Corporate Governance

First Solar’s leadership in renewable energy is a result of our deep expertise and nearly 15-year track record of manufacturing, developing, financing, engineering, constructing, and operating the world’s leading sources of sustainable, solar energy. We rely on the vast experience and talent of our associates, who draw from considerable experience in both the conventional and solar energy fields to deliver reliable, dependable, and cost-effective PV energy solutions to our customers.

Governance Structures of First Solar

  • Mark Widmar

    Chief Executive Officer

    Mr. Widmar became CEO of First Solar in July 2016. He joined First Solar in April 2011 as chief financial officer and served as First Solar’s chief accounting officer from February 2012 through June 2015. Mr. Widmar also serves as a director on the board of the general partner of 8point3 Energy Partners LP (“8point3 Energy Partners”), the joint yieldco formed by First Solar and SunPower Corporation in 2015 to own and operate a portfolio of selected solar generation assets. Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Widmar served as chief financial officer of GrafTech International Ltd., a leading global manufacturer of advanced carbon and graphite materials, from May 2006 through March 2011, as well as president, Engineered Solutions from January 2011 through March 2011. Prior to joining GrafTech, Mr. Widmar served as corporate controller of NCR Inc. from 2005 to 2006, and was a business unit chief financial officer for NCR from November 2002 to his appointment as controller. He also served as a division controller at Dell, Inc. from August 2000 to November 2002 prior to joining NCR. Mr. Widmar also held various financial and managerial positions with Lucent Technologies Inc., Allied Signal, Inc., and Bristol Myers/Squibb, Inc. He began his career in 1987 as an accountant with Ernst & Young. Mr. Widmar holds a Bachelor of Science in business accounting and a Masters of Business Administration from Indiana University.

  • Alex Bradley

    Chief Financial Officer

    Alexander R. Bradley was appointed chief financial officer in July 2016. Mr. Bradley previously served as vice president, treasury and project finance for First Solar. Mr. Bradley also serves as a director on the board for the general partner of 8point3 Energy Partners. Mr. Bradley has led or supported the structuring, sale, and financing of over $10 billion and approximately 2.7 GW of the company’s worldwide development assets, including several of the largest photovoltaic power plant projects in North America. Mr. Bradley’s professional experience includes more than 10 years in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, project finance, and business development in the United States and internationally. Prior to joining the First Solar in May 2008, Mr. Bradley worked at HSBC in investment banking and leveraged finance, in London and New York, covering the energy and utilities sector. He received his Master of Arts from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Georges Antoun

    Chief Commercial Officer

    Georges Antoun was appointed chief commercial officer in July 2016. He joined First Solar in July 2012 as chief operating officer before being appointed to president, US. Mr. Antoun has over 20 years of operational and technical experience, including leadership positions at several global technology companies. Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Antoun served as venture partner at Technology Crossover Ventures (“TCV”), a private equity and venture firm that he joined in July 2011. Before joining TCV, Mr. Antoun was the head of Product Area IP & Broadband Networks for Ericsson, based in San Jose, California. Mr. Antoun joined Ericsson in 2007, when Ericsson acquired Redback Networks, a telecommunications equipment company, where Mr. Antoun served as the senior vice president of wWorldwide sales and operations. After the acquisition, Mr. Antoun was promoted to chief executive officer of the Redback Networks subsidiary. Prior to Redback Networks, Mr. Antoun spent five years at Cisco Systems, where he served as vice president of worldwide systems engineering and field marketing, vice president of worldwide optical operations, and vice president of carrier sales. He has also held senior management positions at Newbridge Networks, a data and voice networking company, and Nynex (now Verizon Communications), where he was part of its Science and Technology division. Mr. Antoun is a member of the board of directors of Ruckus Wireless, Inc. and Violin Memory, Inc., both publicly-traded companies. Mr. Antoun earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a master’s degree in information systems engineering from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.

