June 30, 2022
As Pride month comes to a close, the LGBTQI+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), Friends of Liberty, wants to say thank you to those who have shown your support throughout the month.
The history of Pride starts with the Stonewall Rebellion, which took place on June 28, 1969, and is often seen as the beginning of the LGBTQI+ movement. It all started with a police raid at a New York gay bar in the Stonewall Inn. On this night, the patrons decided to fight back and resist arrest, forming a group of rioters on the street. It did, indeed, get ugly, however the riots led to a rise in LGBTQI+ activism around the United States in the following days, weeks, and months. Basically, enough was enough and what happened that night spurred a new wave of activism.
This Pride month, Friends of Liberty, was able to host their first seminar on Pronouns with Jay Northcott as the host. Jay comes from the reality show Big Brother Canada with an extensive background in the LGBTQI+ space. In the coming months, we will be celebrating Pride in a couple of parades throughout the regions. One will be in Reno, NV, and the other in Joplin, MO. If anyone is interested in being part of the festivities, please reach out to either one of us and we will gladly put you on the guest list. Please keep your eye out for upcoming events from us later this year.
Please remember, it’s not easy being from the LGBTQI+ community and your love and support means the world to us at Friends of Liberty.
Remember, love is love and everyone should be able to shed a little pride into the world.
Lots of Love,
Your Co-chairs of Friends of Liberty,
- Angie Custer | Supervisor II, Warehouse Operations, Angie.Custer@libertyutilities.com
- Paul Rushton | Manager, Human Resources, Paul.Rushton@libertyutilities.com
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.
This week marks Customer Service week and at Liberty, our customers are a top priority. This week is an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers every day.
At Liberty, providing energy, water and wastewater services to our more than three million customers is our purpose and our passion, and while we focus on our customers each and every day, this week is a time set aside to appreciate the hard work, dedication and contributions to creating great customer experiences by our frontline workers.
Below are some of their stories, experiences and career journey’s with Liberty.
After recently moving back to New Hampshire with my two sons in 2013, I was looking for my next career move that would afford me work-life balance. In August of 2013 I filled a temporary Customer Service Representative position with Liberty. I became a permanent employee in March of 2014 and was promoted to a Lead Customer Service Representative September of 2014. Since then, I’ve worn a number of hats, helped interview new applicants, train new hires and participate in many different projects across departments. I’ve also advanced to my current position as a Customer Service Supervisor where I oversee and assist customer service employees in the performance of their daily duties. These past eight years with the company have helped me become a better person, employee and leader.
The most important qualities I work to instill in my team each day are professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. I’m most proud of helping them further develop their skillsets and professional careers and ensure that they thrive and succeed within the company. As someone who takes pride in improving employee engagement while getting the job done, it’s important to me to go above and beyond to ensure that all of my direct reports feel appreciated, respected and safe in their roles.
- Kristen Lange – Customer Service Supervisor
I started my career with liberty in October 2013 as a part-time Customer Service Representative. At the time I was a single mother and going to school full-time. The part-time position allowed me to be there for my daughter, focus on college, and start my career while I was still in school. In July 2014 I accepted a full-time Customer Service Representative position which I stayed in while I completed my degrees.
I graduated in December 2014 with a degree in Business Management and Human Resource Management. The week of graduation I accepted a position in the System Reliability department as the System Reliability Administrator. When I accepted the position, I had no idea the impact my time as a Customer Service Rep. would play on my new role. I was responsible for outage data, monthly reporting, and annual reporting - along with other day-to-day tasks, data request, or data related inquires we may have received. There were many times my training and experiences in customer service helped while I was in System Reliability.
In August 2020, I accepted a position in Talent Acquisition as the Talent Specialist for our Central Region in Joplin, which is my current role with Liberty. I primarily focus on helping our hiring leaders find top talent for individual contributor roles, primarily customer service positions, which is very special to me because that is the position that allowed me to start my career with a Liberty. I know the value of the position, how difficult the position can be, and how rewarding the position can be. I truly feel honored that I’m able to bring new representatives into the role. I know how my time in the contact center touched me as not only an employee but a person and love that I get to give others that same opportunity.
