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Leadership

Meet our Board:

 

Liz Branch (Little Rock, Arkansas): has been an Arkansan for 14 years now and has known about Solar under the Sun since its inception. She is delighted to learn more by serving on the SUS board. Liz moved to Little Rock by way of Houston and before that, Victoria, TX where she worked for the University of Houston System. After 17 years overseeing continuing education for the University of Houston-Victoria, she because registrar there, then spent 2 years in Houston as part of a team doing a student records conversion and a year as interim registrar at the University of Houston. Her volunteer work since moving to Arkansas has included serving on the National Response Team for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbytery of Arkansas disaster subcommittee, serving as ruling elder at Westover Hills Presbyterian Church of Little Rock, and coordinating the Bridge Builders Reading Group, an ecumenical, multicultural group committed to bridging human-made racial boundaries. Liz is married to Bill and has two sons, Will in Austin, TX and John in San Francisco, CA. She enjoys reading, traveling, history, and advocacy related to social issues.

 

Liz Branch (Goliad, Texas)

 

Dane Broussard:  Dane Broussard earned a BS in Electrical Engineering at Lamar University in 1979.  He is retired after working 38 years in the defense industry in various roles as a Design Engineer, Systems Engineer, Program Manager and in Strategic Business development and holds two patents in digital data compression and expansion.  Dane is a Deacon at First Baptist Church Garland, TX where he has served on several committees; Missions, Nominating and Scholarship (current). Dane resides in Wylie, TX with his wife of 30 years, Teri.  They have a son, Adam, in graduate school getting his PhD in Astrophysics at Rutgers University.  He loves going on missions and has participated in several mission trips in Honduras, Spain, Sierra Leone and the Rio Grande Valley.

  Bonnie Edwards: Bonnie Robertson Edwards is a happily retired Certified PC(USA) Christian Educator living in east Texas. She has worked with churches in four denominations. She enjoys running, quilting, dancing, hiking,  making music, and getting dirt under her fingernails in the garden. She and husband Jarrett have one son and four grandchildren.
Steve Fairbanks: Steve earned a BS in Business Administration at Kansas State University in 1972. He owned and operated Putt-Putt Golf Courses for 30 years and is retired from a 25 year career with United Parcel Service. He is also a retired Colonel in the United States Army. Steve was the Elder Commissioner to the 220th General Assembly from Cimarron Presbytery and just finished a fourth term as an Elder and Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, OK. He is a Solar 2 graduate and is an instructor for Solar 2. He is married to Cathy Fairbanks, has two children, and two grandchildren.
  Pat Felter
Jim Freeman: Jim Freeman is the pastor of Broadmoor Presbyterian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. He has also served congregations in Pine Bluff, Little Rock, and Searcy, Arkansas, and was student assistant at the Old Parish Church of East Kilbride, Scotland. Jim's undergraduate degree in communications and political science is from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He received his Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and his Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia. Jim has two grown children.
  Rob Lowry: An Arkansas native, Rob grew up in Little Rock and was a member of Second Presbyterian Church and later a charter member of St. Margaret Episcopal Church. He holds degrees from Millsaps College, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University, and Columbia Theological Seminary. Before deciding to return to parish ministry, he completed his course work (but not his dissertation) for the PhD at King’s College in the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) in the area of Political/Practical theology.

Rob currently serves as the Pastor/Head of Staff at Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He has served churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Michigan as well as multiple committees and boards in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in the community. 

When he isn’t working, Rob can usually be found in his garden; at Lemuria, a local independent book store; binge watching a new BBC show; or indulging his newest passion—baking random things from The Great British Baking Show.

Rob lives in Belhaven with his husband, Brian, their Welsh Springer Spaniel Mo, and Welsh Pembroke Corgis Wednesday and Huck.

  Chris McRae:  Chris McRae is a member of Central Presbyterian Church of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Chris is considered to be the founder of SUS, given that it was his vision to bring solar power to those areas and individuals suffering from energy poverty, and served as its Executive Director until 2017. Chris is a Climate Reality Leader which seeks to inform the general public of the consequenses of global warning. He serves on the Board of Directors for Haiti Education Foundation, and is a past Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Committee member. He has been very active in Habitat for Humanity, serving as the first Habitat for Humanity Project Director for the New Orleans Area 1988-1991. Chris is also trained as a Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
 

Rob Owens:  Rob is a native Arkansan, born and raised in Little Rock.  He went to the University of Arkansas and after graduating, returned to Little Rock and worked in the investment business for 44 years, retiring in 2018. While attending the U of A, I met Susan, my bride of 46 years who is from Alexandria, Louisiana.  We have two grown children and three grandchildren, all living in Little Rock.  Susan and I joined Second Presbyterian Church in 1978 where we have been most active because of our love of our church.  We have been on many mission trips with the church over the years, but I believe my two to Honduras have been most fulfilling and purposeful.

