GROUP NIRE - Key Persons


Cyndi duPont

Job Titles:
  • Marketing Director & Business Management

Dr. Sanka Liyanage

Job Titles:
  • Control and Robotic Engineer
  • Control Engineer

Dr. Timothy S. Sliwinski

Job Titles:
  • Scientist
  • Project Manager for Meteorology and Data Science
Dr. Timothy S. Sliwinski is an atmospheric scientist with specialties in fine-scale weather modeling and high-performance computing. At Group NIRE, Tim utilizes his experience and expertise as the Project Manager for Meteorology and Data Science for Group NIRE's real-time weather forecasting system known as Herold™. In this role, Tim is responsible for keeping the 1064-core computing cluster that generates Herold's forecasts operational 24/7 and generating new and innovative products that best serve clients' needs. Recent projects have involved machine learning for wind power forecasting, the generation of simulated satellite imagery from forecast model output, and increasing the resilience of the real-time forecasting process against unscheduled cluster node outages. When not working on new products or cluster administration, Tim writes grant proposals to further enhance the forecasting system's hardware and its products. He also attends conferences to represent Herold and meet with current and potential clients. Dr. Sliwinski holds both a master's and doctorate in atmospheric science from Texas Tech University and dual bachelor's degrees in meteorology with honors and applied mathematics from Florida State University. Throughout his studies and career, Tim has obtained over 10 years of experience studying a wide scale of weather processes with numerical weather prediction models. Most recently, his research has focused on turbulent processes of the atmospheric boundary layer leading to moist convection initiation. Additionally, Tim has over 8 years of experience with high performance computing as both a researcher and systems administrator. Using this experience, he has published original research on analyzing mesoscale large eddy simulation datasets more efficiently. Outside of his duties with Herold, Tim stays active in the scientific community. As a member of the American Meteorological Society, he serves as Program Co-Chair of the High-Performance Computing committee and is a committee member on the Artificial Intelligence committee. Additionally, Tim was recently invited and participated in a scoping meeting for the National Academy of Sciences regarding high performance computing in the atmospheric sciences.

Grayson A. Ezzell - Chief Legal Officer

Job Titles:
  • General Counsel
  • in 2019 As a Legal Counsel
Grayson Ezzell joined Group NIRE in 2019 as a Legal Counsel at their Headquarters. Starting in 2020, Mr. Ezzell joined the company full-time as General Counsel and is responsible for all legal, compliance, regulatory, and governmental affairs of Group NIRE. Mr. Ezzell manages a wide array of Group NIRE's business practices, including drafting wind energy development surface leases, maintaining business relationships with electric cooperatives, and overseeing multiple State and Federal grants. Mr. Ezzell graduated from Texas Tech School of Law with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence after receiving a B.S. from Cornell University.

Greg Salas

Job Titles:
  • Field Site Technician
Greg Salas joined Group NIRE in October of 2017 as the Field Site Technician at the Reese Technology Center. Greg's focus is to provide technical support to the SWIFT site, Group NIRE's ongoing microgrid effort, and the Power America venture. Greg works on commissioning the small-scaled wind farm at SWIFT, which includes three V27 wind turbines and two 60-meter Met towers. He also helps with the design, installation, and maintenance of serval invertor and battery circuits for the Group NIRE microgrid. Greg also assists with Power America, whether it be testing components or helping build circuit boards. Prior to joining Group NIRE, Greg worked as a maintenance supervisor at a fully automated distribution center for Cargill Meats in Friona Texas. There, Greg obtained several skill sets that have carried over and proven valuable as the Field Site Technician at Reese. While working at Cargill, Greg attended Clovis Community College in 2013 and earned an Associates of Applied Science degree in Industrial Technology Plant Operations and Equipment and an A.A.S in Wind Energy.

