David Wilhelm

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David Wilhelm
Born (1956-10-02) October 2, 1956 (age 57)

David Wilhelm (born October 2, 1956) is a renewable energy developer, venture capitalist, and former political campaign manager, who oversaw the 1992 U.S. Presidential campaign of Bill Clinton.

He was raised in Athens, Ohio, and started many transformational projects and funds in the area. Wilhelm later settled in Chicago, Illinois[1] and managed campaigns for many Illinois Democrats.[2] Currently, Wilhelm is the developer of a 49.9 megawatt solar project in Noble County, OH.

He received his B.A. from Ohio University, as well as a Master of Public Policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has received honorary doctorates from Ohio University, the University of Charleston, and Wheeling Jesuit University.

Wilhelm has taught or served as a fellow at Harvard, the University of Chicago, Ohio University, DePaul University, and the University of Akron.


Before moving to the private sector, Wilhelm ran political campaigns for candidates such as Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and several Illinois-based Democrats, including Richard M. Daley and Paul Simon. He oversaw the day-to-day operations of the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, directed its Electoral College and political strategy, and planned the post-convention bus tour of the American heartland.

Upon his election in 1992, President Clinton nominated Wilhelm to serve as Chair of the Democratic National Committee, making Wilhelm the youngest person ever to serve in that role in either political party. As Chair, he re-established an advisory council of representatives from organized labor, and reached out to evangelical Christian voters, famously appearing before a convention of the Christian Coalition of America to a chorus of boos. Under Wilhelm’s leadership, the DNC played a meaningful role in support of President Clinton’s first budget proposal, which passed a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives by a single vote. But these organizational efforts were overshadowed by Clinton era controversies related to NAFTA, health care, and Congressional nervousness about the 1994 midterm elections. His youthfulness worked against him in public appearances,[according to whom?] and, sensing a lack of White House support, Wilhelm said that he would leave the DNC after the campaign season.

Economic Development[edit]

In 1995, Wilhelm returned to Chicago to build a successful career in business[3] He and Kevin Conlon, a prominent labor lawyer and Democratic activist, started Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies (now Conlon Public Strategies) in 1998.[3] A year later, Wilhelm moved into impact investing, founding Woodland Venture Management,[4] and starting two venture capital funds that invest in businesses in economically challenged parts of Central Appalachia and the Great Lakes region.[4] Adena Ventures, a "New Markets Venture Capital Company" required to invest in low income communities, has invested in companies such as Ed Map, which creates software tools for distributing learning resources and is located in Nelsonville, Ohio.

Wilhelm's second fund, Hopewell Ventures, focused on the Midwest. Their portfolio includes National Pasteurized Eggs, a Lansing, Illinois-based company that produces pasteurized whole, in-shell eggs under the Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs brand. Another company, INRange Systems, headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania has developed the only FDA-cleared Remote Medication Management System.

Wilhelm is a founder of a newly created Ohio Appalachian Business Council and in 2010 served as co-chair of a successful statewide campaign in support of the Ohio Third Frontier. He is co-chair of the advisory council for the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.

Turning Point Solar[edit]

In 2010, Wilhelm was a founding partner of New Harvest Ventures, which is one of the firms developing Turning Point Solar, a 49.9 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in rural Southeastern Ohio.[5] The goal of Turning Point is to bring affordable clean energy to the citizens of Ohio and to create sustainable jobs. The magnitude of the orders associated with the project has triggered a leading European solar panel manufacturer to locate its North American manufacturing and distribution facilities in Ohio, creating more than 300 permanent jobs.[6]

Hecate Energy[edit]

David Wilhelm is a partner and the chief strategy officer at Hecate Energy, a leading American-based developer of renewable energy projects. Hecate Energy is actively pursuing large scale solar and wind projects internationally, including countries such as Jordan, Tanzania, Kenya, and Pakistan.

Wilhelm is leading Hecate's efforts on the African continent, which include projects both large and small, both on-grid and off-grid. Hecate is working closely with the Tanzanian Ministry of Water on a transformational strategy that will bring readily accessible fresh water to millions of Tanzanians for the first time and has plans to install 55 MWs worth of solar power on the campus of Tanzania's largest university, the University of Dodoma.

Hecate Energy is one of the charter members of President Obama's "Power Africa" initiative, which was launched during his recent visit to Africa. There, President Obama announced plans to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, where about two thirds of the population has no electricity.[7]


  1. ^ "David Wilhelm Perfect Holiday Gift Jet". Chicago Tribune. 1993-11-24. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  2. ^ "Election Staffs Resemble Candidates - New York Times". New York Times. 1992-01-05. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.conlonps.com/who.htm
  4. ^ a b http://www.hopewellventures.com/wilhelm.html
  5. ^ "Governor Strickland Press Conference : Announcement of Solar Energy Project". The Ohio Channel. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Funk, John. "Huge solar panel farm coming to southeast Ohio". Cleveland Live. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  7. ^ http://hecateenergy.com/who-we-are/
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ron Brown
Democratic National Committee Chairman
Succeeded by
Debra DeLee