Symposium 2023 Speaker Bios 


Ted Thomas

Ted Thomas is an energy consultant who is the founding partner of Energize Strategies and is the former chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission.  During his time on the commission, he served in a variety of leadership roles including president of the Organization of MISO States, chair of the Improved Resource Availability Task Force which was charged with implementation of policies adopted by SPP in response to winter storm Uri as well as the Federal-State Joint Task for on Transmission.


Panel 1: Virtual Energy and Trading Opportunities

Joel Eisen

Joel B. Eisen is a Professor of Law at University of Richmond School of Law. Since joining the Richmond Law faculty in 1994, Professor Joel Eisen has had an illustrious career as a prolific and well-respected energy law scholar. He is a co-author of a widely adopted textbook on energy law, Energy, Economics and the Environment, and the author of a comprehensive book on Advanced Introduction to Renewable Energy. He has also authored numerous books, book chapters, treatises, and law review articles on electric utility regulation and clean and renewable energy topics. His scholarship has appeared in journals at Harvard, UCLA, Duke, Notre Dame, George Washington, Utah, Fordham, Illinois, Wake Forest, U.C. Davis, and William & Mary law schools, among other venues. In recognition of his contributions to scholarship, the University of Richmond granted him its Distinguished Scholar Award in 2022 and Richmond Law named him the inaugural Austin Owen Research Fellow for 2013-2018. His article, Residential Renewable Energy: By Whom?, was honored as one of the top four environmental law articles of 2011. In addition to courses in energy law, he teaches courses in federal administrative law and environmental law and policy. Professor Eisen is a graduate of the Stanford Law School (J.D. 1985) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. degree in Civil Engineering in 1981).

Felix Mormann

Felix Mormann is Professor of Law and Professor of Engineering at Texas A&M University. Professor Mormann’s research interests lie at the intersection of law and innovation in the context of environmental and energy law and policy. Drawing on his background as an internationally trained corporate and energy lawyer, Mormann currently investigates domestic and international policy and regulation related to clean-energy technologies. 

Professor Mormann’s recent publications include The Case for Corporate Climate Ratings: Nudging Financial Markets, 53 ARIZ. ST. L.J. 1209 (2022); Beyond Algorithms: Toward a Normative Theory of Automated Regulation, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 1 (2021); Why the Divestment Movement is Missing the Mark, 10 Nature Climate Change 1067 (2020) and Clean Energy Equity, 2019 UTAH L. REV. 335 (2019).

Prior to joining Texas A&M, Professor Mormann served on the faculty of University of Miami School of Law and as faculty fellow at Stanford Law School. Mormann worked as a corporate and energy lawyer for some of Germany’s premiere law firms. As a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, he advised international clients from the high-tech sector. Professor Mormann holds a German JD and a JSD from the University of Passau School of Law as well as an LLM from UC Berkeley School of Law.

Heather Payne

Heather Payne is an Associate Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and an emerging leader in the areas of energy law, environmental law, and evolving regulatory policy. A former chemical engineer and corporate executive, she brings a deep understanding of both the technical and economic implications of policies to address new realities in a carbon- and water-constrained world.  Before joining the Seton Hall law faculty in 2018, Professor Payne was Fellow and Assistant Director of the Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics (CE3) at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Prior to entering academia, she clerked for Judge Martha Geer on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and worked with Sears Holdings Corporation and Honeywell International. Professor Payne holds a BChE in Chemical Engineering where she graduated with High Honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a J.D. from University of North Carolina School of Law, where she graduated with High Honors and served as a member of the North Carolina Law Review and Symposium Editor for Environmental Law Project.


Panel 2: Using the Blockchain to Address Climate and Sustainability Issues

Daniel Payne

Daniel Payne has developed an expertise in advising crypto companies in the myriad issues they face in the current unsettled U.S. regulatory environment. As President of Blockade United, Mr. Payne currently serves as counsel and strategic advisor to a family of companies with traditional business models (debit cards, telehealth, physical security, etc.) that incorporate blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in order to decentralize control and provide opportunities for the public to help disrupt industry.  Mr. Payne’s work is incredibly varied, including advising on the potential application of the securities laws to business operations, creating a compliance framework, drafting and revising contracts, setting up overseas operations, and performing diligence to assist with recruiting as well as mergers and acquisition opportunities.

