Valerie Gardner, J.D., M.B.A.
Ms. Gardner co-founded Tiemann Investment Advisors with Jonathan Tiemann and serves as general manager of the firm. She earned her Juris Doctor at Northeastern University Law School and a Masters in Public and Private Management (an MBA) at the Yale School of Management, where she focused on finance and entrepreneurship. After a brief stint in New York City’s Office of Economic Development, helping manufacturers in the New York city area obtain financing, she co-founded Willow Peripherals, Inc., and served as Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel of this New York City-based high tech company, which designed and manufactured award-winning video graphic multimedia add-in boards for personal computers.
In 1992, Ms Gardner joined New York Consulting Partners, a boutique consulting firm (a spin-off from McKinsey & Co.) which advises Fortune 500 manufacturers on efficiency. In 1995, she moved to Silicon Valley and joined Artemis Research, a small start-up working in the video graphics area, which emerged as WebTV Networks Inc. when it released its “Internet on the TV” product in the spring of 1996. Ms. Gardner served as CFO and General Counsel for WebTV through its acquisition by Microsoft inn 1997. Ms. Gardner then served as a VP for Microsoft from 1997 through to early 2001. In 2002, she co-founded Tiemann Investment Advisors, LLC with Dr. Tiemann, whose diversification of Ms. Gardner’s highly concentrated portfolio provided the impetus to join with him to launch an investment firm providing an institutional-caliber approach to managing investment portfolios to high net worth investors.
In 2006, Ms. Gardner founded KIT Ventures LLC, a closely-help group focused on select consulting, investment and environmental initiatives. During this period, Ms. Gardner devoted herself to identifying globally-scalable technologies that could reduce demand for fossil fuels and residential emissions. She further researched available investment approaches to structuring portfolios in ways to minimize exposure to mounting carbon risks. For nearly a decade, Ms. Gardner attended clean energy and climate finance conferences and availed herself of expertise through classes and events at Stanford University, the NASA Ames Research Center, the National Academy of Sciences, UC Berkeley as well as energy and industry groups, for insights into what it would take to substantially eliminate carbon emissions and reduce global climate risk. In 2012, Ms. Gardner began working with Dr. Tiemann to develop the methodology for a “post-carbon priced” portfolio design, which would enable TIA to customize portfolios for clients with reduced carbon risk. TIA launched this unique custom portfolio strategy under the name Future Generations™ in 2014, offering concerned investors a way to partially or completely divest carbon risk from their portfolio.
While it is relatively easy to filter out companies which produce carbon-emitting products—predominantly fossil fuel companies—the more difficult task is selecting companies to be added back into the portfolio so there is proper representation of the energy sector. Uniquely, through Ms. Gardner’s multi-year research, TIA determined that, in addition to renewables companies, many of the companies involved with nuclear energy—a sector widely under-appreciated as a powerful clean energy alternative—were not only suitable substitutes based upon their low-carbon performance but also had attractive valuations.
In early 2016, having identified that nuclear energy was uniquely capable of head-to-head competition with fossil fuels, Ms. Gardner sought to learn more and attended the first Annual Advanced Nuclear Summit in D.C., where she met a number of the young, innovative nuclear companies working to develop advanced nuclear technologies. There she discovered that, not only were these groups were working to developing even more efficient means by which to meet humanity’s growing energy needs in an increasingly carbon-constrained world while also addressing the panoply of concerns that had been raised over the decades, but that advanced nuclear was supported by a bipartisan contingent of elected officials. By mid-2018, Ms. Gardner began to develop Einstein Energy, a vehicle that would enable TIA to offer qualified investors access to companies innovating in advanced nuclear technologies.
Throughout this period of research, Ms. Gardner supported her community’s efforts to address climate change, serving as an advisor on environmental issues to area city councils, helping to establish the Atherton Environmental Programs Committee in 2006 and developing a series of unique environmental programs and community education events. These included including Atherton’s first Earth Day event in 2007; GreenSTART in 2008; the GreenSTART Challenge and LiveGreen Expo in 2009 (for which Ms. Gardner was named a “Climate Hero”); Atherton 2020, a $160,000 federal stimulus-funded residential energy-efficiency program focused on reducing wasted energy use in Atherton’s high energy homes, which rolled out in five area towns in 2011; the ThinkingGreen Think Tank, which developed more sustainable home building standards for Atherton; drafting Atherton’s Climate Action Plan, which the council approved in 2015 and organizing two Earth Day events, in 2016 and 2018, which showcased advanced nuclear. In 2016, Ms. Gardner founded the Climate Coalition in 2016, a KIT Ventures project that provides education about the need for an “all of the above” approach to clean energy and builds support within the climate movement for nuclear-inclusive policies that will help utilities achieve zero emissions in energy generation as quickly as possible.