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Margarita Lueder

Preng & Associates Selected by PJM to Find EVP Operations, Planning & Security

By News & Media

President and CEO Manu Asthana announced today a series of organizational changes that will best equip PJM to maintain reliability and security, support competitive markets, and help prepare for the grid of the future.

The newly structured Executive Team will see three major changes:

  • PJM will launch an executive search for the new role of Executive Vice President – Operations, Planning & Security, created to support the expanding complexity of grid operations and planning for a system undergoing significant transition.
  • Frederick S. “Stu” Bresler is promoted to Executive Vice President – Market Services & Strategy, leveraging Bresler’s deep expertise in markets along with his experience developing the company’s strategic plan. The promotion is effective Nov. 28.
  • Steven McElwee is promoted to the new role of Vice President and Chief Security Officer, emphasizing the importance and interconnectedness of physical and cybersecurity in PJM’s grid operations.

EVP Operations, Planning & Security Announced

PJM is engaged in a search for a new Executive Vice President – Operations, Planning & Security. This important role will continue to focus on reliability, planning for the grid of the future, and operational excellence. In addition, it combines physical security, cybersecurity, Enterprise Information Security, IT Compliance, Business Continuity, and Security Engineering & Architecture in a new division. The search will be handled by Preng & Associates, the world’s largest executive search firm dedicated to the energy industry, with a target of having the position filled in the second quarter of 2024.

Bresler Appointed to Executive Vice President

Bresler has been instrumental in developing PJM’s current strategic plan. In addition, he oversees all aspects of PJM’s market functions in his current role of Sr. Vice President – Market Services. His responsibilities cover all of the markets operated by PJM, including those for Capacity, Day-Ahead and Real-Time Energy, Ancillary Services, and Financial Transmission Rights, as well as Demand Response operations. He is responsible for the continued evolution of PJM’s markets, including the integration of renewable resources and development of performance analytics, while also working with the PJM Executive Team and Board to establish and maintain PJM’s forward-looking strategic objectives and track their progress.

“Over the years, Stu has helped build many of PJM’s markets and has made sure all of PJM’s markets are supporting the mission of reliability at the least cost for consumers,” Asthana said. “PJM and its stakeholders have come to rely on his expertise, diligence, leadership and his willingness to listen to all viewpoints that can help PJM ensure a reliable energy transition.”

Bresler started his career at PJM in 1994 as a Professional Engineer supporting System Operations, and he was later responsible for implementing PJM’s Demand Response Program and, ultimately, market design for the RTO. Bresler was key in the development of mechanisms by which PJM’s operations and markets are coordinated with those of surrounding balancing authorities and regional transmission organizations.

“I have seen the power of competitive markets to reinforce grid reliability while controlling costs for consumers and attracting investment in cleaner and more cost-effective generation technologies,” Bresler said. “It is a real honor and privilege to be able to help PJM ensure the reliable delivery of electricity through the current transition as our region moves toward a lower-emitting generation fleet.”

Bresler earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and a Master of Management in business administration from The Pennsylvania State University. He is chair of the board of APEx (the Association of Power Exchanges), an international organization of electricity and gas market operators, and a former member of the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity of Chester County. Bresler is also on the External Advisory Board for the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering in the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

McElwee Promoted to Vice President

McElwee assumes the Vice President, Chief Security Officer role effective Jan. 10, 2024. McElwee has over 15 years of experience in the industry including expertise in cyber threat and risk analysis, security policy development and governance, vulnerability management, security monitoring and response, cyber forensics, security assessments, and IT operations monitoring.

“Steve’s cyber experience in his current role, coupled with his experience supporting business continuity and recovery, physical security tactics, and NERC CIP compliance, will add tremendous value to the PJM security program,” Asthana said. “He has put his stamp on the industry for his ability to heighten awareness and educate employees and stakeholders on security risks and practices.”

In addition to cybersecurity, McElwee will also have responsibility for Physical Security, Business Continuity, Facilities Services, and Identity & Access Management.

McElwee, who holds a Ph.D. in information assurance from Nova Southeastern University, started with PJM in 2008 and has held multiple roles in the organization.