- Jessica Montgomery - Talent Specialist
Being a Customer Service Representative is arguably one of the most important and most challenging positions within a company. Customer Service Representatives are the face of a company to the customer and are often the only contact a customer has with a company. Below are 5 tips for CSRs to keep in mind when delivering great service:
- Kara Fouts – Customer Service Supervisor
Liberty is excited to share that we are launching a new graduate rotational program – Liberty Foundations. This program has been designed and developed to ensure new graduates have an opportunity to learn and get exposure to a breadth of opportunities within the two years, to help kick-start their careers with Liberty in Engineering, Regulatory or Finance and Accounting.
We are passionate about providing students and recent graduates with industry-specific, technical, and professional skills needed to grow their careers and we’re excited to begin the search for new graduates to join our program in 2022! We will first launch the program in our US Regional offices and hope to extend the program within Canada in 2023.
Read more from three of the leaders who have been closely involved in the development of the program below.
I am extremely excited to have had the opportunity to help design our Liberty Foundations Program!
Being involved in a similar program in the past allowed me to have a unique perspective on the tremendous benefits it brings to our company and the talented future participants as well.
Working together with colleagues that were equally engaged and committed to building the best possible program made the entire experience fun and refreshing while developing relationships that will last a very long time.
I look forward to meeting and mentoring out first team of participants as we get to learn from each other and continue to improve.
- Moses Thompson - Director, Operations
I was honored to be a part of the creation of this program and am very excited for individuals that get the opportunity to deep dive into our business and learn all aspects of what we do! Liberty Foundations will provide such a vast array of experiences including hands on learning and mentoring from leaders in the business. The regulated utility industry has many intricate working parts and the better we can learn all aspects of the company, the more we can become a cohesive group, fostering growth and community.
I look forward to meeting our first class of Liberty Foundation grads!
- Jennifer Shewmake – Director, Finance and Administration
I must say that I was more than enthusiastic when I was asked to be a part of the development team for the new graduate program and was most certainly eager to participate. I have longed believed, and still do, that our employees are our greatest resource. I know, it sounds cliché, but in fact it’s very real and we can only be a successful enterprise by building up a “top-of-the-line” workforce. Top-line employees must be in place at every level across the enterprise. What better way to accomplish that goal than to hire new graduates who will bring with them fresh perspectives! Fresh perspectives that can be molded to the “Liberty way” while at the same time use those very same perspectives to influence, improve and expand the Liberty way of doing things in a manner that positively affects to our commitment to growth, operational excellence, and sustainability. So, when I was asked to help develop such a program, obviously I was immediately onboard and fully committed.
I quickly discovered that we had a whole group of individuals on the new graduate program development team who felt that same commitment and desire to improve the employee experience for new graduates as I did. The result is a brand-new program aptly named Liberty Foundations that will be used to recruit university and college graduates to be candidates for career opportunities at Liberty. The Liberty Foundations program is designed to bring the next generation of leaders to Liberty. As we know, a highly trained workforce is essential to Liberty’s future economic competitiveness and continued growth. The new graduates should be viewed not only as a vital part of the enterprise workforce but must be considered a necessary part of our enterprise strategy on innovation and competitiveness. Graduates often conduct groundbreaking research in universities in a variety of disciplines as part of their studies and gaining access to that intellectual capital can be more easily achieved through a program such as Liberty foundations. I believe given a properly fostered work environment, the successful new graduate will contribute directly to our growth, operational excellence, and sustainability goals sooner than later as they bring fresh perspectives and new energy to the organization.
Kudo’s to the team for putting together such a solid program for some of our most valuable resources, our future employees!
