Energy Conference Speaker Biographies

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DeAnn T. Walker

Governor Greg Abbott appointed Walker to serve as chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas on September 20, 2017, for a term set that expires on September 1, 2021.  Before her appointment, Chairman Walker served as the Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Abbott on matters related to regulated industries.  Her career in the electric industry began at the Commission in 1988 where she served, first, as an Assistant General Counsel and, later, as an Administrative Law Judge until 1997.  Before joining the Governor’s staff, she served as Associate General Counsel and Director of Regulatory Affairs at CenterPoint Energy.


Steve Van Meter

Van Meter is a commercial assurance principal with CLA with 33 years of experience in public accounting. Steve works with clients in a variety of industries including manufacturing and distribution, technology, and life sciences. He also has extensive M&A experience and works with a number of private equity firms. During his career, Van Meter has assisted many of his clients through a successful sale of the business or acquisitions.


Woody Rickerson

As Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations, Rickerson oversees transmission planning, generator interconnection activities, training and electric grid operations for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas region. Rickerson brings a considerable amount of electric industry experience to his position, including more than 19 years at ERCOT in various roles. A licensed professional engineer, Rickerson has worked for utilities in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. He has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of Colorado.

Randy Boys

Boys is Strategy & Technology Manager, Oncor Electric Delivery.  Operations manager for the SOSF microgrid, and lead for Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Use Case studies conducted with those resources.  Relatively new to the power industry; previously 34 years in Defense electronics as project Lead Engineer, Sr. Systems Engineer, R&D project Principal Investigator, and Program Manager.  Emphasis in man-machine symbiotics and artificial intelligence, with applications in multi-sensor systems, Command & Control, Intelligence, and man-machine interfaces.  


Steve Dawson CPA, CFE

Dawson is the President of the Dawson Forensic Group and for over 30 years has performed forensic investigations, internal control design consulting,accounting records reconstruction,litigation support services, and forensic training services forvarious industries through the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI, the Texas Rangers, and other state and federal regulatory agencies. His book “Internal Control/Anti-Fraud Program Design for the Small Business ”was published through Wiley Business Publishing. He is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a degree in Accounting.


Eric A. Johnston

Johnston represents clients in a variety of practice areas with a primary focus on complex business litigation, representation of governmental entities, and employment law. His cases include commercialdisputes, litigation involving governmental entities, employment discrimination claims, Fair Labor Standards Act claims, and claims of violations of the United States Constitution. His additional experience includes defending products liability actions on behalf of pharmaceutical and medical device clients andpersonal injury actions. He also has experience handling creditor's rights and bankruptcy issues.Eric is licensed to practice law in both Texas and California. He represents clients in state and federalcourt, and has argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.


Blake Rodgers, CPA

Rodgers is a Partner in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Audit & Assurance practice in Dallas, Texas. He has more than 15 years of experience in the state and local government industry, focusing on both financial statement and grant compliance audits. Blake served as a Practice Fellow at the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) in Norwalk, Conn., from April 2012 to April 2014, as the project manager on the GAAP Hierarchy Project and assisted on the Fiduciary Responsibility Project. He also served as the GASB liaison to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Not-for-Profit Advisory Committee. Blake is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Government Accountants, and TXCPA.


Tammy Benter

Benter is the Director of Utility Outreach for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, a new division for the agency. Her division's mission is to provide outreach and education to retail public utilities to promote regulatory compliance and preserve the financial and managerial integrity of the utility. The focus is on serving small and mid-sized retail public water and sewer utilities. Her career includes over 21 years of experience in water and sewer utility regulation where she has specialized in utility ratemaking, utility service area permitting and disputes, and water utility districts.


Harold Hardaway

Hardaway is a speaker and thought leader on corporate communications and culture. He believes that everyone should “Chase the Good” and centers his work on helping organizations create spaces where that’s possible. Today, he serves as Co-Founder and CEO of Cardigan—an internal communications and employer branding firm—and he was previously the Director of Corporate Communications and Culture for H-E-B. Harold has been featured in San Antonio Magazine and, and his writings have been featured in the Austin Business Journal, SHRM’s People & Strategy Blog, and He was recently recognized as a Finalist for the 2019 Austin Under 40 Awards, and he is on the Board of Directors for Leadership Austin, Creative Action, and Equality Texas.


Shannon Hernandez

Hernandez is a gifted communication and marketing strategist who has made a name for herself creating game-changing communication & health and wellness initiatives that facilitate organizational and personal growth for some of Texas’ most beloved brands. Today, she serves as Chief Creative Officer for Cardigan and oversees creative and video production for all client initiatives, she also puts her passion for health to work as a Certified Health Coach, leading up the development of Health & Wellness Programming.


Slade Griffin

Griffin is the Director of Security Assessmentsat Contextual Security Solutionswhere he leads the cyber security assessment and penetration testing practice. He has over 15 years of experiencein cyber security specializing in vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, risk assessment, security program development, forensic analysis, and incident response. Slade is passionate about security; blending his experience in the public, private,and military sectors to help others tackle their own cyber security challenges.


Lisa Craven

Craven has over 30 years of state service, having worked in both the executive and legislative branches.  Since January 2015 Lisa has served as chief of staff for Glenn Hegar, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Previously, she served as chief of staff for then-Senator Hegar from 2007-2014 and worked in the Texas House of Representatives from 1989-2007. Lisa began her career as a tour guide at the State Capitol in 1986. In October 2018 Lisa was appointed deputy comptroller and chief of staff by Comptroller Hegar.  She serves as the agency’s administrative head.


Bryan L. Smith, CPA, CITP, CISA

Smith is the co-founder of CPA Crossings, LLC, (est. 2001), which specializes in helping accounting, tax and financial professionals leverage technology to increase the quality and efficiency of their services. He has spent more than 30 years helping CPAs with the implementation of technology to automate business processes. He is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology issues affecting the CPA profession, with an emphasis on IT security, Excel spreadsheet design and Business Intelligence (BI). He has a Master of Science in Information Assurance, is a member of the Information System Audit and Control Association and is a past chair of task forces for the Michigan Association of CPAs.