Below are bios of some of the people we have worked with and continue to rely on in our work.
John Blackburn, Ph.D.
Dr. Blackburn, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University, contributed greatly to NC WARN’s energy economics research and advocacy during the last five years of his life. Learn more about this remarkable man and some of his work for NC WARN, on this memorial page.
Photo by Rhiannon Chavis-Wanson
Donna Chavis is an elder of the Lumbee nation and long-standing environmental justice organizer. She is a member of the Leadership Team of the NC Climate Justice Collective. She is the founder of the RedTailed Hawk Collective and Our Communities Care for Culture and Climate, and co-founder of the Center for Community Action. She serves as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Lead Campaigner for Friends of the Earth and is a long-time NC WARN ally on matters of environmental justice.
Dr. James Hansen
Thirty years ago, James Hansen was one of the first scientists to speak out about climate change, warning Congress that greenhouse gas emissions are putting the planet on a dangerous course. Dr. Hansen retired in 2013 as head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is now an adjunct professor at Columbia University. He remains one of the world’s leading researchers on global warming and calls for urgent changes to deal with what he terms a “planetary emergency.” He helped NC WARN and a statewide coalition fight construction of Duke Energy’s Cliffside coal plant.
Dr. Robert Howarth
Bob Howarth of Cornell University is a leading expert on the role of methane leakage as a driver of global warming. He warns that the large amount of methane leaking throughout the natural gas industry is now the top greenhouse gas problem in the US.
Howarth’s affidavit in our 2016 intervention against an Asheville gas plant
Howarth’s presentation at our March 2016 fracking forum in Chapel Hill
Photo by Lewis A. Brandon III
Reverend Nelson N. Johnson & Joyce Hobson Johnson
The Johnsons are co-Executive Directors of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro. Nelson is Founding Pastor Emeritus at Faith Community Church in Greensboro, NC, site of NC WARN’s “Solar Freedom” legal challenge. Joyce is a former business professor and transportation research director at North Carolina A&T State University. Both have been intensely involved in the movement for social and economic justice since high school and are leaders in the Poor People’s Campaign. They received the John Blackburn award from NC WARN in 2015.
Rao of Rakon Energy LLC is an independent consultant focused on providing policy and testimony support, business development, and training in wholesale energy markets. Rao likes helping consumers and environmental advocate clients. Most recently, Rao was with Midcontinent ISO (MISO) as Principal Advisor for Policy Studies, working on energy storage and distributed energy resources.
Rao is Co-President of the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce – Minnesota (FACC-MN), and on the Board of Ever Green Energy and Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA).
Rao submitted testimony alongside Bill Powers on behalf of NC WARN in the Duke Energy Carolinas 2022 Rate Case.
Dr. Arjun Makhijani
Arjun Makhijani is president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, MD. He has served as a consultant on energy issues to utilities including the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and several agencies of the United Nations. His 2008 book Carbon Free and Nuclear Free maps a US course correction to curb climate change and achieve energy independence. He testified in our federal lawsuit to stop the US nuclear “renaissance.”
Bill Powers, P.E.
Engineer Bill Powers has 30 years of experience in electric power generation, with expertise including distributed energy, efficiency programs and other means of avoiding expense and impacts of central fossil fuel power plants. Bill has worked as a consulting engineer with NC WARN since 2015. He wrote NC WARN’s 2023 report, Moving North Carolina Forward: The Case for Local Solar-Plus-Storage.
Powers’ Asheville gas plant affidavit
Powers’ presentation at our March 2016 fracking forum in Chapel Hill
Powers’ 2017 Report, “NC Clean Path 2025,” and more on Clean Path 2025
More on Moving North Carolina Forward
Dr. Drew Shindell
Drew Shindell is Nicholas Professor of Earth Science at Duke University. He is an internationally prominent expert on methane’s impacts on the climate crisis and has joined NC WARN in urging NC Governor Roy Cooper to declare a permanent moratorium on the expansion of natural gas used for electricity generation. From 1995-2014, Dr. Shindell was a climatologist at NASA. He was a coordinating lead author on the 2013 Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and on the 2018 IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.
Jean Su is the Energy Director of the Climate Law Institute and a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, where she specializes in energy and climate change issues. Her energy work focuses on growing access to renewable energy, including challenging discriminatory behavior against distributed solar energy, as well as phasing out fossil fuel production. Prior to joining the Center, Jean worked as a renewable energy project finance attorney with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in Singapore and Los Angeles, a management consultant focused on climate change with McKinsey & Company in China and a development worker with CARE International in Madagascar.