Women in Leadership: Brilliance – Kick-off Meeting – Virtual (Nov 02-03)

The utility energy workforce is typically only about 25 percent women, as compared to the general population where women make up roughly half of the total workforce. Organizational efficiency is characterized by a balanced workforce both in terms of skill sets and perspectives. This mentorship program addresses some of the opportunities and challenges that women face working in the energy industry, advocates for workplace inclusion and teamwork, and discusses critical issues related to attracting and maintaining a diverse workforce. Formal opportunities for mentorship provide women in the industry with support for increased retention and satisfaction. Mentors and mentees are matched up across companies, and then connect over a ten month period with two in-person meetings.

Register Now

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Heidi R. Schaefer, Director, Corporate Taxes, Salt River Project

    • Program Location
    • Virtual Event
    • No travel required. All agenda times are in Pacific time. Instructions to access the virtual event will be provided to the attendee before the program.
    • Who Should Attend
    • Mentors consist of female executives including utility company presidents, vice presidents, general managers and senior directors who have significant experience in the utility industry and an in-depth understanding of various utility functions. 

      Mentees consist of female directors, managers, supervisors and front-line employees who want to develop their leadership skills, gain a broad perspective of the utility industry, and discuss workplace challenges for experiential learning.

      Space is limited. Participants will be invited to register after being accepted to the program via the application process. Service company mentors and mentees also encouraged to apply. WEI has several programs supporting diversity and inclusion in the utility industry. For more information about WEI’s Women in Energy Symposium, visit 

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $1,399 USD

    Registration includes mentoring materials, registration for the Kick-off Executive Forum and 2022 Annual Meeting (includes all specified meals).

    A Women in Leadership participant ticket is available to enrollees of the 2021/2022 Women in Leadership – Mentoring + Development program who also attend the Virtual Women in Energy Symposium. The discount on the normal attendee rate is applied automatically at registration for the Women in Energy Symposium.

    Space is limited and applications must be submitted and accepted before participants are given access to registration. View more program information including a timeline for applications and the program here.

    Mentor Application available here.
    Mentee Application available here.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • To best serve WEI members and program participants during the COVID-19 pandemic, WEI will be waiving its standard cancellation policy for this virtual program. Registrants can receive a full refund should they need to cancel their registration up to the day before the program begins.
  • 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. Recording is not permitted for any portion of the event.
  • For more information contact Beverly Woolf, Program Manager at (971) 303-2294.


All session times are listed in Pacific time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Check-In and Test Equipment

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Welcome and Introduction
Speaker(s): Heidi Schaefer, Director Corporate Taxes, Salt River Project

Get to know the other mentors and mentees of the Women in Leadership Brilliance Cohort. Attendees are encouraged to share their background in the energy industry and individual goals for what they hope to get out of the program.

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Mentoring Success Case Study
Speaker(s): Abigail Nishimoto, Director, Organizational Effectiveness, Southern California Gas Company, Christine Lewis, Substation Construction Maintenance Manager, Tacoma Power

A mentor and mentee from last year's Women in Leadership Mentorship program will share their insights on getting the best value from your relationship as a Mentor and Mentee.

3:00 PM - 3:15 PM


3:15 PM - 4:15 PM

Strategies for Successful Mentoring
Speaker(s): Lena Wittler, CEO/General Manager, Clark Public Utilities

We have an opportunity to learn best practices from Lena’s personal experiences as she navigated the energy industry. 

4:15 PM - 5:00 PM

Mentor + Mentee Kickoff Session

Mentors and mentees will have an opportunity meet one another one-on-one during this time. Use this time to share your goals, expectation from this mentorship and start the process of working on your plans.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

7:45 AM - 8:00 AM

Prep for the day

8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Executive Panel
Moderator(s): Heidi Schaefer, Director Corporate Taxes, Salt River Project
Panelist(s): Dan Koch, Vice President of Operations, Puget Sound Energy, Paul Grigaux, Vice President, Distribution, Southern California Edison, Jeanne Vold, Vice President – Technology, NorthWestern Energy, Carmen Jandacek, Director, Ethics, Total Rewards, HR Operations & Technology, Arizona Public Service Company

A panel of male and female executives will join us for a discussion on navigating the traditionally male-dominated utility industry. Hear about their journey, lessons learned, and how they leveraged mentors, coaches, and sponsors along the way. There will be an
opportunity for the panel members to respond to questions from the audience at the end of the facilitated portion.

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM


9:45 AM - 10:30 AM

Mentorship Expectations Breakouts

During this session mentors and mentees will participate in breakout groups and engage in roundtable conversation. Mentors will discuss best practices around providing feedback, expectations of mentees, program specific goals, and leveraging the mentoring relationship for future growth. Mentees will discuss expectations for mentors, receiving feedback, and how to leverage the mentoring relationship for development.

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Mentorship Expectations Debrief

Mentors and mentees will come back to the table and each group will share what they discussed and learned in the breakout session. We will conclude the session with a group dialogue around best practices and expectations of the mentoring relationship.

