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At New Planet, we have a highly experienced management team with more than 150 years of combined experience in the energy, power, investment, and waste industries. The team has a proven record as innovators, developers, and operators. In addition, the members of our Board of Advisors possess significant experience in development stage companies along with strong backgrounds in renewable energy, venture capital, and strategic public-private partnerships.


In addition to the team described below, each individual project we undertake also has a Local Development Team, such as for our St. Louis project, that consists of experts in business development, public relations, laws and regulations, and local solid waste management.

Ryan Bird

Key Skills: Executive Business Management, Solid Waste Expertise, and Project Performance Management & Tracking

Ryan is a proven performer with a knack for developing talent and teams. He joined the New Planet Energy team as CEO in 2017.

He has honed his natural skill set with 20+ years of experience. As area manager for Progressive Waste (now Waste Connections Inc (NYSE: WCN)), he oversaw one of the busiest areas in the United States for waste management in New York City, Long Island, and some landfills in the Northeast region. He earned recognition for “Best Year Over Year Performance”, “Best Sales Performance”, and “Best in Class Safety”. He put his diplomacy skills to the test as the negotiator with New York City officials and competitors to create best practices for disposal and recycling.

He is an efficient and prudent leader, a result of being trained as an accountant at Brigham Young University. As an executive vice president with Global Connect, he created and grew two divisions to reach more than $4 million in annual sales, while helping to set the overall strategy for the company and organizational structure. Ryan began his career in positions with Arthur Andersen and Waste Management.

Stephanie Lewis
Workforce Development & Contract Compliance

Key Skills: Communications, Human Resources, Workforce Development, and Leadership

Along with working with FUSE3, Stephanie Lewis is a vice president with FPM Communications, a local firm based in St. Louis and Washington, DC. She has significant experience in large public, private, and government sector organizations at the local and federal levels. Ms. Lewis assembles and manages alliances to meet communications and public affairs objectives while transforming strategic initiatives.


Ms. Lewis previously managed the communications of a $2.3 million paid and earned media campaign for the National Election Protection Organization during the 2020 Presidential Election Cycle. This effort entailed coordinating several organizations, such as State Infrastructure Fund, NEO Philanthropy, Common Cause, Lawyer’s Committee, and State Voices, along with over 35 organizations across the country, on a paid media campaign and working closely with Ohio Voices, Virginia Civic Engagement Table, ProGeorgia and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, on earned media initiatives.


Ms. Lewis managed the workforce development, contract compliance, and communications for a $6 million compliance project for Parson Construction and a $2 billion infrastructure project with Anacostia Waterfront Initiative for the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. She developed a region-wide communications and recruitment plan to communicate and build a skilled and competitive workforce for the District of Columbia. Part of this initiative was to lead the process of identifying contracting opportunities for Disadvantage Business Enterprises (DBE), Certified Business Enterprises (CBE), and Small Business Enterprises (SBE). Ms. Lewis has over thirty years of human resources experience in leadership roles with large and small companies. Ms. Lewis previously held the position of vice president of human resources at People’s Health Centers Corporations, leading human resources activities for three of its organizations.

Clifford Franklin
Project Development

Key Skills: Public Relations, Outreach, and Advertising

Mr. Franklin serves as the president of FUSE3, a St. Louis-based, full-service integrated advertising firm and final phase marketing. He is the CEO of the online urban video network, FUSE3 serves high-profile clients, such as CNN, Hyundai, IBM, Anheuser Busch, and Safeway. FUSE3 was also the African American advertising agency of record for the historic Obama for President Campaign in 2008 and 2012, among other local, state, and national campaigns. FUSE3 has also worked with governmental entities. According to Advertising Age, FUSE3 is the 4th largest independent African American-owned advertising agency in the country. On the local development team for New Planet Energy’s St. Louis project, Mr. Franklin advises on local public and media relations.


A lifelong resident of St. Louis, Mr. Franklin has served on numerous local boards including St. Louis Children’s Hospital, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, ARCHS, and is a life member and National Board Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He donates vast amounts of time and resources to community and philanthropic organizations.