“The landscape of threats aimed at the electrical grid continues to increase exponentially, and I’m committed, along with PJM, to meeting this challenge with the resources necessary to keep power flowing for the 65 million people we serve,” McElwee said.

McElwee will continue to report to Thomas F. O’Brien, Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Officer, until the new Executive Vice President – Operations, Planning & Security is announced.


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JP3 and Flotek Welcome Tom Redlinger as VP of Data Analytics

By News & Media

Flotek Industries, Inc. (“Flotek” or the “Company”) (NYSE: FTK) today announced that it has appointed Tom Redlinger as Vice President of its rapidly expanding, high margin Data Analytics segment. Preng & Associates assisted in the search.

The appointment of Mr. Redlinger further strengthens the executive leadership team, while bringing deep energy industry expertise to the Data Analytics business, which supports customers through real-time data, monitoring, and visualization across the energy value chain utilizing the Company’s proprietary JP3 unit. Ryan Ezell, Chief Executive Officer, said, “I am pleased to welcome Tom to the Flotek leadership team. His diverse background and 20 years of global experience across the upstream, midstream and downstream market verticals make him a key asset that will help drive the strategic transformation of Flotek to a strong provider of real time data analytics to the energy sector. I am confident that Tom’s collaborative approach to technology development, as well as his team-first leadership style, will prove invaluable as we build upon the significant financial and market share improvements that we have achieved over the past several months.”

Mr. Redlinger’s career includes over two decades of diverse global experience in the energy industry and a proven track-record in new technology commercialization. Most recently, he served as Vice President, USA of NDT Global, a midstream and downstream infrastructure construction, inspection, and engineering consultancy firm where he led the technology as a service operation, sales, and data analytic strategy. Prior to NDT Global, Tom held executive leadership roles with Frank’s International including Chief Revenue Officer with responsibilities for setting the corporate growth and technology development strategy. Before that, he served as Chief Operating Officer and Divisional Vice President for Bureau Veritas, successfully delivering value-added inspection, engineering, and consultancy services driving expansion into new markets and growing revenues.


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CleanTech Lithium Appointment of Australian Independent Non-Executive Director Ahead of Planned ASX Dual-listing

By News & Media

CleanTech Lithium PLC (AIM:CTL, Frankfurt:T2N, OTC:CTLHF), an exploration and development company advancing next-generation sustainable lithium projects in Chile for the EV transition, announces the appointment of an Australian-based Independent Non-Executive Director and other changes to the Board and Board Committees structures with immediate effect.

·   Tommy McKeith, based in Perth, Australia, appointed as an additional independent Non-Executive Director (‘NED’) with immediate effect ahead of the Company’s planned listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Q3 2023

·   Jonathan Morley-Kirk becoming Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, previously Non-Executive Director, following Dr. Steve Kesler’s moving to the Executive Chairman position earlier this year

Preng & Associates assisted in the search.

Appointment of an Australian-based Independent Non-Executive Director:

Mr McKeith is an experienced public company director and geologist with over 30 years of mining company leadership, corporate development, project development and exploration experience. He’s held roles in an international mining company and across several ASX listed mining companies. Mr McKeith currently serves as Non-Executive Director of Evolution Mining Limited and as Non-Executive Chairman of Arrow Minerals Limited. Having worked in bulk, base and precious metals across numerous jurisdictions, including operations in Canada, Africa, South America and Australia, Mr McKeith brings strategic insights to CTL with a strong focus on value creation that will support the leadership of the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Aldo Boitano, alongside Dr. Kesler as Executive Chairman.  Mr McKeith holds a B.Sc (Geology), a Graduate Diploma in Engineering and an MBA (all from University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa).  He has also been a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy since 2009.    

 Other Board Structure Changes:

Jonathan Morley-Kirk has become Senior Independent Non-Executive Director following Dr. Steve Kesler’s moving to the Executive Chairman position earlier this year. This decision has been made to continue the open dialogue with shareholders and offer an alternative point of contact for investors and the Company. Jonathan Morley-Kirk will play a more active role in nurturing these relationships should shareholders have any concerns, while continuing to work closely with the executive team.  

Steve Kesler, Executive Chairman of CleanTech Lithium, said:

“Tommy McKeith has considerable Board experience in Australia and a wealth of knowledge, including developing and operating mining projects around the world, including Chile, and as our Australian resident Independent Non-Executive Director will greatly help the Company gain the most it can from the planned listing on the ASX.

 “I am delighted that he is joining our Board as we look to expand our reach into the Australian market, which has an established reputation for supporting junior mining companies and where we already have a strong shareholder base.

 “The appointment of Tommy, alongside the other changes to the Board, will also help us deliver on our aim to become a material supplier of green lithium to the global EV market and grow the value of the Company, as we progress the next phase of our development, including the construction of a DLE pilot plant, updating our lithium resources and concluding the scoping study at Fransisco Basin and the PFS at Laguna Verde.”


Tommy McKeith, Non-Executive Director of CleanTech Lithium, said:

“The significant progress that’s already been made at CleanTech Lithium, combined with the capabilities and skills of the Company’s senior management team and partners, was a great attraction and the reason I was delighted to be asked to join the Board. As we prepare to list on the ASX, having a presence here in Australia will bring new opportunities for CTL as we advance towards commercial production. It is a jurisdiction that values the vital role mining and the commodities industries play in providing the materials to develop our global economies.  I look forward to opening doors for CTL in Australia through my strong network of investors, banks and various other stakeholders.

“Lithium is experiencing unprecedented demand, largely driven by the transition to decarbonise transport through electrification. CTL’s proposition of green lithium via sustainable extraction methods excites me and I am looking forward to be part of the team who will strive to deliver this.”


Board Composition

With the appointment of Mr McKeith, the Company’s Board is now made up of 6 directors as follows:

·      Executive Chairman – Steve Kesler

·      CEO – Aldo Boitano

·      CFO – Gordon Stein

·      Senior Independent Non-Executive Director – Jonathan Morley-Kirk

·      Independent Non-Executive Director – Maha Daoudi

·      Independent Non-Executive Director – Tommy McKeith

The Company’s Board now comprises three Executive Directors and three Independent Non-Executive Directors, in full compliance with the QCA Code on Board composition, as referred to in the Company’s recently released Annual Report & Financial Statement for 2022.

Board Committees:

The Board has made the following changes to the Board Committee structure to better reflect the Directors’ skills:

·      Tommy McKeith will become a member of the Audit Committee, with Jonathan-Morley Kirk remaining as Chairman.

·      Tommy McKeith will chair the Remuneration Committee, with Maha Daoudi as the other member.

·      Maha Daoudi will chair the newly created ESG Committee, with Jonathan Morley-Kirk and Aldo Boitano as the other members. 

About CleanTech Lithium

CleanTech Lithium (AIM:CTL, Frankfurt:T2N, OTC:CTLHF) is an exploration and development company, advancing the next generation of sustainable lithium projects in Chile.  The Company’s mission is to produce material quantities of battery grade lithium by 2026, with near zero carbon emissions and low environmental impact, offering the EV market a green lithium supply solution.

CleanTech Lithium has three prospective lithium projects – Laguna Verde, Francisco Basin, and Llamara – located in the lithium triangle, the world’s centre for battery grade lithium production. They are situated within basins entirely controlled by the Company, which affords significant potential development and operational advantages. The projects have direct access to excellent infrastructure and renewable power.

CleanTech Lithium is committed to using renewable power for processing and reducing the environmental impact of its lithium production by utilising Direct Lithium Extraction. Direct Lithium Extraction is a transformative technology which only removes lithium from brine, with higher recoveries and purities. The method offers short development lead times, low upfront capex, with no extensive site construction and no evaporation pond development so there is no water depletion from the aquifer or harm to the local environment.

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TotalEnergies Appoints Jeanine Wai As Vice President of Investor Relations North America

By News & Media

Jeanine WaiJeanine Wai is appointed Vice President Investor Relations for North America of TotalEnergies, effective June 1, 2023. She replaces Robert Hammond who elected to retire from the Company. Preng & Associates assisted in this search.

