Seattle City (spot)Light: Josh Walter

Josh Walter first began his City Light career as an intern in 2008. In 2009, he returned to the utility and now serves as a Strategic Advisor for the Power Contracts, Regional Affairs and Strategic Planning division. “We advocate for City Light and our resources to participate in energy markets in the West to benefit our customers,” Josh explained. “We work directly with the Bonneville Power Administration and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and try to make it easier and cost effective to bring our hydro resources into various market opportunities.”

A Montana native, Josh attended Washington State University and later transferred to Montana State University where he graduated with a degree in political science. He also spent two years in AmeriCorps and attended law school at Vermont Law School. “I started law school with the intent of studying environmental law,” Josh explained. “At the time, our school offered a new curriculum that specialized in energy. I found myself moving away from the environmental focus and spent more time on the energy law and policy side of my legal studies.”

Josh lives in South Lake Union but is moving to the Leschi neighborhood with his wife Kelly and their two children, Amelia (four years old) and Leo (ten months old). In this week’s (spot)Light, he talks about his role at the utility and shares a few of his hobbies.

Josh and his son Leo (at 8 weeks old)

“I grew up in Butte, Montana. It was everything you could want as a kid. I was surrounded by mountains and rivers and spent a lot of time outside. I’ve always enjoyed living in places that have great access to the outdoors…. Montana…. Washington…. Vermont. When I was in AmeriCorps, I served as a crew leader for the Montana Conservation Corp and spent a ton of time in Yellowstone. That was beautiful.”

“I’ve been trying as much as I can to get back into running. Historically, it’s something I’ve done quite a bit, but has just gotten harder with two kids. I like running along the waterfront. I’m also a woodworker. I do quite a bit of woodworking when I have the time. I’ve made cabinets, tables, and various other pieces of furniture. There are quite a few things floating around our house that I have made…our dining room table…cutting boards…our book shelf. Recently, I made a vanity for my parents’ home.”

In terms of his work at Seattle City Light, “our group conducts a lot of research and participates in numerous and diverse stakeholder groups. This mainly consists of utilities getting together to discuss initiatives to see where we might fit in; and for Seattle, how these potential activities will benefit our customers. For example, Bonneville or CAISO may have a new idea or a change to a current business practice. We participate to influence what the ultimate outcomes are. We’re advocating to make it better for City Light and our customers.”

“One of the great things about this work is I’m always working on something new. Things move relatively slow in the energy world, but there’s enough change in issues to keep it interesting. There’s a lot of new, innovative, interesting things to keep us intellectually stimulated. We have a great workgroup. I also like that my interest in the environment is an important theme here. I value the fact that environmental issues are a major focus of the utility.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Martha Molina

Martha Molina celebrated two-years at City Light in early June. As the Return to Work Coordinator, Martha works in the utility’s Safety division. “I act as the liaison between the Seattle Department of Human Resources and City Light’s supervisors, managers and injured workers,” Martha explained. “In my role, I help bring people back to work. Studies show that the quicker an employee returns to work following an industrial injury, the better chance they have for a 100% recovery as opposed to being away from work.”

Martha was born in Guatemala, but also lived in Los Angeles for six years before moving to Seattle. “I moved here when I was ten, so I’ve spent the greater part of my life in the Northwest,” Martha shared.  “I haven’t been to Guatemala since I was four. We have a big trip planned this summer and I can’t wait!”

Martha lives in Federal Way with her husband Mario and their two chihuahuas, Buttercup and Dixie. In this week’s (spot)Light, Martha talks about her volunteer work and how it’s applicable to her role at the utility.

A family selfie: Martha, Mario, Buttercup and Dixie

“I went to Highline College, transferred to the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in political science. I originally wanted to be a lawyer, but after working at a law firm, I realized that it wasn’t for me. The law firm where I worked specialized in worker’s compensation. From there, I went to a risk management group. Both of those experiences gave me a good foundation for the work I do now. I’m able to interpret code and laws and know how to apply them.”