Charles “Charlie” Appleby

Key Skills: Solid Waste Management Technical and Planning Expertise, Waste Industry Business Management, and Leadership

With over forty years of diversified business experience and numerous industry awards to his name, Charlie is an accomplished leader in the solid waste industry. He had the honor of being inducted into the National Waste & Recycling Association Hall of Fame in 2014, named the Waste and Recycling Magazine "Person of the Year" in 2012, and was named the Ernst & Young Florida "Regional Entrepreneur of the Year" award winner in 2009.

As chairman, director, and CEO of Advanced Disposal for eight years, he grew the company into a leading non-hazardous solid waste management company in the United States. Charlie built Advanced Disposal’s network of vertically integrated facilities with 91 operating facilities, 42 landfills, 72 transfer stations and 25 recycling operations in 17 states, employing over 5,000 people and operating a 3,000-truck fleet. He had founded the company in 2000 with two others and was its original CFO.

During his time at Advanced Disposal, Charlie completed over 115 acquisitions, totaling in excess of $2.5 billion.

Prior to founding Advanced Disposal, Charlie was a president and equity partner at CAVCO, a private investment company that acquires, invests in, and/or establishes joint ventures with other private companies.

Richard d'Abo

Key Skills: Business Leadership, Financial Review, and Capacity Builder


As a co-founder of New Planet Energy, Richard brings decades of experience as an accomplished and strategic business visionary who drives results.

He is a partner in The Yucaipa Companies LLC, a private equity and venture capital firm based in Los Angeles, known for its keen investment strategy. Yucaipa led the $2 billion global restructuring of Eimskip, a publicly-traded Icelandic shipping and logistics company (EIM on Nasdaq Reykjavik), and Richard was at the helm as Eimskip’s chairman from 2013-2018. Yucaipa successfully sold its remaining stake in EIM in 2018.

Richard’s acumen does not stop there. His vision helped elevate Americold Realty Trust (NYSE: COLD) into the largest temperature-controlled storage company in the world. As a trustee of Americold from 2013-2018, he played an instrumental role in the company’s IPO at $16 per share in January 2018, raising primary and secondary proceeds of $833 million. A follow-on offering in September of 2018 raised $1.05 billion in primary and secondary proceeds at $24.50 per share. In February 2019, Yucaipa successfully exited in a secondary offering of $1.3 billion priced at $27.75 per share.

Jay Johnson
Vice Chairman & Treasurer

Key Skills: Award-Winning Business Leadership, Financial Acumen, and Risk Management

Jay is an experienced business owner and manager whose fortitude is proven in his successes. While he is vice chairman and treasurer of New Planet Energy, he also is chairman and principal owner of HomeWAV which is a leader in video visitation solutions and hardware for correctional institutions. Jay is also a graduate of Illinois State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Finance with Departmental Honors and magna cum laude.

He has founded multiple companies, including Johnson Risk Management, which continues to serve farmers and landowners with their risk management, including crop insurance and hedging services. He also founded Johnson Grain, a grain handling and storage facility, and served as its president and CEO until its merger with the Scoular Company of Omaha, Nebraska, in 2010.

Jay has been honored for his work, earning the Small Business Association "Person of the Year" award for the State of Illinois in 2007. He also was named "First Runner-Up" for the National Small Business Association award in Washington, D.C. His entire family was honored as an agricultural family for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, IL., upon its dedication in 2005.

R. Andrew Watts.png
R. Andrew Watts

Key Skills: Finance, Investments, Executive Leadership, and Project Management

With more than 25 years of experience in finance, strategic planning, and M&A, Andrew brings exceptional experience to New Planet Energy. The diversity of his experience goes even further with large global organizations, fast-growing mid-sized companies, and startups. His energy is boundless as he also currently serves as executive vice president, CFO, and treasurer of Brown & Brown Inc., a $2.4 billion diversified insurance agency that is the sixth largest independent intermediary in the country.

