Member Spotlight: Kelly J. Ferneau


Member Spotlight, Kelly J Ferneau

Education/Certifications:  Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, SRO License, Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, Financial Accounting, Harvard Business School


Plant Manager, Cook Nuclear Plant, American Electric Power Company (2018 – Present)

Operations Director/Operations Manager, Cook Nuclear Plant

Assistant outage manager/work control, Entergy, Palisades Nuclear Plant

Maintenance/operations/shift manager/unit supervisor/system and program engineering, Exelon, Byron Station


Why did you choose the nuclear field or how did you end up in the nuclear field? 

When I was in high school, I attended a week long program at Trine University, which was designed to get women interested in engineering. One of the activities we did was to tour the Cook Nuclear Plant (yes, the same place where I now work). I thought that the information that was at the visitors center was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and, from that moment, I wanted to work at a nuclear power plant. After college, I went to work for Exelon, then Entergy, and now AEP. It is funny how things have come full circle.


What advice do you have for other women? 

You don’t have to know all the answers or be 100% certain in your knowledge before you speak up. Just voicing the concern or the question sparks needed conversation and deeper thinking. It is OK to be uncertain and to ask what you may think is an obvious question. If you do not do this, you will be silent, and your voice is needed.


What is your favorite aspect of U.S. WIN?

I am on the introverted side and I found that U.S. WIN put me in contact and in places where I meet with other people who are like me and we have things in common to start conversations from. Also, the opportunity to network and to attend conferences where I can take opportunities to hone my skills and abilities was something unique when I joined U.S. WIN. The opportunity to participate in the U.S. WIN NEXT program is something for which I will be forever grateful. To have a year to work on myself, see things from different levels, and be part of a cohort of such talented women has had the most impact on my growth in my career.


What do you think is the most important benefit of nuclear science, technology, or energy and why?

Carbon-free energy that is always on and not impacted by loss of a fuel supply (e.g., frozen coal piles, gas congestion, clouds, no wind) is so important. This energy is vital for the future of our planet and for the generations to come to have a clean environment with clean air. Also, a reliable power supply to our homes and workplaces is required to support our daily lives.