Get to Know Them
Hon. Dr. Spio-Garbrah, Chairman
A former Minister of Communications for Ghana, Dr Spio-Garbrah was also the first Chairman of his country’s telecom and ICT regulatory body, the National Communications Authority. Among is other board experience, he was also the first Chairman of Ghana’s Value Added Tax (VAT) Service Board, a Chairman of the Brand Ghana Council, and Chairman of the Made-in-Ghana Campaign Committee. He was CEO of the London-based Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, where he led the ICT sectors in some 50 countries of the Commonwealth in promoting better ICT-sector policies, innovative regulatory practices, and improved corporate governance. He has worked for the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank and Southwestern Bell Corporation, now AT&T. He was appointed a board member of Telkom South Africa and Vodacom South Africa by the President Mbeki administration.
Antonio Dixon, Director
Antonio Dixon is an MIT-trained, award-winning entrepreneur, and economist with experience in healthcare (telehealth), renewable energy, and international trade which has led him to work over 20 international markets, and travel to over 60 countries. Mr. Dixon was recently recognized as a Top 100 Startup Changemaker from Harvard and MIT and recognized by the UN as a Young Pioneer, the winner of the Frost & Sullivan Emerging Market Innovation Award. His company, SolarFi is the only company with less than $50,000,000 in revenue to be invited to the UN’s SDG Innovators Program. Mr. Dixoon serves as an Executive-in-Residence at Columbia University and NYSERDA (The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and as a professional advisor at MIT's Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship. He is a SOCAP Scholar that has advised on Presidential elections in Africa. An expert change-maker and serial entrepreneur, Mr. Dixon has always had an abiding interest in sustainability. To that end, as co-founder of SunPowerd Mr. Dixon developed alliances to provide solar grids to developing countries and orchestrated key partnerships with Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, USAID Power Africa, and the United Nations. Based on his experiences as a resident in Africa where access to the internet and even continuous power is sometimes a luxury, Mr. Dixon saw an opportunity and leveraged his deep knowledge of technology to co-found SolarFi. SolarFi has the life-altering potential to bring energy and economic development to developing countries and seeks to connect the under-served and unconnected populations in Africa through solar-powered technology stations which have become the swiss army knife for impacting communities.
Glenn Butler, CTO
Glenn is an industry vendor and inventor of the VendScreen Revolution smart device for new and existing vending machine. Early in his career, Butler co-founded Streamware, served as president of Cantaloupe, and was vice president and CTO of Crane Merchandising Systems before co-founding VendScreen. Butler holds a degree electrical engineering and computer science and has served as an advisor to several companies. As a technical leader I have architected and hired / managed engineering teams building the entire ecosystem of connected solutions, including:Web, cloud, and mobile (iOS and Android) software utilizing both Microsoft and Open Source platforms; High availability / high scalability systems; device hardware, industrial design, electrical, and software / firmware; Connectivity utilizing cellular, BLE, WiFi, ZigBee and industry specific hardware.
Alex Pischalnikov, Advisor
Alex Pischalnikov is an expert specializing in utility strategic planning, operational improvement, regulatory policy, distributed energy resource integration, energy storage, and smart grid technology. Alex has led the development of strategic initiatives and regulatory filings for smart meter deployment, demand response, and electric rate design at both investor-owned and municipal utilities across North America. Alex has helped utility Customer Care organizations realize cost savings while enhancing the customer experience. Mr. Pischalnikov has conducted and published innovation research on energy storage deployment strategy, wearable technologies for utilities, and the connected home. Alex is based in Los Angeles office and has performed a variety of rate and regulatory comparative analysis on California’s utilities and energy.
