CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Knauf is a 30-year veteran of the bioindustrial industry, having held executive level positions with leading providers including Genencor and Codexis. His career has been defined by creating, structuring and managing a multi-hundred million dollar partnership, negotiating collaborations, integrating acquisitions, and driving sales of biobased materials.
Knauf led the team that built the bioindustrials unit at Codexis from the ground up, including staffing the business and starting up a major lab in Hungary. He led the development of a number of innovative strategies, technologies, products, and markets for biofuels, biobased chemicals and carbon capture. He and his team secured partnerships with Shell, Alstom, and Alcoa that accounted for annual contract revenue in excess of $70 million.
Knauf played strategic merger and acquisitions business roles in acquiring and integrating several players that bolstered Genencor’s leadership in the global industrial enzyme market.
Knauf holds a B.S. in biochemistry and biophysics and a master’s degree in food science from the University of California, Davis.
Donald E. Kiely, PhD
Founder and Chairman
Dr. Don Kiely is the principal founder of Rivertop Renewables. With a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Connecticut, Kiely’s leadership in the field of carbohydrate chemistry has resulted in twelve U.S. patents. Kiely collaborates closely with Company chemists and management to set strategic direction and develop products and production capacities.
Kiely was Chemistry faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1968-97. He recently retired from the University of Montana, where Kiely served as Professor and Director of the Shafizadeh Center for Wood and Carbohydrate Chemistry from 1997 through 2008. He was the Founding Editor of the Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry, an international chemistry journal.
President and chief financial officer
A senior executive with over 17 years of successful experience in start-ups, Kolstad is a founding member of the Rivertop team. Serving first as VP of Business Development and then as CFO, Kolstad led the development of the Company’s vision with Dr. Kiely, the rest of Rivertop’s team and outside industry experts. His superior execution of business and finance development prompted the Board to elevate Kolstad to President & CFO in March, 2011. He is responsible for leading Rivertop through its next stages of product commercialization and contract manufacturing.
Before entering the chemical industry, Kolstad served as VP of Sales & Business Development for internet streaming measurement leader Loudeye, which went public and was subsequently sold to Nokia. Mr. Kolstad has served in a variety of executive management roles including CEO and VP of Business Development and Sales during his career. His strong finance skills and strategy owe in part to a previous career with Deloitte as Audit Manager for Microsoft and SAFECO.
Kolstad has assisted several companies in taking technology to Asia and raising early-stage venture capital.
Vice President of Business Development
John Monks leads Rivertop’s business development and strategic partnership initiatives across multiple industries. His career in the performance chemicals and biotechnology sectors spans more than 30 years, having led business development and sales and marketing teams for companies such as ICI, DSM and Genencor.
While at DSM, Monks directed the commercialization of new technologies that convert second-generation feedstocks into biofuels and intermediates for biobased chemicals. He built and led a global team that supported DSM ’s bio-conversion technology and business development programs, culminating in a large cellulosic ethanol joint venture between DSM and POET. At Genencor, Monks managed global account and product development strategies.
Mr. Monks is a Royal Institute of Chemistry graduate from the Bolton Institute of Technology in the United Kingdom.
vice president of Process Development and Engineering
Donen has more than 30 years of experience in the chemical processing industry, including executive leadership positions in manufacturing, engineering and technology development.
Prior to joining Rivertop, Donen played a comparable role at Segetis, a startup company developing bio-based industrial materials in the areas of adhesives, additives and polyols. There he led the scale-up of a unique thermochemical process from the lab to a world-class semi-works facility. Previously, Donen spent 13 years with industry pioneer NatureWorks (originally a joint venture known as Cargill Dow LLC) as Director of Manufacturing Technology and Engineering, where he led the development and construction of the first ever global-scale polymer plant making plastic from biobased feedstocks. Before Cargill Dow, Donen was the Global Technology Manager for Dow’s Polystyrene Business.
Tyler N. Smith, PhD
vice president of Research & Development
Dr. Smith leads Rivertop’s chemical process research, product development efforts and intellectual property protection for these two pillars of the business. He leads research colleagues to collaborate closely with engineering resources, development partners and outside expertise to bring high-performing, cost-competitive products to market.
Tyler received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Montana in 2008, specializing in the development of synthetic polymers derived from renewable resources. During his graduate studies at the University of Montana, he worked under the direction of Dr. Don Kiely in the Shafizadeh Rocky Mountain Center for Wood and Carbohydrate Chemistry.
VICE PRESIDENT of Marketing / Business development manager
Kiely joined Rivertop after a career in community and environmental organizing in which he led national coalitions to address predatory lending and watershed protection.
In addition to leading Rivertop's brand development and communications initiatives, Kiely spearheads investor relations, leads business development for Rivertop's corrosion inhibitors and manages human resource and administrative matters.
Kiely brings the best practices of cause-related marketing to industry, building coalitions to drive legislative action and business reform. He is a graduate of DePauw University.