Palo Verde is diligently working to rebuild their Women in Nuclear (WIN), chapter. In 2015, the engagement group had only 66 members, of which only 16 were active. But in 2016, with the support of Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Bob Bement and Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Oversight Maria Lacal, members set out to reenergize the chapter.
Laying the Groundwork
In September 2016, Palo Verde Women in Nuclear (PVWIN) hosted an inspiring first-ever Palo Verde Women’s Leadership Symposium. Guided by the site’s Leadership Model philosophies of “People are our most important asset” and “We value multidiscipline, multigenerational interactions,” the event hosted 220 participants. The seminar was designed to help the professional development and growth of women through teamwork, communication, collaboration and relationship building.
The symposium featured insightful speakers from the utility industry, networking conversations and a panel discussion moderated by Maria Lacal. Keynote speaker and attorney Jill Goldsmith discussed women leaders and balancing strength and style to communicate effectively. The powerful panel of leaders discussed effective communication, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, mindful leadership and work/life balance.
Setting A Vision in Motion
With a revitalized commitment to developing Palo Verde’s diverse workforce, PVWIN made 2017 a monumental year. To expand the leadership development opportunities available to its members and to increase the positive impact the engagement group has on Palo Verde and the community, the chapter transitioned to a model in which members were invited to lead projects, events, committees and activities that align with their passion, interest and developmental needs. This led to an explosion of activity and involvement, which continues to gain momentum.
In support of diversity and inclusion, PVWIN began extending invitations to all Palo Verde employees – regardless of gender – to participate in professional development activities. Also, “I Support Palo Verde Women in Nuclear” stickers were created to raise awareness on the benefits of diversity and inclusion and encourage conversations on how Palo Verde supports the professional development of its employees.
The chapter formed a Book Club and “Lean In” group that meets quarterly to promote networking, support and encouragement of member accomplishments and professional development. PVWIN also hosted an Interpersonal Savvy seminar, résumé writing workshop and sponsored a two-part mentoring and mock-interviewing session on behavior-based interviews. Twenty-five Palo Verde leaders from a wide variety of departments acted as the interviewers and provided insights about using stories and experience to align with leadership core competencies.
With over 75 tours conducted throughout the year – both onsite and at Palo Verde’s Energy Education Center – new members acted as escorts and subject matter experts to educate the public, government officials and other VIPs on the importance and SAFETY of nuclear energy. Members also participated in a variety of other educational opportunities by presenting at schools, colleges and universities, co-hosting Nuclear Science Week clinics, and participating in an all-day site-hosted event for teachers, counselors, administrators and community partners. This event provided an inside look about the utilities industry, nuclear power and the local career opportunities available for their students.
Given the exhilaration and empowerment derived from the 2016 Women in Leadership Symposium, PVWIN hosted its second leadership and career focused event. Maria Lacal served as panel moderator and provided the forum’s welcome and opening remarks.
The highlight was keynote speaker Kristine Svinicki, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair. Svinicki provided remarks about her career path along with insights and perspectives gained from her professional roles, in addition to tips on building a varied and strong background as part of career development.
The forum also provided networking opportunities and featured discussions about careers and knowledge from women leaders in the industry: Carol Berrigan, senior director, Supplier and Workforce Policy, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI); Angie Howard, president, Howard-Johnson Associates and retired NEI executive officer; and Susan Landahl, senior vice president, Organizational Effectiveness and Integrated Performance Assessment, Exelon Generation.
The Future is Bright
Palo Verde’s Women in Nuclear membership has grown exponentially over the past 2.5 years (from 66 members on the chapter roster at the end of 2015 to over 200 and from 16 active members to 125). The increased activity has helped galvanize support of career advancement for diverse individuals across the site.
Earlier this year, Palo Verde invested in its workforce and sent all interested PVWIN members to an all-day seminar on Communication Skills for Women; 113 members attended. And to further the chapter’s mission to promote diversity and inclusion, the focus of PVWIN’s 2018 Women’s Leadership Symposium will be on the benefits of diversity – from gender, ethnicity and age to backgrounds, education and work/life experiences.
The newly invigorated Palo Verde Women in Nuclear chapter is overwhelmed by the opportunities afforded over the past few years. In an effort to provide other diverse individuals with the tools to excel and achieve their goals, while simultaneously communicating the importance of nuclear energy, PVWIN members are actively engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) events throughout the community. They are also supporting a résumé workshop for high school students, co-hosting the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts Nuclear Science Merit Badge Clinic and sponsoring the 2018 U.S. WIN National Conference.