Mark Saltsman – Vice President and General Manager, Liberty NY
If you are intrigued about this program and would like to learn more, click here to be directed to our campus page. There you can also see what event’s we’ll be participating in this fall!
Our postings are now live on our job board to hire our first cohort into the Liberty Foundations program. Applications are being accepted until October 7th, 2021 – don’t wait to apply!
Since May, I’ve been the Talent Acquisition Co-op for the Talent Acquisition team in Oakville. In my role, I’ve been involved in the recruitment of the Fall co-op students, campus recruitment strategizing, and assisting my team where needed. The Talent Acquisition team has made an active effort to include me in their key projects and meetings to provide a fresh perspective on how things are done now and in the future. This position has allowed me to take the lead on a wide variety of tasks and problems which has challenged me to think outside of the box and develop a lot of skills. The team at Liberty is very welcoming and able to find opportunities for co-op students and interns to try something new or to develop one of their skills. I’ve learned a lot my conversations with my team, other co-op students, and the hiring leaders that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. Everyone I’ve met has been willing to help me out and teach me about their area of expertise at Liberty.
Liberty also offers co-op students the opportunity to participate in a reverse mentorship program. As a participant in this program, I’ve been paired with a senior leader for my term and I act as their mentor. As a mentor to a senior leader, I share my insights and opinions as someone starting their career in Human Resources and we both learn from each other. Each of our meetings covers a new topic whether it is more general to the workforce or a current challenge that our teams are facing. My fellow co-op students and the senior leaders of the program leave with a better understanding of each other, the company, and a new connection at Liberty.
Although reaching the end of my term with Liberty is bittersweet, I’m thankful for all the people at Liberty who have gone out of their way to provide meaningful learning opportunities for myself and other co-op students this Summer.
- Lindsay Hamilton - Talent Acquisition Co-op
My name is Jeff Westfall and I am the Central Region Director of Operations T&D at Liberty. As we celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Month, I reflect on my 32-year electric utility career with the 15+ years I spent as a lineman and I’m proud to share my thoughts.
When I started in linework, I was a 22-year-old kid that didn’t know anything about linework or even the utility business. I soon realized if I was willing to put in the effort there was plenty of support to help me obtain the knowledge and training, I needed to succeed. I quickly became part of a work family that was willing to share their knowledge and help me obtain the skills needed.
Over the first four years, I learned the technical and safety skills to progress though my apprenticeship to become a journeyman, but I also learned to work as a team and realized just how much could be accomplished as we worked together. Being part of a trade where the most important thing is your safety and the safety of others around you taught me more than just technical skills. It taught me to value others and their opinions and how to trust and respect others and the importance of safety practices. All these things come together in a common saying in the utility industry, “it’s not dead unless it’s grounded”. This truly means something in this profession. It can mean life or death and make a difference whether someone you care for goes home at night.
Linework is hard, demanding and dangerous work and performed in all kinds of conditions, however it is very rewarding as well. Anyone who has heard cheers when the lights come back on knows what I’m talking about. There is no better feeling than knowing you have helped someone in need.
For me, choosing linework was more than a career choice, it’s was a lifestyle choice, not only for me but my family as well. Missing holidays, birthdays, graduations, ballgames and other events is just something that comes with the territory. As much as my wife and daughter wanted me to be at those events and was concerned when I was gone, they were my biggest supporters when I needed to go.
Working trouble and storms through the years are great memories and I, like all other lineman, all have stories to tell, but the people and the lifelong friendships is what stands out to me and what I really remember and will always cherish.
I value every day that I spent as a lineman, and I owe my experience to all those that taught me the trade and the true meaning of teamwork and respect for others. 15 years later I still use those experiences and lessons learned to guide me in my career. Even if I could, I wouldn’t trade my time as a lineman for anything.
I would like to say Thank you to all the line workers that came before me and helped make this the trade what it is, and to all those currently continuing to make things better and safer for our future workers, I truly appreciate everything you do.
- Jeff Westfall - Central Region Director, Transmission and Distribution
Liberty has a long-standing tradition of taking a moment at the beginning of each meeting to discuss a safety topic. These Safety Moments occur at every meeting that has more than 5 people in attendance with the purpose of reiterating the value of safety. Safety Moments allow employees to reflect and learn about safety throughout their work week, no matter how safety-sensitive their position is. All employees participate in these Safety Moments no matter their department or seniority in the company. Although Safety Moments are only one component of Liberty’s ongoing commitment to safety, these moments have become second nature to our employees and are a great way to kickstart a meeting while keeping safety at the forefront of what we do at Liberty.
Safety Moments are often a part of meeting presentations and agendas as our employees make sure to dedicate time for these important moments of sharing and learning. The host of a meeting will typically have a Safety Moment prepared that covers a topic of their choosing or they’ll invite meeting attendees to share a safety topic that is on their mind that day. There is an endless number of topics that Safety Moments can cover such as electrical safety, bike helmets, ergonomics, and ways to relieve stress throughout the workday. Our Safety Moments transcend workplace safety to cover safety issues that employees may face in their personal lives as well.
Here is an example of what you might hear during a Safety Moment on heatstroke:
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. The condition is most common in the summer months.
Warning signs include heavy sweating, cold, pale and clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches and weakness.
Some actions that you can take if you think that you might have heatstroke are:
At Liberty, safety of our employees
is are of utmost importance to us. Whether working out in the field or in one of our many offices, we want to ensure everyone has a safe environment to work in. Safety isn’t just about physical safety, however. We promote a physically safe and psychologically healthy work environment and have several programs and initiatives, including:
Below is a more detailed outline of some of these programs, initiatives and events across the enterprise.
As part of our 5-year safety vision, our organization has embarked on a journey to implement the following safety programs:
The committee also takes pride in educating their co-workers about hazards identified and work on mitigation strategies. This is a group of passionate people who love being involved and being part of this committee!
Mental Health First Aid Canada
In 2018 and 2019 the Company introduced a sponsored Mental Health Training to create Mental Health awareness and train employees on how to deal with mental health as it arises in the workplace. Mental Health First Aid Canada (MHFA), is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The program aims to improve mental health literacy and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague. For more information please refer to the “Improve Mental Health Workplace” flyer in the appendix.
Every year, we hold our Safety Symposiums to give our employees the opportunity to learn about key safety topics, participate in workshops and activities, and hear inspiring stories from engaging outside speakers.
Due to the pandemic, we have been holding our annual Safety Symposiums in a virtual format for 2020 and 2021. These symposiums are open to all employees and cover a variety of topics including: Life-saving behaviors, a day in the life of our Liberty employees, good catches and more.
- Gary Sommer, Sr. Program Manager, EHS
One of the core tenets of our operations is our belief in the importance of our employees living and working in the communities where we operate. In order to best serve our communities, it's integral that our workforce be representative of those communities and reflects the ideas and expertise inherent of diverse communities.
We believe that building an inclusive work environment, where all of our team members feel a sense of belonging, is critical to unlock the benefits of diverse teams.
In today’s blog post, we are sharing the stories of two of our employees and founding members of the EDGE BRG at Liberty.
My name is Kimberly Luces and I’ve been with Liberty for 5.5 years as their Senior Program Manager, Environment. As a multiracial millennial mom, I have been on the receiving end of intersecting micro aggressions related to my gender, age, race and ethnicity throughout my life. I am also deeply saddened to say that I have witnessed other people—my friends, family, coworkers, strangers—experiencing similar micro aggressions based on their identities.
