Women in Energy Symposium (Nov 02-04)

Women are traditionally underrepresented in the energy industry, with an extreme disparity continuing into both leadership and trade positions. This program addresses some of the opportunities and challenges that women face working in the energy industry and advocates for workplace inclusion and teamwork. Open to both women and men, WEI members will join together for leadership training, education, networking and mentorship. Sessions include executive panels with both men and women, and roundtable discussions on internal support programs for diversity. With a growing emphasis on cross-functional teams and diverse skill sets, this program will support utility directives to build a cohesive workforce.

General Details

Program Chair
Jessica Matlock, Snohomish County PUD

Program Location
The M Resort
12300 Las Vegas Blvd S
Henderson, NV 89044

Who Should Attend
Women and men in all facets of the utility are encouraged to join us for this dynamic conversation. If you have an interest in this capacity for yourself or your employees, we invite you to join us.
• Women – Gain knowledge and perspective on how to develop and get ahead in a traditionally male dominated industry.
• Men – Gain understanding of the issues women face in the industry to improve team development and synergy.
• Executives – Learn where utilities are seeing successes in attracting and retaining their female workforce, while effectively leveraging the benefits of greater organizational diversity.

Registration Options
Member: $599
Regular: $999
Women in Leadership Participants: $449

Registration fees increase $100 after October 10. Registration fee includes meals and meeting collateral. Guest passes are available for $175 and include access to the opening reception and dinner.

For more information contact Anna Sanger Reed at 503.688.2795.

Presenting Sponsor:
Burns + McDonnell-01


Wednesday, November 2

11:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Optional Networking Activities
See Networking tab for details.

5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Welcome Reception
Sponsored by:

Thursday, November 3

7:00 AM – 7:45 AM
Breakfast + Registration
Professional headshots available from 7:00 AM – 1:15 PM.
Sponsored by:
sensus logo (1)
7:45 AM – 8:00 AM
Welcome + Conference Overview
Speaker: Jessica Matlock, Director of Government Relations, Snohomish County PUD
Our chair will welcome attendees and share important announcements.

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Now is the Time: Women as Thought Leaders
Speaker: Judith Schwartz, President and Founder, To the Point
Not every woman will occupy the C-suite but more of us can exert influence on the energy industry. Judith Schwartz of To the Point will describe her journey as a pioneer at Apple and President of a water purification start up that was ahead of its time. After the bust, she was determined to become a Smart Grid thought leader in her own right. She is proud of her contributions to utility paradigm shifts such as ratepayers now being seen as customers who demand choices and recognition that not all consumer segments will want the same programs or respond to the same narratives.

9:00 AM – 9:10 AM

9:10 AM – 10:30 AM
Energize Your Career
Facilitator: Britt Bachtel-Browning, Senior Counsel, Avista Corp
Speaker: Julie Ryan, Managing Partner, Aether Advisors and Utility Management Certificate Program Director, Willamette University
How much control are you leveraging over your own career path? In today’s rapidly changing utility industry we have many new opportunities to shape our career path. Julie Ryan will share her expertise on upcoming utility trends, exploring how you can leverage your strengths in this environment and what critical steps you can take to accomplish career goals. This will also include strategies to negotiate job changes and promotions.

10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Networking Break

11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Breakout Sessions

Non-Traditional Communication Techniques: From TED Talks to Field Ops
Facilitator: Cristi Sawtell, Reliability Standards Owner, Bonneville Power Administration
Speakers: Erin Boyd, Manager, CES Customer Products Measurement & Evaluation, Pacific Gas & Electric Company,
Lisa Flynn, Chief of Staff, Office of the VP, Gas T&D Operations, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Communication and public presence can be critical when getting the most out of your team and advancing your career goals. Learn strategies and techniques you can use to enhance your communication success in a variety of situations common to the utility industry.

Facts about Executive Coaching
Facilitator: Deborah Rever, Manager, General Accounting, A/R Unclaimed Property, Salt River Project
Speaker: Lynne Brown, Executive Coach, Lynne Brown & Associates
Alaina Chabrier, Associate General Manager & Chief Communications Executive, Salt River Project
In this highly interactive and informative session, you will learn how executive coaching may enhance your personal and professional development. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. The purpose of this session is to help you learn about the coaching process to see if it is right for you. The following topics will be covered.
• What is executive coaching and what is not.
• Learning from someone who has had an executive coach.
• Taking part in a simulated coaching experience.
• Finding and selecting a coach.
• Coaching fees.

