We are focused on the development of innovative and environmentally-compliant oil refining facilities.

Federico Baptista

Federico Baptista

Vice President, International Markets & Projects

Mr. Baptista has held senior managerial positions at several energy companies including Industrias Venoco, C.A., Exxon Americas and Exxon Chemicals de Venezuela, the MEDIDO, C.A. Group, Phoenix Internacional, the Energy Capital Group, Star Chemical Development Company, and Centro Venezolano-Americano. Mr. Baptista is a Chemical Engineer, and a graduate of the Universidad Central de Venezuela and the Indiana campus of Purdue University-West Lafayette. Mr. Baptista has also attended several management and graduate level training programs in Venezuela and abroad.

John Cloward

John Cloward

Senior Risk Management Advisor

Prior to joining Meridian Mr. Cloward was employed by ConocoPhillips as their Senior Project Risk Analyst and Risk Manager. He previously worked for several major energy firms, including Exxon, and with major energy consulting firms, providing quantitative assessment of uncertainty in project design, engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning and start-up, resulting in more realistic schedule and cost targets and avoidance of overruns. Mr. Cloward provided cost savings and more efficient utilization of resources through developing risk mitigation measures, monitoring uncertainties, controlling risks, and planning & allocating contingency.  He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and received an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.

In Memoriam 1951-2020
Grant P. Downing

Grant P. Downing

Vice President, Corporate Counsel

Mr. Downing joined Meridian’s legal team in 2015, and currently handles compliance, contracting, insurance, and employment matters for the Company. Mr. Downing holds two BA’s from U.C. Davis and a JD from U.C. Hastings College of the Law, graduating Cum Laude. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

Mark Fonda

Mark Fonda

Executive Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technical Officer

Mr. Fonda has over 40 years of experience in process engineering, plant operations and management, having worked for such firms as Mobil Oil Co., Amerada Hess Corp., and Sunoco, Inc. He currently directs the internal engineering process for all the facilities including technology selection, process design, EPC oversight and on-going technical support. Mr. Fonda is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a graduate of Duke University with a Masters in Business Administration.

Stephen L. Gjolme

Stephen L. Gjolme

Vice President, Business Development

Mr. Gjolme has over 25 years of experience in capitalization of emerging growth firms. Mr. Gjolme served in executive positions at The Ibis Group and the Private Investors Equity Group. Mr. Gjolme maintains affiliations with several global financing groups including Venture Capital Private Equity Funding, European Private Equity, Global Private Equity Venture Capital, and Advanced Energy Economy.

Chad M. Hope

Chad Hope

Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Hope is the CFO of Meridian Energy Group, Inc. Mr. Hope began his career with Ernst & Young, LLP, focusing on the Financial Services Industry. Mr. Hope also worked for Fiesta Brands, LLC, Focus Brands, Inc., FSC Franchise Co. LLC, and The Johnny Rockets Group. Mr. Hope graduated from Auburn University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Accounting and Discreet Mathematics. He completed his Master of Accountancy at Auburn University in 2002. He is an active certified public accountant with the state of Georgia.

Lance Medlin

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Medlin, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, has an extensive background in the oil and gas industry, having led successful projects for Shell, BP, Exxon, Petrofac, KBR, and Pemex. In such roles, he has served as a Vice President of Engineering and Projects, Project Executive, Project Director, and Commissioning & Start-Up Manager. Mr. Medlin is an Engineer with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Organizational Management bringing with him over 20 years’ industry experience in Project Management in Chemical, Petrochemical, Oil & Gas Facilities Design, Construction and Operations. Mr. Medlin has led the management, planning, and direct supervision of day-to-day Civil, Mechanical, Industrial Construction and Process Engineering.

Dennis Pungitore

Dennis Pungitore

Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer

Mr. Pungitore brings extensive experience in the area of business development, having spearheaded power development projects under his own firm, as well as for ABB Power Generation, Alpine Energy Group, LLC, and MasTec Power Corp. Mr. Pungitore is responsible for securing the commercial supply and offtake arrangements for Davis and Meridian’s future refineries.

