Q&A with City Light’s Pre-Apprentice Lineworkers

In the spirit of celebrating Lineworker Appreciation Day, it’s important to recognize the different steps to becoming a lineworker. And there is no better group to share the start of that journey than City Light’s pre-apprentice lineworkers.

The Seattle City Light Pre-Apprenticeship (PAL) Program designates 1,040 hours of training that are specifically designed to teach the fundamental knowledge needed to perform linework, including crew assistance, equipment preparation and direct work with line crews. Upon successful completion of the PAL Program, participants will be hired as lineworker apprentices and begin the 3 ½ year/7,000-hour apprenticeship program.

A fiercely competitive process with more than 500 applicants and multiple levels of testing/interviewing, City Light has five PALs—four men, one woman— in its current program. The group began their pre-apprentice work in February and is comprised of Washington natives from Sedro-Woolley, Seattle, Port Townsend and Puyallup with one member from Savannah, Georgia. The educational background is a mix of AA and BA degrees, trade school and service in the United States Marine Corps.

L-R: Na’Quelle Davis, Zach Lynd, Ryan Schoeneman, Isaac Tenney, Alex Wiley

What are you most excited or passionate about with the PAL program? What motivates you?

Isaac Tenney: “I’m just happy to be outside. I wouldn’t do well behind a desk. The fact that I get to do something I enjoy all day…in the rain or the sun…I just enjoy the outdoors.”

Zach Lynd: “What motivates me the most is my family. To be able to have a career where I’m able to support them and one that I enjoy as well. Being outside and working with brothers and sisters who love the same thing you do is motivating.”

Ryan Shoeneman: “I like the mental and physical challenges of this job. There’s something new every day. No job is the same which challenges me a lot. Like the rest of my brothers and sisters, I love being outside. This is something that I’ve wanted a long time and I’m excited to get to do what I do.”

Na’Quelle Davis: “One thing that motivates me is seeing how things work behind-the-scenes. You pass by powerlines every day, but you don’t know what’s going on and how it works. I like learning how powerlines operate—to work on them and see how everything is put together. I get to go home knowing that ‘Hey, I did something today.’ I can go back and look at something I did.”

Alex Wiley: “I like working outdoors. I like a job that’s physically demanding. I grew up playing team sports so I like the aspect of working toward a common goal with a group of people. I like being able to provide for my family. I like the challenge of learning new things. I worked in a different career for 13 or 14 years before and I feel like I learned all there is to know about that so coming into this situation and learning something completely new is challenging and exciting.”

How did you end up in this role? Was it something you always wanted to do? Or did something or someone inspire you to pursue this line of work?

IT: “I’ve wanted to work for Seattle City Light since high school. My brother works for City Light, and I thought about applying right after graduation, but I wanted to serve my country. So, I joined the Marine Corps first. Even throughout my enlistment, I was always looking forward to applying to City Light and now I’m fortunate to be here. My brother is an inspiration for me wanting to work here.”

ZL: “My uncle pushed me in this direction. About four years ago, I was thinking about getting out of the Marine Corps and had no thought of what to do. He mentioned this trade to me and ever since, I’ve been running toward it—doing research on schools and anything else that could help me progress in this field. Shortly after I got out of the Marine Corps, I went straight to Northwest Lineman College and went through their program which was very beneficial in my mind. They teach the fundamentals of climbing and electricity which gives an advantage to those wanting to enter this career field.”

RS: “I started in 2008 as a utility construction worker apprentice with Seattle City Light. I hadn’t worked around a lot of overhead crews—we were in a separate unit. It wasn’t until I was fortunate to go to Newhalem for a job with some of the linemen and got to see what they do, that I was around the crews. Although, it was a unique job and a unique situation, after that I didn’t want to be a laborer anymore—I wanted to be a lineman. That was what inspired me. Four and half years later, here I am.”

ND: “Growing up, I didn’t specifically want to be a lineworker, but I grew up around a lot of longshoremen. So, I wanted to do something where I worked with my hands, but, of course, being a woman everyone was like ‘No, you should try and do something different. Don’t work with your hands necessarily.’ When I got out of college I thought ‘Well, ok. I tried that, but let me go ahead and try this.’ I ending up finding a lineworker job posting right when I moved to Seattle, but they weren’t hiring yet. So as soon as it popped up again, I jumped right on it. For me, it was something new to work with. A very different kind of talent—it’s a mental and a physical challenge which I like.”

What have you learned in this role from the people around you? From your peers? The crews? Your instructors?

