2018 speakers

2018 conference speakers

Ken Collins – Orion Strategies

Ken Collins is a seasoned public affairs professional with years of experience designing and implementing strategies on behalf of a variety of clients to motivate key political and business stakeholders, the media as well as the general public. Prior to joining Orion Strategies, Ken served as senior public affairs consultant for a leading energy infrastructure company during the development and construction of a $540 million, 270-mile pipeline system across Ohio and Michigan, then on into Ontario. With experience in over 20 states focusing on stakeholder engagement, Ken’s ability to find synergies and open doors has led to success for a number of clients. Ken received his Bachelor of Arts from the Ohio State University. He began his career with the Ohio Republican Party.

Bryce Custer – NAI Ohio River Corridor

Bryce has experience in all aspects of commercial real estate including acquisition, disposition and development of office, retail and industrial projects. As an active real estate investor for over 20 years, Bryce understands the challenges facing both buyers and sellers in sale and lease transactions. Utilizing his experience from prior businesses, he works to discover critical success factors to develop solutions that meet the needs of both parties.

Bryce’s current focus is serving the needs of petrochemical, oil & gas, derivative industries and energy services companies capitalizing on the drilling and exploration of the Utica / Marcellus Shale in Eastern Ohio and the Northern West Virginia Panhandle. Primary focus is in the area of Site Selection for industrial clients utilizing rail throughout Ohio and West Virginia and river barge along the Ohio River in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Experience in site selection for Natural Gas Power Companies (Carroll County Energy and Southfield Energy), hotels (Corporex) and many other industrial and distribution clients, and for companies that have a need to be on the Ohio River close to the Shell Petrochemical Complex in Monaca, PA and the proposed PTTGC complex in Belmont County, Ohio.

Prior to real estate investing, Bryce was an Environmental Chemist at Wadsworth/Alert Laboratories (now known as TestAmerica). While at Wadsworth/Alert he was instrumental in meeting the needs of clients as GC/MS analyst, Sr. Project Manager and Assistant Laboratory Manager for 10 years.

Steve Hedrick – Appalachian Development Group

Steve Hedrick is President & CEO of Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center (MATRIC) in South Charleston, W.Va. MATRIC delivers market-driven innovation, research, technical engineering, and technology commercialization for the chemical, energy, environmental, and advanced software sectors.

Mr. Hedrick has nearly three decades of broad-based leadership experience, with more than 20 years of experience in the petrochemical industry, leading businesses, chemical manufacturing and health, safety, environment and quality (HSEQ). Prior to MATRIC, he held numerous roles of increasing responsibility at Lyondell, Bayer Polymers, Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer CropScience and has led multiple regional and global teams to improve business results, reliability and safety systems. His entry into the chemical industry followed service as an officer in the United States Army.

Mr. Hedrick currently serves as the CEO of Appalachia Development Group, LLC, a collaborative platform designed to deliver the Appalachia Storage and Trading Hub, considered to be industry’s catalyst for the industrial spread associated with the prolific shale gas developments in the Marcellus, Utica and Rodgersville Shales.

In addition, Mr. Hedrick currently serves on a number of boards of directors, including the Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Area Alliance, Advantage Valley, West Virginia Manufacturers Association, Thomas Health System, Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia and West Virginia Regional Technology Park Corporation. He is Chairman of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chairman of the Charleston Area Alliance. Mr. Hedrick also sits on the Business Roundtable of West Virginia.

A native of West Virginia, he holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Jerry James – Shale Crescent U.S.A.

Jerry is from Zanesville, Ohio, and currently resides in Marietta, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering from Marietta College in 1980 where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Jerry has served as President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and previously served as chairman of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Jerry is also a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers as well as the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers.

Jerry has served as President of Artex Oil Company since 1995. Prior to assuming his current role, he held positions with various major oil companies in Texas, Louisiana, and Wyoming. Jerry is also a founder and an active volunteer of Shale Crescent USA.

Joshua Jefferson – Regional Economic Development Partnership

Josh has been with the Regional Economic Development Partnership for 14 years and while serving all three counties in the RED region he is primarily responsible for their presence in Marshall and Wetzel counties. He partners with existing industrial and manufacturing companies to maintain and grow operations, works with new companies to explore possibilities and engages regularly with the Natural Gas industry as they continue to expand throughout the region. He also maintains strong relationships with federal, state and local government officials, the West Virginia Development Office (WVDO) and other regional organizations interested in economic development to build opportunities for the surrounding area. Involved in private, non-profit fundraising and development for the majority of his career, he understands the importance of building enduring, professional relationships with individuals and companies choosing to invest time and money into the Ohio Valley region. In return, RED offers tremendous stewardship of those investments by providing excellent service with proven results.