Jeanine Wai began her career in 2001 with Chevron as a process engineer in Downstream specializing in hydrocracking and base oils. From 2009, she alternatively held corporate, buy-side and sell-side positions, including Oil & Gas financial analysis and M&A at Bechtel, as an Exploration & Production analyst at Nexus Asset Management, and 13 years of Upstream Oil & Gas equity research at JPMorgan, Citi, and most recently as the Senior US Integrated Oil and Exploration & Production analyst at Barclays since 2018.

Jeanine Wai is graduated with honors with a B.S in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an M.B.A from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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PetroTal Appoints Jose Contreras as Senior Vice President, Operations

By News & Media

Profile photo of Jose L ContrerasPetroTal Corp. (TSX: TAL) (AIM: PTAL) (OTCQX: PTALF) (“PetroTal” or the “Company“) announces the appointment of José L Contreras as Senior Vice President, Operations effective May 1, 2023. Preng & Associates assisted in this search.

Mr. Contreras is an executive in the international oil and gas industry with over 25 years of experience and a successful track record managing large and complex field and technical upstream operations for various sized energy companies.

Since 2017, Mr. Contreras has held various executive roles ranging from guiding international safety, security, and sustainability performance for projects and drilling; ensuring safe and efficient upstream and midstream onshore operations in the U.S. while implementing bottom line improvement programs; to managing low carbon (blue) ammonia/hydrogen new value chain opportunities.

Mr. Contreras holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and a Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering and Project Development from the Institut Français du Pétrole.

PSU grants

PetroTal has granted 760,111 Performance Share Unit (‘PSUs”) to Mr. Contreras, which will vest three years from the date of grant with each PSU entitling the holder to acquire, for nil cost, between zero and two common shares of the Company, subject to achievement, as evaluated by the Corporate Governance and Compensation Committee, of 2023 Key Performance Indicators relating to the Company’s total shareholder return, net asset value and certain production and operational milestones.

Manuel Pablo Zuniga-Pflucker, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“On behalf of the management team and board we want to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Contreras. José has a very impressive background in energy and complements our existing leadership team extremely well. José is based in the Houston area and will be integral to building out future operating and development plans with the team in Lima and Houston.”


PetroTal is a publicly traded, tri‐quoted (TSX: TAL) (AIM: PTAL) (OTCQX: PTALF) oil and gas development and production Company domiciled in Calgary, Alberta, focused on the development of oil assets in Peru. PetroTal’s flagship asset is its 100% working interest in Bretana oil field in Peru’s Block 95 where oil production was initiated in June 2018. In early 2022, PetroTal became the largest crude oil producer in Peru. The Company’s management team has significant experience in developing and exploring for oil in Peru and is led by a Board of Directors that is focused on safely and cost effectively developing the Bretana oil field. It is actively building new initiatives to champion community sensitive energy production, benefiting all stakeholders.

For further information, please see the Company’s website at, the Company’s filed documents at, or below:

To view the source version of this press release, please visit

Unitil Shareholders Elect Anne L. Alonzo to the Board of Directors

By News & Media

Profile photo of Anne AlonzoUnitil Corporation (NYSE:UTL) today announced that at its 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Anne L. Alonzo was elected as a new member of the Board of Directors for an initial term of two years. Preng & Associates assisted in this search.

Anne Alonzo served as a C-Suite executive and chief sustainability officer at Corteva Agriscience (“Corteva”), a publicly traded agricultural chemical and seed company, until August 2021. Prior to joining Corteva, Ms. Alonzo served as the president and chief executive officer and a member of the Board Executive Committee of the American Egg Board, and in various senior leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service and Kraft Foods, Inc. (now Mondelez International, Inc.).

Ms. Alonzo presently serves on the Board of Directors of PotlatchDeltic Corporation, a leading timberland real estate investment trust company, as a Trustee of the Pan American Development Foundation, an NGO focused on vulnerable populations across Latin America/Caribbean, and as a Board member of Feeding America, the largest charity in the United States. Ms. Alonzo also provides advisory services to various firms on climate change and regenerative agriculture.

Ms. Alonzo earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago, and a Juris Doctor from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Kent College of Law. Ms. Alonzo is also a member of the Latino Corporate Directors Association, the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Women’s Business Collaborative.