Charles Touhey, Director
Touhey attended Princeton University, and was a member of the Peace Corps. He was the managing partner of the Latham Four Partnership, which manages apartments offices, and distribution facilities in Arizona, Florida, New York and Texas. He was president of The Spare Room Inc., an Albany storage facility with over 3,000 unites. Touehy was also previously Vice President of Orange Motor Company, Albany. His career was focused on building affordable housing in Arbor Hill. Touhey was on the Albany Board of Education from 1976-1981. He was chairman of the Board of Trustees of WMHT Public Television 1991-95. Touhey is interested in incorporating cultural inclusion into school curriculum Touhey founded the Touhey Family Foundation, or the Charles L. Touhey Foundation, that awards grants to teachers and schools that pursue culturally relevant teaching projects. In 2007, the foundation supplied more than 150 Albany public school teachers with culturally responsive teaching materials. Through a grant from Donors Choose, the foundation funded culturally responsive teaching proposals designed by Albany public school teachers. The Touhey Family Foundation was one of the first donors and supporters for the Pediatric Emergency Dept at Albany Medical Center. Touhey is a Professor of the Africana Studies Department at the University of Albany. Touhey was chosen in 2002 by Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings to work on the Arbor Hill Revitalization Task Force, and oversaw the building of 50 owner-occupied, two-family homes. He has served on a number of boards, including the Board for the Center for Law and Justice, and is a trustee for the College of St. Rose. He is a board member of the Albany Center for Economic Success, a small business incubator that assists women and minority entrepreneurs in starting up new enterprises Charles Touhey received the Joseph A. Bosco Community Service Award in 2011. Touhey has been involved in Capital Region for many years. He was the managing partner of The Latham Four Partnership in 2011, and oversaw a million square feet of offices and distribution facilities in New York and Florida. He has developed several residential subdivisions using such innovations as modular housing. On June 16, 2018 he was appointed as an honorary member of Operation Crossroads Africa, a non-profit organization that brings volunteers to Africa to Africa in order to engage in chores and projects with native African people for 6 weeks in the summer.
Lai Yahaya, Director
Lai Yahaya is an energy, infrastructure and development adviser to senior policy makers in Sub-Saharan Africa. He was most recently Senior Special Assistant to the President in Nigeria, with responsibility for Policy and Strategy. He was previously Team Leader of the Senior Advisors Group of the US government Power Africa initiative, working with a group of former Heads of State and industry leaders, to provide advice to serving government leaders on how best to navigate and drive power sector reform in sub-Saharan Africa. Lai was also formerly Team Leader of the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER), a donor-funded initiative designed to support the restructuring of the oil and gas sector and to increase transparency and accountability in oil sector governance in Nigeria. Lai worked with the Nigerian privatization agency, the Bureau of Public Enterprises; as Special Assistant and advisor to former Nigerian Ministers of Power, National Planning and Finance; as Senior Policy Advisor with the DfID-funded Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) and for several years on the power sector reform program, initially on the development of sector policy, legislation and the landmark Roadmap for Power Sector Reform. He was previously a project finance attorney with the leading global firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and General Counsel of the London Stock Exchange-listed African gas player, Gasol. He received his BA (Hons) and MA from Balliol College, Oxford University, is a Fellow of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu/Oxford Business School Leadership Program and was designated a New Leader for Tomorrow by the Council of Europe-affiliated Fondation du Forum Universale.
John Gaffigan, Director of New Initiatives
John has led sales teams from start-ups through Fortune 500 organizations across a variety of technologies: Telecom, Datacom, InfoSec, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Services. John was drawn to SolarFi's unique value prop of harvesting energy from the sun to provide solar educational kiosk for communities without a local source of stable power supply. His role is facilitating direct client and channel partner alliance development for SolarFi.
Ambassador Yvonne Khamati, Director
Yvonne Khamati is the youngest Ambassador that Kenya has ever had and is now Kenya’s head of Chancery and deputy permanent representative to the Kenya Mission to the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON). UNON comprises all UN offices in Nairobi plus UNEP and UN-HABITAT. she serves as the treasurer of Yimbo Professional Union Three years after, she earned a positions a Foreign Service post as Deputy African Union Ambassador following negotiations by her party leader Musikari Kombo in 2005. She began her political career officially at 20. In 2014 Khamati was ranked top 20 most powerful women in Africa.
