Ali Niazi

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Ali Niazi has cultivated a deep expertise in the dynamics of sustainable energy transitions, with a particular focus on electricity markets. Joining the Energy Futures Lab as a Research Analyst, Ali
embarked on this new chapter in 2024, where he plays a pivotal role in the Alberta’s Electricity Future initiative, aimed at driving the province toward a net-zero electricity system by 2035.

Ali’s educational journey began with a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, followed by an MA in Economics, before pursuing his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Calgary. His research endeavors are squarely focused on making electricity supply cleaner and enhancing the feasibility of EVs, aiming to mitigate their impact on the electrical grid while promoting widespread adoption.

Throughout his career, Ali has developed a versatile skill set that spans research, strategic analysis, and policy development, complemented by his ability to foster collaborative initiatives. He has been part of the efforts in bridging the gap between policymakers, practitioners, and academics, particularly through his involvement with the Net Zero Electricity Research Initiative (NZERI) at the University of Calgary.

His efforts are geared towards facilitating an inclusive and equitable transition to a prosperous net-zero future, leveraging Canada’s innovation capacity to overcome the complex challenges of energy transition.

Terri-Lynn Duque

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Terri-Lynn (TL) joined the Energy Futures Lab in 2022 to start up its Innovation Challenge focused on grid modernization, Alberta’s Electricity Future (AEF). She brings her energetic and people-focused approach to the AEF leadership team where she focuses on strategy, influence, and advocacy work to help navigate the complexities of changes required in Alberta’s electricity sector.

TL worked in utilities for 17 years. She was the Director of Strategic Innovation at ENMAX Power, Calgary’s transmission and distribution utility, where she started-up and led multiple business units and was accountable for the utility’s innovation, grid modernization, customer experience, electrification and regulatory reform strategies and implementation programs. TL utilizes her depth of understanding of the regulated electricity business in Alberta to ensure that strategic plans can be translated into valuable results through immediate action. She is known as a disruptor and influencer in the sector, who is committed to realizing a net-zero future.

TL holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, and is a Professional Engineer and certified Project Management Professional. TL has been recognized with various leadership and innovation awards, she is a committed coach and mentor to many emerging leaders, an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, and a sought-after speaker and voice for change in the electricity sector across Canada.

Maureen Kolla

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Throughout her career, Maureen Kolla has built a comprehensive understanding of Alberta’s electricity system with deep experience in consortium building, emerging technology development, and sustainable business strategy.

Maureen joined the Energy Futures Lab in April 2023 as Project Lead for its new Innovation Challenge focused on grid modernization, Alberta’s Electricity Future. 

She brings to her role a diverse skill set with expertise in research, strategic planning, project and business development, technology evaluation, fostering collaborative relationships, and effective communications. Maureen has worked as both a funder and a business leader. She managed over $5 million in grant funding for projects related to geothermal energy, energy storage, smart grid, and clean technologies. She also led market entry strategies, business strategies, and carbon related ventures for various clients. In 2017, she founded the Alberta Smart Grid Consortium bringing together Alberta Distribution Facility Owners, the Alberta Minister of Energy and Alberta Innovates to collaboratively assess the impacts and opportunities presented by new grid technologies and their ability to meet the evolving needs of electricity consumers.

Maureen holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta, a Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering from Toronto Metropolitan University.

Sarah Brooks

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Sarah has been with The Natural Step for over fifteen years, focusing on developing and stewarding processes and practices to address messy challenges. She supports the overall Lab design and facilitation, including the Fellowship Arc and the EFL’s Alberta’s Energy Future Innovation Challenge. Sarah also leads engagement strategy for the Canada Plastics Pact and stewards solutions portfolio development for clients around the world.

Prior to her work with The Natural Step, Sarah was a natural building instructor, working to enable communities to create structure from locally available, minimally processed materials. She has worked with people from over 22 countries in this capacity. Sarah holds a master’s degree in “Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability” from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden and an undergraduate degree in Geography from Mount Allison University.

Brian Nicholson

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With experience working at all levels of government in Canada Brian manages political and public sector engagement for the Energy Futures Lab and provides strategic government relations guidance to The Natural Step Canada team. This includes advocating for policy recommendations flowing from the Lab’s various initiatives, while seeking to encourage a well-informed and healthy political dialogue on energy transition and climate issues in Canada. Following an academic emphasis on international relations and the geopolitics of Northeast Asia, Brian’s professional career has largely focused on economic development in Alberta’s energy and industrial sectors.

Ailsa Popilian

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Ailsa is a natural storyteller and communicator whose work has focused on connecting people and industry with forward-thinking solutions within the environmental and energy sectors.

Ailsa’s interest in the intersection of energy and environment was sparked while doing communications and marketing for an environmental consulting firm specializing in remediation. She went on to hold marketing and communications leadership roles at a national, environmental non-profit organization. She brings her experience and enthusiasm for written and visual communications, problem-solving, strategy and planning, and community engagement into her role within the Energy Futures Lab.

Ailsa holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Calgary and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Marketing Strategy from Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Mark Cabaj

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Mark is President From Here to There Consulting and Associate of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement. Mark’s current focus is building the practice of Developmental Evaluation integrating real-time feedback and learning in emerging, complex, and fast-moving environments.

Keren Perla

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Keren directs and stewards the Energy Futures Policy Collaborative – a multi-leader partnership diving into the intersection of systems change, policy and investment. Keren’s career and specialties have focused on pioneering new ways to solve messy challenges through the use of disciplines such as systemic design, foresight, and design facilitation. She is Co-founder of the Alberta CoLab – the first public sector social innovation lab to launch at a provincial level – and alumni of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40.

Matt Mayer

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Matt has extensive experience applying systems-thinking, facilitating sustainability strategy and advancing leadership in all sectors across North America. He both advises and supports the design and delivery of the Energy Futures Lab. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Victoria and an MSc in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden.