Team Members

Kayla Christensen

Executive Director

Kayla Christensen serves as the Executive Director for the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum. Kayla came to MnCEF with years of valuable legislative and political experience, including service to the last two Presidents of the Minnesota Senate.

She also brings valuable experiences in electoral politics having served both the Minnesota House and Senate Republicans as political staff, including as campaign manager in 2020 for a deciding race that delivered a majority to the Senate Republicans for the 2021-22 Legislative Session.

Kayla is a proud graduate of University of Wisconsin—River Falls and lives in Savage, Minnesota with her husband and three young sons.


Program Director

Rachel brings extensive experience in politics and government, offering holistic understanding of the public arena, issue perception, and relationship building. She has private and public experience – serving a diverse range of clients through issue research, legislative monitoring, event planning, and association management while in private practice.

Rachel has government and campaign experience, having served as key legislative staff as well as managing and executing statewide operations for a successful coordinated field campaign, including supervising and directing dozens of field staff. 

Rachel is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications Studies.


Chris Villarreal

President of Plugged In Strategies

President of Plugged In Strategies with over 20 years working on energy regulatory and policy activities at state and federal level.

King Banaian


King Banaian is a professor in the Department of Economics at St. Cloud State University; Dean of the School of Public Affairs St Cloud State; Radio host; former Minnesota State Representative

Drew Christensen

Public Engagement Professional

Public Engagement Professional in Renewable Energy Industry; former Minnesota State Representative

Debjyoti Dwivedy

Information Security Professional

Information Security Professional; First Lieutenant in US Army Medical Corps (Reserve); Clerk & Member of Eden Prairie School Board; Member of Sustainability Commission of Eden Prairie City Council; Chair of MN Young Republicans; Vice-Chair of 3rd Congressional District Republicans

Mike Franklin

Government Affairs Professional

Government Affairs Professional, Attorney, and former Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Energy Lobbyist

Ben Gerber

Energy Regulatory Attorney

Dave Pascoe

Commander in the US Navy Reserves

Certified Financial Planner; Attorney; MBA; Secretary of the Republican Party of Minnesota; previously holding other Republican Party roles including Deputy Chair of the State Party and Congressional District 5 Chair

Abby Rime

Press Secretary

Press Secretary, U.S. Congressman Tom Emmer

Max Rymer

Co-Founder and President, Nativ3

Co-Founder and President, Nativ3; Minnesota's Republican National Committeeman

Benjamin Stafford

Energy Consultant

Todd Taylor

Energy Finance

Environmental Lawyer; Biofuels Digest “Top 100 People in Bioenergy;” serving on the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Green Jobs Innovation Task Force; co-founder of Minnesota CleanTech Group.

Chris Tiedeman

Public Affairs Professional

Public Affairs Professional; former Minnesota Republican National Committeeman