  • Philip Tymen deJong

    Chief Operations Officer

    Philip Tymen deJong was appointed chief operating officer in July 2015. Mr. deJong has comprehensive leadership responsibility for areas including manufacturing, EPC, quality and reliability, supply chain, and product management. Mr. deJong joined First Solar in January 2010 as vice president, plant management and served in several senior vice president roles in manufacturing and operations prior to being appointed senior vice president, manufacturing and EPC in January 2015. Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. deJong was vice president of assembly/test manufacturing for Numonyx Corporation. Prior to that, he worked for 25 years at Intel Corporation, holding various positions in engineering, manufacturing, wafer fabrication management, and assembly/test manufacturing. Mr. deJong holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering/mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and has completed advanced study at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management.

  • Raffi Garabedian

    Chief Technology Officer

    Raffi Garabedian has been the chief technology officer of First Solar, Inc. since May 2012 and manages the company’s technology, photovoltaic module, and power plant system products and roadmaps. Mr. Garabedian joined First Solar in June 2008 as director of disruptive technologies. Prior to First Solar, Mr. Garabedian spent over 15 years in the MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) industry, developing new products ranging from automotive engine control sensors to fiberoptic telecommunications switching systems. He was the founding CEO of Touchdown Technologies, Inc., which was acquired by Verigy, as well as Micromachines Inc., which was acquired by Kavlico. Mr. Garabedian is named on approximately 28 issued U.S. patents. Mr. Garabedian earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering with a focus on semiconductor and microsystems technology from the University of California Davis.

  • Paul Kaleta

    Executive Vice President, General Counsel

    Paul Kaleta joined First Solar in March 2014 as executive vice president and general counsel. Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Kaleta was executive vice president, general counsel, shared services and secretary, and chief compliance officer for NV Energy, Inc., which was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway’s Energy Group in December 2013. Before that, he was vice president and general counsel for Koch Industries, Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies with diverse businesses worldwide, including refining, petrochemicals, and commodity trading, among others. He also served in a number of legal and other leadership roles for Koch companies. Before joining Koch, he was vice president and general counsel of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation (now part of National Grid). In private practice, Mr. Kaleta was an equity partner in the Washington D.C. law firm Swidler Berlin LLP and an associate in the Washington D.C. office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He also served as a federal judicial clerk. Mr. Kaleta is the founding chair of the Southern Nevada Chapter of the “I Have a Dream Foundation” (now “Core Academy-powered by The Rogers Foundation”), a member of the Client Advisory Council of Lex Mundi, and has taught both energy law and business ethics and leadership, as an adjunct professor, among other professional and community activities. Mr. Kaleta holds a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College.

  • Chris Bueter

    Executive Vice President, Human Resources

    Christopher R. Bueter was appointed executive vice president, human resources in February 2016. Mr. Bueter joined First Solar in November 2009 as global director for industrial relations and also served as vice president, human resources global business development and corporate services, vice president, global human resources and labor relations, and senior vice president, human resources. Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Bueter served as the vice president of global employee relations at Dana Corporation, an American-based worldwide supplier of powertrain components. In his 24 years at Dana Corporation, he served in a variety of roles, including corporate director of employee relations and distribution services division human resources manager. Mr. Bueter holds a Bachelor of Science in human resources management from the University of Toledo, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Toledo Law School.

  • Michael J. Ahearn

    Chairman of the Board - Director since 2000 | Chairman of the Board

    Michael J. Ahearn, Technology Committee, previously served as First Solar’s chief executive officer from August 2000 to September 2009; interim chief executive officer from October 2011 to May 2012; executive chairman from October 2009 to December 2010 and May 2012 to July 2012; and non-executive chairman from January 2011 to October 2011 and July 2012 to present. Mr. Ahearn is currently chairman and managing partner of True North Venture Partners, L.P., a venture capital firm he launched in 2011 to invest primarily in early stage companies in the energy, water, agriculture and waste sectors. Prior to First Solar, he was partner and president of an equity investment firm, JWMA (formerly True North Partners, L.L.C.). Prior to joining JWMA, Mr. Ahearn practiced law as a partner in the firm of Gallagher & Kennedy. Mr. Ahearn currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Cox Enterprises, Inc.; a member of the board of directors of Endeavor Global, Inc.; and a member of the global advisory board of Beijing Climate Policy Initiative. Mr. Ahearn holds a Bachelor of Arts in finance and a Juris Doctor from Arizona State University.

