Currently Powering 1,918,636 Homes

With a range of backgrounds and a dedication to their work, our staff are a key component of the organization's effectiveness. We hope these short bios give you a little insight into the depth of talent at Renewable Northwest Project.
Rachel Shimshak's picture
J. Rachel Shimshak, Executive Director


Rachel Shimshak has served as Executive Director of Renewable Northwest – a leading non-profit advocacy group - since its inception in 1994. Under her leadership, the organization has supported the implementation of more than 7,600 MW of wind, geothermal and solar resources in the Northwest. The region has become a national clean energy leader, attracting robust renewable industries and manufacturing clusters. With Rachel at the helm, Renewable Northwest has grown to include over 60 member organizations – including businesses, non-profits and academic institutions – working toward the shared mission of a clean energy future and a healthy economy, workforce and environment.Rachel has a rich history of leadership in the energy field. She has been chosen by Governors to serve on numerous high-level committees, including the Comprehensive Review of the Northwest Energy System in 1996, Western Governors’ Association, and the Oregon Ten-Year Energy Action Plan Taskforce. Before launching Renewable Northwest, Rachel served as Policy Director for the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources, where she worked on an array of energy issues, from natural gas and oil to conservation, renewables and emergency planning. Prior to that, she was Legislative Director for a Massachusetts consumer group and an advocate in Colorado and Washington, D.C.Rachel has served on the boards of several non-profit, clean energy and educational organizations and has been recognized by an array of groups for her contributions to clean energy. She is currently Secretary of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. She received the Green Power Leadership Award/Green Power Pioneer Award from the Environmental Protection Agency, United States Department of Energy and the Center for Resource Solutions. She was recognized as Woman of the Year by Women of Wind Energy and as a 2011 Influencer of Wind Power by Windpower Engineering. Rachel is dedicated to community involvement and served as President at Havurah Shalom Synagogue. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon and is a native Oregonian.


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Amy Baird, Communications Manager


Amy joined the team at Renewable Northwest in January 2013. She spent the previous six years focusing on endangered species conservation. Her communications work has included global campaigns for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and more recently regional and national work with the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. She graduated cum laude in 2006 with a B.A. in Global Economic Relations from the University of the Pacific. During college, she enjoyed a semester studying Spanish and marine biology in Costa Rica. A native of the Northwest, Amy enjoys delicious food, exploring the great outdoors, and a close game of cribbage.


Megan Walseth Decker's picture
Megan Walseth Decker, Chief Counsel


Megan joined Renewable Northwest in 2010 to advocate for renewable energy at state utility commissions and administrative agencies across the Northwest. In addition to leading Renewable Northwest's legal and regulatory team, Megan provides advice on legislative policy, manages advocacy on voluntary green power market issues, and works on renewable energy siting policy and legal matters. Megan also serves on the Green-e Board of Governance and the Executive Board of the NW Energy Coalition. Megan holds a J.D. from the University of Washington Law School and a B.A. from Stanford University. 

VarnerSeaman's picture
Varner Seaman, Policy Director


Varner joined RNP’s staff in February 2013. Prior to joining RNP, he worked for EDP Renewables in government and regulatory affairs. In that capacity, he served on RNP’s Board of Directors, and has several years of renewable energy policy experience. Varner got his start in politics working on Labor issues. He served on several Boards of Directors including the Northwest and Intermountain Power Producers Coalition, the Independent Energy Producers Association, and the Interwest Energy Alliance. Additionally, Varner was the Western region caucus chair for the American Wind Energy Association State Policy Committee. Varner boasts an impressive acronym vocabulary and also enjoys racing his bicycle extremely long distances with the Portland-based Nossa Familia team.


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Dina Dubson, Staff Counsel


Dina joined Renewable Northwest in May 2012 as Staff Counsel. Before coming to Renewable Northwest, Dina’s legal practice focused on advising utilities and independent power producers on energy issues, with an emphasis on issues related to the development and integration of wind and solar energy projects. A Florida native, Dina came to Oregon in 2005 to attend the University of Oregon School of Law, where she received her JD. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Tufts University. Dina serves on the Boards of the Portland Chapter of Women of Wind Energy and the Oregon Area Jewish Committee.


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Jeff L. Fox, Montana Policy Manager


Jeff is a native Montanan, wilderness lover, elk hunter, and backcountry skier deeply committed to clean energy solutions for Montana and the nation. He joined Renewable Northwest in February of 2011 to further the organization’s on-the-ground presence in Montana. Jeff's background includes working as a wilderness ranger in Colorado and Wyoming, before moving to Washington, DC, to join The Wilderness Society. Missing the mountains, he returned home to assist in the Montana Legacy Project, a $520 million dollar conservation purchase of 320,000 acres of private timber lands threatened by development and fragmentation. Most recently, Jeff was an independent contractor working to organize business support for clean energy. He currently volunteers on the policy committee of the Montana Renewable Energy Association.

Michael O'Brien's picture
Michael O'Brien, Policy Associate


Michael serves as a Policy Associate, bringing a depth of legislative and technical experience to Renewable Northwest's policy team. Before coming to Renewable Northwest in mid-2012, Michael served in the House of Commons advising Members of Parliament on energy and climate policy in the UK. He has published numerous reports on a variety of energy issues ranging from renewable energy systems to low carbon economies. At Renewable Northwest, he will analyze renewable energy and siting policy as well as support Renewable Northwest's solar policy development in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his work with Renewable Northwest, Michael is currently serving as an Expert Reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of an Assessment Report focusing on Energy Systems. O'Brien holds a PhD and a Masters of Science from the University of Birmingham as well as a Masters of Philosophy from the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge.


Caitlin Peel's picture
Caitlin Peel, Office Manager


Caitlin joined Renewable Northwest in February of 2010. Caitlin was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and is a graduate from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California where she received a B.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy. Prior to moving to Portland in January 2009, Caitlin worked with several community organizing groups, focusing primarily on issues around organizing the homeless on Los Angeles' Skid Row, and was the artistic director for a student-run literary magazine for three years. During college Caitlin spent some time overseas, first working in Ireland for an educational development non-profit, and then in South Africa, where she studied multiculturalism and social change.

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David Wolf, Administrative Director


David joined Renewable Northwest in June 2002. David is an Oregon native and has a BA from Reed College. Prior to working for Renewable Northwest, David has been a natural foods merchandiser for Nature's Fresh Northwest, operated his own web design company, and managed a large-format digital print shop. In addition to his duties at Renewable Northwest, David serves on the boards of EarthShare Oregon and The Wallace Medical Concern.

Cameron Yourkowski's picture
Cameron Yourkowski, Senior Policy Manager


Cameron’s work focuses on increasing access to transmission for renewable energy resources and increasing the efficiency and capability of the transmission system to integrate variable energy resources. He is active in the policy and rate setting forums at BPA, FERC, NPCC, WGA, WECC and the state legislative and regulatory bodies. Prior to coming to Renewable Northwest in 2007, he worked for the Alaska State Legislature on energy and fisheries issues. Cameron holds a M.S. and B.A. in economics from Portland State University and the University of Montana, respectively.

Renewable Northwest Staff Photo
December 2013
(back row, left to right) Jimmy Lindsay, Jeff Fox, Cameron Yourkowski, David Wolf, Varner Seaman, Amy Baird.
(front row) Michael O'Brien, Rachel Shimshak, Caitlin Peel, Dina Dubson, Megan Walseth Decker.
Renewable Northwest Memories

Some Renewable Northwest staff and board members recently took a trip down the Salmon River in Idaho. See some photos of the trip and other great moments in our histroy.