Merribel S. Ayres
Merribel Ayres, Principal of Lighthouse Consulting Group, has been a leader in the Washington business and political communities for three decades. Founded in 1996, Lighthouse celebrates 23 years in 2019. The firm’s concentration is on energy and environmental business/policy strategies which advance and achieve client goals.
Ms. Ayres has been a central player in the energy transition—with both utilities and their industrial & commercial customers. Her in-depth background with leading energy businesses (their investors and stakeholders) enables her to provide a critical perspective for Clients and Boards, both as an Adviser and Director.
Her experience is comprehensive within the energy sector and related technologies (e.g. natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear, renewables, electric grid modernization). She is recognized for her expertise in Climate/Carbon and related Energy System strategies. She has a track record in brokering agreements and partnerships among stakeholders (business, government & NGO).
In addition to Lighthouse’s political advocacy services, Ms. Ayres provides high-level advisory and strategic management services to CEOs and senior leadership teams. In that role, she helps these clients to:
• Identify strategic partners, anticipate the future of their sector and set (reset) business objectives accordingly,
• Navigate and facilitate relationships with key internal and external stakeholders (Business, Gov. & NGO),
• Design and deploy messages, narratives and communications campaigns,
• Assess and address corporate strategy impacts of policy initiatives, and
• Manage succession planning in the C-suite, including Board composition and related dynamics.
Ms. Ayres also has considerable Board experience. She served as a Director of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), a Michigan- based electric and gas utility, for nine years (2004—2013). She was recognized by her fellow directors for significant contributions to the company’s forward strategy, with an emphasis on clean energy, environmental and sustainability matters, as well as corporate governance. Her committee assignments during her tenure as a CMS Director included: Governance and Corporate Responsibility, Finance, Audit and Compensation.
She is currently a Board Member of the United States Energy Association (USEA). She also served as a Director at Alliance Resources, LP, (a coal producer and marketer) and was a member of the Advisory Council of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
A prominent expert in her field, Ms. Ayres has testified before Congress and appeared before numerous industry and public policy forums. She has been quoted and profiled by national newspapers and leading industry publications, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Roll Call, National Journal, The Energy Daily, and Association Management Magazine.
Ms. Ayres began her career in journalism as a staff reporter at The Hartford Courant (CT), and as a contributing reporter to the New York Times, Connecticut Section. After moving to Washington, she worked for several years on Capitol Hill. Prior to establishing Lighthouse, Ms. Ayres was CEO of the National Independent Energy Producers where she played a leading role in framing the national debate over increased competition in the electric power industry. She also worked in the US paper and forest products industry (the former Champion International Corp.).
She is an honors graduate of Bryn Mawr College, holds a post-graduate degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and received advanced leadership training at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is fluent in French and is learning Italian. She has participated in several high-level Director programs as follows: the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), the Harvard Business School, and the Robert Smith School of Business (University of Maryland).