  • Sharon L. Allen

    Independent Director - Director since 2013

    Sharon L. Allen, Chair, Audit Committee; Technology Committee, served as U.S. chairwoman of Deloitte LLP from 2003 to 2011, retiring from that position in May 2011. Ms. Allen was also a member of the global board of directors, chair of the Global Risk Committee and U.S. representative of the Global Governance Committee of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited from 2003 to May 2011. Ms. Allen worked at Deloitte for nearly 40 years in various leadership roles, including partner and regional managing partner, and was previously responsible for audit and consulting services for a number of Fortune 500 and large private companies. Ms. Allen is currently an independent director of Bank of America Corporation, serving as chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Corporate Governance Committee. A certified public accountant (inactive), Ms. Allen holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and received an honorary doctorate in administrative sciences from the University of Idaho.

  • Richard D. Chapman

    Independent Director - Director since 2012

    Richard D. Chapman, Compensation Committee, serves as the chief financial officer of Walton Enterprises, Inc., where he has worked since 1983. In this capacity, Mr. Chapman oversees all aspects of the Walton Family Office in Arkansas. Mr. Chapman currently serves on the boards of directors of the Arvest Bank Group, the holding company for a diversified financial services company; the University of Arkansas Foundation Board, where he serves on the Executive and Finance Committees; the Razorback Foundation, where he is a member of the Investment Committee; and the Fayetteville Campus Foundation of the University of Arkansas. Mr. Chapman also serves on the boards of directors of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, where he sits on the Executive and Investment Committees; and the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. Mr. Chapman was previously a member of the Board of Managers of First Solar Holdings, LLC prior to the Company going public and JWMA (formerly True North Partners, L.L.C.), an equity investment firm. Prior to joining Walton Enterprises, Mr. Chapman worked from 1976-1983 in London, England and Little Rock, Arkansas, for the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. A Certified Public Accountant (inactive), Mr. Chapman holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in accounting from the University of Arkansas.

  • George A. Hambro

    Independent Director - Director since 2012

    George A. (“Chip”) Hambro, chair, Technology Committee, previously held various positions at First Solar from June 2001 through June 2009, including serving as chief operating officer from February 2005 through May 2007. Prior to joining First Solar, he held the positions of vice president of engineering and business development for Goodrich Aerospace from May 1999 to June 2001 and vice president of operations for ITT Industries from February 1997 to May 1999. For the last five years, Mr. Hambro has been a director of both the Toledo Zoo, and Imagination Station, Toledo’s children’s science museum. Mr. Hambro currently serves on the board of directors of View, Inc., a developer of next-generation green building solutions designed to improve energy efficiency, and Aquahydrex, which is developing and commercializing low cost hydrogen production technologies. Mr. Hambro graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in physical science (applied physics).

  • Mark Widmar

    Director - Director since 2016

    Mr. Widmar became CEO of First Solar in July 2016. He joined First Solar in April 2011 as chief financial officer and served as First Solar’s chief accounting officer from February 2012 through June 2015. Mr. Widmar also serves as a director on the board of the general partner of 8point3 Energy Partners LP (“8point3 Energy Partners”), the joint yieldco formed by First Solar and SunPower Corporation in 2015 to own and operate a portfolio of selected solar generation assets. Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Widmar served as CFO of GrafTech International Ltd., a leading global manufacturer of advanced carbon and graphite materials, from May 2006 through March 2011, as well as president, engineered solutions from January 2011 through March 2011. Prior to joining GrafTech, Mr. Widmar served as corporate controller of NCR Inc. from 2005 to 2006, and was a business unit CFO for NCR from November 2002 to his appointment as controller. He also served as a division controller at Dell, Inc. from August 2000 to November 2002 prior to joining NCR. Mr. Widmar also held various financial and managerial positions with Lucent Technologies Inc., Allied Signal, Inc., and Bristol Myers/Squibb, Inc. He began his career in 1987 as an accountant with Ernst & Young. Mr. Widmar holds a Bachelor of Science in business accounting and a Masters of Business Administration from Indiana University.

