SEIA Welcomes New Execs Tony Chen, John Smirnow


The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has announced two new executives: Tony Chen as vice president of business development, a newly created position, and John Smirnow as general counsel and vice president of market strategy.

According to SEIA, Chen has more than a decade of experience in business development in the solar industry, including as vice president of sales and business development at Cool Earth Solar and as a project development manager at SolarCity, where he managed a $35 million sales pipeline. His experience with companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations will be critical as SEIA looks to expand its offerings and reach new audiences, the group says.

“Whether through building on our traditional membership, capitalizing on our events, or developing new services and products for the solar industry, there are fantastic opportunities for growth,” Chen says. “I can’t wait to get started finding creative ways to help the industry itself and SEIA realize its enormous potential.”

Smirnow, a trade and customs lawyer, was previously SEIA’s vice president of international trade. Since then, he has been providing legal services to solar companies around the world on trade and market development. He also founded the Global Solar Council on behalf of 17 national and regional solar associations and served as the council’s first secretary-general. SEIA says Smirnow’s input on strategic decision-making will significantly bolster the association’s advocacy work.

“The SEIA board of directors has set as priorities aggressive solar deployment with the support of a trade association capable of leading that growth,” comments Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “I couldn’t be more excited for Tony and John to join my leadership circle and bring their considerable experience to bear on our ambitious vision.”

“Abby’s strategic vision and her laser focus on supporting a thriving solar industry is what made this job so appealing to me,” says Smirnow. “No doubt our industry faces challenges, but I firmly believe that this leadership team can knock down barriers to market entry for our members and build an unparalleled energy industry trade association through strong strategic positioning.”

Last month, SEIA let go of its executive vice president and general counsel, Tom Kimbis, and its vice president of federal affairs, Christopher Mansour. Explaining the decision, Hopper noted that “with new strategic priorities came the need for personnel changes.”

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