Human Resources (May 21-22)

This semi-annual program provides a roundtable opportunity for human resource leadership to address contemporary, strategic issues in human resource management. Regardless of company size or structure, energy industry human resource professionals face complex challenges related to recruitment and retention, employee assessment and training, succession planning and maintaining safe and compliant business practices. The program considers strategic inclusions such as collective bargaining agreements, benefits, employee diversity, performance management, compensation policies and change management.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Jai-Anana Elliott, Talent & Workforce Development Director, Seattle City Light

    • Program Location
    • Seattle City Light
    • 901 Fifth Avenue
      Seattle, Washington 98164
    • Who Should Attend
    • Participation is restricted to senior leaders responsible for management of human resources functions at WEI energy member companies. The small size of this program encourages open discourse, problem-solving and long-term relationship building.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $499 USD

    Registration includes access to all Human Resources agenda items and meeting materials. Registration includes a networking dinner Tuesday night as well as catered breakfast, lunch, light snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Guest tickets are available for $95 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 Amy Nye, Program Manager at (503) 688-2794.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

Registration + Networking

Arrive early to network with peers. Light refreshments will be served.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Welcome + Introductions
Facilitator(s): Jai-Anana Elliott, Talent and Workforce Development Director, Seattle City Light
Speaker(s): DaVonna Johnson, People & Culture Officer, Seattle City Light

Our host will welcome us to Seattle City Light and kick-off attendee introductions. Come prepared to share recent successes and challenges.

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Networking Break

2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Performance Management
Speaker(s): Renee Castillo, Sr. Director, Human Resources, Salt River Project, Heather Burns, Human Resources Director, NorthWestern Energy

Many utilities are re-evaluating their approach to performance management based on employee feedback and organizational goals. In this session, Salt River Project will discuss the planning and implementation behind their new performance management process. NorthWestern Energy will continue the discussion by providing an overview of their current initiatives and best practices from a post-implementation standpoint.

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Networking Break

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Seattle City Light's Workplace Culture Initiative
Facilitator(s): DaVonna Johnson, People & Culture Officer, Seattle City Light, Namura Nkeze, Workplace Culture Program Manager, Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light is committed to creating and maintaining a workplace culture where every employee can achieve their full potential. We know that society struggles with systematic racism, sexism and xenophobia and Seattle City Light is a microcosm of the broader culture. In 2018, we launched the City Light Workplace Culture Initiative and began the process of identifying the specific steps needed to create a work environment where every employee is respected and valued. In this session, we will outline the programs and processes developed and implemented to inform the initiatives direction. We will also share our successes, missteps and path forward. All participants are asked to come ready to share any helpful information they have on similar programs conducted at their utilities.

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Networking Dinner

Don't miss the WEI hosted networking dinner at Outlier:

1101 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Networking Breakfast

Enjoy a hot breakfast onsite.

8:30 AM - 9:15 AM

Open Roundtable Discussion
Facilitator(s): Jai-Anana Elliott, Talent and Workforce Development Director, Seattle City Light

This session provides time for attendees to address new topics and elaborate upon previous discussions at the forum. Attendees are encouraged to come prepared with one “top of mind” issue for discussion.

9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Networking Break

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Preparing for the Worst - Key Learnings on Handling Employee Deaths
Facilitator(s): Sarah Griffin, Human Resources Director, Idaho Power Company, Lorna Klemanski, Managing Director - HR Labor & Safety, Chelan County PUD, Nichole Reitzenstein, Human Resources Manager, Clark Public Utilities

Unfortunately, we have all likely experienced the difficult circumstance of having an employee pass away on or off the job. Human Resources must provide strong leadership in dealing with the aftermath, including effective communication and support for other employees, engagement with and support for the employee’s family, as well as all the administrative aspects that accompany these situations. In this session, companies will share how they have worked through these challenging situations and what key learnings and best practices have been established as a result. All participants are asked to come ready to share any helpful information they have on this important and sensitive topic.

11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Networking Break

11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Workplace Impacts of Marijuana Legalization

As more states and provinces legalize the use of both medical and recreational marijuana, how is this impacting employers? In this roundtable session, utilities in Canada and the United States will address how their organizations are adapting to these changes, what questions have been raised, and what the implications are. Take advantage of this peer-to-peer exchange to ask questions around the topic or come prepared to share your experiences or lessons learned along the way.

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM

Lunch + Fall 2019 Planning

Join the discussion as we wrap up the forum over lunch and begin planning for the Fall forum on November 5 + 6, 2019 at Salt River Project in Tempe, AZ.

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (800) 368-2544 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute (WEI) to receive a special rate of $249 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until April 29, 2019 or until the WEI room block is full.

Meet The Speakers

Jai-Anana Elliott

Seattle City Light

Talent and Workforce Development Director

Sarah Griffin

Idaho Power Company

Human Resources Director
Learn More

Sarah E. Griffin was named Vice President, Human Resources in October 2019. Previously, she was Human Resources Director and Human Resources Manager for Idaho Power. She oversees all aspects of Human Resources, including compensation, benefits, employee relations, diversity, talent and organizational development, employee engagement and succession planning.

Griffin has been in Human Resources since 1995 and with Idaho Power since 2007. Prior to Idaho Power, Griffin worked in various human resources roles at Boise Cascade, Delta Dental of Idaho, Thoratec Corporation and NPS Pharmaceuticals.

Griffin has her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah and her Master of Business Administration degree from Boise State University.

In February 2017, Gov. Butch Otter appointed Griffin to the Idaho Personnel Commission. She also serves on various councils promoting workforce development and a diverse talent pipeline in Idaho.

Lorna Klemanski

Chelan County PUD

Managing Director - HR Labor & Safety

Nichole Reitzenstein

Clark Public Utilities

Human Resources Manager

DaVonna Johnson

Seattle City Light

People & Culture Officer

Namura Nkeze

Seattle City Light

Workplace Culture Program Manager

Renee Castillo

Salt River Project

Sr. Director, Human Resources

Heather Burns

NorthWestern Energy

Human Resources Director