What drew you to public power?
From my first work with public power 25 years ago, I was intrigued by the history, mission, and business model. With a background in government and policy, it is compelling to see the independent spirit of self-determination in these communities and the way they cut across political boundaries to serve this critical public need. I find endless opportunities to learn about electricity and the rich history of public power dating back to the late part of the 19th century. Even more important to me, the people I meet in public power are always welcoming and ready to lend a hand. Their passion and purpose make public power a place where we can really believe in and enjoy what we do every day.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Getting to know APPA members and staff in a more comprehensive way is a thrilling prospect. I am fortunate to step into an association with great staff who understand our commitment to member service. I look forward to working closely with our board chair, Dave Osburn, and the other officers and board members who guide us with an inspiring depth of knowledge and experience. I had been working primarily in the western part of the country and created many lifelong friendships along the way. Having the opportunity to now reach people among the thousands of public power utilities across the country is exhilarating. Each day, I see new threads of the intricate web that makes up the public power story. I am looking forward to the constant influx of creative ways our members are meeting today’s challenges and to helping build the tools for telling this story in our communities to a new generation entering the workforce.
What are your goals for APPA?
In the short term, my goal is to make sure we are doing all we can to execute on our strategy to help members meet the rapid changes in our industry. Critical to this is listening to, and acting on, the feedback from our board and members on what we should prioritize. Among the pieces underway are programs in cybersecurity, workforce, and governance; communications highlighting the value of public power; and ramping up grants from the Department of Energy and our Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Developments, or DEED, research and development program to enable implementation of technology.
Other goals revolve around continued advocacy so that the federal government imposes less regulatory burden and provides more partnership. This includes everything from finding solutions to supply chain difficulties to addressing the arduous permitting processes. Challenges like growth in demand from electrification and big data, the large amount of generation being retired, and regulatory constraints on new generation and transmission will require all our tools and talents. If the grid is to remain reliable and affordable, we must proactively shape the solutions and investments that will empower our members to meet these challenges.
Longer term, I see the association creating more opportunity for engagement with and between its members. Our utility and associate members, regardless of size, have a wealth of knowledge and best practices to share. Attendance at both live and online events should be easy, compelling, and affordable for our entire membership. A key component of “moving public power forward” as a foundational pillar for APPA is enabling all members to interact in a way that helps them proactively address industry change and effectively meet the future together.
What do you like to do when you’re not working for public power?
Being outdoors is a great way for me to recharge and get a fresh perspective. For much of the year, that means hiking, fishing, camping, biking, gardening, or just chasing after our dog. During the winter, our family heads to the hills almost every weekend to ski. Cruising down a mountain is a good way to focus and create a break from everyday concerns.
Is there anything else our members should know about you — or should ask about when they see you at our events?
It’s been said that I have a dry sense of humor at times when speaking in public. So, I am always delighted when people ask me afterward whether a story was meant to be a joke or not. My goal at most meetings is to listen more than speak, so I really hope folks do not hesitate to reach out to me at any time. The more we know about what our members face on a daily basis, the better the job we can do.