November 13 – 19 marks Transgender Awareness Week, a week set aside to recognize and uplift transgender people and raise awareness around the issues members of this community face. To honor this week, we share an interview with Julianne Ratliff, electrical site superintendent and Liberty Central Region contractor.
Get to know Julianne through her story of coming out as trans in her personal and work life, how living authentically has changed her life, advice for those who may be considering coming out, and ways you can support those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Julianne has worked as a contractor on several Liberty projects in the Central Region for the last two years. She earned her Associate of Science in Electrical Engineering from Southwest Virginia Community College.
What led you to a career in engineering, and specifically working in the energy sector?
My father was a project manager in construction and engineering. He spent many years teaching me the principles of critical thinking, problem solving and project planning that helped to shape my interest in the field. In high school, I took a keen interest in industrial arts programs like wood shop, metal shop, electronics and drafting. I always had a fascination with electricity and the processes by which it’s utilized, so electrical engineering came as a natural career path.
I began my professional career as a drafter for a company in St. Louis. As I grew into a senior designer role, I specified equipment, ran calculations, and produced full designs for senior engineer’s review. Through these experiences, I also had the opportunity to spend time in the field. This drove my interest in pursuing field construction work, which I found both challenging and rewarding. It was gratifying to make decisions that directly impacted projects and produced tangible results.
As a result of project work, I discovered that the energy sector offered a breadth of experiences and new challenges that bring diversity to my daily work.
How long have you worked on Liberty projects?
I have worked on projects for Liberty for two years. Beginning with the 91-O line from Gentry, AR, to Neosho, MO, I provided daily observance, progress reporting, quality assurance and coordination from the field for Liberty. I then performed similar responsibilities in Monett, MO, for 69KV distribution line upgrades. This was then followed by the Sub 322 replacement project in Anderson, MO, where I assisted Liberty in the project site coordination, materials management, field progress reporting, and quality assurance. More recently I have been providing this same resource for Liberty at the Sub 432 substation replacement and line upgrades in Webb City, MO.
What do you love most about your work?
My favorite part about my work is the process by which the team arrives at the end result. I enjoy collaborating to address challenges and implement innovative solutions.
When did you know you were trans?
I first knew that something was different about me in my teenage years, but the social norms of the time (the 1980s-1990s) made it difficult to identify what that difference was. I had never even heard the term “transgender” until I was in my twenties – and then, only briefly. When I came to fully understand the term, I had a profound realization that this explained how I felt, but I was still afraid to talk to anyone about it.
How did you come out in the workplace?
About five years ago, I began a period of self-reflection that resulted in truly accepting myself for who I am. Through the support of my partner, I developed the courage to begin coming out in public, though I was not yet out in the workplace. Fears of misperceptions and social acceptance kept me from letting the people around me know who I truly was for some time. I learned about &PROUD, our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group at Burns & McDonnell and felt supported by fellow members. Eventually, I felt comfortable approaching a manager who was touring a Liberty project site and began the journey to live as my authentic self at work.
How was that received?
Everyone has been extremely respectful and courteous. In fact, I feel like the crews on project sites have even more respect for me since coming out because of my courage in being authentic. Many within the construction community make a concerted effort to use my preferred pronouns, which I greatly appreciate.
What do you wish people would better understand about trans people?
I wish people would better understand that many transgender people, like myself, are happy to help educate others about things they may not understand regarding being transgender, if asked respectfully and with sincere intent. Through these conversations, we often discover more similarities than differences.
What recommendations would you give to those not in the LGBTQ+ community who may have questions about pronouns or how to address someone who is trans?
If you are speaking with a person and are unsure, don’t hesitate to ask what their preferred pronouns are. Avoid immediately assuming gender pronouns. Many non-binary individuals may prefer not to be gendered. I often experience being gendered as male due to my deep voice, despite my name and presentation as a woman. It may not seem like much to those who are not in the LGBTQ+ community, but pronoun misuse can affect an individual far more than the speaker realizes.
Do you have any advice for anyone who may be struggling with how to come out in the workplace?
Fear is a hard emotion to overcome, but fear is often a feeling that we manifest based on an untrue representation of reality. Find a small group of people who you know and trust. Try talking to them first to build your confidence in coming out. Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace has come a long way, and it only continues to progress if we have the courage to show up authentically for ourselves and our colleagues.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as a trans person?