Mark O'Luck, Advisor
Mark O’Luck, is Chief Executive Officer of Spectrum Personal Communications Corporation (“Spectrum”) a diversified business consulting firm he founded in 1994 that provides consulting services to large construction companies, large construction projects, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to starting Spectrum, he was co-founder and President of SBMA, Inc., a small business consulting firm, and worked as a business consultant and senior management consultant in Corporate America. In June 2009, Mr. O’Luck was nominated by Governor David A. Paterson as a Trustee of the Power Authority of the State of New York, and was confirmed by New York State Senate to serve a two-year term beginning April 2010. At the time of his confirmation, Mr. O'Luck was the first minority and MBE Trustee in NYPA's 79-year history. His term expired on June 26, 2012. Recently, he founded the NYC Monthly "The MWBE" Networking & B2B, a forum which brings together NY agencies and authorities, prime contractors, and DMWSBE businesses in an informal setting that encourages joint ventures, partnerships and further collaborative relationships. Mr. O' Luck is a member of the New York Committee of the Regional Plan Association. Some of the other boards and capacities in which he has served include: Chairman Emeritus & Past Chairman of the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation; Vice Chairman, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; Regent, Long Island College Hospital; Director, Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service; Director, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. and several others. He also previously served on the NYS Public Service Commission Consumer Advisory Council; an advisor to NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn's Municipal Entrepreneurial Testing System (METS), Con Edison Business Advisory Board; Independence Community Bank Business Advisory Board, and the Kings County Overall Economic Development Planning Committee. In 2007, he served on the Spitzer Paterson M/WBE Transition Team Working Group. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award, the 2006 MBE Award of Excellence from the XIII Annual Competitive Edge Conference, the 2003 Brooklyn Economic Development Corp. Service Award, et al.
Dr. Sam Agbo, Technical Advisor
Dr. Sam Oboche Agbo is a Public health expert and Child Specialist with a strong background and work experience in Epidemiology; Primary Health Care, UHC, Health Policy and Financing and Business management in Africa and the UK. Dr. Agbo is chief of health and child survival and development for UNICEF, where he is responsible for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of integrated management of childhood illness, immunization, and emergency preparedness and response. Agbo’s experience includes 16 years in various roles at UNICEF and over 30 years on the front lines in the fight against polio. He previously worked as head of health and HIV at Save the Children, as a community health officer with the World Health Organization (WHO), as an independent policy and health advisor in the UK, and as head of health for Merlin. He is an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, and a technical advisor at SolarFi.
Doug Llyod, Chief Engineer
Doug designed the network for the first Microsoft Airband project, The Magyver. He is the former Chief Engineer at Deep Blue Communications.
Jerry Shaye, CEO
Jerry is educated at Dartmouth College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Mr. Shaye entered the Peace Corps, serving as a volunteer in Venezuela for two years. Mr. Shaye continued working in Venezuela for 21 additional years, as an entrepreneur, an executive of a trading company and general manager for the country’s largest farmers’ cooperative. Shaye worked as Director of International Trade Development for the New York State Department of Economic Development. Mr. Shaye’s career with ESD, he led trade missions to China, Japan, Russia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and many European countries. Shaye teaches International Business and International Marketing in the MBA programs at Clarkson University Graduate Center, The Sage Colleges and The State University of New York at Albany as well as in Argentina, Russia, China, Venezuela and Mexico. In 2015, he consulted with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean. The Tech Valley Global Business Network honored Mr. Shaye with a lifetime achievement award in 2012.
Mike Rinella, Director of Strategic Planning and Development
Mike is a Harvard Alumnus and Special Advisor to NYS Senate Finance.
Mythraeyi Venkatesh, Operations
Mythraeyi is an Operations & Analytics Strategy Professional. She is a former Big 4 (PwC Advisory) & IBM Consultant specializing in IoT and Big Data.
Nidhi Bhutani, Marketing
Nidhi is an experienced Marketing Professional with an history of working in IT industry.