Seattle Fusion Week 2022

2022 Seattle Fusion Week has concluded but we look forward to seeing you next year for 2023 Fusion Week. Stay tuned for more information.

On October 12th and 13th, 2022, join fusion energy companies, elected officials, research institutions, NGOs and more for educational presentations, lunch, fusion lab site tours in Seattle and Everett, and a VIP networking reception.

Learn how your community will benefit from fusion energy and fusion jobs!

Topics include…

  • Plasma Physics for Politicians
  • Utility Integration, Deployment and Readiness
  • STEM Education and Workforce Development
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI)


2022 Seattle Fusion Week will consist of a full week of news articles, social media posts, and information about fusion energy, culminating in a two-day conference in-person at locations across Seattle and Everett on Wednesday, October 12 and Thursday, October 13. While you are welcome to attend the full two days, the sessions are modular so you can pick and choose the sessions that fit with your schedule.

The BUILT Cluster

The CleanTech Alliance, through the BUILT Cluster, is focused on advancing clean, safe Fusion Energy. Fusion energy will be a gamechanger for the clean energy economy and is poised to become a $40 trillion global industry. With four emerging fusion energy companies in the Seattle area, Washington state will be a leader in fusion, clean energy, and energy equity. Learn more about the BUILT Cluster.


The Future of Fusion Regulations and the Need for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Panel

Special Guest Speaker

Geraldine Richmond, Under Secretary for Science and Innovation, US Department of Energy

Geraldine “Geri” Richmond oversees DOE’s Office of Science, the nation’s largest federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences, DOE’s applied R&D areas of nuclear, fossil, and renewable energy, and energy system integrity, and the DOE national laboratories and their facilities. 

She is currently on leave from the University of Oregon where she holds the Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry. Richmond’s research throughout her career has been on the use of laser-based and computational methods to understand the molecular, adsorption structure and dynamics at liquid surfaces that have relevance to environmental and technological interests. 

She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been honored by numerous awards including the National Medal of Science (2016), the Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society (2018) and the Linus Pauling Medal Award (2018). 

A career-long advocate for underrepresented groups in STEM fields,  she is the founding director of a grassroots organization called COACh that has helped over 25,000 women scientists and engineers in career advancement in the U.S. and in dozens of developing countries around the world. A native of Kansas, Richmond received her B.S. in chemistry from Kansas State University and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Sponsor Remarks

Susan Betcher, Partner, Firmwide Co-Chair, Clean Technology Practice, Perkins Coie

Patent Law practice partner, Susan Betcher strengthens the business value of patent portfolios of publicly traded and privately help companies by creating intellectual property rights.

Susan is a trained engineer and has experience in a broad range of technology sectors, with concentration in clean technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen production and storage, and alternative energy. Other technologies in her background include mechanical, electromechanical and medical device-related technologies.

In the Clean Tech sector, Susan works with clients focused on renewables, efficiency, storage, smart grids and other areas of sustainable energy, advising them from startup to commercialization.  She is the board chair for the Seattle Children’s Hospital System, a member of the Tech Advisory Council of the University of Washington Clean Energy Institute, and a board member of the CleanTech Alliance. 


Dr. Sally Benson, Deputy Director for Energy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Sally M. Benson is the Deputy Director for Energy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She supports the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Energy Division, which works to develop a national strategy to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and achieve the interim targets laid out by the administration.

Benson is currently on leave from Stanford University, where she is the Precourt Family Professor of Energy Resources Engineering in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. She was also Co-Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy from 2013 to 2020, and Director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) from 2009 to 2019. She is an internationally recognized scientist with extensive management experience and is responsible for fostering cross-campus collaborations on energy and guiding the growth and development of a diverse research portfolio at Stanford University.

Prior to joining Stanford University in 2007, Benson was at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for 29 years, where she held a variety of key positions, including Deputy Director of Operations and Director of the Earth Sciences Division.

Paula Sardinas, CEO, FMS Global Strategies

Paula F. Sardinas, NBPLA, currently serves as the President/CEO of FMS Global Strategies, LLC, a #Black and other #BIPOC Governmental Affairs Advocacy firm, and The Purpose Driven Girl, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, focused on empowering #BIPOC women and girls who are often unable to use their voice— due to intersectionality and structural racism. Her public policy career spans 28 years working in Telecom, Engineering, Banking, IT, STEM, Cannabis, Social Equity, and Financial Literacy.

Sardinas earned her AA and BBA from Columbia College in Missouri and studied for her MBA at the College of William & Mary. She has also worked with and for the Administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Biden on various programs to increase opportunities and access for women and children.  She has closed out her 2020 by being named by 425 and Sound Magazine as one of the six “Women to Watch.”

David Conrad, Deputy Director, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs

David F. Conrad (Osage Nation) serves as the deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. He recently served as the Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior (DOI), managing press relations, digital media, and communications in close coordination with the Secretary’s Office of Communication and other DOI Bureaus. In the past, Mr. Conrad also worked as the Department’s Director for Tribal and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, where he was responsible for intergovernmental affairs with tribal, city, and county governments.