Since coming out as trans, I have experienced newfound joy and fulfillment. Being true to myself is not easy, but it brings inner peace. I try to serve as an example to other transgender individuals and parents or family members of transgender individuals. My hope is that they see that we can continue to be successful in whatever we choose to do, and we do not have to give up our dream careers or previous lives to be our authentic selves.
Today, on National Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, we honor and celebrate all those who served and still serve in our armed forces. Here at Liberty, we believe in offering support to our past and present military soldiers and their spouses and families. We proudly employ vet
We are honored to share the stories of our employees who have served or are still serving in the military, the skills they learned and how they transitioned those skills into their current roles with Liberty.
I served in the army from 2001 through 2009. I was stationed in Tikrit Iraq for all of 2004. I was a gunner on an up-armored Humm-v. We were responsible for providing convoy security throughout Iraq, but mostly operated in and around Baghdad. The picture with the swords was taken in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad. Serving in our military was one of the best things I've done in my life. It taught me discipline, integrity, and most of all being a leader.
I grew up in a proud military family, yet there was never an expectation to serve. However, when the September 11th attacks happened, my choice was made clear that I would serve our country. I served in the Marine Corps as a rifleman and assigned the role of a fireteam leader. During this time, I went through various combat training schools, learned a lot of individual leadership skills and team cohesion skills at the small unit level that played into the larger unit role. Many of these valuable leadership skills have proved valuable in civilian life. After a sometimes-challenging adjustment period and with the support of my wonderful wife and two loving children, I have been able to adapt. I first had an opportunity to work with Liberty as a contracted gas inspector starting in April of 2018 and was ecstatic when Liberty awarded me the role of Construction Supervisor (Gas) in October 2020. One cannot put a price on the growth, opportunity, and challenges in joining Liberty.
I was a 25B – IT Specialist, my last position was LAN Manager for the 1-28 Infantry Battalion at Fort Riley, KS. I served 4 years and ended as a Specialist, E4. The military prepared me to work for Liberty. I managed the IT for an infantry battalion. This included installing and maintaining routers, switches, firewalls, exchange servers, active directory, and end user devices. I served as the unit IMO which led to vulnerability management as well as taking ownership of information assurance training for the unit. Each of these duties have proven to be valuable even after transitioning out of the military. I use the skills/knowledge I gained in that environment almost daily to assist the employees of Liberty. I started with Liberty in June 2018.
I enlisted in the Air Force in 2005, and after being stationed in the Azores then Florida, I transitioned to the NH Air National Guard where I still serve as a Master Sergeant and RAWS (Radar, Airfield, and Weather Systems) Team Chief. Many of the soft skills and technical skills I picked up in the Air Force make me a better engineer today. Liberty has been very accommodating of my military service. When I had a short-notice activation to man a COVID vaccination site, Liberty and my management team made the transition as smooth as possible.
I am a retired U.S. Army Colonel. After 26 years as an Army Ranger and 6 combat tours in the Middle East, my family and I needed to slow down and settle into the next chapter of our lives. I wanted my second career to be something different, but equally challenging and rewarding. Liberty offered me the opportunity to join a team of professionals that deliver essential services, solve problems, innovate, and demonstrate genuine care for employees and our customers. A perfect match! Since joining Liberty in February 2020, I have focused a lot of my time on work that helps our business achieve our sustainability goals. I lead the East Region Sustainability Council and have several Renewable Natural Gas projects in the works. I love my job, my Liberty teammates, and being part of Sustaining Energy and Water for Life.
I was a Lieutenant (LT) in the US Navy on nuclear submarines from 2005 – 2010. I started with Liberty in 2016. I enjoyed my time in the Navy. I learned a lot about nuclear power and engineering while operating the deadliest war machine ever made. I made a lot of good friends. My most fond memory is surfacing the ship in the middle of the North Pacific, climbing up into the sail, and opening the hatches to see the entire night sky before me. Another unforgettable experience was listening to Wu Tang Clan while working out on an exercise bike right next to a nuclear missile hundreds of feet deep in the ocean.
I was in the Combat Engineer Reserves in 2000-2003. Started with Liberty in March 2020. I joined the Army as a Combat Engineer through a high school co-op program where I earned credits while completing basic training. After graduating I spent a summer in Gagetown, NB, completing my QL3 or basic field engineering training. Combat engineers are trained to ensure that troops can live, move, and fight on the battlefield. They also perform construction and maintenance tasks, operate vehicles and equipment in support of engineer operations, and maintain field installations and facilities. After returning from this course, I had an opportunity to start a Construction and Maintenance Electrician Apprenticeship which ultimately replaced the Army as my chosen career path.
