Nucleation Team

Valerie Gardner, Managing Partner

For much of the last decade, as a principal of Tiemann Investment Advisors, LLC (TIA), Valerie has been studying the impacts of carbon risks on economic activity and portfolio returns. Beginning in 2009, she began developing quantitative, data-driven strategies for reducing carbon risks within investment portfolios. While many of her peers were engaging in ESG-focused explorations, Valerie’s research led her in an entirely different direction: seeking to understand where the most scaleable sources of abundant clean energy come from. This caused her to take a deep dive into the nuclear industry, when she discovered that the vast majority of the U.S.’s carbon-free energy is produced by nuclear power. TIA introduced its “Future Generation” portfolio in 2014, utilizing a unique methodology for constructing a “post-carbon priced” portfolio for public market securities, that effectively eliminates carbon risk without reducing market exposure within the overall energy sector allocation. In developing the Future Generation portfolio, what Valerie learned about nuclear power—and especially the advancements being developed now—led to the launch of Nucleation Capital.  TIA, an investment firm founded by Ms. Gardner and Dr. Jonathan Tiemann in 2002, with $250 million in AUM, will serve as the management company for Nucleation Capital.

Prior to TIA, Valerie served as co-founder, CFO and General Counsel of two innovative, high technology companies, Willow Peripherals in New York City and WebTV Networks in Silicon Valley, which was acquired by Microsoft. Valerie credits WebTV’s role in introducing her to the vast resources available on the Internet, to her growing unease about climate change. She began a long and still ongoing period of research and study of environmental issues, energy use, climate change and climate solutions in 2005, which since then has resulted in the launch of several climate-related initiatives including a Federal Stimulus-funded home energy efficiency program for five Silicon Valley towns in 2011 and the establishment in 2016 of the non-profit clean energy group, the Climate Coalition, which calls for all-inclusive clean energy policies to accelerate development of zero-emitting electric grids. Climate Coalition supports empowering every geographic region with the ability to select from as broad a menu of clean energy options as possible, including nuclear power, to allow them to best meet their energy and grid resiliency needs. Not every area has the ability to deploy hydro, and many do not benefit from abundant natural wind and solar resources, so without the ability to access clean nuclear, they have to turn to coal or natural gas. Valerie earned a BA from Colgate University, a JD from Northeastern University Law School and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Rodney Adams, Managing Partner

Rod Adams is an independent atomic energy expert who has chronicled the nuclear industry over the last 25 years. He has a B.S. in English from United States Naval Academy (USNA), a M.S. in Systems Technology from U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and a Naval War College diploma in Defense and Strategic Studies. His sea-going submarine service included 11 deployments, five as a junior officer on USS Stonewall Jackson in various engineering and communications division assignments, and six as the Engineer Officer (Engineering Department Head) on USS Von Steuben. During a shore duty assignment at the USNA, he pursued an independent studies program focused on alternative energy technology. He focused on refinements to nuclear heated, closed cycle gas turbine engines and received a patent for a related control system. He resigned his active duty commission to start Adams Atomic Engines. AAE was founded on the idea that much smaller nuclear plants using simplified system designs could be competitive power source for commercial ships, islands and populated or resource-rich areas not served by conventional power grids.

In the post-911 era, Rod was recalled to active duty as a Systems Engineering instructor at the USNA. He closed Adams Atomic Engines—which was ahead of its time—and served as a program manager for a headquarters information portal and as a requirements officer for numerous programs including submarine and surface ship technical training and shore-based and nuclear shipyard maintenance facilities. Ultimately, Rod retired from the US Navy as a Commander. Mr. Adams is a recognized thought leader in the small nuclear power system sector. He has published articles in Forbes, ANS Nuclear Cafe, and Fuel Cycle Week. He publishes Atomic Insights, one of the first “blogs” focused on nuclear energy. It continues to be a venue where Rod makes atomic energy information accessible to the public.

Rick DeGolia, Managing Member

Rick DeGolia is an attorney who has worked in Silicon Valley as a senior software executive, business consultant and entrepreneur. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from U.C. Berkeley and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. As a partner with Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, Rick represented emerging growth companies in the software, retail,  telecommunications, venture capital and investment banking industries. He helped launch Genesys Telecommunications as Sr. VP, Strategic Planning and Business Development, where he structuring strategic relationships with MCI, ATT, Cisco, Alcatel, HP, Siemens, and others. At Genesys, he raised three rounds of venture capital, managed the company’s initial public offering in 1997 and sold the company to Alcatel for $1.9 billion. After that, he launched Apptera, a software company for which he raised three more rounds of venture capital and served as CEO, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer.

Rick was a member of The Angel’s Forum, a venture capital partnership, where he focused on cleantech and enterprise software opportunities. He is a principal inventor on eleven issued and two pending US patents, representing six families of technology inventions, mostly in the customer relationship management space. Rick is Vice-Chair of Peninsula Clean Energy, the electricity provider to San Mateo County, California, with 300,000 commercial and residential customers, a charter member of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and a member of the Atherton City Council since 2013.

Jonathan Tiemann, Principal & CFO

Jonathan Tiemann, co-founder of Tiemann Investment Advisors, has over 30 years of investment experience, including 18 years as president and Chief Investment Officer of Tiemann Investment Advisors. He earned his B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Yale, his M.S. in Operations Research, and his Ph.D. in Finance from Yale. Jonathan was an Assistant Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School for five years before joining Wells Fargo Nikko Investment Advisors (which later became Barclays Global Investors, and is now Blackrock). Over five years, he served in a number of roles, ending up as Chief Investment Strategist, responsible for managing $200 billion in institutional assets. AfterBGI, he served as President of BARRA RogersCasey Asset Services, where he developed a hedge fund-based investment strategy for institutional investors.

Dr. TIemann was at the forefront of what is now called “Fintech” and developed the AdvisorTech  investment strategy while serving as Chief Investment Officer and Chief Investment Strategist at AdvisorTech Corporation and later for MyVest Corporation. He has also served on the Economic Advisory Board of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Jonathan collaborated in the development of an index-style approach to reducing risks posed by carbon emissions on client portfolios, ensuring that all portfolios—regardless of how strongly the client feels about divesting from fossil fuels—nevertheless has a fully-diversified energy sector portfolio, something few other “sustainable” portfolios can claim. Jonathan is also collaborating on the development of Nucleation Capital and serves as principal and CFO.

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