2023 CWEEL Achievements
This year, CWEEL marks many significant milestones that require our attention and acknowledgment of their import, accolades for, and appreciation of those who have contributed to the advancement and achievement of CWEEL in its service to women and those who will continue its mission as we look ahead to the future.
CWEEL at AEE World
AEE World was more than just business as usual for CWEEL. At every AEE conference, CWEEL presents a breakfast with a keynote speaker. Saeideh Kirby, Senior Director leading Energy and Sustainability Services for multiple industry verticals within the Americas at JLL, spoke to the Power of Sponsorship in Overcoming Bias at this year’s breakfast. CWEEL also hosted the CWEEL Reception, where laughter and fellowship were met with a fun networking game and lasting connections.
This year, CWEEL had a dedicated series of sessions at the AEE World Energy Conference & Expo for the first time. This session is a testament to and recognition by AEE for the importance and contributions of women meeting and overcoming the environmental challenges and energy demands on our society worldwide. The largest AEE conference of the year, AEE World, is an international event attended by over 1700 people, with over 70 booths, and over 150 speakers presenting in 13 Technical Tracks ranging from the Inflation Reduction Act and Industrial Electrification to Hydrogen.
CWEEL remains dedicated to supporting women’s career advancement and development in the energy engineering and environmental space, including four sessions noted below. Under the banner of Corporate and Sustainability Initiatives, the four sessions were successful, with solid attendance and positive feedback for all presenters and program content.
Casting the Net – Networking Tips & Tricks Part 1 Co-presented by two CWEEL governing council members, Deb Lenny, CWEEL Co-Chair, and Kiersten Washle, Building Science Engineer of CMTA, and CWEEL Career Advancement Committee Chair. This session shared tools and techniques for effective networking with participants.
Doing the Work – Guided Networking Exercises Part 2 Deb and Kiersten continued the conversation, working with participants to apply the networking techniques from Part I through interactive exercises.
Women Breaking Barriers in the Energy Sector: presented by Crissy Godfrey CEM, Specialist Leader/Government & Public Service Energy, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and CWEEL International Development Chair. Crissy discussed women’s current level of participation in the traditional energy industry, barriers faced, and her approach and path to overcoming those barriers in the international energy space.
Male Allyship: presented by Ellen Bomasang, Principal, Global Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Abt Associates and CWEEL governing council International Program & Events Chair. Ellen addressed the importance of men in recognizing the role and significance of women in cultivating innovation, productivity, and sustainability within organizations and creating an environment where all voices and contributions are heard and valued.
CWEEL and AEE Meet
Since its creation in 2007, CWEEL has been a division of AEE. With its own Governing Council and volunteer staff of professional women, CWEEL has developed and implemented initiatives supporting career development programming, networking events, fundraising, marketing and communications, and membership in furthering its mission. With the growth of women in energy-related positions within corporate America and expanding focus to cultivate women in energy-based corporations, AEE has worked with CWEEL over the last year to provide resources to support the effective out-reach of CWEEL programming to its members and will include add-on division membership of CWEEL as an option when joining AEE, at no additional cost starting in January 2024. The actions taken by AEE in support of the growth of CWEEL is a significant acknowledgment and commitment by AEE to the development of women.
Long-Time Board Chair of CWEEL Steps Down to Step Up
At the end of the year, CWEEL Chairwoman Laurie Wiegand-Jackson will step down from her role leading the CWEEL organization to continue her role as an At-Large Board Member on the AEE Board of Directors.
Working with the visionary and founder of AEE, Al Thumann, Laurie developed a mission and organization structure that would provide for the professional development of women in the energy industry under the AEE banner.
Laurie, a founding Board Member since 2007 and Chairwoman since 2010, has worked tirelessly with passion to fulfill the vision of CWEEL while meeting the changing needs and expanding the role of women in the energy market. Initially envisioned as a vehicle to support networking at AEE Conferences, under Laurie’s leadership, CWEEL has grown beyond networking to provide career development training, a mentoring program, educational scholarships, and robust online programming. Laurie also created the CWEEL Advisory Committee, recognizing the need to offer greater guidance and council to CWEEL’s strategic direction and initiatives and greater access to corporate donors.
Over the years, Laurie expanded the CWEEL Governing Council to include international markets, college campuses, and AEE Chapter CWEEL groups and liaisons. As a result, CWEEL has grown to be an international organization representing 12 countries, 14 CWEEL groups, and 28 CWEEL liaisons across 25 states and regions in the USA and Canada.
Laurie continues to be a leader in the energy industry, starting her own business, Utility Advantage, in 2003, a consulting and services company focusing on developing and implementing sound policies and programs to promote the efficient utilization of energy resources worldwide.
Thank you, Laurie, for your inspiring and caring leadership, vision and passion for CWEEL – our members and board members and your dedication to the advancement of women. We wish you well.
Marketing and Communications Director Transitions to New Role at AEE
Maryanne McGowan is stepping down from her role as Marketing & Communications Chair, which she has held for over eight years. During this time, Maryanne has led in developing CWEEL’s brand – look, image, messaging, online presence, and social media navigation and participation.
However, her contribution and commitment to AEE will not end. She has recently taken on the role of Regional VP Midwest and been appointed to the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Board – the first female appointee in the 47-years of existence.
The CWEEL board will sorely miss Maryanne, her talents, insights, and commitment to the organization, fellow board members, and AEE staff. Thank you!
I have never been a good, good-bye person. I have historically stuck with silence, thus leaving all those whom I have met and who have meant something to me with a sense of abandonment, incompleteness, or weirdness. The other thing that may be weird or unusual is that I tend not to look back at the days and years gone by, preferring to look at the impact today could have on tomorrow. I share this because I volunteered to write about the milestones of the CWEEL organization and these two exemplary women in the industry who, with each successive day of their lives, dedicated time and effort to making a concept, an idea, a reality, to the benefit of others. I also wanted to reflect on the loss we, as a group of Governing Council members, will know as these vibrant, caring women pursue a new direction and as we navigate our path forward as an organization and as individuals. We thank you both for your contributions, leadership, and friendship.