Seattle City (spot)Light: Katie Seling

Katie Seling has served on City Light’s Customer Energy Solutions (CES) team for the past six years. “In my current role, I evaluate the effectiveness of conservation programs,” Katie explained. “Are our customers saving what we think they’re saving? Are people participating in areas we think they are? How well is a program designed—is this something we can make more streamlined for our customers? Have we reached all of our customers and made programs available equitably?”

A native Washingtonian, Katie grew up in Lake Stevens and lives in Shoreline with her husband, Peter. They have two young sons with whom they enjoy the area’s parks and activities. “Green Lake is one of our favorite places to hang out during the summer,” she said. In this week’s (spot)Light, Katie talks about her family, her love of music and how her philosophy degree from the University of Washington laid a strong foundation for her job.

Katie and her sons at a Pride parade

“I really like living here. I love that we’re so close to the water and that we have such easy access to the mountains. I also like the climate—maybe not ten months out of the year when it’s raining, but it does make everything green. My husband and I have traveled around and can imagine living in other places, but not for long. We talk about taking our family to live abroad for a year or two, but we’d always return home to the Northwest.”

“Right now, baseball is kind of taking up the bulk of our family time. My older son is a baseball fanatic. My husband is also a huge Mariners fan. We’re a Mariners family. Even when they’re losing, we cheer them on. So, we’re either watching our son play baseball at the park or have it on TV, the radio or getting updates on Peter’s phone.”

“Music is also another family activity. When he’s not teaching middle school kids, my husband is a musician—he plays guitar, primarily—so the kids are constantly playing the various instruments we have at home. Seattle has a great music scene. Some of our favorite places to catch a show are Neumos and the Neptune. Lo-fi and the Columbia City Theater are amazing little venues. I like it when my husband plays there and at the Vera Project, where our kids sometimes join him on stage. We’re very proud to be KEXP supporters, too.”

“I like to write and am a creative person, but philosophy grounded me in analysis and critical thinking. So, I’ve applied those traits to my work with our conservation programs. I also love data and determining who is taking advantage of our programs and who isn’t. Another huge focus of mine is ensuring that the utility is creating good equity-focused programs. It’s important that RSJI (the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative) is broadly integrated into various aspects of our organization like internal operations, our programs and our evaluation process.”

“I like working at City Light because we’re serving the community. I don’t like doing work that doesn’t connect to my values. Community service, education and social justice are my three top values, and if I’m not part of those things, I just can’t whole-heartedly invest in my work.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Liz Zimmerly

For Chicago native Liz Zimmerly, a move to Seattle was an initial test run to see if it was a place that she and her family would enjoy living. Ten years later, they are established Washingtonians who embrace the natural beauty of the PNW whether it’s camping, gardening or exploring the tide pools near their Rainier Beach home. The outdoors also serve as a training ground for Liz, who competes in the annual Seafair Triathlon (this summer will be her 3rd year).

Liz is City Light’s manager of Performance Support Services, and she has helped to implement programs like the Race and Social Justice Initiative, Women and Minority Business Enterprises, the Business Case Process and Benchmarking and Best Practice Research. “My team and I are responsible for managing several programs that serve the utility. It’s a common theme that the programs are focused on helping the utility be efficient, effective and equitable in the way that we do business,” said Liz. The work draws on Liz’s technical expertise as an analyst in the energy and environmental field, as well as her social justice leadership experience with organizations such as Su Casa, a house of hospitality for homeless women and children on Chicago’s Southside.

Today, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we asked Liz to share City Light initiatives that are raising the visibility of its female workforce, specifically the “Women in Energy” group that’s led by Sarah Davis. In keeping with this spirit, Liz also talked about the two women whom she admires most…her grandmother Virginia Doede and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Liz with her son Elijah after the Seafair triathlon. She competed in the sprint distance and he completed his first kids’ triathlon.

“I’m very excited about this ‘Women in Energy’ group that’s forming. The group is just getting started (spread the word!), but it’s something I’ve always wanted to see here. With my engineering background, I’m used to working in organizations where women aren’t in the majority. I’ve even worked in a few places where I was the first woman doing different roles. While City Light does have many successful female employees, we’re not represented equally in all different parts of the organization…some of the trades, our top leadership. When I see those kind of outcomes, I think that City Light is missing out by not having everyone’s voices in the room. So, it’s an opportunity. As women, we have shared experiences and it can be very encouraging to come together and support one another in terms of mentorship, career advice and other avenues.”

“One of my heroes is Madeleine Albright; the first female U.S. Secretary of State, fluent in multiple languages, completely brilliant and accomplished. She plowed the way. I’m most inspired by my grandmother Virginia. She went to college, which wasn’t very common for women at that time, and wanted to be a doctor. She was married right out of college, had six children and went back to work in an office once her kids got older. I just always loved her kindness and her love of learning. She was somebody who taught me about loving and accepting everybody and is my inspiration for supporting City Light’s equity work.”

