GAOI Board of Directors

GARY HURLEY, President

Gary Hurley is a founding member of GAOI and has been a member of the GAOI board of directors since 2008. He heads the Member Services Department of Corn Belt Energy, a central Illinois electric cooperative. Prior to joining Corn Belt in 2021, he headed the Energy Services Office with City Water, Light & Power in Springfield, where he had been employed since 2002. Gary is responsible for overall energy efficiency programs for the Corn Belt Energy, including its successful geothermal programs like GeoCents. He holds several certifications in HVACR from RSES, NATE and SEDAC.

Gary Hurley, Corn Belt Energy, Bloomington, IL

WILLIAM “Bill” SPRAGUE, Director and Past President 

Bill is a principle of Area Mechanical in Rockford.  He started with Area Mechanical in 1996 as a serviceman, progressed to manger in 2000 and became an owner in 2020 with his partner Todd Dorn.  He has served on the GAOI board since 2009. Area Mechanical’s main focus is on commercial and industrial projects, with a light mix of residential work. The company specializes in design/build projects, working closely with customers from concept to completion. He is a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and has been an IGSHPA accredited installer since 2008. Bill is an Illinois EPA Cross Connection Inspector and an Illinois journeyman plumber for more than 25 years. Area Mechanical has been a GAOI member since 2009. Bill also instructs new technicians in geothermal installation basics.

William Sprague, Area Mechanical Rockford, IL

BRENT BRAKER, Vice President 

Brent Braker is a founding member of the GAOI and has served on the board since its inception in 2008. He is the owner and president of Garber Heating and Air Conditionng in Morton. He is a mechanical engineer, with a degree from Bradley University. He joined Garber in 1997 as a service technician and installer and later moved to project management and sales. He has been the president of the company since 2004.

Brent Braker, Garber Heating and Air Conditioning, Morton

DAN COUILLARD, Director and Past President

Dan Couillard,  Element Energy Consulting, Park Ridge, IL

BRIAN HOUCHIN, Director and Past President


Brian Houchin,  Bratcher Heating and A/C, Inc. Normal, IL

Steven LaBarge, Director

Steven LaBarge ComEd, Oakbrook Terrace

Mike Hameister, Director

Mike Hameister, L & H Services, Beecher

Brian Pitcher, Director

Brian Pitcher, Enertech Geothermal, Greenville

Gary Anderson, Director

Gary Anderson, GWA Architects, Rockford

Mark Nussbaum, Secretary/Treasurer

Mark Nussbaum, Architectural Consulting Engineers, Oak Park

DAVID BUSS, Past President, Director, Trainer

Dave Buss, Connor Co./ClimateMaster, Golden, IL

Mike Gordon, Director, 

Mike Gordon, WaterFurnace International, Georgetown

Joe Barth, Director

Joe Barth, TCI, Goodfield

John Scott, Director

John Scott, Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc (NFP), Elizabeth

Dom Durbin, Director

Dom Durbin, Durbin Geothermal, Beecher City

John Freitag, GAOI Founder & 

John Freitag is a founding member of GAOI and serves as executive director. He was a director for the first two years of the organization’s existence, serving as secretary-treasurer. He worked for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, Springfield, the statewide trade association for the Illinois electric cooperatives, for 32 years, retiring in February of 2017. He has been a strong supporter of geothermal heating and cooling and other renewable energy technologies for many years and has written numerous grants for geothermal funding from government agencies and private foundations. He is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

 John Freitag, GAOI,  Springfield

Kathy Ridley, GAOI Executive Director

Kathy Ridley joined GAOI in 2021 and serves as assistant executive director.  She is a certified association executive and has been serving associations for over 25 years.

Kathy Ridley, GAOI, Springfield


2022 Board