IT: “I went to Northwest Lineman College and thought that I knew how to climb well. Then I came here and, well, it’s tough. I thought I knew certain skills, but I realized I’m missing some fundamentals. Since getting to climb school, I’ve improved a lot—more than I expected. Every day on the crews, I learn something new that I can take with me.”

ZL: “Every day at work is a complete learning curve. We’re constantly receiving new information…we try to adapt to it and run with it. There’s so much to take in all at once. We’re all starting off at the bottom and working our way up. I think it’s important to know your place and be comfortable in what you know in that you don’t do something that you’re not capable of yet. It’s important to ask lots of questions and try to get as much information that you can from those above you have that knowledge.”

AW: “For me, there are two things. Number one is safety. It’s very important to come out here and work hard, but also to go home to your family at night. No question is dumb question. If you don’t realize or understand why something is the way it is, ask questions. Teamwork would be number two. You rely on your brothers and sisters out here to succeed. It’s very important to have each other’s back and watch out for one another.”

Why is this job—this position—important to you? What are you most looking forward to in this role?

IT: “I want to top out. I want to be a journeyman. That’s my goal. I’d be happy to do it through Seattle City Light. So, yeah, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting my J-card.”

RS: “I’m looking forward to learning more and topping out. Being able to be a safe and efficient lineman in this trade. Just try my hardest to carry on a tradition of a lot of great people that have worked here and paved the way for us. Hopefully, I can live up to those standards and be a great journeyman.”

ND: “The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is being able to look back 30-40 years from now and say ‘I know this body of work so well.’ That I can say that I’ve been doing this for so long. The entire time we’ve been meeting people who have been here 20, 30, 40 years. I want to know something that well.”

AW: “I’m looking forward to obviously learning all that I can and being the best lineworker that I can, but also looking forward to working with a group of people and developing relationships that I’m going to have far beyond my years here at the company.”

Any advice you’d like to share for those looking to follow this career path?

IT: “Work hard if you’re trying to get on. Getting a commercial driver’s license beforehand helps. Just work hard and be humble.”

ZL: “Trade school. Any climbing school you can get into, do that. It’s worth the money. It’s expensive up front, but it pays out in the long run. Apply everywhere. Take any job—even if it’s a janitor position within an electric company. If that’s what’s available, take the job and build your way up through the company to the position that you want. Put yourself out there and see what’s offered back.”

Learn more about City Light’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program here.

City Light Asks for Feedback on Proposed Technical Training Center

Seattle City Light will be hosting a community meeting to explain the details of a proposed technical training center located north of the Duwamish Substation. As part of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, City Light will also be taking public comments from the community on the proposed project.

The proposed project has three components. The technical training center would consist of a classroom building and outdoor training yard. On-site wetland mitigation will provide approximately 4 acres of habitats similar to historic conditions on the Lower Duwamish River.  The project would also include a walking trail and educational amenities.

A community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 14 from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98108) to discuss the project and take comments. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.

The SEPA comment period starts on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 and ends at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 20, 2016. The public is invited to submit comments at any time during this period. Comments can be sent to Margaret Duncan, SEPA Coordinator at margaret.duncan@seattle.gov or by mail at the following address:

Seattle City Light
Environment, Land and Licensing Business Unit
ATTN: Margaret Duncan
700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98104

Join SDCI for free Stormwater Code Training Sessions

We’re offering two free training sessions to help applicants with the 2016 Stormwater Code. The focus of our training is assist you with:

  • The List Approach Calculator
  • Drainage Standard Plans
  • Infiltration Testing and Infiltration BMP’s

Please bring your questions! We’lll focus the training based on what you want to learn.

Register for one of the free trainings:

  • RSVP for Thursday, September 22 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • RSVP for Thursday, October 13 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Trainings will take place in the Seattle Municipal Tower. 700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4080.

Stormwater Training Flyer

Racial Equity Learning Cohort – Turning Commitment into Action

Registration opens April 13 at 9 a.m.; closes April 21 at 5 p.m.

The Office of Arts & Culture in conjunction with the Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) is offering arts and cultural organizations the tools they need to turn their commitments to building racial equity – both within their organizations and through their work in and with community – into actions for tangible change. Part of the Community Institute for Racial Equity, this  cohort will include intensive training on  skills to address perceived and actual barriers to racial equity within arts and cultural organizations and the sector as a whole.