July 18, 2021, I started my Army Reserve journey by leaving my home state of Arizona to go Fort Jackson South Carolina for 2 months to do Basic training, followed by 6 months of MOS training at Fort Gordon Georgia to earn the MOS of 25 Bravo. During my training I had the privilege of being taught how to become a soldier and learn my duties by the Drill Sergeants and NCOs that were at Fort Jackson and Fort Gordon. There is a handful of NCOs from my training and my current duty station that I look up to and strive to be. My Army journey at moments tested my limits, however with my battles and the NCOs I look up to, there are no limits to what can be done for this country that I love and call home. To all other branches and components, I support you and thank you for your service.
On behalf of Liberty, we would like to thank all the past and present military soldiers for your dedication, service, and commitment to your country and the Liberty Family.
NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY
This October 11, National Coming Out Day, is a day where individuals in the LGBTQ+ community spread awareness that prejudice thrives in silence. This day is celebrated on October 11 of each year and was inspired by 500,000 people who marched in Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights on October 11, 1987. Every year, the popularity of National Coming Out Day becomes stronger and more vibrant. We now see notable celebrities come out and support this day to help spread awareness. The continuing plan is to eliminate hate and homophobia to allow family, friends, and colleagues to come out in a safe environment and be their authentic selves.
A REAL-LIFE COMING OUT STORY:
“I came out when I was 25. It was very difficult at first. The first thing my mom said to me was “Are you going to cut all your hair off now”. Well, I did LOL. My family struggled because I grew up southern Baptist. We were always taught that this was against god’s will. That is why it took me so long to come out and be my true self. I struggled with knowing my family would not accept me being a lesbian. 3 years later, my brother came out as well. I think this was even harder on my family. They struggled with what did they do wrong. It has taken a lot over the years to help them understand it wasn’t them, or the way they raised us. It’s just who we are. I am now 46, and I have a wonderful relationship with my parents. My younger brother does as well. My older brother loves us, but too many hurtful things were said and done in the past, so that relationship is strained.” - Liberty Employee
HOW YOU BE A PART OF NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY:
October 6, 2022
Collaboration Creates Cohesive New York Water Customer Service Team
New York Water is excited to open a local customer service center that will allow customers to access information about their accounts and get answers to their questions from a local team, dedicated to our water customers. As part of the acquisition of American Water, Liberty New York Water committed to opening a local customer service center to provide improved customer service to our Long Island customers. To do this, and achieve our customer satisfaction goals, it was determined that we needed to hire a team.
Our recruitment began internally, emailing our New York Water employees a link to the job postings and encouraging them to share with friends and family, as we knew our fantastic employees would only bring us more fantastic employees. To be thorough, we also posted the positions to our career site.
Applications rolled in and interviews took place over a two-month period, allowing us to begin training the first hires in July. The second half of the team joined us at the beginning of August and the entire team has since become a cohesive group, throughout their intensive training period, leading up to their go live date in November.
As the Senior Manager, Customer Service, I oversee the entire customer service team for New York Water and recruiting employees who care about helping our callers was my top priority. The team we have in place is enthusiastic and eager to learn. They have toured our plants, listened to presentations from managers in all areas of the business, and they have practiced answering calls. When our call center opens in November, they will have the knowledge needed to answer customer questions. This was our goal – to minimize the number of calls a customer needs to make and to have the answers ready for them.
It is important to have local customer service representatives who understand the geographical area we serve and can relate to the customers. This will allow them to make connections and respond to inquiries appropriately.
Through collaboration with managers and the human resources team, we now have a customer service department that we are confident will be successful and make a difference in our communities.
You can also read the stories from two individuals involved in the recruiting and hiring process of the New York team below:
My name is Giovanna Fregapane, and I am a Talent Specialist with Liberty. Earlier in the year, I was given the initiative to lead the recruitment efforts in staffing our New York, Merrick call center. I really enjoyed working with the hiring leaders and learned a lot about our New York teammates through this process. Through our perseverance, constant communication, and high paced rate of work, we were able to fill all our openings within a month. The team is now fully staffed, and I am so happy to know that our new hires are enjoying their new roles and being a part of the Liberty family.