“I do a lot of work with the community, specifically with young woman empowerment. I help young girls develop their skills for professional careers and, overall, build their self-esteem. I recently presented at the ‘Young Educated Ladies Leading’ (Y.E.L.L.) Summit where girls 14 – 18 years old participated in a variety of different workshops. It’s so important to develop those life skills. It’s also important to have an outlet; to learn how to speak for yourself and to be confident in who you are and how you feel. Those are themes we focus on at these Summits. My presentation was titled ‘Embracing your Inner Monsters.’ It’s fun to work with youth and teach them that no matter what challenges or obstacles you face, there is still opportunity to grow and be successful.”

“I also volunteer with Hispanic Seafair. I help with interview workshops, resume reviews, drafting cover letters…topics that align with career and vocational pursuits. Ironically enough, throughout the claims process, there is a portion that deals with vocational assessment which ties into my day-to-day work at City Light! Also, go Huskies!”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Alfred Love

Alfred Love has been at City Light for three years, but just celebrated 20 years of service with the City of Seattle. He began his career in the Parks and Recreation department and is now the Credit and Collections Supervisor in the utility’s Customer Care division. “People hear the word ‘collections’ and think negatively, but that’s not the case for us as the customer is the one making contact,” Alfred explained. “We deal with closed accounts, move dates, unreceived bills and finalize open transactions.”

A longtime resident of the Northwest, Alfred grew up in Rainier Beach. He lives in Kent, but is still active in the Rainier Beach community. Alfred and his fiancée, Ashanti, have five children and one grandson. In this week’s (spot)Light, Alfred talks about his volunteer work in the community and why he enjoys customer interface.

Alfred with his team

“I used to go to the Rainier Beach Community Center when I was a kid. I was always there to play basketball. Eventually, I started coaching which led to a position working in the after-school program. I was in high school at the time, so it was a part-time position, but eventually I applied for a full-time position as a recreation attendant. I’ve always enjoyed positions that were customer facing.”

“I’m still very much involved with the Rainier Beach Community Center. I’m the head coach of two basketball teams and the founder of the Seattle Youth Recreation Foundation (SYRF), which is a non-profit organization for the youth. I created the organization to help the kids at the community center have a better team experience. We take the kids to an annual travel basketball tournament and other monthly outings. It gives them the experience of being on a team without having a certain level of skill or finances to support the endeavor. It’s a recreational team. I’ve been running SYRF for nine years. It’s a wonderful experience. I’m also a minister at Spiritual Blessings Christian Church which also keeps me going.”

“I’ve been coaching basketball for 30 years. I’m now coaching kids of kids I use to coach! I’m still running plays from my early years of coaching and my previous players, who are now parents, are recognizing those plays! It’s funny how it comes back full circle. But the play still works, so why not?! I’m a basketball guy; a community guy. I just love to do what I do and keep it going.”

“My desire to serve and help others ties into my role here at City Light. I like coming up with process improvements and looking at things from different perspectives. It helps to serve our mission of customer service. We don’t want our customers to go to collections. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to prevent them from getting there. There are different programs we implement to help streamline the process. I’m always looking at ways to update that process and make sure that things are in a constant state of improvement. Like I said, I’ve always enjoyed positions with customer interaction.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Lori Fowler

Lori Fowler has served as the Senior Gardener at the utility’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project for the past seven months. “I’m tasked with developing and maintaining our landscapes in a sustainable manner,” Lori explained. “We also ensure that our work reflects our current values while giving a nod to the historical and paying honor to what was here before.”

Lori was born in Seattle, but grew up in California before moving to Oregon. She attended Pacific North West Resource Management School and did coursework at Oregon State University. She and her husband Bruce live in Newhalem and have four children and three grandchildren. In this week’s (spot)Light, Lori talks about her career and her love of horticulture.