“We are delighted that Anne Alonzo has been elected to the Unitil Board,” said Thomas P. Meissner, Jr., Unitil’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Anne is a proven leader with an exceptional background in environmental sustainability, regulatory, public policy, marketing, legal expertise and ESG that will enhance and preserve the Board’s existing strong skill set.”

About Unitil Corporation
Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to the delivery of dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil’s operating utilities serve approximately 108,100 electric customers and 87,500 natural gas customers. For more information about our people, technologies, and community involvement please visit

For more information please contact:

Todd Diggins – Investor Relations
Phone: 603-773-6504

Alec O’Meara – Media Relations
Phone: 603-773-6404

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Hurricane Energy Plc – Appointment Of Two Independent Non-Executive Directors

By News & Media

Board - KropzHurricane Energy plc (AIM: HUR), the UK based oil and gas company, is pleased to announce the appointment of Linda Janice Beal as an Independent Non-Executive Director, with immediate effect. Linda will chair the Audit and Risk Committee and become a member of the Remuneration Committee.

Philip Wolfe, Chairman of Hurricane, commented:

“We are delighted to welcome Linda to the board of Hurricane as an independent non-executive director. Her extensive experience as a tax partner at both PwC and Grant Thornton advising international E&P clients, coupled with her recent career serving as a director of listed small cap natural resources businesses will bring an immediate and meaningful contribution to the work of our Board as we make important financial and strategic decisions. In addition, her in-depth financial knowledge and governance expertise will be of great benefit as Audit and Risk Committee Chair.

“We ran an extensive and thorough search process managed by a leading sector-focused executive search firm, Preng & Associates, which covered a diverse range of really strong candidates. Linda was the standout candidate and we are very pleased that she has accepted our offer to join the Board. ”


Hurricane Energy plc (AIM: HUR), the UK based oil and gas company, is pleased to announce the appointment of Robin Andrew Allan as an Independent Non-Executive Director, effective from 1 July 2022. Robin will chair the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Committee, and become a member of the Technical Committee. David Craik will step down as Chair of the ESG Committee but will remain a member. 

 Philip Wolfe, Chair of Hurricane, commented:

“Robin brings a wealth of industry technical, commercial and environmental experience to the board of Hurricane and I am pleased to welcome him as an Independent Non-Executive Director. His wide experience at executive level with Premier Oil, including as Director, North Sea and Exploration, and his role as Chairman of BRINDEX, the Association of British Independent Exploration Companies, will serve the Company well as it navigates the next phase of growth as we make important financial and strategic decisions.

Robin was one of a diverse range of strong candidates highlighted in the extensive and thorough search process managed by a leading sector-focused executive search firm, Preng & Associates. We are very pleased that he has accepted our offer to join the board.”

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Preng & Associates Completes The Search For A Board Director For Primoris Services Corporation

By News & Media

Primoris Services CorporationMichael Ching, Director, Primoris Services Corporation, elected May 4, 2022. Preng & Associates Placement. (NASDAQ GS: PRIM) announced the results of the Company’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders held on May 4, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. Central time at the Company’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

At the meeting, stockholders approved the election of nine directors. The directors are: David L. King, Chairman, Primoris; Michael E. Ching, Global Head of Investment Research, Evaluserve; Stephen C. Cook, President and Principal Stockholder, Fieldstone Partners; Carla S. Mashinski, former Chief Financial Officer, Cameron LNG; Terry D. McCallister, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas; Thomas E. McCormick, President and Chief Executive Officer of Primoris; Jose R. Rodriguez, former senior audit partner at KPMG LLP; John P. Schauerman, former Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, Primoris; and Patricia K. Wagner, former Group President of U.S. Utilities for Sempra Energy.

The stockholders also approved the ratification of the selection of Moss Adams LLP as the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022.

Primoris Services Corporation’s 2022 Employee Stock Purchase Plan was also approved by stockholders and is in effect as of May 5, 2022.

David L. King, Chairman of the Board, said, “I want to thank our retiring board member, Robert Tinstman, whose industry experience and guidance have helped shape the path for Primoris. I also want to welcome our new board member, Michael Ching, whose career experience in both equities research and communications engineering complement our board’s existing strengths.”

“We thank our stockholders for their continued confidence in our strategy and management,” said Tom McCormick, President and Chief Executive Officer of Primoris. “We strive to earn that trust every day.”