I was excited to apply for a job at Liberty after hearing about their Customer Service Department opening in Long Island. I saw this as a great chance to explore their careers opportunities. The application process was a very straightforward process.
Here I am on my third week at Liberty, and everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. They all seem to share the same goals and have a sense of purpose within the company. Everybody seems happy and valued, making me feel the same way. It has been an incredible experience for me. I am very eager and excited about what the future holds for me at Liberty.
September 29, 2022
Continuing with September's National Emergency Preparedness Month the EHS and Business Resilience teams would like to highlight coping with disaster and the available disaster distress resources you can use. This is the last article in our four week series.
Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful.
Understand disaster events
Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.
Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling. Additionally, FEMA and state and local governments of the affected area may provide crisis counseling assistance.
Individual effects of a disaster
Recognize signs of disaster-related stress
When adults have the following signs, they might need crisis counseling or stress management assistance:
FEMA has several Individual Assistance programs designed to support disaster survivors. You can apply now at DisasterAssistance.gov or review the following types of assistance to determine what best suits your needs.
The Disaster Distress Helpline is a resource for anyone experiencing distress or other mental health concerns related to natural or human-caused disasters.
September 9, 2022
Over the last 3 years, Liberty’s Talent Acquisition team has worked on formalizing the campus recruitment program. In this time, we have had the pleasure of welcoming approximately 200 co-ops and interns in a variety of business units – Engineering, Sustainability, Health and Safety, Operations, Finance, Accounting – to name a few. We have been successful in fostering an environment of learning and development through challenging projects and tasks, regular lunch and learns, networking opportunities, and e-learning courses available to our students.
We welcome the knowledge and diversity of thought that these students bring to the organization and we truly value their hard work and dedication. Our intention is to support the learning, development and growth throughout their work term(s) and have been fortunate to have several return back for another term or join us part-time, full-time or on contract.
Below you will find a feature from one of our former co-op students on our Environmental Health and Safety team, Olivia Kijak.
Working at Liberty for multiple co-op terms was a wonderful experience for my personal and career development. I was looking for a placement where I can grow as a safety professional and Liberty is the place to do that. The EHS team is full of strong leaders and problem solvers.
Throughout the pandemic, the co-op program at Liberty was extremely supportive and brought many opportunities to make connections and grow my knowledge.
I am now a permanent employee with Liberty as a Coordinator, EHS within the Environmental Health & Safety team. It has been great to be a part of many important projects that have been focused on keeping people safe at work and at home.
- Olivia Kijak - Coordinator, EHS
June 16, 2022
During Pride Month here at Liberty, we celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community while recognizing their achievements and contributions in the utility workforce. Liberty is committed to supporting the health and well-being of all members of the LGBTQIA+ community and want to remind you about our Friends of Liberty Employee Resource Group. Friends of Liberty’s mission is to provide a comfortable, safe place for employees to connect while focusing on education and representation of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In today’s blog post, we would like to share the stories from two of our employees, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and Friends of Liberty ERG.
I am Cherishe Barbee, and I started with Liberty in 2015 in the Regulatory department. When I am not working, I’m spending time with my husband and our two daughters. We love to be outside. Gardening, hiking, camping, and going to the beach are a few of our favorites.
I joined Friends of Liberty because inclusivity and acceptance are extremely important to me. I have been an ally for as long as I can remember (my dad, aunt, uncle, and best friend just to name a few are a part of the community) and I want to be part of spreading the message that a person’s value is not determined by their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Growing up, I didn’t think anything of it, to me it was normal because I was around my dad and his partner and my family members and their partners, but I had friends who didn’t always understand or say the nicest things. I want to be a part of the change, to help promote awareness and decrease prejudices. This ERG brings people together and is a safe place for all.
- Cherishe Barbee | Analyst III, Rates and Regulatory Affairs
Hello! My name is Amanda Holt. My pronouns are She/Her. I am Panromantic Demisexual. For those who are learning new terms, that is broken down into Panroma meaning the potential to feel romantic attraction to people of any gender (Female, Male, Trans, Gender Fluid, or Enby) but only feel (Demi)sexual attraction to people they have close bonds with.?I am a Central Region Employee; I work IT helpdesk. I am totally techie and spend a lot of time working on computers, even outside of the job. If not working on tech stuff, I spend lots of time with my family and my partner.?I have only been at Liberty for a year now, and every day I am impressed with my fellow employees and the pure diversity that Liberty has and supports.