  • Craig Kennedy

    Independent Director - Director since 2007

    Craig Kennedy, Audit Committee, Project Development Committee, was president of the German Marshall Fund, an independent American organization created in 1972 as a permanent memorial to the Marshall Plan, from 1995 to 2014. The German Marshall Fund sponsors a wide range of programs related to foreign, economic, immigration and environmental policy, and it operates a number of political exchanges between the United States and Europe with a special emphasis on Germany. Mr. Kennedy began his career in 1980 as a program officer at the Joyce Foundation in Chicago. Mr. Kennedy was president of the Joyce Foundation between 1986 and 1992, where he built the Foundation’s environmental program and launched a new program on U.S. immigration policy. Mr. Kennedy left the Joyce Foundation to work for Richard J. Dennis, a Chicago investor and philanthropist. During this same period, Mr. Kennedy created a consulting firm working with nonprofit and public sector clients. Mr. Kennedy was Audit Committee chair of the Invesco Van Kampen Closed-End-Funds from 1999 to 2014. He also serves on the advisory board of True North Venture Partners, L.P. Mr. Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

  • James F. Nolan

    Independent Director - Director since 2003

    James F. Nolan, Technology Committee, served as the vice president of operations of Solar Cells, Inc., the predecessor to First Solar, and was responsible for research, development and manufacturing operations. He designed and built early prototype equipment for First Solar’s pilot manufacturing line and led the team that developed the process for producing large area thin film cadmium telluride solar modules. Mr. Nolan worked as a part-time consultant for First Solar from November 2000 until March 2007. Mr. Nolan has over 35 years of experience in physics, engineering, research and development, manufacturing and process design with companies such as Westinghouse, Owens Illinois, Glasstech and Photonics Systems. Mr. Nolan holds more than 10 patents in areas of flat panel electronic displays and photovoltaic devices and processes. Mr. Nolan earned his Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania) and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh.

  • William J. Post

    Independent Director - Director since 2010

    William J. Post, chair, Project Development Committee; Compensation Committee, retired as chairman and chief executive officer of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (“Pinnacle West”) in April 2009, and he retired from the board of directors of Pinnacle West in May 2010. He joined Arizona Public Service (the largest subsidiary of Pinnacle West and the largest electric utility in Arizona) in 1973 and held various officer positions at Arizona Public Service beginning in 1982 including: vice president and controller, vice president of finance and regulation, chief operating officer, president and chief executive officer. He became president of Pinnacle West in 1997, chief executive officer in 1999 and chairman of the board in 2001. Mr. Post joined the board of Arizona Public Service in 1995 and the board of Pinnacle West in 1997. Mr. Post is chairman of the Translational Genomics Research Institute and chairman of the Arizona State University Foundation, where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1973. He also serves as a director of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. He has served in the past as chairman of Swift Transportation Company, Suncor Development Company, Stagg Information Systems, Nuclear Assurance Corporation, Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited, the Institute of Nuclear Power, and El Dorado Investment Company. He also served as a director of Phelps Dodge Corporation from 2001 to 2007 and U.S. Airways from 2011 to 2013.

  • J. Thomas Presby

    Independent Director - Director since 2006

    J. Thomas Presby, Audit Committee, Nominating & Governance Committee, Project Development Committee, retired in 2002 after a 30-year career as a partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. At Deloitte, he held many positions in the United States and abroad, including global deputy chairman and chief operating officer. Currently, Mr. Presby is a director of the following other public companies where he also chairs the audit committees: INVESCO, Ltd., World Fuel Services Corporation and ExamWorks Group, Inc.  From 2003 to 2009, Mr. Presby was a director and audit committee chair of Turbochef Technologies, Inc.; from 2005 to 2011, he was a director and audit committee chair of American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.; and from 2003 to 2012, he was a director and audit committee chair of Tiffany & Co.  He is a board member of the New York chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (“NACD”). He previously served as a trustee of Rutgers University and Montclair State University (N.J.), and as a director and chairman of the audit committee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Mr. Presby received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Rutgers University and an MBA degree from the Carnegie Mellon University Graduate School of Business. Mr. Presby is a certified public accountant in New York and Ohio, and a holder of the NACD Certificate of Director Education. He was named by the NACD as one of the “Top 100” directors of 2011.