Mel Clark, President & CEO, CleanTech Alliance

Mel Clark is a leader with 20 years of nonprofit experience, as well as for-profit business experience in real estate and human resources.  She has a demonstrated track record of strong fiscal stewardship and program development.  She joined the CleanTech Alliance in April 2020.

She has two adult children, one in college studying computer science, the other a theatre lighting designer.

She was born in Massachusetts, raised in Kansas, spent summers on the beach in Connecticut, and attended colleges in New York and Washington.  She is a life-long learner, and loves to read, travel, cook, bake, and garden, and enjoys hiking, yoga, swimming, and tolerates running (long enough to finish a marathon in 2017). 

STEM Education and Workforce Development Panel


Alison Beason, Director/Sector Lead for Life Science and Global Health for the life science and global health industry, Washington State Department of Commerce

With more than 20 years of experience in public service, in February 2022, Alison Beason was appointed Director/Sector Lead for Life Science and Global Health. In this position with the Washington State Department of Commerce, she will spearhead efforts to advance Governor Jay Inslee’s ongoing work to grow and strengthen scientific communities through statewide industry sector strategies.

Before joining the Washington State Department of Commerce, Alison was integral to the development of equity, diversity, and inclusion strategies at the City of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle. In Washington, D.C., Alison held strategic roles at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At these agencies, she focused on science policy, retention, and recruitment of underrepresented minority, women, and disadvantaged scientists in STEM, strategic planning, and budget recommendations.

Andrew Holland, CEO, Fusion Industry Association

Andrew Holland is the Chief Executive Officer of the Fusion Industry Association. Located in Washington, DC, Holland has worked at the intersections of science, energy, policy, and politics for two decades. He’s the author of the report, “Fusion Power – A 10 Year Plan for American Energy Security,” first published in 2013, laying out a roadmap for American leadership in fusion.

An expert in energy policy and international strategy, he led the American Security Project’s energy and climate work, rising to lead the organization as Chief Operating Officer and worked in the U.S. Senate as Energy and Environmental Policy Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel. He is a Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and he holds a MSc. in International Strategy and Economics from the University of St. Andrews. He currently resides in Alexandria, VA.

Kristi Morgansen, Chair, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, University of Washington

Dr. Kristi A. Morgansen is Professor and Chair of the UW William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics. She is an advocate for project-based learning, inclusive engineering, multidisciplinary collaboration, and STEAM.  Her research focuses on nonlinear systems where sensing and actuation are integrated.  Her work includes over 100 peer-reviewed publications and field testing in systems such as the Boeing ecoDemonstrator.  She is co-Director of the UW Space Policy and Research Center, Director of the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium, Fellow of AIAA, vice chair of the AIAA Aerospace Department Chairs Association, and member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. 

Carolyn Busch, Workforce Innovation Sector Lead at the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, Washington State Department of Commerce

Carolyn Busch’s career in public policy spans more than 30 years.  She is currently the Workforce Innovation Sector Lead at the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness in the Department of Commerce where she also coordinates the work of all the other sector leads. Previously, Carolyn served as Special Projects Manager working on King County’s workforce strategic plan for their Department of Human Resources in the Director’s Office. Carolyn spent most of her nine years at King County as the Chief of Staff for the King County Council.  Formerly, Carolyn worked for the state Senate Democratic Caucus initially as the Policy Analyst for budget and taxes and, later, as Chief of Staff.  Her other policy work includes higher education policy at the University of Washington, as well as advising both Governors Gardner and Locke on K12 and higher education policy.  Born and raised in Seattle, Carolyn holds a Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington.  Previously, Carolyn worked in the non-profit sector in the arts, as well as the ARC.  Her family includes her son, Wyatt, and two unruly dogs, Chuck and Betty.  She loves to cook, camp, hike, cross country ski, and bike. Her favorite hiking is hut to hut in various countries in Europe.


Dan Eernissee, Economic Development Director, City of Everett

As Economic Development Director, Dan guards the City of Everett’s renowned business-friendly reputation while capitalizing on its role as the premier advanced manufacturing center of the greater Seattle metroplex.

Dan oversees business recruitment and expansion, real property, events, cultural arts, placemaking, and tourism as a member of Mayor Cassie Franklin’s executive team. He draws heavily on his private sector experience as project lead on over $300 million of residential, retail, and mixed-use development. Dan’s expertise extends to vision casting, marketing, transit-oriented development, zoning, business improvement initiatives, Main Street programs, non-profit leadership, incentive programs, team building, and strategic planning.

Dan is a member of both the University of Washington’s and National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame, and he holds degrees with honors in business and theology.

Utility Integration Panel


Jason Zyskowski, Assistant General Manager, Facilities, Generation, Power, Rates & Transmission Management, Snohomish County PUD

Jason started at the PUD in 2004 as an Electrical Engineer in the Distribution and Engineering Services Division. He worked on several renewable generation projects, substation upgrades, numerous automation projects, and was the Project Manager for the PUD’s first Energy Storage System.