I joined Friends of Liberty because I was just so ecstatic that the company, I started with had things going on in Pride and supports the community. This was the first company where I didn’t feel like I needed to hide or keep my status private as being part of the LGBTQIA+ Community. There is always a fear, a fear of rejection, and a fear of action from those who do not support. That comes with being part of the LGBTQIA+, but this company’s way of opening up communication and showing that differences don’t matter, but the people themselves, are a good solid step. Love is Love, and it shows here at Liberty.
- Amanda Holt | Associate, Service Desk
Every year on May 21, nations around the globe celebrate World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Since 2005, the United Nations, through its Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has kept culture, diversity, and conversation at the forefront of civilization’s sustainable development. May 21st highlights the importance of global cultural celebration and acceptance, and calls attention to the fact that culture and diversity are critical to sustainable development.
Liberty’s Commitment to Cultural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
Liberty recognizes this powerful impact of diversity and inclusion on business success. By fostering a supportive work culture and business practices that are free from barriers and bias, our goal is to have an organization with diverse backgrounds, abilities and viewpoints to inspire collaboration, creativity and innovative thinking. As part of our Guiding Principle of Teamwork, Trust, Inclusion and Respect, and through celebrating and valuing our differences, we will build a sustainable future for our employees, customers and communities.
There are three Employee Resource Groups that provide the opportunity for employees to make a difference and champion change at Liberty:
Cultural diversity does not only bridge the gap between peace, stability, and development. However, it is a driving force of economic growth, and leads to a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual life.
- Neil Proudman | Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
May 5, 2022
It has been such an interesting, challenging, and rewarding four and half a year of experience with Liberty since I joined the company in 2017. As an Asset Manager, I felt a sense of achievement when I secured financial gains to my assets; with an owner’s mindset, I feel my job is valuable whenever we squeeze the value of each and every dollar that we spent on Operation and Maintenance. The whole renewable energy sector including Liberty has experienced significant fast growth, however, there are still a lot of challenges in front of us while achieving our sustainability goals. I am passionate about being a member of a team that will build a more resilient economy, society, and planet.
Jerry Liu, Manager, Asset Strategy
April 28, 2022
I joined Liberty as a Market Analyst Co-op in 2021. During this time, I was doing my master’s degree in Sustainable Energy, at Carleton University, and I was always interested in working on the business side of the renewables industry. Such an opportunity played a key role in pursuing my career goals and expanding my learning curve. In my role, I worked on multiple transactions and investment opportunities, covering various green technology: such as RNG, Wind, Solar, and Green Hydrogen. I also supported in conducting market research in the Energy & Power sectors in North America. These tasks allowed me to gain extensive knowledge on how to evaluate investments, support in due diligence, and gain more insights on the energy market and ISOs trends.
The team at Liberty was friendly and supportive, ensuring to assign key projects to me. I was able to add value to the team, while learning concurrently. It's great to work in a team where you can add value to the business and directly support Liberty’s long-term strategy. Liberty offers co-op students to participate in a reverse mentorship program, which basically assigns co-op students to pair with a senior leader to provide more insights on the general work environment and learn from each other. This program helped me learn more about the business and build a new connection at Liberty.
I am really excited to go back and join the team on a full-time basis this summer to continue working with the corporate development team on diversifying the company’s vast portfolio and investing in new technologies.
-Yamen Soliman | Market Analyst
April 21, 2022
The co-op program has been part of my work life at Liberty from the beginning. In my final co-op term at the University of Waterloo, I started working for Liberty Power, then Algonquin Power, in Business Development as a GIS and Planning Co-op. I worked closely with an interesting team of professionals and had the opportunity to see the workings of the renewable industry in Canada. I created maps and figures for renewable projects across the country and learned about the development process and life cycle of a wind or solar farm.
While working with Liberty as a full-time employee I’ve been lucky enough to hire co-op students to work with me directly each term over the past few years. Co-op students in our group work with wind and solar projects from early stage development through to construction and help create new processes and refine existing workflows. As our team has continued to grow, each co-op student has been able to contribute something unique and lasting to our work. In the coming months, I’m excited to welcome back one of these co-op students as a full-time employee and hope to do so again in the future.
I always enjoy working with co-op students, learning new things from them, showing them a new industry and potential career path. I’m excited to continue taking part in the co-op program in the future.