His CFO and senior management skills were sharpened during time with Thomson Reuters and PricewaterhouseCoopers, and his board experience includes chairman and investment committee positions with the New Jersey chapters of National Leadership Council and Make A Wish Foundation, as well as the Surflight Theatre, which provides professional live theatre to adults, teens and children in southern New Jersey. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois State University and is a certified public accountant (CPA).

John Cruikshank

Key Skills: Solid Waste Management Expertise, Operations Management, Renewable Energy Expertise, Regulatory Affairs, and Government Relations

John’s passion is waste management and seeking solutions. As co-founder of New Planet Energy, he also currently serves as director and sits on its board. His experience in waste management, regulatory affairs and government relations is extensive, and he has operated at high levels in the waste and renewable energy industries for nearly 20 years.

Before he co-founded New Planet, John spent six years as president at BioConverter, a waste-to-energy firm in Los Angeles. He draws on this experience to lead New Planet Energy’s efforts to explore new project opportunities, establish and maintain critical relationships with public-sector leadership and their communities, as well as overseeing the permitting and development process.

John earned his Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Charles “Charley” Dargan, II

Key Skills: Finance, Growth Management, Investments, Risk Reduction & Management, and Business Administration

With 30+ years of investment banking and securities experience, Charley has the experience to take a company to its next level. He excels in guiding and preparing early-stage companies for significant growth and executing capital market transactions.

As the founder and president of CFO 911, he works with other senior executives to provide accounting, finance, and operational expertise to both small capitalization public and middle market private companies in all phases of their business life cycle. He also serves as a director of Hiplink Software Inc.

He earned his experience over many decades, including as the CFO of Semotus Solutions Inc., which is wireless mobility software company. His finance career began in investment banking with Drexel Burnham Lambert; later, he would become managing director of two other investment banking firms, including Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin.

Charley earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Dartmouth College. He has an M.B.A. and Master of Science in finance from the University of Southern California. Charley is also a CPA (inactive) and CFA.

George N Bauer, CFP®, CRPS®

Key Skills: Fiscal Management and Planning, Investments, and Business Consulting

With more than 34 years of experience in the finance industry, George brings vast knowledge as corporate secretary on New Planet Energy’s board. His resume includes time with Smith Barney, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., and Legg Mason. 

Bauer graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with Bachelor of Science degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. George is a certified financial planner, as well as a member of the National Association of Plan Advisors.

Tom Yonge
Chief Engineer

Key Skills: Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering for Commercial & Industrial Projects, Permitting, Stormwater Management, Project Management, and Team Leadership

Tom is an experienced environmental engineer with a demonstrated history of leading teams in the renewable energy and land development industries, skilled in program management, community outreach, due diligence, civil engineering, and environmental impact assessments for clients in the conventional and renewable energy industry. He is a strong consulting professional with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida.

Tom has served as an executive in the environmental engineering and development fields for over two decades. Recently, for his own firm, Yonge Development Services, where he oversees civil engineering, program management, and environmental consulting while serving clients with site and project development assistance for residential, commercial, industrial, and alternative energy projects. He also served as vice president and director of engineering for a residential and commercial project development firm, A.Y. Ventures, Inc., for nearly fifteen years.

However, before stepping into a leadership role, Tom honed his skills in large-scale engineering and renewable energy projects and project management as a senior consultant, client manager, and practice group leader with the reputable, Florida-based engineering and planning firm, Golder Associates, where he lead the project development group for waste and renewable energy clients, performing site selection, due diligence, permitting, design and construction oversight for industrial clients in renewable energy, conventional power, waste, and manufacturing industries. Renewable energy projects consist of utility-scale solar power and waste conversion/reuse projects, including bioenergy, anaerobic digestion, and waste to energy. He has focused his practice on the beneficial reuse of waste projects for over 10 years.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Statement


New Planet Energy is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. We are committed to equal employment opportunity for all employees (current and future) and to developing a self-affirming work environment that is representative of the good communities where we operate. New Planet’s Leadership team believes everyone has the right to live their life and apply their skills and talents without fear of being harassed, targeted, or discriminated against due to their race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, veteran status, familial status, or any other protected status.  

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