12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Networking Lunch
Sponsored by:
1:15 PM – 3:15 PM
Working Across Generations and Cultures
Facilitator: Robin Pierce, Manager, Projects, Southwest Gas Corporation
Speakers: Lillian Tsai, TsaiComms
Alisa Blum, TsaiComms
This two hour workshop will help the audience understand the characteristics of the four generations in the workplace. We will show how each generation’s early motivations and influences, such as world events, upbringing, cultural beliefs and values affect our workplace behaviors and how we communicate and relate to one another. Participants will be able to identify not just their own cultural makeup but also take away tips on how to motivate and communicate with employees and colleagues from different generations and cultures.

3:15 PM – 3:30 PM

3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
Getting Into Hot Water
Facilitator: Monica Edwards, Manager, Facility Planning, TransCanada GTN & North Baja Systems
Speaker: Susan Petty, President and Chief Technology Officer, AltaRock Energy, Inc
How a middle aged women funded a geothermal research and development company with venture capital. Hear Susan’s inspiring story and lessons learned from working with this cutting edge technology in our rapidly changing industry.

5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Networking Dinner

Friday, November 4

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Corporate Culture that Supports Life Balance
Facilitator: Arlen Orchard, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Speakers: Laura Heckman, VP, Midstream, TransCanada
Kathryn Barnett, Consultant, TELUS Transformation Office
Professionals are constantly bombarded with messages that it’s possible to “have it all” while balancing life and work obligations. This session will explore realistic strategies to bring better balance for employees and the increasing demands for flexibility. Our panel will look at this issue from the personal perspective having navigated a major life change, and from the organizational perspective of successfully shifted culture towards better life balance. Learn tools and strategies from a variety of perspectives to both create your own balance and improve your company’s corporate culture.

9:00 AM – 9:15 AM

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM
Breakout Sessions

The Evolution of the Western Power Grid and the Future of Electric Utilities
Facilitator: Stephanie Smith, Business Systems Solutions Specialist, FortisBC
Speaker: Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Program Co-Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
A regional independent system operator could be a critical component of the rapidly changing energy industry in western North America. Come away from this session with an understanding of the issues surrounding regional grid planning and management, and what changes we can anticipate to the utility industry as new technology transforms the functions and oversight of the grid.

Aliso Canyon Porter Ranch Leak Overview + Update
Facilitator: Lea Petersen, Public Affairs Manager, Southern California Gas Company
Speaker: Jill Tracy, Director-Environmental Services, Southern California Gas Company
Southern California Gas Company will tell the story of the Aliso Canyon, Porter Ranch natural gas storage field. The largest storage field in the US serving over 22 million customers where a gas leak occurred in October 2015 and was finally resolved in February 2016.  Hear how the company worked quickly to address the issue and what they learned along the way.  This session will also address the current and anticipated impact on natural gas as an energy source.

10:15 AM – 10:30 AM

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
What Does It Mean to Be a Leader?
Facilitator: Janet Coleman, Electric Meter & Communications Supervisor, Eugene Water & Electric Board
Speaker: Deborah Affonsa, Vice President, Customer Service, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Leadership can show up in any role throughout the energy industry. Hear about five key competencies that will help you put your leadership to action. As we adjourn the conference, we explore how everyone can create a culture that brings out the very best in employees and that allows employees to deliver beyond what even they think is possible.

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Wrap Up
Join the Program Development Team to share feedback and brainstorm ideas for next year’s symposium. 


NV Energy: From Sustainability to Customer Satisfaction
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
11:30 AM – 4:30 PM (approximately)
Cost: $60 USD. (Non-refundable after October 5th)
Includes: Round trip transportation from hotel, lunch & light snack

NV Energy is a leader in the areas of renewables and demand side management. Join us as we share the story of our customer satisfaction and engagement in these areas. We will visit customer facilities to learn about how they have partnered with NV Energy to achieve their corporate sustainability objectives. This tour will be of interest to anyone in the energy industry. Attendees will be asked to provide photo ID for security reasons.

Southwest Gas: Emergency Response Training
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
12:30 PM – 4:30 PM (approximately)
Cost: $45 USD. (Non-refundable after October 5th)
Includes: Round trip transportation from hotel & refreshments

This tour will visit the Southwest Gas Emergency Response Training Facility which has set the industry standard for hands-on natural gas emergency training. Mock scenarios at the facility provide first responders and field personnel a realistic setting to practice techniques and provide practical experience in a wide variety of natural gas situations. This is a great opportunity for people with an electricity focus to learn about the gas industry, and for gas professionals to get the perspective of a different company. Attendees may be asked to provide photo ID for security reasons.