-Dana Thompson | Senior GIS Analyst
April 14, 2022
My time here at Liberty began last June when I was hired as an Electric Operations Intern for the Electric Operations team in Salem, New Hampshire. When I first started, I was still finishing up my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and had very little knowledge of the electric utility industry. The Electric Operations team was very helpful in teaching me about the different aspects of the industry and made me feel like I was a part of the team.
After I received my bachelor’s degree in August, I began searching for a job in the mechanical engineering field. At the same time, the Engineering team in Salem had a new position that they were taking applications for. Since I was already a part of the Liberty family, I decided I would apply for the job. After a round of interviews, I was selected for the position.
Similar to when I got hired as an intern, I did not have a lot of experience with electrical distribution engineering. However, the Engineering team was very welcoming and patient with me while I gained a further understanding of my responsibilities. In my new position, I help plan, design, and maintain the electric distribution system with a focus on safety, compliance, reliability, operability, uniformity, appearance, economy, and the environment. In doing so, I get to interact with customers and electricians on a daily basis through field visits and meetings. Starting my career at Liberty has shown me a side of the utility industry that I didn’t know existed, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
-Ben Murphy | Engineer I
April 7, 2022
My first role at Liberty came in the form of an internship in Transmission Line Engineering in Joplin, MO. Over the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to learn from and work with talented transmission designers and engineers, getting involved in maintaining transmission switching maps. I gained valuable industry experience, and everyone was very welcoming during my time as an intern.
Upon finishing my degree, I pursued a full-time position as a transmission planning engineer at another organization. Two years later, my wife and I decided to move closer to our family so the job search began again. Liberty had an opening in the exact location and position that I was seeking. As a rehire, the interview process was painless yet thorough, and I was thrilled to have another opportunity to work for Liberty. My job as a Substation Engineer is filled with unique challenges in providing practical and sustainable solutions for our customers. We strive to provide high quality, resilient energy and water for life, and as both an intern and engineer with Liberty I know we work diligently to that end every day.
- Joseph Price, Engineer II Substation, Joplin, MO
January 20, 2022
My name is Michelle Caudill. I’m a Talent Acquisition Manager at Liberty. I was born in Fort Bragg, grew up in West Virginia, and have lived in Kentucky for the past 15 years. My family moved from Catlettsburg to Frankfort, KY in 2014 to pursue career opportunities, with the goal of ultimately moving back to the area. Finally, in 2019 my husband and I accepted hybrid roles and took the opportunity to return home to Catlettsburg.
I’m a graduate of ACTC and University of the Cumberlands. I am the Community Relations Chair for my local SHRM Chapter 420, responsible for overseeing community outreach. I am also a PTA member at my children’s school and a Tri-State American Red Cross Volunteer.
In my spare time, I enjoy spending quality time with my family. When we’re not busy with school activities and sports, we enjoy traveling the Commonwealth, visiting our wonderful State Parks, and making frequent stops on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
I am overjoyed to be back in the Boyd County Community and working for Liberty. I look forward to contributing to job creation, economic growth, and a sustainable future for my hometown and neighboring communities.
The most exciting thing for me about working for Liberty is the company's commitment to serving the community. Liberty provides paid community service called Liberty Days, allowing employees to take time off to volunteer at a local organization and giving back to the community.
This is important to me because I realized the importance of community service in high school when my family lost everything in a house fire. The community came together and helped us get through this challenging time. Due in part to this experience, I share Liberty's dedication to giving back as the Community Relations Chair for the Tri-States local SHRM Chapter and a Tri-State American Red Cross Volunteer.
I look forward to sharing more about Liberty, our guiding principals, pillars and purpose, along with the exciting new opportunities that will be coming soon.
Join me on February 4th at 1:00pm EST to learn more about the company from two of our senior leaders. To find more information about our events, please visit our Facebook page at LibertyCareers-KY and our LinkedIn events page at Liberty.
Manager, Talent Acquisition
January 19, 2022
Earlier in October, Liberty published our target of net-zero by 2050 for all scope 1 and 2 emissions across our business operations. We are proud of the time, effort, and dedication our teams have put in to ensure that this target is well-informed, credible, and feasible for the diverse set of mission critical services (electricity, gas, and water) that we provide across our various geographic locations. Now, we’ve shared what this target entails for our business, but it’s also important to explore why net-zero is important, how we came about establishing it, and where this target will take us next. Let’s explore a little bit of the story behind this new target.