My driving passion, no matter if it’s professional or personal, is to try to make a difference. A positive difference in some way. My favorite quote is ‘Do all the good that you can, by all the means that you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.’ ”

Thank you, Liz, for sharing your drive and motivation, inspiring others with your work and for being a part of the City Light team since 2011.

Seattle City spot(Light): Shanna Crutchfield

Shanna Crutchfield always knew she would live in Seattle. Upon graduating high school, she moved from Louisiana to join (as she says) “the majestic mountains and beautiful natural landscape” of Washington state. Last year, Shanna celebrated 30 years of service with the city of Seattle, an achievement recognized by the Mayor’s office. What made the moment extremely special was that Shanna received the award alongside her sister, whose 30-year career at the Seattle Police Department was also honored. Shanna also has another sister who retired from Seattle Public Utility a few years ago.

For years, Shanna was City Light’s program manager for the Race and Social Justice Initiative, but she joined City Light in 1988 as an administrative specialist. Her career spanned various positions, including her home base at South Service Center where she was the executive assistant to the director and at the Seattle Municipal Tower (SMT), where she served as a liaison to the law department. She’s also impacted the organization within the personnel department, developing new initiatives and supervising employee training. Shanna has worked in every business unit of the utility, and through her training programs, she’s interacted with every employee—two feats not many can claim.

Shanna’s dedication to serve others shines. It’s a mission that drives her very being, extending into her West Seattle home, where she’s hosted more than 40 international students. This motivation is also seen in her favorite quote, “If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.”

In this week’s (spot)light, Shanna shares her career at City Light and how it’s helped light the path to her next chapter in life…retirement.

(L-R) Shanna Crutchfield with Mayor Ed Murray, and her sister Melba Ayco at Mayor’s Award ceremony last year

“The Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) is important. We’re here to provide the best customer service experience and to do that, we must be intentional in making sure that we’re addressing the needs of every customer…that no matter where they live, what they look like, or what their economic status is, that if we want to live out the mission and vision of this utility, then we must be committed to RSJI,” Shanna said.

“That’s what makes it important for me. I know that there are certain communities of people, certain neighborhoods, who at times feel like they’re forgotten. For a government agency, I think that must be a core value…that we’re here to serve and that what you look like and what you have access to, should not be a barrier to that service.“

“RSJI also recognizes workforce equity and access to education. Coming to Seattle, I immediately jumped into the workplace. Pursuing college wasn’t an option. To see how I progressed in the organization, without having a 4-year degree, is a prime example of equivalency. I made an investment in City Light and they made an investment in me.”

“My favorite thing about City Light is the people. When I see the lights on the streets, I think about the people who do this work. That tangible light represents the commitment from our employees, and that commitment benefits all, no matter who you are. The people here take pride in providing a service to the public. And because I spend a lot of time with employees in training rooms, I get to see that, I get to hear that.”

“I have two children who live in Houston. That’s one of my future goals…to move to Texas to be closer to them. I also have twin granddaughters, and that really excites me. That’s another piece to my job…when I do this work, and think of other people doing this work, I know it’s going to make better outcomes for their future.”

“I had no idea when I started that I would be here this long. The city provides such growth opportunities. There are so many different departments, and for me at City Light, because of all the movement, all the special projects and opportunities that I’ve worked on, it has been an amazing career.”

***Shanna’s last day at City Light is Friday, March 3. Shanna, thank you for your unwavering service to the City of Seattle. Congratulations on such a fulfilling career and best wishes for a wonderful retirement!

Seattle City (spot)Light: Christopher Peguero

Christopher Peguero is in a unique position at City Light, one that was born from his motivation to provide a voice for under-represented groups in our community. As City Light’s environmental equity advisor, Christopher uses the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) as a tool to implement a culture shift in the way that City Light does business. As the founder of the City of Seattle’s SEqual affinity group, Christopher also advocates workplace equality for all City employees, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Christopher has been with City Light for 10 years, and he holds a degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. He lives in Beacon Hill with his husband Anthony Potter and their children Alexander and Adela. In this week’s Seattle City (spot)Light, Christopher talks about how (and why) issues of equity became the focus of his job.

Environmental Equity Advisor Christopher Peguero (foreground) with his husband Anthony Potter and their children Adela and Alexander.

“Race and social justice, equity and engagement have always been central to my work in the environmental sector. I wanted to deepen my knowledge of how you do that work, especially in a large municipality. When I began my work at the City, I spent three years on the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative Core Team.”

“I’m a multi-racial person; I’m of Mexican and Native American and European descent. I am also gay. In my work with the RSJI team, I asked the question ‘How does LGBTQ equity fit in with the City’s RSJI policy?’ The answer was that the City leads with race,” said Christopher.

“Race is most central to addressing institutional oppression since it is central to historical inequity in the United States.  I feel that an inclusive model is the only way that we will ever reach collective liberation from institutional oppression. I wanted to bring LGBTQ concerns to the table too, so I started the City’s LGBTQ affinity group, SEqual. SEqual has been around for seven years now.”

