Our Team

Our team is our most critical asset and our strongest competitive advantage. Heliae’s successes pull from our interdisciplinary approach and our collective backgrounds, which boast both diversity of discipline and geography.

Management Team

J. Craig Johnson
CEO
Eric Litchtenheld
VP of Operations
Fred Tennant
VP of Business Development
Len S. Smith
Vice President & General Counsel
Nick Donowitz
Director of Corporate Development
Mike Rohlfsen
Director of Business Development
Jim Maxwell
Director of Human Resources


Advisory Board Members

Daniel Simon
Don Jurgensen
Geoff Margolis, PhD.
J. Craig Johnson
Chief Executive Officer
Johnson has over 25 years of experience in senior financial management most recently as the Chief Financial Officer of Heliae. He has held a variety of positions including Executive Vice President, VP of Finance, Treasurer, VP of Operations and Controller for both privately held and public companies, including Armor Designs, Inc. (LSE:ADID), Global Entertainment Corporation (Amex:GEC), Encompass Electrical Technologies, ServiceMaster (NYSE:SVM) and McGladrey & Pullen, CPA’s. In addition, Johnson is the co-founder of Andante Properties, LLC, a real estate acquisition and management company.

Johnson is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), an advisory board member to The CFO Alliance and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from California State University, Fullerton, along with an executive graduate program MBA through Wheaton University.

Fred Tennant
VP of Business Development
Mr. Tennant has over 30 years of experience in technology commercialization, renewable energy and agribusiness. His experience includes algae technology development and licensing, global sales management and strategy, international commodity trading and product management. Prior to Heliae, he spent five years with PetroAlgae, 15 years in international consulting and 10 years with Continental Grain Company and the W.R. Grace Agricultural Chemicals Division. Tennant has worked extensively in international markets, with special emphasis on South and Southeast Asia.

He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a BS in Agri-Business and earned a Masters in International Business Administration at U.S. International University in San Diego, California.
Lynn Montague
Director of Capital Projects & Engineering
Mr. Montague has over 30 years of experience in planning, managing and executing multimillion dollar projects, with the last 15 years focused on the biofuels industry. He brings broad experience in team building, engineering design, budget control and schedule management on complex projects involving multidiscipline engineering teams, equipment suppliers and construction contractors. Prior to joining Heliae, he was a Senior Vice President for E85, a corn to fuel ethanol company, developing plants in the Midwest. Prior to E85, Mr. Montague worked for Harris Group and Boise Cascade in various senior Project Management positions. He holds a B.S. Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Colorado and a MBA degree from the University of Portland.

Mike Rohlfsen
Director of Business Development
Rohlfsen has over 20 years experience in agriculture and renewable energy with a broad background in commodity trading and processing, international management, corporate strategy, animal nutrition, and business and new product development. Prior to Heliae, he spent 18 years with Cargill and nearly 3 years with PetroAlgae. Mr. Rohlfsen has worked and lived in the Former Soviet Union and Asia and is a fluent Russian speaker. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Banana Fibre Products, a leading company converting banana tree biomass into high aesthetic, high performance renewable wood products. He is a graduate of St. Olaf College with a BA in Economics, Russian, and Russian and Soviet Studies and also earned an MBA in finance and strategic management from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Anna Lee Tonkovich
Vice President of Research & Development
Tonkovich is a proven leader with two decades of industrial experience developing new technology for the marketplace. She was a founder at Velocys, where she led the technology and manufacturing development efforts to complete the first generation of commercial microchannel reactors. Prior to Velocys, Lee worked at Battelle Memorial Institute and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where she innovated novel chemical reactor technology. She holds a B.S in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Lee has more than 95 issued US patents and was awarded R&D100 Awards in 1999 and 2008.

Don Jurgensen
Advisor
Don brings over 40 years project management, process development, packaging development, asset reduction, and efficiency improvement in Petroleum, Mechanical Systems, Cosmetics and Food Product Manufacturing to the Heliae Engineering Team. Specific areas of interest and knowledge include Lean Practices, Value Stream Analysis, Advanced Team Development, Innovation, and Technology Application and Development. Don is also accomplished in Trade Secret Protection and identification and protection of Intellectual Property. He retired from Mars, Inc. after 26 years, holding various Technical Director responsibilities over 16 years, including Corporate Industrial Engineer and Director of Innovation.