Teo Risquez

Vice President, Project Development

Mr. Risquez brings over 40 years of experience in energy industry project execution, business development and strategic planning to the Meridian team. Mr. Risquez has worked in executive, management, and design engineering positions at CB&I, Fluor, Vepica, Tecnoconsult, Stearns Catalytic and Bechtel. Mr. Risquez has led power, oil & gas projects in the refining, petrochemical, nuclear power, fossil, gas and infrastructure industries from project development to completion, including conceptual design, technology selection, project finance, engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning for projects ranging from $250,000 to over $4 billion in the US and other countries around the world, primarily in Latin America. He holds a BS degree and MBA from California State University, Long Beach.

Charles E. Schwenck

Charles E. Schwenck

Executive Vice President Law and Chief Commercial Officer

Mr. Schwenck has more than 40 years of experience in the development, financing construction and operation of energy, infrastructure and natural resource projects and facilities and a broad range of commercial transactions relating to the energy and natural resource industries. He has served in executive positions and as a board member at Ultrasystems, Inc and LG&E Power and as General Counsel at Fluor Corporation and Division Counsel for one of the largest divisions of the Bechtel Group. Mr. Schwenck has also had a distinguished career in the private practice of law, including as a partner in international law firms K&L Gates, Morrison & Foerster and Greenberg Traurig, where he was Co-Chair of the firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Practice. Mr. Schwenck earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Juris Doctor from Berkeley’s School of Law (Boalt Hall). He is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Ty Solsbery

Vice President, Corporate Development

Mr. Solsbery began his career in natural gas trading and logistics at Tenneco before embarking on 25 years of employment in private wealth management and energy institutional equity sales across several investment banks including Morgan Stanley and UBS. Mr. Solsbery holds a BBA in Business from Texas A&M University and MBA from Southern Methodist University.


Aibek M. Uraimov

Vice President, Business Services

Mr. Uraimov has over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, due diligence, commercial and financial management of downstream and upstream sectors. Mr. Uraimov worked for Petrofac through most of his career in various capacities both internationally, and in the U.S., had been a key part in successful completion of major EPC projects, has helped build a U.S. branch from ground up to a multi-business hub to provide plant asset management, operations readiness, training and competency, and engineering and design services in Houston, TX. Mr. Uraimov joined Meridian in July 2018 and is responsible for establishing and running business services, refinery economics modeling, project controls, information management, IT and telecommunications infrastructure, design and implementation of ERP. Mr. Uraimov holds two Bachelor degrees majoring in Computer Science, and Computer Information Systems for Business, with minor in Math and a Master of Finance degree.

Brian Whitt

Brian Whitt

Vice President of Accounting and Finance

Mr. Whitt began his career in public accounting with a focus on the financial services, venture capital, and manufacturing and distribution industries. He then spent four years working as a finance and accounting consultant. Mr. Whitt has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and is an active Certified Public Accountant in the state of California.

James C. (Jay) Nocker, Jr.

Vice President, Engineering Services

Mr. Nocker is a registered professional engineer with over 35 years’ experience in oilfield upstream, midstream and downstream, Power, and Petrochemical Engineering and Construction projects. Jay has managed numerous successful multi-office Greenfield and Brownfield design/build programs and has led continuous improvements in project execution processes and procedures. Jay studied at Texas A&M University where he received a BS in Petroleum Engineering. Jay’s diverse background has encompassed onshore drilling programs, brought refineries and power plants into environmental compliance, and most recently led design teams engineering and fabricating arctic environment process modules for North Slope use.

Brant Butler

Vice President, Occupational Health and Safety

Mr. Butler has over 20 years’ experience in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Services in the oil and gas industry. Prior to joining Meridian, Mr. Butler most recently worked for Next Era Energy Resources where he developed their HSE program for their new upstream oil and gas division and was the co-creator of a bespoke Behavior Based Safety program which resulted in 0 injuries and focused on leading indicators. He also managed the training and competency program in Equatorial Guinea West Africa for Wood and developed numerous HSE training and auditing programs in the Middle East, Americas and Africa for several international oil and gas companies. Mr. Butler has a B.S. in Environmental Management and Occupational Safety, and MBA in Organizational Leadership and Development and holds several professional certifications.