“Later, I proposed a three-year pilot program at City Light looking at environmental justice issues, because I wanted to integrate the work that RSJI was doing into City Light’s environmental work. Simultaneously, the mayor came out with the Equity & Environment Agenda, so that dovetailed nicely. My proposal was accepted and now we are looking at how to make it a permanent program.”

“Traditionally, the environmental sector has been led by white, affluent folks, and often this work tended to benefit that same demographic, not necessarily by intention but because that’s how it evolved and who was at the table.”

“My focus is working with tribes, immigrant and refugee communities, people of color, low-income and limited English proficient communities. Environmental equity looks at developing pathways of opportunities towards employment in the environmental sector and towards influencing environmental policies that have traditionally not centered the needs of these demographics.”

“Now the environmental movement (at least in Seattle) is having a deeper conversation about what inclusion and engagement looks like. The question we’re asking is ‘as we are addressing environmental issues, is there a way to look at disparity as part of the puzzle? Is there a way that all people can share the benefits of environmental progress?”

“We are proudly committed to our work in the environment and conservation at City Light, but there is a need for environmental equity too. There is an opportunity for City Light to lead in the energy sector around this work.”

“We have a strong RSJI program along with the mayor’s Equity & Environment Agenda, and with these two policy commitments at City Light, I believe we have a structured foundation to move toward positive outcomes for communities that have not traditionally been invited to the table.”

“It’s rare for anyone to find a position that really calls to them and all of their passions, and I am incredibly grateful to have found a role doing exactly that at City Light.”

City Light Leads and Learns at Women in Energy Symposium

Women only comprise about 25 percent of the energy industry workforce, and under-representation is particularly acute in the skilled trades and leadership ranks. Seattle City Light is doing its part to fix this problem, and this year the utility had a strong showing at an annual meeting for women in energy.

The Western Energy Institute’s 2016 Women in Energy Symposium, held Nov. 2-4 in Las Vegas, NV, prepared the next generation of women leaders by enabling attendees to learn from some of the most innovative, successful women in the industry. Seattle City Light’s Carol Butler, Maura Brueger, Siriphan Clayton, Sarah Davis, Wanda Davis, Tauna Hood, Tamara Jenkins and Darlene Sakahara all attended on behalf of the utility.

A few of the women from Seattle City Light at the Women in Energy Symposium

The Women In Energy Symposium provides women in the industry an annual opportunity for professional development, education, mentorship and leadership training. City Light employees have previously attended, but this is the first year City Light sent a full cohort of employees from across its different divisions.

“The opportunity to meet other women in the industry and hear about their backgrounds, the paths they’re taken, and the various issues they’re grappling with is compelling, inspiring, and reassuring,” said Sarah Davis, a strategic advisor within Regional Affairs and Contracts. “I look to these women as a model as I think about the shape I want my own career to take.”

Tamara Jenkins, a senior project manager in the Engineering and Technological Innovation unit, returned to City Light inspired. “The most engaging part of the symposium was the breadth and depth of experience in the room, and amazing women that I had the privilege to meet,” she said. “It’s something I will take with me throughout my career and personal life.”

For Carol Butler and Siriphan Clayton, this year’s symposium was particularly meaningful. It marked the culmination of their participation in the Women in Energy Leadership + Mentoring Program, which pairs experienced leaders with talented employees who want to learn and advance in their careers. Butler, City Light’s director of corporate performance, mentored a young manager from the Salt River Project and helped her think through some workplace issues. Clayton, a Power Operations and Marketing supervisor, was matched with a mentor from another utility with whom she had a lot in common. “We shared so many issues and questions. It was amazing how ideas and ways to solve problems kept pouring out during our discussions,” Clayton said.

This year’s symposium sessions included topics such as sustainable energy, the evolution of the Western power grid and the future of electric utilities. Tauna Hood, City Light’s apprenticeship coordinator, particularly enjoyed a breakout session on working across generations and cultures. “It showed how each generation’s early motivations and influences, such as world events, upbringing, cultural beliefs and values affect workplace behaviors and how we communicate and relate to one another,” Hood said. “I took away a bunch of tips on how to motivate and communicate with different employees and colleagues.”

The Women in Energy program, and others like it across the country, provide crucial support to women establishing themselves or seeking to advance in the energy industry. The program also provides an opportunity to learn directly from the experiences of women who have already overcome many of the same challenges they will face. Wanda Davis, an electrical construction and maintenance supervisor, had this opportunity clearly in mind when she decided to attend the symposium. “I have worked in non-traditional roles for nearly 32 years at Seattle City Light,” she said. “I wanted to share the knowledge I have gained over my career.”

When asked to describe what it was like to attend the symposium, Davis replied “It was encouraging to see how far we have come.” Although women are half of the national workforce, there are still miles to go before the energy industry sees proportional representation. City Light wants the best and the brightest employees, and half of those employees should be women.