Geoff Margolis, PhD.
Advisor
Dr. Geoffrey Margolis is President of New Food Frontiers Inventions, LLC and New Food Frontiers, Inc., both California-based firms aiming to develop and build break-through products in the food, medical device, health and “green” product industries. Dr. Margolis brings over 40 years of successful product, equipment, and technology developments to Heliae. He has had extensive experience incorporating biological sciences and microbiology understanding into successful development of biologically-based products and equipment. Dr. Margolis advises Heliae’s management team on all aspects of research & development, intellectual property, chemical engineering, and product development. Previously, Dr. Margolis spent 16 years in new product and business development for Nestlé. He was also an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T). Dr. Margolis received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He earned his Master of Science degree and his PhD. in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T. where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

Albert Tacon, PhD.
Advisor
Dr. Albert G.J. Tacon is currently the Aquaculture Research Director of Aquatic Farms Ltd. in Hawaii, USA and is a consultant to various aquaculture organizations worldwide. He advises the Heliae management team on technology, process, and product strategy for feed and nutraceutical markets, bringing over 35 years of applied research, training and field experience in aquaculture nutrition and feed technology. Before joining Aquatic Farms, Ltd., Dr. Tacon served as Technical Director and Program Manager at The Oceanic Institute, Hawaii, USA and Fishery Resources Officer (Feed Specialist) for the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) at their headquarters in Rome, Italy. He has worked with FAO in numerous capacities as an advisor on aquaculture feed and nutrition in Indonesia, Brazil, and Rome, as well as for numerous international aquaculture organizations and commercial entities throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Americas., Dr. Tacon is affiliated with several Universities and Aquaculture related organizations worldwide, including University of Hawaii at Manoa and the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and has over 199 publications on aquaculture, food security and poverty alleviation, nutrition, aquaculture development trends, and feed technology, and FAO training manuals. He holds on a patent on aquaculture technology. He serves on numerous advisory and technical boards for industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations. Dr. Tacon received his Bachelor of Science with honors in Botany & Zoology (specializing in marine zoology) from Westfield College, University of London. Dr. Tacon received his Ph.D. from University College, Cardiff.

Paula Simpson, B.Sc, RNCP
Advisor
With global recognition as a nutrition, beauty, formulation and branding expert, Paula has dedicated her time in educating both the medical aesthetic and beauty industries on the importance of nutrition and supplementation to support natural beauty and healthy aging. With experience in consulting, communications, product and program development, Paula has successfully combined her scientific and holistic nutrition background to create some of the most successful weight loss and healthy aging programs available today.
As the Project Leader, she developed and guided an international weight management program towards a successful launch in North America and Europe. As the Program Director for a prestige medical spa, she developed a weight loss and longevity program that was the impetus for the company¹s rapid growth from an independent location, to a successful franchise.
Her role as a Scientific Evaluator and Regulatory Consultant for Health Canada and some of the top nutraceutical companies worldwide has solidified her reputation as a leader in research and development for innovative natural health & cosmetic brands. As a co-founder behind a premium nutricosmetic line, she regularly speaks as an industry expert appearing on top networks including MSNBC, LX TV, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD LIVE, KTLA, GOOD MORNING AMERICA HEALTH, BETTER TV, FOX NEWS. Paula is often sought as a contributor by many of the leading industry publications including Cosmetic Dermatology, The Aesthetic Guide, Functional Ingredients, Dermascope, Happi, SpaFinder and more. As their Expert Nutritionist, Paula is currently on NewBeauty Magazine, genConnect, SpaTrade¹s by American Spa wellness advisory boards and a selected expert for SpaFinder¹s annual wellness week panel. In January 2013, she was recognized by New Hope 360 as one of the leading innovators & powerful women in the natural beauty industry.

