‘The women in energy are the future of Minnesota’ - Great River Energy

‘The women in energy are the future of Minnesota’

Women in leadership ‘Inspire Inclusion’ during industry event hosted by Great River Energy

Approximately 200 people attended a Women Empowered in Energy event hosted by Great River Energy at the cooperative’s Maple Grove location on Friday, March 8. The event was an International Women’s Day celebration themed “Inspire Inclusion.”

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan provided a welcome message to attendees. On the topic of energy, she said of Great River Energy’s LEED-certified headquarters, “This building is a reminder of what’s possible.” On the topic of inclusion, she said, “The women in energy are the future of Minnesota. We must keep pushing to include everyone. Inclusion helps us get better results, allowing us to make progress.”

Great River Energy’s Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel recognized the women who work in public power, citing that there are many “not-so-visible” women in Minnesota who are transforming public power in rural communities by serving their local communities and working at electric cooperatives.

Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative Sarah Cron (speaking) and Great River Energy Board Vice Chair Margaret Schreiner (middle) participate in a panel discussion called “Journeys in Energy Leadership.”

“Women are representing an increasing share of the electric cooperative workforce and governance structure, and not just in traditional roles of the past,” Patel said. “As you look around our electric co-ops, you’ll find women in every imaginable role — including line-workers, engineers, financial managers, board of directors and CEOs.”

Representatives from Great River Energy’s 27 member-owner cooperatives were also in attendance and participated in the event as well.

Sarah Cron, CEO of Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, and Margaret Schreiner, Great River Energy board vice chair, participated on a panel discussion called “Journeys in Energy Leadership.” Beverly Heydinger, former Minnesota Public Utilities Commission chair, and Tera Dornfeld, analyst and public engagement specialist, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, were the other panelists. The panel was moderated by MISO’s Tricia DeBleeckere, director of state policy and strategy.

Attendees were encouraged to ask questions during the Women Empowered in Energy event.

A second panel discussion was titled “Rising to the Challenge — Minnesota 2040 Clean Energy Goals.” Panelists included Katherine Hinderlie, manager of residential utilities division, Office of the Minnesota Attorney General; Jessica Bell, vice president of external affairs, Rainbow Energy Center; Dr. Sydnie Lieb, director of regulatory affairs, Minnesota Department of Commerce; and Dr. Brenda Cassellius, executive director, Fresh Energy. The panel was moderated by Sarah Johnson Phillips, energy development attorney, Stoel Rives LLP.

The Women Empowered event series was inspired by leading women in the Minnesota energy industry to bring women in the energy space together to celebrate and learn about the role and impact they have on the industry and to provide a platform to learn from their experiences and insights.

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