“Mary Shaffer Gill feels calling to make an impact, but already has”

ARiES is a Lenoir City-based energy contracting firm focused on turn-key renewable energy systems that help customers avoid rising energy costs and provide the quickest return on their investment. The Virginia native came to the region in 2008 to help with the City of Knoxville’s “Solar America Cities” grant. Gill had just graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Urban Affairs and Planning. “The opportunity to work with the city drove me here,” she said, citing her passion for sustainability. “I’ve always been passionate about the environment, but I also love design.” The latter interest was also piqued by the then redevelopment of the downtown area. By the end of 2008, Gill had met Harvey Abouelata, the President of ARiES, through her work with local solar installers. At the time, Abouelata was Sales and Marketing Director with Sustainable Future, LLC. “I jumped at the opportunity to join Sustainable Future,” she says where her role as a Solar Account Manager and Consultant. The two have been business colleagues since then, including stints with two East Tennessee-based solar contractors before the founding of ARiES. “I became a partner in ARiES shortly after it was founded in late 2011,” Gill explained. ARiES stands for Alternative Renewable Innovative Energy Solutions. While it is focused mostly on clients in East Tennessee, Gill says the “solutions company” is focusing on other states including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and West Virginia. Abouelata regularly praises Gill’s work in helping Aries’ clients find grant money. She says that she did not have experience writing grants, but was successful with her first submission in 2009. The client was...