Jason became of the Manager of Substation Engineering in 2013 and the Senior Manager of Planning, Engineering and Technical Services in 2017. In 2019, he also became Senior Manager over Transmission and Distribution System Operations.

In March 2020, Jason was selected as the AGM of Facilities, Generation, Power, Rates and Transmission Management. In this role, he is responsible for the PUD’s office facilities, generation (including the Jackson Hydro Project), setting the PUD’s electric rates and purchasing power and transmission service to provide the utility with the resources it needs to keep the lights on.

Curt Kirkeby, Technology Strategist – Electric Utility Sector, Avista

Curt is responsible for applied smart grid Research & Development at Avista Utilities. He is the principal investigator for the Pullman Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a subproject of the Battelle led Pacific Northwest Regional Demonstration Project and co-funded by the U.S. Department Of Energy. He is also primary Investigator for the 1.2MegaWatt/3.6MegaWatt hour vanadium flow battery project in Pullman, WA funded by the Washington State Department of Commerce. Curt is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the CleanTech Alliance. He lives in the Spokane area.

Chris Heimgartner, General Manager, Whatcom PUD #1

Chris has over 35 years of engineering, public utility management and leadership, including development of broadband and renewable energy projects. Most recently, Heimgartner was the General Manager of Henderson Municipal Power and Light located in Western Kentucky where he oversaw the transition of electrical generation capacity to renewable energy including the closure of a coal fire power plant, and oversaw the development of the utility’s telecommunication operations. Prior to working at Henderson Municipal Power and Light, Heimgartner served at Snohomish County PUD as the Assistant General Manager in charge of Distribution and Engineering Services, and at Seattle City Light as the Customer Service and Energy Delivery Officer.


Sen. Reuven Carlyle, State Senator, Washington State Legislature

Sen. Reuven Carlyle represents Washington’s 36th Legislative District (including the Northwest Seattle neighborhoods of South Lake Union, Belltown, Ballard, Queen Anne, Greenwood and Magnolia) in the State Senate. The district is home to the iconic Space Needle as well as the global headquarters of Amazon, Expedia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH and other organizations.

Carlyle chairs the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology (EET) Committee and serves on the Senate Ways & Means and Rules committees. As chair, he is a lead sponsor and architect of historic climate legislation including cap and invest carbon pricing and 100% clean energy bills that have led national observers to proclaim Washington as the state with the “nation’s most ambitious climate policy.”

Governing Magazine previously named Reuven “one of 12 legislators to watch” and he has been a leading voice in the Legislature for meaningful tax transparency and accountability, responsible gun safety laws, higher education, foster youth and more. He also is a long-time champion of removing the death penalty from Washington law. Reuven has been recognized by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, Pacific Science Center, Coalition for Open Government and as legislator of the year by the Washington Conversation Voters.

Prior to Reuven’s election to the state House, Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2004 appointed him to the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. In 2007, as a citizen activist, he crafted legislation that was enacted as the Passport to College Promise, a scholarship program for foster youth. He also was a citizen co-founder of the Seattle/King County Chapter of City Year, a national AmeriCorps program.

Professionally, Reuven is an entrepreneur and sustainability consultant.

Plasma Physics for Politicians Panel


Dr. Derek Sutherland, Co-Founder & CEO, CTFusion

Derek is a plasma physicist and nuclear engineer with experience working at multiple publicly and privately funded fusion projects.

 CTFusion is developing a unique approach to magnetic confinement fusion based on the sustained spheromak.

He received his Ph.D. from University of Washington and graduated with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Ryan Umstattd, VP of Product, Zap Energy

As the Vice President of Product for Zap Energy, Ryan is developing the go-to-market strategy for cost-effective fusion energy. After completing his PhD in Applied Science (Plasma Physics), Ryan served for 20 years in the Air Force as a scientist, professor, program manager, and technology acquisition officer.

Prior to transitioning to the private sector, he also served at the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy where he helped prepare breakthrough energy technologies for transition from the lab to customers within the Department of Defense. During his last year at ARPA-E, he was the Deputy Director for Commercialization, responsible for oversight of 11 tech-to-market advisors and the hands-on management provided to 300+ project teams for a $250M/yr research and development portfolio.

Jessie Barton, Communications Lead, Helion

Jessie Barton is the Communications Lead at Helion Energy, located in Everett, WA. She is a science communicator passionate about the merging of clean energy and innovative technology.

In her role at Helion, she works with scientists and engineers to break down technical concepts to educate the public about Helion’s fusion technology.  

Jessie earned her BA in Communications Studies from Drury University and an MS in Communication from Purdue University.


Chris Ajemian, Vice President of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs, CTFusion

Chris Ajemian is a corporate lawyer, business planner, and former software startup CEO.  He has advised three U.S. presidential campaigns in foreign policy, been a nuclear nonproliferation analyst at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and a journalist covering the White House and U.S. Congress.

Chris received his B.A. from University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law.

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