Josh graduated from West Virginia University with concentrations in Journalism/Public Relations and a secondary field of Law and Legal Studies. He and his wife Becky reside in Wheeling, WV with their daughter Adalen.

Sean Murphy – Advisian

Mr. Murphy is a Senior Vice President for Advisian and has responsibility for Business Sectors, Sales and Strategy in the Americas Region. Previously, he held various Operational, Strategic and Sector roles in North America, Latin America and Australia and has supported clients in over 30 countries. Mr. Murphy brings 20+ years of broad experience across the value chain in Upstream, Midstream/LNG, Petrochemicals, Infrastructure, Utilities and Logistics. Advisian is WorleyParsons’ Global Project Development, Consulting and Advisory business line and supports clients across the asset life cycle in Resource, Energy and Infrastructure Sectors.

Tom O’Neill – Orion Strategies

Tom O’Neill serves Orion Strategies as General Counsel. He is a former State Senate Judiciary attorney and former legal counsel to the West Virginia Senate Republican Caucus. O’Neill has drafted many significant pieces of state legislation and successfully managed the passage of legislation Aside from O’Neill’s legal counsel in the state senate, he has spent his career with private practice clients in energy and real estate throughout the Appalachian Basin states of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. His clients have included matters in of oil and gas production, land corporations, industry associations, business startups, tax compliance and many others. O’Neill has previously served as Special Assistant Attorney General O’Neil received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence and his Masters in Business Administration from West Virginia University. He is currently adding a Master of Laws in Energy and Sustainable Development to his expertise.

Brittany Ramos – Orion Strategies

Brittany Ramos is a Senior Account Executive for Orion Strategies where she is responsible for creating and managing outreach strategies for clients including government affairs, media relations, community outreach and social media. Prior to joining Orion, she worked for Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation for seven years as the Coordinator of External Affairs. Having recently won the Pioneer Award from the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of Women’s Energy Network, Ramos is deeply engaged in energy issues throughout Pennsylvania and nationally as a leader of many business development organizations. In 2016, Brittany was honored with the Pittsburgh Business Times Women in Energy Leadership Award and in 2013 she received Shale Media Group’s WING (Women in Natural Gas) Award for Service and Leadership. Brittany has a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Sam Houston State University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Public Relations and Psychology from Pennsylvania State University.

George Stark – Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation

George Stark is the Director of External Affairs for Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. In this role, George directs external and internal outreach including government affairs, advertising, media relations, corporate social responsibility, and communications campaigns. He also oversees efforts in building community relationships and furthering workforce development and natural gas utilization within the industry.

In addition to his roles on several oil and natural gas industry organizations, George currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dickinson College and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh. Prior to Cabot, George worked at Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania/Maryland for 15 years and most recently held the position of Director of External Affairs during his tenure. He lives in Wheeling, West Virginia with his wife and three daughters.

Raj Suri – EmberClear

Raj’s experience includes public offerings, project finance, deal structuring and strategic planning. Mr. Suri’s energy career started in 1995 with Mobil Corporation. Over the next ten years, Raj led several challenging projects working for premier North American energy companies. At EnCana Corp, Raj led due diligence teams to acquire natural gas assets in the Gulf Coast. At Harvest Natural Resources, he helped negotiate with the Venezuelan Government to acquire oil concessions. At DKRW Energy, Raj supported development of wind energy, gasification and an LNG terminal. Mr. Suri founded Future Fuels in 2006 to build a technology & licensing business with China’s largest power Company – Huaneng Group. Raj acquired and developed coal assets in the Appalachian Region and Eastern Europe. In 2010, following Future Fuels’ merger, Raj became President of EmberClear – a Toronto Venture Exchange Company. In 2016, in response to a severe global commodity meltdown, Raj successfully helped EmberClear reorganize as a private company and moved the Company’s offices to Houston, Texas. EmberClear is managing energy development assets of over $3.5 Billion under its new ownership. Mr. Suri is a Certified Public Accountant and he earned his Masters Degree in Taxation from American University in 1998. Mr. Suri also earned an MBA at Duke University as a Fuqua Scholar in 2004.

Curtis Wilkerson – Orion Strategies

Curtis Wilkerson, Principal at Orion Strategies has directed scores of high-profile public relations campaigns – and even more discreet ones – for a wide variety of clients across multiple industries. Wilkerson has advised clients on a long list of issues, including major construction projects, energy, defense, telecommunications, natural resources, labor, education and health care. He specializes in grassroots and grasstops public relations. His ongoing goal is to form coalitions and educate decision-makers in favor of clients’ needs. Wilkerson is often quoted and utilized as a background source for the Washington Post, CNN and various regional media. Wilkerson is a recipient of the State Journal’s Generation Next and West Virginia Executive Magazine’s Young Guns.