When the opportunity arose for me to start the EDGE BRG (Ethnically Diverse Group of Employees Business Resource Group) here at Liberty, in an effort to support ethnically diverse employees and continue to grow our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), I felt a combination of excitement, hope, and nerves. For one, I felt that in the social climate we’re witnessing around the world today, this was an opportunity to come together across the enterprise to drive meaningful, positive change with my ethnically diverse colleagues and allies. I hope that the EDGE BRG will bring us closer to achieving social equity, disrupting unconscious bias, increasing diverse representation in the boardroom and across the enterprise, and most importantly, offer a platform to marginalized employees to share their stories, to listen and learn, and to identify and address our own biases in a meaningful way. I am happy to say that since launching EDGE, I’ve seen these very hopes come to life.
EDGE launched officially in December 2020 and now has 50 members comprised of talented, passionate and diverse employees and allies all across the business. Together with our Executive Sponsor, we wanted to ensure EDGE was built for the employees and in collaboration with our employees. Our mission is to create and nurture an inclusive culture by providing a safe place of belonging, acceptance, empathy and respect for our ethnically diverse employees and allies. Through the development of meaningful and long-lasting connections, constructive dialogue, education and celebration of our differences, we aim to create a deeply inclusive and culturally competent workplace while driving innovative solutions to meet the needs of our employees and the communities we serve.
We will continue to focus on driving deeper inclusivity, innovation and improving company performance as it relates to DE&I and employee wellbeing; and I look forward to seeing all of the 2021 EDGE plans come to life this year and beyond.
- Kimberly Luces, Senior Program Manager
My name is Greg Sorensen and I have worked at Liberty for the past 15 years. I currently serve as the President for Liberty’s West Region. I have the privilege of working with our fantastic employees who provide outstanding electric, water, and wastewater service to our customers and communities in Arizona, California, Texas, and our newest utility in Chile. In my career at Liberty, I have come to understand that while we are utility company which operates pipes and pumps, wires and substations, and many other facilities, we are at our core a company of people – employees and customers.
Over the past couple of years, it has been hard NOT to reflect upon the rapidly changing environment in our country. The topics of equality, justice, equity and bias are at the forefront of our minds and frequent topics of conversations we are having. But the time for only talking about these challenges is past. I realize that someone like myself, who is in a position to help influence and affect change, must start acting.
In 2020, I was presented with an opportunity to be an Executive Sponsor to help start, along with the amazing Kimberly Luces from our Oakville office as the Lead, a Business Resource Group (BRG) to focus on and help support and grow our company’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitment. The particular focus of the BRG would be to develop and offer a platform where ethnically diverse employees and allies could gather, discuss issues related to race and ethnicity, share their stories and challenges, and maybe most importantly, begin to affect change within our organization. So, in December 2020, the EDGE BRG (Ethnically Diverse Group of Employees) was launched.
EDGE’s mission statement is to create and nurture an inclusive culture by providing a safe place of belonging, acceptance, empathy and respect for our ethnically diverse employees and allies. EDGE will support our Diversity and Inclusion Council, as well as look for ways to shape and influence company policy to drive Liberty to have a workplace that is supportive of diversity, and a place where employees feel a true sense of belonging.
To be a successful company, we must know and understand our customers. To do this, we must be a company that, at all levels or the organization, from front lines to executive management, reflects the communities we serve. This can not be done if we are all one gender, ethnicity, or orientation. To be a great company, we must develop and support our employees, and provide the opportunity to grow and advance to ALL employees. To have true diversity of thought, we must have diverse employees from where those thoughts are generated.
Throughout 2021 and beyond, EDGE will continue to focus on its mission, and we look forward to making continued improvement for our employees and the communities Liberty serves.
- Greg Sorensen, President
Our objective around diversity, inclusion and belonging is to widen our scope and consider how all underrepresented employees can have an equal footing for all opportunities. In order to advance this commitment, we've recently launched two new Business Resource Groups. One for LGBTQA+ employees, and the second focused on ethnicity.
In today’s blog post, we are sharing the stories of three of our employees and members of the LGBTQA+ community.