Preng & Associates assisted in the Board search.


Primoris Services Corporation is a leading specialty contractor providing critical infrastructure services to the utility, energy/renewables and pipeline services markets throughout the United States and Canada. The Company supports a diversified base of blue-chip customers with engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance services. A focus on multi-year master service agreements and an expanded presence in higher-margin, higher-growth markets such as utility-scale solar facility installations, renewable fuels, electrical transmission and distribution systems and communications infrastructure have also increased the Company’s potential for long-term growth. Additional information on Primoris is available at

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Preng & Associates Completes the Search for a Non-Executive Director of Trinity Exploration & Production

By News & Media

Board - Nostrum Oil & Gas PlcTrinity Exploration & Production plc (AIM: TRIN), the independent E&P company focused on Trinidad and Tobago, announces that, having served on the Board for over five years, David Segel is stepping down from his position as a Non-Executive Director of the Company.

David remains fully supportive of the Company’s long-term strategy and has worked closely with the Board to find a suitably qualified replacement. Following an extensive and thorough independent search process, the Company is delighted to announce the appointment of Kaat Van Hecke as an independent Non-Executive Director, replacing David, with immediate effect. Kaat will sit on the Audit and Remuneration Committees of the Board and will become the board member responsible for oversight of the HSSE function. Preng & Associates assisted in the search.

Kaat has over 25 years’ experience in the oil & gas industry and has a strong operations background, having started her career as a Production Engineer with ExxonMobil and Shell in Europe and Nigeria. As the Operations Planning Manager at Sakhalin Energy – in the far east of Russia – she played a key integration role in the start-up of the 450,000 boepd company. At OMV, Kaat led the first strategic review and new corporate planning cycle for Upstream to later become Senior Vice President Austria Upstream.

Kaat also has public company experience and currently holds independent Non-Executive Director roles at Nostrum Oil & Gas Plc and Glover Gas & Power B.V./ Axxela Limited. During Kaat’s tenure at Nostrum she spent nine months as Interim CEO in Kazakhstan whilst a permanent replacement was put in place.

David Segel commented:

“It has been an honour and privilege to serve on the board of Trinity for the past five years and as a shareholder I look forward to continuing to lend my support where appropriate. I would like to offer my best wishes to the Trinity team as they take the Company forward and deliver on their strategic plans.”

Nick Clayton, Non-Executive Chairman, commented:

“On behalf of the Company I am delighted to welcome Kaat to the team. Kaat has a strong operational and public company background, which will be a great asset as we focus on scaling our business. We would also like to place on record our thanks to David whose support has been instrumental in helping the Company to grow into the entity that it is today.”

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Traverse City Light & Power Names Next Executive Director

By News & Media

Brandie Ekren

Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP) board members voted unanimously Friday on their top choice to lead the organization into the future, choosing Brandie Ekren – the current executive director of strategic planning and development for the Lansing Board of Water & Light – to serve as the utility’s next executive director. TCLP will now enter negotiations to finalize a contract with Ekren, who described herself as an innovative and “transformational” leader with a passion for the industry and a desire to work collaboratively to meet TLCP’s fiber, smart grid, and renewable energy goals.

After former TCLP Executive Director Tim Arends announced his resignation last summer after 31 years working for the City of Traverse City, utility board members hired firm Preng & Associates to lead a nationwide search for Arends’ successor. Board Chair Paul Heiberger says the job listing was viewed by nearly 4,000 potential applicants, with “several hundred” applying. Preng & Associates screened and narrowed that field down to approximately a dozen finalists, with an ad hoc committee of TCLP board members then choosing four candidates to invite for interviews this week. Along with Ekren, invited finalists included ITC Holdings Director of Customer & Business Solutions Walter Dorr of Novi, Marquette Board of Light and Power Manager of Utility Planning and Projects Ben Collins, and past TCLP Executive Director Jeffery Feldt, who recently retired as general manager and CEO of Kaukauna Utilities in Wisconsin.

