Corporate Communications (Sep 06-07)

Internal and external communication professionals in the utility industry face a variety of challenges in supporting their organizations’ strategic plans, particularly as the utility workforce undergoes significant transformation, communication channels multiply, and utilities face increasing competition. This semiannual forum provides a unique, collaborative space for leaders in corporate communications to discuss these challenges and communications best practices. Recent topics of discussion include executive communications strategy, communicating with employees in the field, stakeholder engagement, crisis communication and communicating strategic plans.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Debra Leithauser, Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing, Idaho Power Company, Lynette Standley, Corporate Communications Manager, Idaho Power Company

    • Program Location
    • Idaho Power Company
    • 1221 W. Idaho Street
      Boise, ID 83702
    • Who Should Attend
    • Energy company corporate communications senior leadership, including directors and managers.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $399 USD

    Registration price increases $50 after August 6, 2018. Registration includes access to all Corporate Communications agenda items. Registration includes lunch and networking dinner on Thursday, breakfast and lunch on Friday, and all meeting materials. Guest tickets are available for $80 and allow a personal guest (a spouse or partner who does not work in the energy industry) to accompany a registered attendee at the event. Guest registration includes all meals and receptions, and all program materials.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations, cancellations received 15 business days prior to the program will receive a full refund. Cancellations received 6 to 14 business days prior to the event will receive a refund, less a $100 administrative fee. No shows and last minute cancellations, 5 business days prior to the event or less, will be responsible for the full registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the same event are always welcome.
  • Participation Policy
  • Western Energy Institute programs and events are open to energy companies (including gas production and electric generation, gas and electric transmission and gas and electric distribution utilities). Select programs and events are open to energy industry product and service suppliers. Programs and events are closed to all media representatives and to the general public.
  • For more information contact Joshua Baker, Program Manager at (971) 255-4970.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM


9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Welcome to Idaho Power Company

9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Group Introductions + Opening Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Debra Leithauser, Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing, Idaho Power Company

Attendees are encouraged to share their name, company overview, general role within the organization and a recent win or current challenge.

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Networking Break

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Crisis Communications
Speaker(s): Andrew Munro, Senior Manager, External Affairs and Communications, Grant County PUD

With a wide variety of crises that utilities can possibly face any time, it is important to be prepared to effectively respond? During this session, Grant County PUD will share their case study of how they responded to a large crack that appeared in a large hydroelectric dam. We will discuss crisis communications strategies, plans, and tactics for responding to events in the current digital area. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the roundtable discussion by sharing either an unexpected or unusual crisis moment and being prepared for the unexpected.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Employer Brand Strategies for Recruiting + Onboarding
Speaker(s): Erica Erland, Corporate Communications Manager, Clark Public Utilities

With utilities facing an increasing number of retirements and shifting talent needs, recruiting and retaining high-quality employees for corporate and operation roles presents a significant challenge to the industry. Increasingly, communications professionals are being asked to create branding and communications strategies that highlight their company culture to help meet recruitment goals. In this session, utilities will share their experience and examples rolling out communication strategies and branding to attract talent and onboard new employees.

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Networking Break

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Energy Resource Mix: Communicating Utility Issues to the Public
Speaker(s): Joseph Ramallo, Asst. General Manager, Communications, Media & Community Affairs, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Joe Salkowski, Director, Corporate Communications & Community Relations, Tucson Electric Power, Stephanie Spicer, Manager of Community Affairs, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Utilities will share their strategies and challenges associated with communicating their energy portfolio requirements and needs to the public. We will discuss what disconnects exist between customers and utilities and explore best practices for the engaging customers on this topic. Likely utility issues we will cover include solar and net metering, gas supply, resource adequacy, and renewable natural gas.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Optional Walking Tour of Downtown Boise

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

WEI Hosted Networking Dinner

Join us for dinner in historic downtown Boise at The Brickyard. 

601 Main Street
Boise, ID 83702

Friday, September 7, 2018

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Networking Breakfast

Continental breakfast will be provided onsite at Idaho Power Company.