Mr. Payne also serves as advisor to Node Governance, a Swiss company dedicated to helping crypto companies decentralize governance of their blockchains and digital assets. In his previous role as a shareholder and leader of Murphy & McGonigle’s FinTech & Blockchain Practice Group, Mr. Payne had a diverse range of crypto clients.  He assisted a large public company in developing a security token offering along with a platform for trading the securities.  He also advised numerous companies on securities law risks associated with distributing, issuing, selling, or otherwise relying on cryptocurrencies and NFTs in various business models.  Apart from his crypto practice, he also assisted financial services firms and public companies facing civil litigation and regulatory enforcement matters, as well as counseling clients on compliance with industry regulations.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Payne defended mortgage originators and RMBS sponsors in litigation and government investigation spawned by the 2008 financial crisis. The team had numerous important wins, including the dismissal of monoline bond insurer plaintiffs from a $1.8 billion lawsuit, favorable settlements, and protection of sensitive client information in discovery. 

Mr. Payne is a 2009 graduate of the University of Richmond Law School, where he was a John Marshall Scholar.

Gary Marchant

Gary Marchant, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.P., is Regents’ Professor and Faculty Director of the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University (ASU). Professor Marchant’s research interests include the governance of emerging technologies such as genomics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and blockchain.  Prior to joining ASU in 1999, Professor Marchant was a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis.  He has authored more than 200 articles, books and book chapters on various issues relating to emerging technologies. He has served on six National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) consensus committees, is a lifetime member of the American Law Institute and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also chairs the IEEE Working Group (P2863) to create a governance standard for entities that develop or use artificial intelligence.

Danny Cullenward

​​Danny Cullenward is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy, American University.  An economist and lawyer by training, Dr. Cullenward has held research appointments at UC Berkeley, American University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Stanford Law School, where he taught classes on energy and climate policy. Dr. Cullenward is the co-author of Making Climate Policy Work (with David G. Victor) and serves as vice chair of California’s Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee. He holds a PhD in Environment and Resources from Stanford University and a JD from Stanford Law School.


Nick Thorpe

Nick Thorpe is the senior program associate for climate & energy at EarthJustice, based in Washington, D.C., where he provides programmatic support to the Climate & Energy Program and conducts research and policy analysis on emerging climate issues. Previously, Nick was a senior litigation assistant for the Clean Energy Program, supporting the team on cases at the national and state level — at public utility commissions, and in state and federal courts — to advance clean energy deployment and transition to a 100% clean energy future.

Nick participated in the Spring 2018 cohort of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that brings together a group of clean energy advocates to connect, educate, and focus on a clean energy transition. Before joining Earthjustice in November 2017, Nick was a community organizer for Texas Campaign for the Environment in Dallas, TX, and worked on environment and trade issues for a local environmental non-governmental organization in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of the Luce Scholars Program. Nick graduated from Rice University in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Policy, and initially got involved and interested in environment and clean energy while studying in the oil and gas capital of the world — Houston, TX.


Panel 3: Opportunities & Challenges of P2P Energy Trading

Lynne Kiesling

Lynne Kiesling is an economist focusing on regulation, market design, and the economics of digitization and smart grid technologies in the electricity industry. She is a Research Professor in the School of Engineering, Design and Computing at the University of Colorado-Denver, and Co-Director of the Institute for Regulatory Law & Economics. Lynne also provides advisory and analytical services as the President of Knowledge Problem LLC, and is an Adjunct Professor in the Masters of Science in Energy and Sustainability program at Northwestern University. In addition to her academic research, she is currently a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee, has served as a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Smart Grid Advisory Committee, and is an emerita member of the GridWise Architecture Council. Her academic background includes a B.S. (cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Miami University (Ohio) and a Ph.D. in Economics from Northwestern University.

Rao Konidena 

Rao Konidena founded Rakon Energy LLC, providing regulatory and policy expertise for clients in the distributed energy space. Most recently, Rao was with Midcontinent ISO (MISO) as Principal Advisor for Policy Studies, working on energy storage and distributed energy resources. At MISO, Rao worked in management and non-management roles around resource adequacy, economic planning, business management, and policy functions. Rao is on the Board of Ever Green Energy, a district heating and cooling company, and the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA).


Ethics Hour: Ebenezer Scrooge’s Guide to Ethical Cybersecurity for Law Firms

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., is a nationally-known digital forensics, managed information technology provider and managed cybersecurity firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.”

She is a frequent author (eighteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, cybersecurity and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014 and a past President of the Fairfax Law Foundation, and the Fairfax Bar Association. 

She may be reached at

John W. Simek

Mr. Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., is a nationally-known digital forensics, managed information technology provider and managed cybersecurity firm located in Fairfax, Virginia.  Mr. Simek has a national reputation as a digital forensics technologist and has testified as an expert witness throughout the United States. He holds a degree in engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and an MBA in finance from Saint Joseph’s University.

Mr. Simek holds the prestigious CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) certifications in addition to multiple other technical certifications. He is a past chair of ABA TECHSHOW and a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast Digital Detectives. He is a frequent author (eighteen books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, cybersecurity and electronic evidence topics.

He may be reached at