Joshua MacFie - CEO

Job Titles:
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Executive Officer - Principal Electronics Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer at Their Research Development Center
Joshua MacFie joined Group NIRE in 2017 as an Electrical Engineer at their Research Development Center. Now acting as the Principal Electronics Engineer, Joshua works with researchers, technicians, and other engineers to write grants, develop solutions, and integrate plans. After a lifetime dedicated to problem-solving in many areas, as well as working on numerous grants and proposals, Joshua knows that a well-integrated and diverse team is needed to accomplish and continue the success of great projects. Every project depends on each individuals' skill sets and determination. Joshua has supported Group NIRE in the ARPA-E NODES and CHARGES programs by continuing previous work, increasing capability, and innovating new solutions. He has also worked with numerous researchers and agencies to develop and write proposals for the EERE, USDA, USAID, ARL, PowerAmerica, and other agencies. Joshua's proposals have been funded to head up projects to "Establish an Independent Testing Facility to Perform Reliability Analysis of WBG Semiconductor Devices" and to "Commercialize a Nanosecond Wide Band Gap Pulser." Throughout his education, Joshua was an IEEE Regional paper winner, a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, a Boe Award Nominee, and a NASA Aerospace Scholar. Joshua is also currently anticipating a pending patent for an energy management system algorithm, developed for the ARPA-E CHARGES program. Joshua MacFie holds a Bachelors in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Texas Tech University where he graduated with honors.

Julie Balderas

Job Titles:
  • Manager of Business Administration
Julie Balderas came to Group NIRE through a temp agency in May of 2012, but it quickly became apparent that she was a perfect fit for the challenging and detailed tasks at Group NIRE. She is an integral part of the team. She manages the staff, oversees all of the bookkeeping, and runs the office. On top of all of that, she is key to making sure all of the pieces are together for the complicated Grants that we receive. She also administers and manages all of the insurance plans for both our commercial policies and employee benefit plans. Julie is a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and a member of the National Grants Management Association and Society for Human Resource Management. She is also fluent in American Sign Language and donates a lot of time working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Kolton Foster

Job Titles:
  • Manager
  • Director of Operations & Energy Development
  • EHS Coordinator
Kolton Foster joined Group NIRE in 2016 and serves as the Director of Operations & Energy Development for Group NIRE's field site at Reese Technology Center. As the field site manager, Mr. Foster is responsible for field site operations within assigned contractual scope of responsibilities to customers. Mr. Foster plays an active role in the daily operations and execution of service and research contracts as it pertains to fulfilling Group NIRE's contractual obligations. He also implements and oversees the operation safety policy standards, and conducts field work in compliance with OSHA applicable regulation and encourages good employee safety practices. Previous to his position as the field site manager for Group NIRE, Mr. Foster worked for General Electric Renewable Services. Mr. Foster held the position as the Environmental, Health and Safety Coordinator in South Texas for Cedro Hills and Whitetail wind farms, in conjunction with operating as a wind tech for the Briscoe Wind Farm near Silverton, TX. While holding the position of EHS coordinator Mr. Foster and his team hit the milestone of having one thousand days without injuries on both Cedro Hills and Whitetail wind farms. Mr. Foster earned his Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy in the fall of 2013 from Texas Tech University. Mr. Foster also holds an associate's degree in Industrial Manufacturing/Emerging Technologies with a specialization in machinist trades that he received from South Plains College in the fall of 2011.

Mark Harral - CEO

Job Titles:
  • Chief Executive Officer
Since May 2013, Mr. Harral has served as the CEO of Group NIRE. He also serves as an expert witness in wind energy litigation cases. To date, Mr. Harral has testified in arbitration cases concerning warranty disputes between manufacturers and owners with over $90 million in disputes. Mark Harral's introduction to renewable energy was negotiating a wind lease with BP to deploy thirty-four 2.5MW wind turbines in Pecos County, Texas. Subsequently, Texas Tech University employed Mr. Harral to develop an organizational structure for a testing and certification site at a former Air Force base-the Reese Technology Center in Lubbock, Texas.