Merribel S. Ayres, President, of Lighthouse Consulting Group, LLC, has been a leader in the Washington business and political communities for more than two decades. Ms. Ayres founded Lighthouse in 1996 with the objective of providing knowledge-based government and public affairs services to clients focused on energy and environmental policy issues. The firm’s international client base has grown to also include agriculture, insurance and financial interests.
Prior to establishing Lighthouse, Ms. Ayres was CEO of the National Independent Energy Producers where she played a leading role in framing the national debate over increased competition in the electric power industry. Previously, she had been the Director of Government Affairs for Champion International, a major forest products company.
She also served as a press and public affairs officer for the National Commission on Air Quality and as a staff member to the late Congressman William R. Cotter, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and its Trade Subcommittee. Ms. Ayres began her career in journalism as a staff reporter at The Hartford Courant (CT). In addition, she served as a contributing reporter to the New York Times, Connecticut Section.
A prominent expert on energy issues, Ms. Ayres has testified before Congress and appeared before numerous industry and public policy forums. She has been quoted and profiled by national newspapers and leading industry publications, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Journal, The Energy Daily, Independent Energy Magazine, Public Utilities Fortnightly and Association Management Magazine.
Ms. Ayres serves on the Board of Directors of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), a Michigan-based electric and gas utility. She is also a Director of Alliance Resource Management GP, LLC, which is the managing general partner of Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. ("ARLP"). ARLP is the nation's only publicly traded master limited partnership involved in the production and marketing of steam coal to major US utilities and industrial users. Additionally, Ms. Ayres is a Board Member of the United States Energy Association (USEA).
Ms. Ayres is an honors graduate of Bryn Mawr College, holds a post-graduate degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and received advanced leadership training at the Harvard Kennedy School.