My name is Sue and I am the President of our New Hampshire utilities. I am also proud to be a part of our corporate LGBTQA+ Business Resource Group, as I consider myself a member of this community. As part of this BRG, I have had the pleasure of helping introduce Liberty employees to the rich culture of the LGBTQA+ community through stories and experiences.
Individuals’ stories about identity and belonging help us all connect to universal truths about ourselves and our world. They foster empathy and understanding by allowing us to share passions, fears, sadness, hardship and joy and find common ground with those around us. For many of the LGBTQA+ employees with concerns about how others may treat them if they show their true selves, these stories can create a sense of community and help them not feel so alone. And some are just plain entertaining for everyone!
I think the TV show Modern Family, with central LGBTQA+ characters, proved that with its 11 seasons, 22 Emmy awards and 1 Golden Globe. This show reached out and spoke to people from multiple backgrounds and dealt with serious issues in a considerate way. And, I have to say, I have laughed out loud to this show more than any other TV show I can think of. It reminds me of my crazy family, in so many ways and I recognize many struggles and successes that I have gone through over the years.
One of the issues we all as LGBTQA+ deal with is coming out to friends and relatives and co-workers. Just imagine that you couldn’t tell your family about a really important part of your life because you were afraid that they may never speak to you again. That’s how many of us feel in the workplace. Afraid to put a photo of a loved one on our desk or discuss our chosen family around the water cooler. Our BRG wants to make sure no one ever feels that way at Liberty.
And lastly, I’d like to suggest that you all celebrate Pride month with us this year in June. It is the single biggest cultural event for the LGBTQA+ community and usually includes community parades with floats and music and gatherings all across the globe. I’m not sure how the pandemic rules will impact it this year, but hopefully there will be celebrations in your areas.
- Sue Fleck, President
My name is Paul Rushton and I am currently part of the HR Team out of Oakville. I came to Liberty in September 2020 in the midst of a pandemic but one of the reasons I joined was because I was truly sold on the culture and how strongly passionate Liberty was with regards to Diversity and Inclusion.
Being an openly gay male in the workforce, I have faced some challenges with feeling accepted within the culture of the organization I was with. For example, one company I worked for made it a point to state they don’t support “my kind of people”. In most cases, I would simply shrug it off as my sexual identity should not define who I am. It is a part of who I am but it does not define me. However, this is why I needed to find a place where I belong and Liberty was that place.
After bringing my son into the world via surrogacy in 2019 and knowing that he may have some challenges being raised by two dads, I knew I had to help pave the way for more acceptance. In Liberty, I joined Friends of Liberty, the LGBTQA+ business resources group to help foster this kind of environment for members and allies of the gay community.
Since I have joined Friends of Liberty in January, 2021, we have seen a growth of membership from 3 to 11 members. The word is getting out to the community that we have such a fantastic resource group that is accepting and rewarding to those employees who want a place in which they feel they belong. 2020 will be the year with many rewarding events that will be delivered by Friends of Liberty and I can’t wait to be part of every single one of them.
- Paul Rushton, HR Manager
My Name is Angie Custer, and I’m part of the Planning Department in North Lake Tahoe, CA. I’ve been with Liberty since February 2010, and I’ve seen tremendous growth within Liberty in the areas of Diversity and Inclusion. In the 10 years I’ve been with the company, I have always felt that I was accepted for who I am.
As an openly gay woman, my partner and I (which her name is Liberty LOL) have a 4 year old son. One day we were playing school, I asked him “What am I?” Expecting the response of either a boy or a girl, he looked at me and said “You’re a human Gigi”. I was completely surprised by his answer, and thought “imagine if everyone thought this way.” That our differences didn’t matter.
In 2019 I became part of the LGBTQA+ business resource group. Our mission is to represent the LGBTQA+ community by bringing awareness, educating, and providing a safe place for all employees. I look forward to all the future events we have planned for 2021 and the years to come.
- Angie Custer, Planner