Hotel + Travel

The M Resort
12300 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Henderson, NV 89044
Phone: 866.551.1540 or 702.797.1998

Please contact the hotel directly at 866.551.1540 to make your reservation. Identify yourself as being with Group Code SWIE16 to receive a special rate of $155 room rate single/double plus state and local taxes. This rate is guaranteed to October 10, 2016 or until the WEI room block is full.

Women in Energy Symposium attendees will enjoy a 20% discount on spa services and treatments at the M Resort Spa Mio.  Simply let the spa staff know when you schedule your appointment.

As of October 7, 2016 the M Resort block is currently full. We encourage you to identify and book a nearby room as soon as possible. See below for two options nearby:

Hampton Inn & Suites Las Vegas South
3245 St Rose Pkwy
Henderson, NV 89052
Phone: 702.385.2200

Grandview at Las Vegas
9940 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89183
Phone: 702.966.4700

Meet The Speakers

Janet Coleman

Eugene Water & Electric Board

Electric Meter & Communications Supervisor

Jessica Matlock

Snohomish County PUD

Director of Government Relations
Learn More

Jessica joined Snohomish County PUD in August 2006 as the Director of Government and External Affairs. Jessica is also responsible for developing and implementing the PUD’s solar, electric vehicle and demand response programs. Jessica previously worked as an energy and natural resources fellow for U.S. Senator Larry E. Craig (Idaho). Prior to that, she held a number of government relations positions with the Bonneville Power Administration, including that of power marketing specialist (in Washington, DC), constituent account executive for the State of Idaho, and fish and wildlife project manager. She also previously served as a city planner for the City of Portland, Oregon. Jessica was an Advisory Board Member of the Bipartisan Policy Council’s Cyber Security Initiative, represents the Large Public Power Council on the National Electric Sector Cybersecurity Team, and is a member of America Public Power Association’s Cybersecurity and Physical Preparedness Committee. Jessica led and organized the three Annual Washington State Cybersecurity Summit’s and the effort to produce the Cybersecurity Guide for the State of Washington Critical Infrastructure.
Jessica holds an MPA from Portland State University and a bachelor’s of science degree in chemical oceanography from the University of Washington. She also served in the United States Coast Guard.

Judith Schwartz

To the Point


Britt Bachtel-Browning

Avista Corp.

Senior Counsel

Julie Ryan

Aether Advisors

Managing Partner

Deborah Rever

Salt River Project

Manager: General Accounting, A/R, and Unclaimed Property
Learn More

Deborah has 25 years of Accounting and Finance experience in areas including: leadership, strategic planning, workforce development, financial statement preparation and reporting, budgeting, recruitment, compensation, and benefits. The last 15 years have been spent in the electric utility industry, predominantly in the Financial Accounting and Power Generation areas.

Deborah was the SAP Finance Lead during the recent ERP implementation and was responsible for the successful deployment of the Finance (FI) Module. She was tasked with ensuring the project remained within schedule and cost budget, as well as creating and presenting numerous training sessions for employees and management. Deborah continues to be her company’s subject matter expert on the SAP FI Module.

Deborah is an exceptional mentoring leader who is able to guide, instruct, empower, and instill accountability and transparency throughout departmental functions. She possess outstanding communication, customer service, team building, and leadership skills. Deborah holds a BS in Accounting, an MS in Accounting, and a CPA license.

Lynne Brown

Lynne Brown & Associates

Executive Coach

Alaina Chabrier

Salt River Project

Associate General Manager & Chief Communications Executive

Lillian Tsai


Diversity & Inclusion Trainer, Coach, Speaker & Consultant

Alisa Blum


Corporate Trainer, Facilitator, Leadership Coach, Author & Speaker
Learn More

For over 15 years, Alisa Blum has combined an in-depth understanding of human behavior with innovative techniques to help organizations develop high-achieving employees. She specializes in Multi-Generational Communication, Attracting & Retaining Top Talent, Strengths-based Management Development, Customer Relations and Performance Optimization. Some of the organizations she has provided training & consulting to include: 3M, Hewlett-Packard, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Providence Health Systems,

Robin Pierce

Southwest Gas Corporation

Manager, Projects/Division Operations

Monica Edwards

TransCanada GTN & North Baja Systems

Manager, Facility Planning

Susan Petty

AltaRock Energy, Inc

President and Chief Technology Officer

Arlen Orchard

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

General Manager

Laura Heckman

TransCanada GTN & North Baja Systems

VP, Midstream

Kathryn Barnett

TELUS Communications


Ralph Cavanagh

National Resources Defense Council

Energy Program Co-Director

Stephanie Smith


Business Systems Solutions Specialist
Learn More

Stephanie has been working with FortisBC for 14 years. She first started in Information Technology before moving into Operations, then Business Planning, before taking on her current role in Assets & Compliance. She has been attending WEI’s WiES since 2015, and has been an active member of the Program Development Team since 2016. Outside of work, Stephanie loves to golf and swim in BC’s great outdoors.