Rob's first trip to Honduras was with Heifer International in 2016, building four houses.  Megan Rubio was with them and gave a tour of several homes where she and others from SUS had installed solar panels for lighting on previous trips.  Seeing these systems made him want to learn more about SUS and return to Honduras to put in systems in 2018.

In Rob's opinion, the reason mission trips to Honduras are so meaningful is because of the ongoing community building and relationships established with these wonderful people year after year.  Also, most importantly is the strong presence of the Presbyterian Church--its leaders as well as other committed community leaders--all working to improve the community and bringing the knowledge of God's love to all. For these families who have lived in darkness their whole life, the light of a single light bulb is life changing.  As he says, "I think there is something biblical about Light...."

Megan Rubio: Megan earned a BS in Astronautical Engineering from the Air Force Academy and served as an AF officer for 6 years.  She is married to Stuart Rubio, a currently active Air Force officer, and they have three sons.  In 2003 she left the military to raise her boys and support her family through their on-going Air Force adventures. She is an active volunteer in her churches, schools, and Air Force community.  She has served as an elder and deacon in the PCUSA and is passionate about international mission and Solar Under the Sun.  Megan is Solar 1 and 2 trained, a Solar 2 instructor, and has participated in several installations in Haiti and Honduras.

Tom Ulrich: Tom is currently serving as the pastor of New Covenant Community Church in Akron, Ohio. He previously served with his wife as co-pastor of Central Presbyterian Church, Fort Smith, AR. Prior to that he served as chaplain at the Univrsity of the Ozarks in Clarksville, AR where he also taught courses in the New Testament. Tom earned an undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech in mathematics and physical education, as well as a master's degree in mathematics. He attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA for his Masters of Divinity degree. Tom is a Solar 1 instructor and has led mission trips in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico as well as Haiti.

 

Rollin Wycoff:  Dr. Rollin Wycoff is a graduate of the first Solar School and is currently a Solar 2 instructor. He has been to Haiti for multiple installation and survey trips. Both his children have attended solar school, and his daughter, Samantha, has gone to Haiti twice as well. Dr. Wycoff is a Family physician in Arkansas, providing primary care and urgent care. 

 

Valerie Young: Synod of the Sun Acting Leader & Stated Clerk, valerie.young@synodsun.org

Valerie Young has served the synod in various roles since 2004.  Currently, in addition to serving as Stated Clerk, Valerie's primary responsibility is to Connect presbyteries and Presbyterians in mission and ministry; Equip leaders to more fully do their work, and to Empower mission, ministry, and their leaders to live out their call to the glory of God.

 

Solar Under the Sun Staff:

 

Elizabeth Brinegar, Director of Operations  elizabeth@solarunderthesun.org

Elizabeth Brinegar was born and raised in Arkansas.  She graduated from Lyon College with a BA in English Literature and earned her Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary.  She has worked as a youth director, solo pastor, non-profit administror, and college chaplain.  Elizabeth is excited to work with Solar Under the Sun in the day-to-day operations.  She currently lives in North Little Rock where she is the part-time pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville.  As half of a clergy couple, she and her husband Blake spend time split between their two churches.  She enjoys spending time with her dog and cat, reading, baking, and singing in the church choir. 

 

 

Instructors

Dane Broussard, Solar 2 Instructor                                                                                                                                                                                        

Dane Broussard earned a BS in Electrical Engineering at Lamar University in 1979.  He is retired after working 38 years in the defense industry in various roles as a Design Engineer, Systems Engineer, Program Manager and in Strategic Business development and holds two patents in digital data compression and expansion.  Dane is a Deacon at First Baptist Church Garland, TX where he has served on several committees; Missions, Nominating and Scholarship (current). Dane resides in Wylie, TX with his wife of 30 years, Teri.  They have a son, Adam, in graduate school getting his PhD in Astrophysics at Rutgers University.  He loves going on missions and has participated in several mission trips in Honduras, Spain, Sierra Leone and the Rio Grande Valley.

Dan Daniel, Solar 2 Instructor                                                                                                                                                                                

Dan Daniel is a retired Electronic Systems Engineer with over 50 years’ experience in design and development of systems for the US Government.  Dan holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Arizona and is a Registered Professional Engineer (inactive) in the State of Texas.  As a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Tyler, Texas, he became involved with Solar Under the Sun in May 2014 first as a Solar 2 student in Solar School #10 and then as a Solar 2 instructor.  Dan has participated in multiple solar installation and maintenance mission trips to Haiti, Honduras, and Puerto Rico.

