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Leadership Profiles


Thomas R. Del Monte, JD/MBA | Chief Executive Officer

In building Interra Energy, Thomas brings together the skills of a highly respected cleantech inventor, a climate change and renewable energy attorney, an innovative MBA, a nurseryman, and a proven leader. This unique combination of skills and knowledge has enabled the creation of a technology, business plan, and start-up company culture that will change the way people look at renewable energy, climate change, and sustainable agriculture. Thomas has over three years of biochar research experience, and has been selected to speak three times at major conferences on biochar market-related subjects – in Newcastle, England (2008), Iowa State University (June 2010), and USBI Sonoma County (July-August 2012). Thomas is a California-licensed attorney and holds an MBA from UCSD’s Rady School of Management.

Thomas has a strong passion for real solutions to climate change. While teaching himself the science behind thermal degradation of biomass, completing law school, and starting an MBA at UCSD’s Rady School of Management, Thomas demonstrated his leadership abilities in founding the United States’ first law journal focused on climate change and energy law—the San Diego Journal of Climate  & Energy Law. With all schooling finished, Thomas is now 100% focused on building Interra Energy Facilities. Stay tuned… they will make for stronger communities, a stronger nation, and a healthier planet.

Inspirations: George Carver, Amy Smith, Thomas Edison.


Board of Advisors


Eugene H. Hirschkoff, JD/MBA, Ph.D. | Special Advisor to the President

Gene has 37+ years experience in technology development, operations, and management of high tech companies from start-up. He is also a licensed patent attorney, a Ph.D. in Physics, and holds an MBA in Strategic Planning. Gene has been helping Interra as a mentor and Special Counsel to the President.


Ricardo Cabra, MBA, Ph.D. | Member, Advisory Board


Ricardo earned a PhD from UC Berkeley in mechanical engineering with a focus on combustion and fluid mechanics and an MBA from UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management. Ricardo brings to the Board almost 10 years of mechanical (i.e., combustion, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics) engineering expertise in product development and project management in the aerospace and, recently, clean technology industries. Ricardo has experience in all stages in the product lifecycle – from preliminary design to system certification, production, and aftermarket product support. This combination of technical expertise and product lifecycle experience make Ricardo a tremendous advisory asset to Interra Energy’s technical efforts.


Amanda J.P. Esquivel, MBA | Member, Advisory Board


Amanda Esquivel is a Business Analyst at SAIC, where she has been employed for the last 5 years. She earned a B.S. in Global Business Management at CSU San Marcos in 2003, and an MBA from Rady School of Management at UCSD in 2011. During her time at Rady, Ms. Esquivel worked extensively with Mr. Del Monte, supporting the development of Interra’s innovative strategy and approach. Ms. Esquivel has 11 years of broad functional experience that includes Strategy Formulation & Analytical Decision Making, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Task Management, and Business Process Engineering.


Paul A. Forgue, MBA | Member, Advisory Board


Paul is an experienced financial and operations executive and early investor in Interra Energy. Paul is currently a Senior Director at Alvarez and Marsal, a leading independent global services firm. Past experiences include: Interim CEO at MAB Services, Inc., VP Finance (Interim) at BeautyFirst, SVP & CFO at Crescent Jewelers, Inc., Director at Alvarez & Marsal, Director at FTI Consulting, and Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP.

The wide breadth of Paul’s experience and skill is a great asset for Interra and we are pleased to have him aboard.


Thomas L. Netzel | Member, Advisory Board


Tom brings to Interra 30 years of energy industry experience as a chemical engineer and executive. He has successfully developed several energy infrastructure projects, both traditional and renewable, around the globe. He currently works with Sempra Global LNG (liquifided natural gas) as their global procurement and shipping manager.


N. Darius Sankey, Ph.D. | Member, Advisory Board


Dr. N. Darius Sankey is a Managing Director at Zone Ventures, a seed to early stage venture capital firm based in Los Angeles. Dr. Sankey has led the Zone Ventures technology assessment efforts and overseen its portfolio investments for over eight years, serving as a board member for several companies including Siimpel Corporation, Lumexis, Inc. and Microfabrica and Neven Vision (Acquired by Google). He has led several transactions in the micro electronics, wireless telecommunications, media & entertainment, and business & consumer software sectors. Dr. Sankey has a strong interest in strategizing market applications for basic science research on the university level. This interest has also led him to a position as adjunct professor in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Before his tenure at Zone Ventures, Dr. Sankey worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, Inc. and held strategic planning, consulting, and R&D positions at RAND and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Dr. Sankey holds a B.S. in Physics and Electrical Engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in Optical Engineering from the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester.