. degree in civil engineering, specialized in hydraulics and hydrology. Jue has over 10 years of experience in Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD). He mainly uses CFD methods to assist and validate the design of fluid structures. Prior to Natel, he worked as a water engineer at Jacobs Engineering for four years. Jue likes cooking for families in his spare time.

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Sterling Watson
Staff Mechanical Engineer

Sterling Watson

Staff Mechanical Engineer

Sterling is interested in mechanical and system design for sustainable energy technologies. Prior to joining Natel, she was a graduate student at MIT focusing on village-scale, solar-powered desalination system design and optimization for the developing world. Sterling earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.

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Alex Wickersham
R&D Operations Manager

Alex Wickersham

R&D Operations Manager

Alex leads the prototyping technician team at Natel’s Alameda, CA headquarters, building and testing new turbine hardware. Alex holds a BSME from UC Santa Barbara where he gained a passion for environmental preservation and renewable energy technology. Prior to joining Natel, Alex spent 10 years at Makani Power, building and testing energy kites in California, Hawaii, and Norway.

Outside of work, Alex enjoys camping with his family, backyard gardening and entertaining, and restoring vintage VW campers.

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Brit Wylie
Associate Mechanical Engineer

Brit Wylie

Associate Mechanical Engineer

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Administrative & Operations

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Dana Nyugen
HR & Office Manager

Dana Nyugen

HR & Office Manager

Dana is Natel’s Office Manager. Prior to Natel, Dana worked in finance for a healthcare management consulting firm. Dana received her BA in International Relations from San Francisco State University. She is interested in learning about the development of social, healthcare, and environmental policies.

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Dave Sheldon
Consultant, Finance

Dave Sheldon

Consultant, Finance

Dave 30 years experience in finance and operations for both public and privately held technology and energy companies. He has extensive experience growing businesses from $10 to $200 million in revenue. As CFO for emerging companies, he has managed finance, administration, IT, legal and corporate development activities, raised funds from a variety of sources, and established a foreign subsidiary to support manufacturing and back office functions. He managed strategic partnerships and international sales through distributors for 40 countries. Earlier, Dave held progressively responsible finance, corporate development and general management positions for publicly reporting energy and technology companies including Gulf Oil Corporation, Eastern Gas and Fuel Associates, Triad Systems and Epicor (formerly Activant).

Dave received his BS in Economics from MIT, an MBA from Stanford, and began his career in the San Francisco office of KPMG. Dave was awarded a patent for a system that optimizes supply chains with predictive models combining demographic and demand data.

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Ben Ward
Facilities Manager

Ben Ward

Facilities Manager

At Natel, Ben is in charge of managing and maintaining the warehouse, shop, office, and test spaces and services. After several years of service in the US Navy, Ben graduated from Johnson & Wales University. He also holds a solar installation NABCEP certification. Previously Ben focused on the build out and launch of critically acclaimed Bay Area restaurants, emphasizing the use of renewables and sustainable practices.

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Linda Womack
Controller

Linda Womack

Controller

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Tatiana, Miles, Jessica, Harry

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