Steve Fairbanks, Solar 2 Instructor 

Steve earned a BS in Business Administration at Kansas State University in 1972. He owned and operated Putt-Putt Golf Courses for 30 years and is retired from a 25 year career with United Parcel Service. He is also a retired Colonel in the United States Army. Steve was the Elder Commissioner to the 220th General Assembly from Cimarron Presbytery and just finished a fourth term as an Elder and Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, OK. He is a Solar 2 graduate and is an instructor for Solar 2. He is married to Cathy Fairbanks, has two children, and two grandchildren.               

Dave Howell, Solar 2 Instructor                                                                                                                                                                                        

 David Howell is a retired telecommunications engineer with the Bell Telephone System working with switching and transmission systems including fiber optics. Dave has BS and MS degrees from the University of Tennessee in electrical Engineering and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Tennessee (Retired). In addition to his engineering work Dave has run a beef cattle operation on his family farm where he still lives. Dave is an elder and deacon at First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Lebanon, TN and he has served on committees of the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee. Dave has been with Solar Under the Sun since the beginning, working on the design of the initial "proof" system installed at Living Waters for the world where he was a Lead Instructor and member of the Tech Team for several years. Dave has continued doing design and updates for the SUS solar systems and updates on the solar handbook. He served as the Lead Solar 2 on the two initial 24 volt systems installed in Honduras. He has other international work through his experience with Living Waters for the World.

Chris McRae, Solar School Director                                                                                                                                                                                      

Chris McRae is a member of Central Presbyterian Church of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Chris is considered to be the founder of SUS, given that it was his vision to bring solar power to those areas and individuals suffering from energy poverty, and served as its Executive Director until 2017. Chris is a Climate Reality Leader which seeks to inform the general public of the consequenses of global warning. He serves on the Board of Directors for Haiti Education Foundation, and is a past Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Committee member. He has been very active in Habitat for Humanity, serving as the first Habitat for Humanity Project Director for the New Orleans Area 1988-1991. Chris is also trained as a Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Ann Owen, Solar 1 Instructor                                                                                                                                                                                        

Ann earned a Master of Public Service degree at the UA Clinton School of Public Service, and a BA in communication at the University of Alabama. She has served as a municipal recycling coordinator in Texas, in community relations at Heifer International, as an AmeriCorps volunteer and at a nature center in Little Rock. She and her husband Rick, trained in Solar 1 and Solar 2 respectively, are passionate about sustainability issues and have just built an LEED-certified home with solar panels. She is involved with environmental ministries at Second Presbyterian in Little Rock and is a very proud mother and grandmother.

Megan Rubio, Solar 1 & 2 Instructor                                                                                                                                                                                        

 Megan earned a BS in Astronautical Engineering from the Air Force Academy and served as an AF officer for 6 years.  She is married to Stuart Rubio, a currently active Air Force officer, and they have three sons.  In 2003 she left the military to raise her boys and support her family through their on-going Air Force adventures. She is an active volunteer in her churches, schools, and Air Force community.  She has served as an elder and deacon in the PCUSA and is passionate about international mission and Solar Under the Sun.  Megan is Solar 1 and 2 trained, a Solar 2 instructor, and has participated in several installations in Haiti and Honduras.

Mark Tew, Solar 2 Instructor

Mark Tew has been active in Solar Under the Sun from the early days, serving as the Lead Solar 2 on SUS's first two installations prior to the first Solar School.  He has served as Lead Instructor in Solar 2 and participated in writing the Solar Power Handbook.  Mark received the BSEE and MS in Engineering Science from the University of Mississippi and the PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Mississippi where he taught electrical engineering for 25 years.  He is a graduate of Living Waters for the World's Clean Water U and has served as an Instructor at CWU 103 class.   

Tom Ulrich, Solar 1 Instructor

 Tom is currently serving as the pastor of New Covenant Community Church in Akron, Ohio. He previously served with his wife as co-pastor of Central Presbyterian Church, Fort Smith, AR. Prior to that he served as chaplain at the Univrsity of the Ozarks in Clarksville, AR where he also taught courses in the New Testament. Tom earned an undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech in mathematics and physical education, as well as a master's degree in mathematics. He attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA for his Masters of Divinity degree. Tom is a Solar 1 instructor and has led mission trips in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico as well as Haiti. 

Rollin Wycoff, Solar 2 Instructor                                                                                                                                                                                    

Dr. Rollin Wycoff is a graduate of the first Solar School and is currently a Solar 2 instructor. He has been to Haiti for multiple installation and survey trips. Both his children have attended solar school, and his daughter, Samantha, has gone to Haiti twice as well. Dr. Wycoff is a Family physician in Arkansas, providing primary care and urgent care. 

 


 

 

 


An ecumenical ministry of Synod of the Sun (PCUSA)    469-379-2788    info@solarunderthesun.org
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