David G. Schieren| CEO
David co-founded EmPower in 2003 to make solar energy the dominant energy source in New York and beyond. This vision continues to drive every action the company takes.
David leads a talented team to deliver the best solar and battery technology, the most financial savings and an amazing customer experience.
To date, EmPower has installed over 4,000 residential and commercial solar power and battery systems in the New York Metro and Long Island territories. David’s areas of expertise and responsibility include commercial project development, community solar, battery systems, leadership and management.
As an advocate, David conducts outreach to build support for clean energy amongst political, community, business and religious leaders, and the public at large. David has testified before the United States Congress and has been involved with numerous TV, print, internet, radio and documentary interviews.
David is the board Vice President of the New York State Solar Energy Industry Association (NYSEIA), and also serves on the boards of the Long Island Association and Vision Long Island.
He has a Master of Science in Energy Management from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received the Faculty Award for outstanding achievement. David co-led the 2005 US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon solar-hydrogen zero energy home project. He has a BA in Economics from the University of Vermont, where he received the Freeman Saltus Award in Economics. David was a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic Installer. David started his career as an Institutional Equity Advisor at Merrill Lynch where he sold Japanese equities to large US based investors.
David lives in Long Island City with his wife, Cristina Zancani, a sustainable architect and Urban Designer. They have two young boys.
Gregory D. Sachs| COO
Greg leads and oversees company operations with a focus on company infrastructure, processes, and post-contract endeavors including engineering, construction, service, and company support. Together, Greg and CEO, David are realizing EmPower Solar’s vision of a more prosperous, healthy, and civil world powered by renewable energy.
As a licensed Professional Engineer in NYS, Greg also signs and seals electrical and structural schematics. Greg is Chair of the Long Island Interconnection Working Group and is one of the few industry representatives on the NYS Interconnection Technical Working Group.
As an ‘astronaut like’ candidate, Greg was accepted into NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog program. In January 2018 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Greg was Commander of a two month simulated space mission. Mission results fed into present and future NASA missions such as Mars, the International Space Station, lunar base, etc.
Prior to EmPower Solar, Greg taught electrical and mechanical engineering at the US Merchant Marine Academy. There Greg co-founded and managed the Alternative Power Program and the Kings Point Sustainability Association. After graduating from the USMMA in 1999, Greg attended Navy Nuclear Power School and held multiple management and teaching positions as a Nuclear Engineer at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.
Greg completed a Master of Science in System Engineering & Management at MIT. Greg’s focus was the design and development of ‘impossibly complex’ systems, such as the electricity grid. Greg’s thesis is on building “smart grid” architectures supporting increased penetration of ‘non-dispatchable’ RE resources.
Greg is formerly the co-chair of the IEEE Long Island Power & Energy Society, and Secretary/Chair of the Technical Committee for the Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association (LISEIA). Greg is a NABCEP Certified Photovoltaic Installer. Greg moderates and lectures on Solar & RE topics; engagements include the NSPE, IEEE Power & Energy Society (for CEU’s), SUNY Stony Brook, the Nassau Bar Association, and other universities.
Fred Catapano| Human Resources Asset Manager
Fred graduated from Stony Brook University with his Master’s in Human Resource Management. He currently holds his SHRM-CP certification and is an active member on the SHRM LI certification committee. Fred volunteers his time to help facilitate learning for HR professionals as they take on the challenge of obtaining their SHRM certification.
Prior to working with EmPower Solar, Fred was dedicated to supporting individuals with special needs. He started his HR career as a Professional Development Coordinator in 2009. From there, Fred became part of Human Resources Management team for over five years, as the Talent Manager and later the Director of Talent Acquisition at Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc (FREE). This position allowed him the opportunity to successfully lead a team by applying his Human Resources knowledge to complex staffing and human relations challenges.
While at FREE, Fred was introduced to EmPower Solar when he learned of many residential homes having solar installed, as a client. Fred believes renewable energy must become an increasing part of everyone’s everyday life. He is excited to now be part of building a dedicated, motivated and committed workforce to achieving this goal.