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Using Demographics for Messaging
Speaker(s): Scott Simms, Director of Communications, Bonneville Power Administration

Marketers have been increasingly using different layers and sources of data to target customers and constituents. But how much progress have utilities made in taking advantage of the data that is already available to them? Scott Simms of Bonneville Power Administration will share his department’s journey of partnering with their utility’s GIS team to create a dynamic demographic database to help better inform the development of executive speeches at the community level as well as influence messaging for other targeted communications activities. One of these activities includes highlighting how the database will be used in 2019 to inform messaging to specific communities in the multi-state Hydropower Flows Here education campaign.

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Networking Break

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Environmental Stewardship Communications

Idaho Power will share videos and examples from their environmental stewardship communications campaign and lead the group in a roundtable discussion around what other strategies and campaigns utilities are employing in their service territory. Be prepared to share!

10:15 AM - 10:30 AM

Networking Break

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Hot Topic Roundtable

Attendees will have a chance to ask questions directly to their peers for feedback.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Lunch and Planning for Next Steps

Provide feedback on the meeting and topics for the Spring Forum.

1:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Forum Adjourns

Hotel + Travel

  • Hotel 43
  • 981 Grove Street
  • Boise, Idaho 83702
  • Phone: 208-342-4622

  • Click here to make your reservation now.
  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (208) 342-4622 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute and give the code ‘1709WESTER’ or book online uto receive a special rate of $169 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until August 6, 2018 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Erica Erland

Clark Public Utilities

Corporate Communications Manager

Scott Simms

Bonneville Power Administration

Director of Communications

Debra Leithauser

Idaho Power Company

Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing
Learn More

Leithauser was named Vice President, Corporate Services and Communications in October 2019. She started her career at Idaho Power as Director of Corporate Communications in 2017, after a long career in media.

Before joining Idaho Power, Leithauser was the President and Publisher of the Idaho Statesman, overseeing all news, advertising, distribution, production and financial matters. She previously ran two other media companies, a newspaper in Pennsylvania and a news service in Washington, D.C. She was a Pulitzer Prize judge in 2014. For almost a decade, Leithauser was a Senior Editor at The Washington Post, where she was the top editor for a variety of sections, including the award-winning Washington Post Magazine.

Leithauser graduated from the University of Florida with honors, earning a Bachelor of Science in journalism. She was named a distinguished alumna in journalism in 2013.

Leithauser serves on several boards including the United Way of Treasure Valley, the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, and Together Treasure Valley, a community initiative she launched after moving to Boise in 2015.

Joseph Ramallo

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Asst. General Manager, Communications, Media & Community Affairs

Andrew Munro

Grant County PUD

Senior Manager, External Affairs and Communications
Learn More

Andrew Munro joined Grant PUD in 2007. He oversees the utility’s governmental and regulatory affairs, corporate communications and records management departments. Previously, he was responsible for Grant PUD’s electric transmission and distribution operations, leading 200 employees and five departments. He also directed the utility’s wholesale fiber-optic and wireless networks.
Andrew served as President of the National Hydropower Association (NHA) from 2009-11 and established a new strategic plan and vision for the industry to double U.S. hydropower capacity and jobs. Andrew was recently elected to serve a new four-year term on the NHA Board of Directors beginning in January 2018.
Prior to joining Grant PUD, Andrew was director of governmental affairs at Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan PUD). Andrew’s background includes serving as a White House appointee holding positions of regional administrator and regional advocate for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Region 10, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. He also served on the professional staff for a high-ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and was the director of business affiliations for, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONVI), a fast-growing high-tech company in Seattle, Washington.
Andrew was born in Washington, DC and raised in Wenatchee, Washington. He holds a Bachelor of Art’s degree from the University of Washington. He is most proud to be Dad of 3 beautiful young girls. In his “spare” time, Andrew enjoys the theatre and acting, and has performed leading roles, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Joe Salkowski

Tucson Electric Power

Director, Corporate Communications & Community Relations

Stephanie Spicer

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Manager of Community Affairs