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Logistics Overview + Next Steps

WEI will share logistics of the next steps for the remainder of the mentoring program, including a best practices discussion about networking.

11:30 AM - 12:15 PM

Scheduled Time – Developing Your Agreement

Mentors and mentees will have a mentoring session around developing a mentoring agreement and plan for next steps. Program goals, follow up sessions, and topics for future meetings will be discussed.

Meet The Speakers

Dan Koch

Puget Sound Energy

Vice President of Operations
Learn More

Dan Koch is vice president of Operations at Puget Sound Energy. He is responsible for major projects, electric operations, vegetation management and construction management.

Dan is a mechanical engineer with over 30 years of experience in engineering, project and construction management, and utility management. Since joining PSE in 2010, Dan has led large and complex projects in power generation and transmission and delivery; been responsible for engineering and project delivery for both gas and electric operations; and overseen the 24/7 operations of PSE’s electric delivery system and control room operations. Prior to joining PSE, he worked in the oil and gas, offshore and marine sectors.

Dan is a licensed professional engineer in Washington and California and received his bachelor of science degree in mechnical engineering from the University of Washington. Dan is married and lives in Redmond, Washington.

Paul Grigaux

Southern California Edison

Vice President, Distribution
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Paul Grigaux is vice president of Transmission, Substations and Operations in the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) organization at Southern California Edison (SCE). Elected to that position in December of 2013, he is responsible for all grid operations, substation construction and maintenance, and transmission activities including system performance, reliability, compliance, and emergency response and restoration.

Previously, Grigaux was director of Grid Operations in the Power Delivery unit at SCE, responsible for operating the company’s transmission and distribution system that serves a population of 13 million people across 50,000 square miles, as well as responding to all system emergencies.

Grigaux also has served as director of T&D’s Central Design and Field Accounting Division. He joined SCE in 2005 as director of the Shop Services and Instrumentation Division and senior vice president of Edison ESI, a wholly owned subsidiary of SCE.

Prior to joining SCE, Grigaux held management positions with AREVA T&D and ALSTOM T&D, both based in Philadelphia, as well as First Energy and BOC Gases, both located in New Jersey.

Grigaux earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, and an MBA in finance and international business from New York University.

Jeanne Vold

NorthWestern Energy

Vice President – Technology
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Jeanne Vold holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She has over 30 years of professional experience, including ten years in the industrial and high speed manufacturing sector and over 23 years in the energy utility industry. Jeanne has been with NorthWestern Energy since 1999 and has held various positions throughout the Technology organization. She is an active member of WEI and NCEA and has presented at several utility conferences.

Carmen Jandacek

Arizona Public Service Company

Director, Ethics, Total Rewards, HR Operations & Technology
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Carmen Jandacek has worked for Arizona Public Service (APS) since 1996 holding various positions and leadership roles in Human Resources over her tenure with the company. She is currently the Director of the Ethics Office, Total Rewards, Health Services and HR Technology.
Carmen is the Founder and Chair of the APS LGBT Alliance, an employee network group, former chair and board member of the nonprofit organization one•n•ten, a board director of the Better Business Bureau serving the Pacific Southwest and a member of the City of Phoenix Census 2020 Complete Count Committee. She previously held positions on the board of the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the One Community Multicultural Advisory Board. Carmen has an undergraduate degree in management and she earned her MBA from the University of Phoenix in 1999. She is a previously certified Senior Professional in Human Resources Designee (SPHR) and a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP). In 2017 she was recognized as a Woman of Achievement by In Business Magazine and in 2019, she received the One Community Local Hero Award for her contributions to equality and inclusion in the Phoenix area.
Carmen is an avid fitness and health enthusiast and believes the key to success is a healthy mind and body. She believes you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. She has participated in many biking, running and triathlon races throughout the state of Arizona and is an Ironman Arizona finisher.

Heidi Schaefer

Salt River Project

Director Corporate Taxes

Lena Wittler

Clark Public Utilities

CEO/General Manager
Learn More

Lena Wittler is a 20-year veteran of the utility industry, having served in a variety of finance, human resources, and communications roles, most recently as the Director of Communications and Employee Resources, overseeing all communications, public affairs, utility-wide research and analytics, human resources and loss control. She was named CEO and General Manager in June of 2019.

She holds a B.A. from Willamette University and an M.B.A. from the University of Portland and prior to her work with the utility she worked in education and judicial support.

Abigail Nishimoto

Southern California Gas Company

Director, Organizational Effectiveness
Learn More

Abigail Nishimoto is the Director of Organizational Effectiveness at SoCalGas. She is passionate about talent development, and has worked in various HR and Learning and Development positions in the healthcare, nonprofit, tech and utility industries. In her current role, Abbey oversees organizational development work, culture initiatives, talent management, and learning and development. Outside of work, Abbey is a taxi driver for her two kids, and enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring the outdoors!

Christine Lewis

Tacoma Power

Substation Construction Maintenance Manager