Tim Crotty| Field Manager
Tim Crotty has been with EmPower Solar since 2011 and in his current role as Field Supervisor / Construction Manager, Tim oversees EmPower Solar’s multiple installation crews and foremen. Tim is excited to come to work every day to help the EmPower team as it continues to expand renewable energy to homes and businesses across Long Island and New York City.
While he is a native Long Islander, Tim spent time living and working up and down the East Coast. He has experience in different construction trades and previously worked as a project manager, building high end condo and townhome projects in Boca Raton, Florida. Tim joined EmPower Solar as an installer, but his background and experience helped him quickly move up to take on a leadership role as foreman, and eventually Field Supervisor/Construction Manager.
Tim studied History and Psychology at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY where he also played football. Tim currently holds a Master Electricians License and is a NABCEP Certified PV Installer. When not at work Tim loves spending time with his wife and two children exploring Long Island’s beautiful beaches and parks.
Tara McDermott| Director of Customer Experience and Stakeholder Relations
Tara represents EmPower Solar as the Chair of the Long Island Solar & Storage Alliance where she is the government liaison for policy issues related to solar and energy storage.
Tara earned her BA in Sociology at SUNY Stony Brook and her Master of Public Administration at CUNY Baruch, both with a focus on environmental studies. She is also a “Semester at Sea” alumni, where she completed part of her degree while traveling at sea through several different global ports. In 2011, she was one of four U.S. Climate Change Professional Fellows for the Australia cohort, where she worked with Australian researchers, industries, and advocates dealing with energy and climate issues.
Prior to joining the EmPower Solar team, Tara was the Long Island Program Coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, where she organized educational and advocacy campaigns on various environmental issues on Long Island. She also spent three years as a “Young Island” blogger for the Long Island Business News. She has been active in various professional and environmental organizations, including the C3E Women in Energy group on LI and serves on the Advisory Board for the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center at Farmingdale State College. Tara also co-founded two nonprofit organizations focused on smart growth and keeping young professionals on Long Island.
In 2018, Tara was named one of the Top 50 Women in Business by the Long Island Business News. She was also inducted into the Social Justice Distinguished Scholar Academy for her work in environmental justice issues in collaboration with Farmingdale State College.
As a charity boxer for the 2018 Long Island Fight for Charity, Tara raised over $18,000 for non-profits across Long Island. In her spare time, Tara enjoys hiking around Long Island’s parks with her husband and daughter or playing weekly beach volleyball with the EmPower Solar company team. Tara’s family has taken on the “Electrify Your Life” challenge, and recently added solar panels to her home that now cover 100% of her energy needs including a geothermal heating and cooling system, and an electric vehicle.
Devon Ficarra| Project Operations & Engineering Manager
Devon joined EmPower Solar in July 2020 as the Project Operations + Engineering Manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from SUNY Maritime College, an MBA in Energy Finance from West Virginia University, and is a licensed Merchant Marine engineer.
Prior to joining the company, Devon worked in the oil and gas industry as a site operations manager, a project management consultant, and a project manager/engineer for a natural gas transmission and distribution pipeline utility company. He then became a senior account executive/manager for a leading energy tech startup that provided business solutions for increasing the efficiencies in daily operations for small to enterprise sized energy companies across the US oil and gas basins.
At EmPower Solar, Devon is responsible for implementing and improving processes for both commercial and residential construction, engineering, service, as well as providing industry leading customer service.
Seneca Cornelius| Commercial Solar Project Developer
With a BA in Environmental Design, Policy and Planning from Stony Brook University, Seneca has lived and worked in Germany and Australia as an environmental planner. Despite her love for travel and adventure, Seneca felt called to move back to New York and become involved with helping to make positive changes to her local environment. She is happy to be applying her passions to her career with EmPower Solar, and looks forward to helping to expand the commercial solar industry and renewable energy in the New York area.