First, the “why”. The simple answer is that we believe it’s the right thing to do. We know intuitively that net-zero targets are an important and positive step in restoring and protecting our environment. The scientific evidence is abundant and overwhelmingly clear: we are in a climate crisis and all of us—businesses and individuals—need to play our part in navigating out of this crisis and onto a more sustainable path. As the IPCC puts it: “Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5ºC and increase further with 2ºC”. In other words: the climate crisis will affect us all; it is systemic. And when you pause to consider recent extreme weather events, it is unfortunately easy to see just how affected we are, no matter which part of this planet we call home.
But the story of net-zero goes beyond the environment, it also involves the social and governance pillars of ESG. It is widely viewed that society is at the dawn of the next great historical transition: the “decarbonization phase”. Many people believe this transition also brings incredible potential and opportunity through improved technology, innovation and job creation as we pivot society into a new sustainable reality, a reality that can bring positive impacts to our social wellbeing.
When we look at the net-zero journey at Liberty, we view it not only as an opportunity to do our part in the decarbonization transition towards an improved environment, but also to further the benefits to many of our key stakeholders: our employees, the communities we serve, our valued customers and our investors.
Next, the “how”. One could say that this net-zero target has been decades in the making, part of our corporate DNA. If you’re familiar with our story, you know what sustainability has been at the heart of our business since our establishment over 30 years ago. Liberty has never added to the global stock of emissions by developing new thermal and coal-based facilities, and we have been making meaningful contributions to developing and growing renewable energy through hydro, wind, and solar facilities. Sustaining energy and water for life is our purpose, and through that purpose we have been propelling sustainable solutions across our enterprise for many years. So, in many ways, the net-zero goal has been long time coming.
It’s important to recognize that targets of this nature are quite complex, and when done right, there are no shortcuts: we spoke with leaders in key representative areas of our organization, including operations, engineering, finance, legal, risk, development, and gathered the data needed to identify key constraints to achieving potential targets across all of our business lines: water and wastewater, power generation and distribution, gas distribution, and across our jurisdictions (US, Canada, Bermuda, Chile). Through these countless discussions, brainstorming sessions, and careful consideration of the challenges and opportunities, the picture became clearer for us and we became confident that setting this long-term net-zero target was an achievable goal for our organization.
As we look at “where” we’re headed next, it is worth highlighting that we view the net-zero journey as being full of opportunities that build on our strengths. One of our core strengths, for example, stems from the decades of experience we have growing the renewable energy sector: we now have over 1000 wind turbines and over 1 million solar panels in operation, producing clean energy on a daily basis -and our ambitions on renewable energy continue to grow as we not only continue to work to green our own fleet, but also the operations of our partners.
Our teams are also exploring various net-zero emissions reduction opportunities and technology innovations like renewable natural gas (RNG) and green hydrogen and intend to invest in projects to move our knowledge and experience further in these technologies. We are seeking out opportunities across our fleet to decarbonize and to enhance how we operate sustainably.
We recognize that we have a lot of work ahead of us, and we expect to update our interim goals as we continue on our net-zero journey. So, if you are taking a hard look at your career and wondering how you could make a positive impact that you can see, measure, and even visit one day – consider joining our team at Liberty. Sustainability is deeply intertwined with our business’ future outlook: it is a priority for this company and serves as one of the 3 strategic pillars that guide us forward. If you would like to learn more about our history, journey, and sustainability initiatives, please review our net-zero fact sheet and 2021 ESG report that are available on our website, and feel free to reach out to our team.
We look forward to engaging with all of our stakeholders, and we invite you to join us in making a positive difference and being part of the solution.
January 17, 2022
Liberty’s Reverse Mentorship Program is a unique program which pairs employees together and the junior employee (co-op/intern) is the Mentor and the senior leader is the Mentee, which is unlike any traditional mentorship programs. The Mentor/Mentee’s discuss topics which junior employees’ value, including current trends, social media, emerging technology, and the impact of the topics to our business.
I had the opportunity of being part of this unique program in the fall 2021 work term, where I was paired with a Greg Schumacher, Director of Human Resources. We were able to discuss various topics like employee turnover, employee retention and engagement and what steps should managers take to ensure their team is motivated and engaged. This was a great opportunity to discuss these topics with an experienced HR Director and was able to provide my view on these topics. I feel this program is a great opportunity for co-op students to connect with senior industry leaders and fosters an environment of continuous learning.