Len S. Smith
Vice President & General Counsel
Smith brings 16 years of legal experience primarily representing companies and organizations focused on biotechnology and pharmaceutical research and development to Heliae. Before joining Heliae, Mr. Smith held positions as Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Associate General Counsel and Head of Licensing & IP for Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation, and Corporate Counsel for Novo Nordisk, Inc. Mr. Smith obtained his J.D. with honors from Washington University. He also holds undergraduate and graduate level technical degrees in biology, environmental science, and information systems management. Mr. Smith also previously conducted plant genetic research and completed internships with the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the Office of the Vice President of the United States, and the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Eric Litchtenheld
VP of Operations
Lichtenheld has had bottom line responsibility for numerous manufacturing facilities over the last 33 years with experience in pharmaceutical, biotech and consumer products industries. He worked with human and bovine blood products while at Armour Pharmaceuticals followed by pioneering work with algae Dunaliella Salina and Haematococcus pluvialis while at Microbio Resources from 1991 to 2001. Mr. Lichtenheld  speaks fluent Spanish and managed a 5 fold expansion of a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland and Tate and Lyle in Guadalajara Mexico, transforming it into the largest corn wet milling plant in Latin America. Since 2001 Lichtenheld managed the North American manufacturing network for the world’s largest office product manufacturer, increasing productivity and leading footprint consolidation projects through the application of lean manufacturing tools.

He received his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan and earned an MBA in finance and operations management from Loyola university Chicago.

Nick Donowitz
Director of Corporate Development
Mr. Donowitz brings over a decade of experience in clean technology strategy, business development, and entrepreneurship to Heliae. He began his career in economic and international development, spending almost two years living on the windward island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas working for the Cape Eleuthera Institute-Island School, a sustainable development, technology transfer and education group involved in renewable power and biofuel production, aquaculture and sustainable agriculture, and education. Since then, Mr. Donowitz has worked on a number of technology ventures ranging from vehicle electrification infrastructure, carbon sequestration, and low-cost water purification technology. Most recently, Mr. Donowitz worked for a division of Mars, Inc. called Symbioscience where his work focused on strategic supply chain projects in raw feedstock-sourcing regions in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
He holds Master of Business Administration and Master of Environmental Management degrees from Duke University and an English degree from Davidson College.

Tom Gallegos
Intellectual Property Counsel
Gallegos brings over 20 years of experience in the legal field to Heliae, with a predominant focus on intellectual property in the plant biotechnology, genetic engineering, diagnostics and biopharmaceutical development spaces. He specializes in patents, trademarks, and licensing as well IP strategy and litigation. Before joining Heliae, Mr. Gallegos most recently served as Senior Patent Counsel for Large Scale Biology Corporation, Inc. where he developed a patent portfolio that was ranked 8th in the biotechnology field by the IPIQ Patent Scorecard in 2006. His accomplishments there also included development of winning patent strategies, and successful patent litigation. Mr. Gallegos has served as Director of Intellectual Property for OncorMed, Inc. as well as various roles for Venable LLP, E.I. DuPont de Demours & Company, Genentech, Inc. and the US Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Gallegos received a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences and Master of Science degree in Microbiology from Indiana State University. He received his Juris Doctor degree in law from George Washington University.

Daniel Simon
Advisor
Mr. Simon delivers over twenty years of experience as a senior executive and entrepreneur with a broad background in founding and leading public and private energy and technology businesses.
Prior to joining Heliae Mr. Simon founded and served as CEO of Elevant Advisors, LLC, a business advisory firm providing management consulting and capital raising services to the energy and technology markets. From 2006 – 2010, Mr. Simon co-founded, and was a Director, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer of BioFuel Energy Corp., a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: BIOF). Mr. Simon led the company from its inception to becoming the fifth largest pure play ethanol producer in the world, with 230 million gallons of annual production capacity and revenue of over $650 million.
From 1993 – 2005 Mr. Simon served as a founder of Biofuel Solutions, LLC, and held a variety of senior positions with TIC/Kiewit and NCH Corporation in North America, Europe, and Asia. He currently serves as an Advisory Board Member of the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business Cleantech Program and as a Board Member and Audit Committee Chairman of Welltok, LLC, a healthcare technology company. Mr. Simon received his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and completed additional studies in Japanese language and economics at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.

Jim Maxwell
Director of Human Resources

Maxwell brings over 15 years of human resources experience to Heliae. Before joining Heliae, he held the positions of Division Vice President of Human Resources for U.S. Foods and Director of Human Resources for Swan Logistics. While with Swan Logistics, Maxwell started the Human Resources, Payroll and Safety Departments from the ground floor for the multi-state & international company.

Maxwell holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Western Illinois University and completed several Human Resources Management graduate-level classes at National University in San Diego, CA. He holds a PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification from the HR Certification Institute in addition to attaining certifications from DDI (Development Dimensions International) & PI (Predictive Index).