Zack Lerman| Sales Director
Zack is the Director of Sales at SunPower by EmPower Solar, bringing a wealth of knowledge from both the clean energy consulting and project finance aspects of the solar energy industry.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in economics and environmental science, Zack began working in the solar industry consulting and finance-brokering for large-scale solar and wind energy projects. After spending much time in the commercial and utility side of the business, he quickly became interested in bringing the benefits of solar energy to individual homeowners.
Today, Zack oversees the residential and commercial sales departments at EmPower with the principal goal of bringing significant energy savings to homeowners in New York while delivering an amazing customer experience.
Michael Kaffka| Residential Sales Manager
Mike brings a wealth of solar experience from his time working in renewables.
In 2015, Mike started his solar career in Kansas City. Two years later, after seeing immense growth and opportunity in the Northeast, Mike moved to New York City to further his career in solar energy. Now Mike oversees the best Residential Sales Team NYC has to offer.
In his free time, Mike enjoys the food and culture in NYC and planning trips with his wife and dog.
Matthew Brill| Sales Professional
Before moving into sales, Matt worked on the front lines completing site audits and installing solar systems. He now enjoys working directly with homeowners one-on-one to design solar solutions and maximize savings potential, while promoting the clean energy mission.
Matt earned his Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Sustainable Energy Development, from the University of Vermont. His background is in energy systems, sustainable development, and resource ecology. In addition to extensive environmental coursework, Matt also traveled to China to study the future of solar, wind and biomass.
In his free time, Matt enjoys skiing, biking, racing at marathon events with RaceAwesome, and playing volleyball and basketball.
Danny Mayper| Sales Professional
Danny first found his passion for solar back in 2015 when he helped his dad install solar panels on their home during his senior year of college. After a successful first installation, Danny decided to start selling in the solar industry and went on to acquire a wealth of knowledge working with both local and national solar companies. He became an expert in offering exceptional service for his clients.
He’s excited to bring his experience and passion to the EmPower Solar team, and help the local community go solar one roof at a time. Danny’s mission is to make the solar process simple and easy to understand for every homeowner with whom he has the pleasure of working. Danny grew up in Long Beach and is a big baseball and football fan. When he’s not at work, you can find him on the beach, or exploring Manhattan where he currently resides.
Kyle Solomon| Sales Professional
Kyle was born and raised on the eastern end of Long Island. He has always been motivated by his older brother, who is an environmental lawyer and always stressed the importance of protecting the environment with a particular emphasis on fighting climate change.
Kyle played Division One hockey at the University of Maine where he majored in public administration with a focus on environmental policy. After college, he coached hockey in his native East Hampton where he helped organize the area’s first high school ice hockey program. After seeing the program develop past it’s infancy Kyle decided it was time to follow a different passion, renewable energy.
He began working with EmPower Solar in March of 2017 as a customer experience representative, and now enjoys working directly with clients as part of the sales team.
Mat Layton| Sales Professional
Mat began working with solar panels in 2001 during his service with the United States Coast Guard. This powerful experience fueled his passion for renewable energy and mastery of the field.
In the summer of 2008, Mat joined EmPower Solar as an Installer. He quickly climbed the ranks to Site Foreman and managed system installations for three years. Mat went on to become a Service Technician, leading to his promotion to Service Manager. Mat now focuses on residential sales, bringing years of solar experience with him to the table.
Mat is a resident of Island Park, a proud husband, and father of two. He plays guitar and sings in various local bands throughout the area. Mat stays energized by helping people make the transition to a fossil free world
Scott McDonnell| Sales Professional
Scott McDonnell is a lifelong Long Beach resident who is excited to help expand renewable energy on Long Island and New York City.
Prior to joining the EmPower team, Scott worked for over ten years selling electronic components. He has also held marketing positions and has planned numerous special events. Growing up and working in a family-owned construction business, he has extensive knowledge in project management.
Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Engineering and Management from Clarkson University, and is a former volunteer firefighter and paramedic.
When out of the office, Scott enjoys sailing, surfing and snowboarding. He also represents EmPower Solar at the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Olivia Olender| Sales Professional
Olivia has a background working in the sustainability sector including a focus on energy and resource management. Combining her passion for sustainability and natural curiousity, she effortlessly aligned with EmPower Solar’s mission-driven culture. Olivia enjoys educating homeowners and presenting them with custom solar solutions that will help them save money while using clean energy.
Olivia earned her Bachelors of Arts in Global Liberal Studies at New York University, a 4-year honor college focused on understanding the relationship between world cultures through time. During her time at NYU, she was able to study in Paris, France for 12 months where she enjoyed learning about French culture, language, and picked up on the country’s authentic sentiment towards energy and the environment.
When she’s not working, Olivia spends her time with her dog Tansy, supporting local cafes, and cooking at home.
Beth Austin| Sales Professional
Bethany transitioned into her role as a Sales Professional for EmPower Solar from the world of 3D printing. She is excited to combine her love of cutting edge technology with her lifelong passion for the natural world around us. By using her expertise to tailor-make solar solutions, she is able to save each individual customer the maximum amount of money while saving the environment as well.
Bethany came to New York eight years ago from the Golden State. She attended The University of Santa Cruz for Anthropology and San Jose State University for Integrated Nutrition. She is also NABCEP certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) by Ecotech Institute.
In her free time you might find her surfing or seeing live music, as well as volunteering at the Brooklyn Animal Collective.
Caleb Farhi| Sales Professional
Caleb was first introduced to the solar industry while earning his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College. While in school, Caleb worked for a local solar company as an Inside Sales Professional, and quickly became the top performing Sales Professional at the organization.
He really caught the solar bug when he realized his passion for helping customers save on energy costs while saving the planet at the same. Caleb holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Brooklyn College with a concentration in Economics and Finance.
In his free time, Caleb enjoys traveling, hiking, weight-lifting, and playing soccer.
Georgia LoPresti Meckes
Georgia LoPresti Meckes| Sales Professional
Georgia believes that EmPower Solar is an invaluable local business for New Yorkers because of its crucial mission to provide energy independence. She is proud to be a member of a dedicated team that works daily to empower homeowners and businesses with clean, efficient solar energy and battery systems for resilient back-up power.
Georgia joined EmPower Solar in 2017, and has served as an ambassador, project manager, and residential sales specialist. The most rewarding part of her work has been helping New Yorkers create more sustainable lifestyles, as well as being a part of a passionate team that is dedicated to its client partners and planet.
Georgia has trained with Al Gore’s Leadership Corps to become a Climate Reality Leader, and has committed herself to educating others on the effects of climate change. Being able to provide clients direct solutions for increased energy costs and unstable grid service makes her work incredibly rewarding. She volunteers with the local food organization, LI Greenmarket, and for a children’s wilderness camp in the Berkshires, where she serves on the Board of Directors. Georgia is also a mother of two children and dedicates her career to them and their future.
Katie Schnepp| Sales Administrator
Katie found her passion for renewable energy in 2008, while serving as the Education Manager for Earth Advantage, a Portland-based nonprofit working to accelerate the building industry’s adoption of sustainable practices. Most recently, she supported programs at the new Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center, a Net-Zero building with an 82 kW solar array. Today, she enjoys helping homeowners to go solar, maximize their savings and promote clean energy.
She earned her BA in Environmental Education at Warren Wilson College and her MA in Education with a focus on Sustainability at Antioch University Seattle. She also earned her LEED-Green Associate in 2011, and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Long Island.
Katie volunteers as Co-Chair for the Equity, Access and Inclusion Committee of the NY State Outdoor Education Association and is committed to working towards a more equitable and inclusive environmental movement.
In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, gardening, and playing weekly beach volleyball with the EmPower Solar company team.