KEITH COOLEY:
 
ALEX BURKULAS




 
 
 
 
 
President and CEO of NextEnergy in Detroit, one of the nationís leading accelerators of alternative and renewable energy. Cooley and his team facilitate strategic consortia for applied research, connect ventures and emerging technologies to strategic partners, and help companies find ways to participate in this rapidly expanding industry. Prior to joining NextEnergy, Cooley was director of Michiganís Department of Labor and Economic Growth and a member of the governorís cabinet. In this capacity, he directed the activities of more than 4,000 employees in 35 agencies and managed a $1.4 billion budget. His principal objectives were to ďup-skillĒ Michiganís workforce to compete in a global community and provide opportunities for economic recovery. Cooley has also played significant roles with General Electric, General Motors, and Motorola, and was CEO of Focus: HOPE, where he championed workforce development serving underrepresented urban youth. His other professional activities include serving the Engineering Society of Detroit and sitting on the boards of the University of Michiganís College of Engineering, the Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Climate Action Council, and the Michigan Strategic Economic Investment and Commercialization Board. Previous board service includes the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, Bioscience Research and Commercialization Center, Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development, and University Preparatory Academy. He has been recognized in Who's Who in the World and a General Motors Presidentís Council honoree. He is a life member of the National Black MBA Association and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honorary Society. Cooley received a bachelorís in engineering physics and a masterís in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan. As a graduate student, he founded U of Mís Minority Engineering Programs Office.


WHERE BORN: "Ann Arbor."

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: "The first is a professor in college, David Bach. He got me to think seriously about graduate school and also really paved the way for me to come back to the university and start the minority (now multicultural) engineering office program. Also, David Archer, Phil Powers, an old chief engineer Bob Dorn, and Dr. Sheila Ronis, who taught me strategic planning. And Dr. Phillip Hessburg."

LAST BOOK READ: "The last really good one was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Also I love fantasy, so Brisingr, the third book in Christopher Paoliniís Inheritance Cycle

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: "Focused, thoughtful, someone who likes to make work fun and holds people accountable."

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: "The only way for alternative and renewable energy is up, especially with the stimulus package the federal government has been talking about. The administration talks about our region as ground zero. Iím convinced that weíre on our way up. Alternative energy is one of the five priorities Gov. Granholm has identified in her state of the state address in the past couple years."

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: "One that I donít own yet, an iPhone. I have a BlackBerry because our system uses it but I want an iPhone."

FAVORITE PLACE: "Paris is one. Wiesbaden, Germany, and Tokyo."

FAVORITE HOBBIES: "Running and biking. I did a triathlon a few years back. Anything athletic with those and swimming. I dabble in Tai Chi for being centered. And I love to read good science fiction fantasy literature."

FAVORITE FOOD: "Good baby back ribs and cherry pie a la mode."

MY HIDDEN TALENT: "When I was in college, I was a walk-on gymnast for the University of Michigan and was part of the 1966 Big Ten championship team. Iím also a certified diver."

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: "As someone who fought hard to get really tough projects and initiatives and goals accomplished with humanity. To hold people accountable for work that needs to be done that you think thereís no way, but [if] everyone works at it hard in a humanistic way, you can get it done.Ē


At the annual awards reception in May 2015, one Leader & Innovator from the previous 12 months will be selected as the Leader & Innovator of the Year.