Lea Petersen

Southern California Gas Company

Public Affairs Manager
Learn More

Lea Petersen has been a Public Affairs Manager representing Southern California Gas Company for over 10 years. Her primary responsibility is advancing the company’s interests before local, State and Federal government officials. SoCalGas is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States operating for more than 140 years serving over 21 million customers in 500 communities thru over 5 million gas meters from Central California to the Mexican border.

Lea is involved with numerous business & community organizations: Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jefferies’ appointee to Riverside County’s Workforce Investment Board; serves as Director of the Greater Corona Chamber, Riverside Chamber, Black Chamber of Moreno Valley; Congressman Calvert’s Science Technology Education Partnership; Chino Valley Chamber; Moreno Valley Chamber, Inland Empire Asian Business Association & Riverside Hispanic Chamber.

Lea has been recognized for her community leadership by the Riverside County NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), was awarded as a “Woman of the Year” by the Riverside County Commission on Women & Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

The Greater Corona Chamber, Black Voice Newspaper (serving San Bernardino & Riverside Counties), the Inland Empire Asian Business Association and the Riverside County YWCA have all recognized her leadership supporting business, education and local charitable community organizations.

Lea Petersen has been educated in 3 countries the U.S., Mexico and Canada; speaks/writes Spanish & French. After completing her education in Journalism, Lea began her professional career as a television news reporter covering politics.

Jill Tracy

Southern California Gas Company

Director-Environmental Services

Deborah Affonsa

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Vice President, Customer Service
Learn More

Deborah T. Affonsa is vice president, Customer Service for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. She is responsible for the company’s contact center operations, local customer service offices, business customer account management and demand side management sales, relations with third party energy service providers, customer education for PG&E’s most impactful work and initiatives, and escalated customer relations, and for the Customer Care organization.

Her previous role at Pacific Gas and Electric Company was Vice President, Corporate Strategy, reporting to the president. In this role, Affonsa was responsible for driving development and implementation of a detailed, integrated, cross-functional 5 year forward -looking plan for achieving and maintaining the company’s vision of becoming the leading utility in the United States. She also identified emerging trends in the utility industry, recognizing interdependencies, potential synergies and conflicts to assist senior management in prioritizing and making decisions. She also managed the company’s benchmarking and continuous improvement efforts.

Prior to joining Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Affonsa held the position of Senior Director, Corporate Strategy and Development, for its holding company, PG&E Corporation. There she was responsible for evaluating potential new business opportunities, managing the corporate-wide strategic planning process and leading teams in the evaluation and development of Utility strategies around key issues (Smart Grid, PV, etc.).

Affonsa has additional experience in the utility industry, serving as Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for Community Energy, Inc., a privately held, start-up, wind energy company. In that role, she established the strategic sales plan, including revenue, earnings and market share goals both regionally and nationally, as well as developing the internal processes and procedures for running a start-up. Affonsa was also Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for Marlin Leasing Corporation, where she developed strategic sales initiatives and oversaw the realignment and restructuring of the National Account’s sales team.

Prior to that, Affonsa was Chief Operating Officer and Director, New Business Development, for Marketing Crossroads, Inc.; Director, Strategic Planning, for Exelon Corporation; and Vice President and Director, Sales, for Exelon Energy.

Affonsa holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University and a Masters in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. She also successfully participated in the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 2000.

Cristi Sawtell

Bonneville Power Administration

Reliability Standards Owner

Erin Boyd

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Manager, Customer Programs Measurement & Evaluation

Lisa Flynn

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Chief of Staff, Office of the VP, Gas T&D Operations
Learn More

Lisa Flynn is Manager of Process Improvement in Gas T&D Operations at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). In her current role, Lisa is responsible for partnering with gas safety inspection programs to resolve customer access issues, increase operational safety and reduce risk. Over the last year, Lisa built a brand-new team responsible for managing critical compliance dates and working with customers to perform required corrosion, leak survey, and other critical safety inspections. Lisa manages a call center operation and field technicians creating a unique partnership between work scheduling and work completion while optimizing opportunities to bundle compliance work. Prior to her current role, Lisa served as Chief of Staff and Principal Program Manager for the Vice President of Gas T&D Operations. Her past experience working at Western Energy Institute as a Program Manager prepared her for a career at PG&E and helped her develop a passion for the energy industry. Lisa lives in Danville, California with her husband Ryan and her daughter, Noelle.