“One of the priorities of our Office is to ensure that the arts and culture sector thrives in Seattle,” says Kathy Hsieh, Cultural Partnerships & Funding Manager. “This vision is only possible if the arts and cultural scene is relevant and meaningful and inclusive of all the people who live and work and visit the City. But currently, because of the structural racism that exists, arts leaders, artists and arts and cultural organizations aren’t even aware of how we’re all holding this inequity in place. The workshops we’re offering are in direct response to the desire of many in our community to learn how we can all work together to create racial equity. Talking about it isn’t enough. We need to act upon our talk in order to make change happen.”

Pre-registration Checklist

  1. Read the registration requirements carefully.
  2. Share the cohort description and registration requirements with your executive director or group leader. Make sure the executive director or person with that level of authority signs the Organizational Commitment Form. (For groups with a horizontal leadership structure, please designate someone to sign the form on behalf of the group.)
  3. Select and confirm which two – three individuals from your group will participate before completing the registration form. Make sure each person is able to attend all hours of each of the first two training dates and the follow-up session six weeks later. If someone is not able to attend all the sessions, we ask that you select another person or wait to participate in a future cohort. Additional cohort dates will be announced soon.

Who: Representatives of arts and cultural organizations. No previous training is required. Groups must meet all of the registration requirements. Each participant must complete their own registration form. Only 12 – 15 organizations will be able to participate. For a full list of requirements visit Turning Commitment into Action.

  • Each organization must send 2-3 people who work in different parts of the organization, and are able to participate in the entire training and work together for up to 3 hours in-between the sessions. These people will need to be able to support each other’s work as change agents within the organization. These people must include:
    • At least one organizational decision-maker in a leadership position who is able to authorize implementation of planned changes and hold accountable all levels of the organization.
    • One-to-two others who are situated in different areas of the organization with access to complementary resources and levers to make change.
  • Organizations must complete an Organizational Commitment Form. This states that the organization will fully participate in the training sessions and develop, implement and track progress on the racial equity plan created through this learning cohort.
  • Participants must be able to meet together for a total of 3 – 4 hours (not necessarily consecutive) during the two weeks between the first and second training sessions.

What: During the training participants will build their analysis of racism and racial equity, learn how to use a racial equity assessment to identify personal and organizational power, and develop targeted strategies to achieve racial equity. They will then create a plan to build racial equity within their organizations and through their work with artists, audiences, partners and communities.

Dates: The cohort includes these required sessions:

  • Two full-day training sessions with 3 – 4 hours of work in-between, the bulk of which will be done with the other people from your group: Friday, May 15, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday, May 29, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., at El Centro de la Raza
  • A check-in session to explore tools and learn from peers’ successes and challenges: Wednesday, July 15, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • A final session to assess progress and plan adjustments to strategies and tactics: 4 hours, fall 2015, TBD.

El Centro de la Raza
2524 16th Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98144

Register: Register and read all registration requirements at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TCAARTS1


Between April 7 – 15th at 12 pm Diana Falchuk – diana.falchuk@seattle.gov 206.684.5282

Between April 15th at noon and April 21st at 5pm Kathy Hsieh – Kathy.hsieh@seattle.gov 206.733.9926

Photo by Jenny Crooks

Seattle Invests in Startups, Naming Rebecca Lovell as Startup Liaison




The city of Seattle’s new startup liaison is a face you’ll likely recognize. The Office of Economic Development announced Thursday that Rebecca Lovell has taken on the newly created role overseeing the Startup Seattle program. “My big initiative this year will be the talent pipeline,” Lovell said. “When I meet with startups, finding talent seems to be one of the biggest throttles to their own growth.” Another important initiative for Startup Seattle, Lovell said, is to reach out to communities that are underrepresented in the startup sector, such as women, people of color and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Rebecca Lovell, Startup Liaison,
City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development

“I love Seattle and the startup community, and couldn’t be more excited to be an advocate for our city. We have so many key ingredients for success, and I look forward to working with community organizations, schools and universities, and future and current startuppers to ensure Seattle is on the international map of innovation where it belongs,” said Lovell. “I’m excited to carry on the great work began by Red Russak, supported by the community.”

“As one of dozens of community volunteers working alongside the city, I’m incredibly excited we’re launching this initiative to ensure competitiveness, benchmark our progress against that of other leading cities, and expand opportunities in technology entrepreneurship,” said Chris DeVore, Startup Seattle advisory committee member and chair of the city’s Economic Development Commission. “Rebecca brings passion, industry experience, and an incredible network to this position, and I very much look forward to working with her in this new role.”

Read the full news release here.

Read more of the coverage here on GeekWire.