Who is VPA?
The Virginia PACE Authority (VPA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides C-PACE program administration services sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2022, VPA designed the statewide program incorporating industry best practices that promote clean energy and economic development projects.
As the program administrator, VPA works with commercial businesses, property owners, contractors, capital providers and local governments to facilitate the financing of energy efficiency, renewable energy and resilient projects on both new and existing buildings.
In the fall of 2017, Abigail Johnson, President of Abacus Property Solutions (Abacus), a nationally-recognized PACE consulting firm, established a working group to cultivate the PACE financing market in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The group consisted of the following PACE lenders, project developers, and law firms:
- Cliff Kellogg of Petros PACE Finance
- Tom Nida, C-PACE Banking Consultant
- Paul Brooks of Johnson Controls Inc.
- Abby Johnson of Abacus
- Carrie O’Malley of Hirschler
- Bill Nusbaum of Williams Mullen
After a year or more of weekly collaboration, the working group developed an open market, non-profit, program administration model for Virginia PACE programs based on the following core principles:
- lower fees for property owners
- freedom of choice in the selection of PACE service providers
- public-benefit orientation (i.e. non-profit status)
The model was designed to provide Virginia jurisdictions with an alternative program administration approach, which focused on each locality’s specific program needs.
In 2018, the working group evolved into the Virginia PACE Authority (VPA), which became the face of the group’s effort to provide an alternative program administration model to Virginia localities. VPA applied for and was designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2019.
Since its inception, VPA has become the leading PACE program administrator in Virginia, as well as a trusted resource for PACE stakeholders seeking reliable, unbiased, and thoughtful counsel on PACE matters in the Commonwealth.
Abby is Executive Director and founder of VPA. Since 2012, Abby has specialized in PACE financing, advising commercial building owners, lenders and public sector clients in PACE project and program development including crafting of PACE legislation, creating program guidelines, and launching and administering PACE programs. She has been instrumental in developing PACE programs around the country in Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, Oregon, North Carolina, and the Mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia.In Virginia, she was largely responsible for expanding PACE over the last five years to include resiliency, stormwater management, commercial condos, and retroactive projects. In 2019, she founded VPA to offer Virginia localities a low-cost, nonprofit option for program administration. Through Abby’s leadership, VPA has received multiple grants, including one that is funding the creation of a web-based platform that connects lenders with borrowers to fund resiliency and clean energy projects. In her capacity as an advisor, Abby works with building owners to develop “PACE-able” projects, structure PACE within the capital stack, and source senior debt as needed.
Ellen Dickson, Outreach and Development
Ellen provides outreach for clients in the Northern Virginia region. She also assists with business development and fundraising. Ellen has expertise in public affairs, government relations and economic development. Her prior work experience includes Manager for Public Affairs for Ford Motor Company and Director of Government Relations for the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce.
Joe Bianco, Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
Joe serves as CTO of VPA, responsible for outlining the company’s technological vision, implementing technology strategies, and ensuring that technological resources are aligned with the company’s business needs and goals. Joe has over 30 years of experience as a Systems Architect, Software Engineer, Systems Engineer, Department Manager and Instructor working for companies such as IBM, Lockheed Martin, Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding, mid-sized biotech and consulting companies, and non-profit organizations. Experience includes all phases of providing software solutions to government classified, commercial, and company internal customers, including business acquisition, requirements, analysis, design, development, verification, validation, documentation, configuration control, delivery, and training.
Dan Lilie, Project Development
Dan provides project development support for VPA. Dan has worked on large-scale real estate development projects in several large urban centers. Recently, he has worked to activate public energy development programs for the CRE market and was among the first wave of Californians active in the commercial PACE program. Dan is a multi-faceted executive with a deep knowledge of real estate and energy finance, leasing, and asset management.
Isabel Hagaman, Marketing SupportIsabel provides marketing and social media support for VPA. Isabel is well versed on energy efficiency and renewable topics in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as PACE financing. She also assists in business development and general administrative tasks. She is also the new music director for New Kent County Elementary School.
Board of Directors and Advisors
Board of Directors
- Abby Johnson (President): President, VPA
- William Nusbaum: Commercial Real Estate and Municipal Bond Attorney, Williams Mullen
- Paul Brooks (Treasurer): Account Executive, Johnson Controls, Inc.
- Greg Montgomery: Managing Director, CleanSource Energy, LLC.
- Sydney Covey: Senior Manager, Energy & Sustainability, STRUCTR Advisors
- Sandi McNinch, former General Counsel, Virginia Economic Development Partnership
- Tammy Neale, Virginia Housing
- Carrie O’Malley, Hirschler
- Bill Greenleaf, Virginia Community Capital
- Tom Nida, C-PACE Banking Consultant
- Genevieve Sherman, Nuveen