I was able to connect with Kaitlyn Nash, currently working as a Corporate Communication Coordinator, who had been a part of this program in the summer of 2020. I got her view on this unique program at Liberty from a co-op perspective.
She expressed her opinion by saying: “I had the pleasure of being a part of the Reverse Mentorship program in the summer of 2020 during an eight-month co-op term. I found my experience to be informative, respectful, and extremely valuable, not only for my professional development but also for my personal growth. I was paired with someone I wouldn’t typically ever have the chance to sit down with and discuss topics that were of interest to me. As a co-op student, it can be a bit daunting to meet with a leader of a company, but during our first meeting, titles were inconsequential, and we were just two people discussing an array of topics. I felt listened to and understood while sharing personal experiences. I hope many other co-op students can experience this program as it was empowering and fostered an environment of open dialogue where humility and curiosity were accepted”.
I was also able to connect with Wally Malicki, Director of Engineering at Liberty, to get his view on the reverse mentorship program. As a senior leader who took part in this program, he expressed his views saying: “An interesting approach – call it an experiment – for how to work with, interact, and grow our Co-op/Internship students, was introduced last year at Liberty Power: Reverse Mentorship. Our organization onboards quite a few students and at all times of the year; deploying the Reverse Mentorship concept was identified as a way to improve the process. After taking a few moments to wrap my head around it, I concluded that it was brilliant!
Reverse mentorship temporarily reverses the student/employer traditional roles: the student becomes the mentor, and the employer (a manager) becomes the mentee. It allows the employer to discover how to be better, by listening to, and learning from the student. It’s an open forum: any topic is game. As a Director, receiving direct feedback allows for rapid adjustment of operational and relationship models, and that results in a mutual benefit: A better experience for the student, that drives better performance of their assigned duties, which in turn results in more value for the employer. In some ways, it’s a manifestation of situational leadership. Asking questions and being open to learning (from anyone) is always a good thing – while giving the students an open forum to drive change and improvement, is a clear win-win. I thoroughly enjoyed the program and appreciated the clearly demonstratable benefits that it brought”.
I was also able to connect with Greg Schumacher, Director of Human resources with Liberty, who I was paired with for the fall 2021 work term. Greg expressed his views about the program by saying: “I am extremely pleased as I have had the opportunity to participate in the reverse mentorship program. The benefits of hearing different and fresh perspectives are immeasurable. As a leader, it is imperative to continually adapt and change, and this program gives a leader viewpoint that are not easily seen otherwise. Continuous learning is critical to effective leadership and listening to new ideas and implementing changes based on those new ideas can make a world of difference for a team and advances the business in creative and prosperous ways. I highly recommend this program to any leader who desires to move their team, and subsequently our business, to the next level”.
Overall, I feel the reverse mentorship program helps our leaders in gaining fresh perspectives, understanding what the junior employee feels and ensuring continued personal development. On the other hand, our co-op students can connect with experienced leaders, give their perspective and opinions on certain topics and gain confidence in talking and presenting in front of leaders. I feel this a great initiative and I hope many future co-ops get the opportunity of experiencing this as it would help in their personal development.
Talent Acquisition Co-op
December 16, 2021
In the last 18+ months we have all undergone changes in the way we work. We have had to pivot and adjust to new ways of working, being flexible in how we interact with one another.
At Liberty, we value the work-life balance of all employees and recognize the importance and benefits of flexible work arrangements. We have always maintained a flex time/flex place policy, which has allowed employees to balance work and other life responsibilities. Also allowing employees to complete tasks and projects requiring high levels of concentration without interruption. This has been a part of our culture and will continue to be in place.
New in late 2020, is our work from home policy. We recognize the impact the pandemic has made to the new way of working, with a many of our employees having the ability to work remotely across the enterprise, and the policy is a reflection of enabling leaders to support the requests for those employees who may want to continue to do so, by applying a hybrid model approach. As an essential service provider, Liberty values our employees and we want to maximize our employees’ work experience, when possible. These two programs will help balance the needs of our employees who may be eligible based on their own personal circumstances.
What this pandemic has really taught us is that employees enjoy the flexibility to choose what is right for them and their personal circumstances. Both the flex time/flex place and work from home policies/programs will help ensure our employees have the balance and work environment that is right for them.