TCLP’s job description stated that the city-owned utility was looking for a candidate with ideally 15-plus years of “progressively responsible experience” in the utility/energy/municipal field, eight years of management experience, and a required bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, with a master’s degree preferred. “Critical” qualities and capabilities sought in an ideal candidate included a collaborative leadership style, a commitment to being a regional leader in clean energy, business acumen, communication skills, and honesty and integrity. Board members also said they were looking for a leader who would be “actively involved in the community.”

After a series of interviews that included a one-hour interview with the entire TCLP board as well as individual one-on-one interviews with board members, officials unanimously named Ekren their top choice. Before serving the last three years in her current role at Lansing Board of Water & Light, Ekren served as an associate attorney and then general counsel for the utility over the previous 15 years. She has a juris doctorate degree from Michigan State University College of Law and was named “Boss of the Year” in 2010 by NALS of Lansing, a legal professional association. Ekren has also been the recipient of an Athena leadership award and has served on the board of directors for the Kiwanis Club of Lansing and for the human services nonprofit Highfields. She told TCLP board members she was both an “energy enthusiast” and an “environmental enthusiast” who believes in the “essential” and “evolving” future of municipal utilities, internal and external collaboration, and educating and engaging residents so they are empowered to make better energy choices.

“As you know, renewable energy is getting cheaper and the innovation behind it is growing,” she said. “The real hurdle probably is reliability and being able to ensure you’re going to sustain that renewability. The objective is to keep moving forward and assessing…not being satisfied with the status quo.” Beyond carbon-based goals and diversifying fuel sources, Ekren said it was important to look at practices that impact “human behavior,” using technology like smart thermometers and energy-tracking phone apps to engage customers in better energy management. “If you can be an active role and participate in (technology), you are in charge of your own destiny,” she said. “To me, that is going to move us forward. It’s being educated.”

During the interview process, board members touched on multiple TCLP initiatives underway to prepare for the future, including the introduction of smart meters, time-of-use ratesfiber Internetsmart grid preparationselectric vehicle charging stations, and a commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy community-wide by 2040. When asked about hesitancies or concerns she had about meeting the renewable energy pledge, Ekren said a “fear of failure” was the biggest obstacle that held utilities back from tackling aggressive goals.

“One of the things I’ve learned (about Traverse City) is you want to keep moving forward,” she said. “I’m willing to be on the journey with you there.” Ekren said that continuing to press forward on energy goals – to keep trying – even if utilities stumble or fall short was critical. Though moving from Lansing to Traverse City is a step down in terms of utility size, Ekren said smaller utilities have the advantage of “agility” and being able to react quickly to industry opportunities and trends, saying she believed in having a “utility and service that’s going to be different in the next few years than it is today.”

Multiple board members cited Ekren’s enthusiasm for the industry, her legal and executive experience, and her interest in HR issues and professional development opportunities in their selection of her as TCLP’s next leader. City Manager Marty Colburn said she was a “well-rounded” candidate who is “looking to the future,” while board member John Taylor said she was “constantly pursuing betterment of those around her and herself professionally.”

Traverse City Mayor Pro Tem Amy Shamroe – who sits on the TCLP board – tells The Ticker Ekren was a “dynamic” candidate, calling her “forward-thinking, open to new ideas, and an innovator. She was the complete package.” Chair Heiberger agrees, commending utility staff and Preng & Associates for helping find Ekren and three other “high-caliber” finalists. “It was encouraging to have that level of interest and excitement in the position,” he says. “There was quick agreement around the room about Brandie being the top choice. She talked about listening to her staff, making sure she’s transparent, working well with the teams she has. She is in a great position to ask the right questions and learn what she needs to get rolling.”

To finalize the hire, the TCLP board ad hoc committee will meet on Monday to hammer out the terms of Ekren’s contract. The position had a listed salary range of $151,412 to $199,725. Heiberger says the committee will identify a proposed wage within that range, along with other terms, and forward the contract to Ekren for approval. Provided the parties come to an agreement, the entire TCLP board will vote to approve the final contract and Eckren’s start date at their February 8 meeting, according to TCLP Manager of Human Resources & Communications Kelli Schroeder. In the unusual event an agreement cannot be reached, TCLP board members selected finalist Jeffery Feldt as their second choice for the position.

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Traverse City Light & Power – Special Meeting – Discussion of Candidates

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