  • Paul H. Stebbins

    Independent Director - Director since 2006

    Paul H. Stebbins, chair, Nominating & Governance Committee; Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, Project Development Committee, has served as chairman emeritus and as a non-employee director of World Fuel Services Corporation (“World Fuel”) since January 2015. Previously, Mr. Stebbins served as the chairman and chief executive officer of World Fuel from July 2002 to January 2012 and as executive chairman from January 2012 to May 2014. He has served as a director of World Fuel since June 1995. Between July 2000 and 2002, Mr. Stebbins also served as president and chief operating officer of World Fuel. In 1985, Mr. Stebbins co-founded Trans-Tec Services, a global marine fuel service company acquired by World Fuel in 1995. Mr. Stebbins served for many years as a member of the Business Round Table, an influential association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, and currently serves as a member of the Energy Security Leadership Council of S.A.F.E. (Securing America’s Future Energy) and as a member of the Leadership Council of the Fix the Debt Campaign founded by Erskine Bowles and Sen. Alan Simpson.

  • Michael T. Sweeney

    Independent Director - Director since 2003

    Michael T. Sweeney, chair, Compensation Committee; Nominating & Governance Committee. He was CEO of Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc and its principal subsidiary, Steinway & Sons from October, 2011 through August, 2016, and as chairman of the board from July 2011 through September 2013. Mr. Sweeney served as chairman of the board of Star Tribune Media Holdings, the holding company for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, from September 2009 to September 2014, and has served as a director of Carlson Companies, Inc. Mr. Sweeney served as managing partner in Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison, Inc., a private equity firm, from 2001 through 2008. He had previously served as president of Starbucks Coffee Company (UK) Ltd. in London and held various operating management and corporate finance roles.

Director Audit Compensation Nominating & Governance Project Development Technology
Michael J. Ahearn         ×
Sharon Allen Chair       ×
Richard Chapman   ×      
George Hambro         Chair
Craig Kennedy ×     ×  
James F. Nolan         ×
William J. Post   ×   Chair  
J. Thomas Presby ×   × ×  
Paul H. Stebbins × × Chair ×  
Michael Sweeney   Chair ×    

Committee Charters

* On February 15, 2017, the Audit Committee of the board of directors of First Solar adopted an amendment to our code of business conduct and ethics that applies to all directors and associates, including our chairman, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, other directors and executive officers, and all of our associates in the global organization (the “Code”). The amendment changes the name of First Solar’s anonymous “whistleblower” hotline to the “ethics” hotline. On July 29, 2015, the Audit Committee adopted a Code amendment that updated the contact information for communicating any auditing and accounting related issues. On February 18, 2015, the Audit Committee adopted a Code amendment that primarily adds references to certain internal policies that govern specific subject matter areas, and clarifies or updates certain prior provisions of the Code. On July 30, 2014, the board of directors adopted a Code amendment pursuant to which a reporting person may still submit a complaint to a third-party anonymous ethics hotline by logging onto http://www.openboard.info/fslr/, or by calling toll-free 1-866-569-1857; however, a reporting person may no longer send an e-mail to submit a complaint to the ethics hotline. The amended Code is posted on our website at www.firstsolar.com under "Investors - Corporate Governance." Any substantive amendment to, or waiver from, any provision of the code of business conduct and ethics with respect to any director or executive officer will be posted on our website. On February 15, 2017, the Audit Committee of the board of directors of First Solar adopted an amendment to our code of business conduct and ethics that applies to all directors and associates, including our chairman, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, other directors and executive officers, and all of our associates in the global organization (the “Code”). The amendment changes the name of First Solar’s anonymous “whistleblower” hotline to the “ethics” hotline. On July 29, 2015, the Audit Committee adopted a Code amendment that updated the contact information for communicating any auditing and accounting related issues. On February 18, 2015, the Audit Committee adopted a Code amendment that primarily adds references to certain internal policies that govern specific subject matter areas, and clarifies or updates certain prior provisions of the Code. On July 30, 2014, the board of directors adopted a Code amendment pursuant to which a reporting person may still submit a complaint to a third-party anonymous ethics hotline by logging onto http://www.openboard.info/fslr/, or by calling toll-free 1-866-569-1857; however, a reporting person may no longer send an e-mail to submit a complaint to the ethics hotline. The amended Code is posted on our website at www.firstsolar.com under "Investors - Corporate Governance." Any substantive amendment to, or waiver from, any provision of the code of business conduct and ethics with respect to any director or executive officer will be posted on our website.