Lori and her husband Bruce

“I began my career in parks and street maintenance for municipalities. I took a small detour into social work, but found myself back into park maintenance with Oregon State Parks and, eventually, the City of Kent. I’ve always been interested in the horticulture aspect, and knew the more I studied, it was where I wanted to be. So, I became a Master Gardener, received my CPH – Certified Professional Horticulturist and became ecoPRO certified for landscaping design and maintenance. I also completed coursework in Permaculture and Landscape Architectural design. Being at Skagit is the job of a lifetime which I see as a culmination of both work experience and my passion and hobby.”

“We have a lot to focus on in this area. Things have fallen into disrepair around the edges, which is common when you’re backed up against national park land and the wild. The easier tasks such as planter boxes and maintenance on Main street; areas that are most visible to our visitors, long term focus will be transitioning the area beyond. We recently planted 34 trees in the east arboretum replacing trees that were invasive. We selected interesting cultivars like Korean Fir, Eddie’s White Wonder and Magnolia sieboldii—all of which will showcase variety of texture and color as the trees mature. We’re also working on a rejuvenation project for Ladder Creek Falls where we’ll plant hundreds of native plants and improve the entrance to the area.”

“I’ve always been an outdoor person. My family spends a lot of time hiking and kayaking, but it was my husband who piqued my interest in horticulture. When we bought our first home, he wanted to landscape and, well, it was addicting. I prefer Japanese style gardens when developing personal landscapes. I like the aesthetics. The Japanese maples are my favorite. They’re exquisite. Your garden is a room and should evoke feelings and styles.”

“I live in a national park and would love to visit more national parks. I’d like to return to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. I also like to quilt. I think it has something to do with matching colors, aesthetics and textures which complements gardening.”

Seattle City (spot)Light: Debbie Martin

Debbie Martin just celebrated her 30-year anniversary with City Light. “Originally, I was brought on as a temp to help with Skagit Tours, but that evolved into a full-time position here at the Skagit,” Debbie said. “Now, I manage the bunkhouse and take care of the hospitality for our crews and visitors.”

Debbie didn’t grow up far from the Skagit Hydroelectric Project—just a short drive away in the small town of Rockport. She graduated from Concrete High School and lived in Marblemount. She now lives in Newhalem, where she’s resided the past eight years. “I just love it here,” Debbie shared. “You can’t beat the beauty of this place. Plus, I get to walk to work!”

Debbie grew up with five brothers, each of whom she loves dearly. She also has four kids and 11 grandkids. “On the weekend, my house is filled with grandkids. They love it here as much as I do!” Debbie exclaimed. In this week’s (spot)Light, Debbie talks about life at the Skagit and what she enjoys most about her role.

Debbie near the Skagit River

“One of the things I love about my job is that I get to make the out-of-towners feel welcome. I meet a lot of our crews who come to Skagit to work on different projects. They all know me. I just want to make sure they’re comfortable and happy with good food and a clean house. I guess the ‘mom’ in me comes out—I can’t help it! Right now, they’re doing a big job at Diablo with Generator 32 so we have machinists and electricians staying with us through October.”

“There’s so much to do in the Skagit Valley. We get out a lot and go camping, fishing and hiking. There’s a campground about six miles from here that’s one of our favorite spots. We also like getting out to Mount Baker. I have a little motor home, so we all pile in and make an adventure of it. I also love to garden at my house. I want my yard to look good; taking care of my flowers is important! When I was younger, my girlfriends and I would go to Ross Lake Resort and stay in the floating cabins. That was probably some of my best times up here.”

“I’ve been lucky to experience many types of roles here at the Skagit. I’ve enjoyed them all because I learned something new about the utility each time and got to meet a lot of good people. I’ve worked at the powerhouses. I’ve helped as a cook in the kitchen. I was a deck-hand for the Skagit Tours. I really loved that. I got to meet all kinds of people and the beauty of the ride was unbelievable. During that time, we did three tours a day, up to 80 people each tour. We had people from all over and it was always neat to meet people from different parts of the world. What fun! Now, I really enjoy Ladder Creek Falls. It’s one of my grandkids’ favorite spots. I also love the Chicken Dinner. I’ve been here 30 years and I could never get tired of eating it!”