Our Story

April 2007 – The Initial Idea

Our story begins with Jim Kuchler, field operations supervisor with Nicor Gas and Chair of the MEA Gas Distribution Committee. Jim was attending the MEA Spring Operations Roundtable in Milwaukee when he suggested that MEA start a group. He said that he “promotes and hires a lot of women in this industry and they need a resource to talk to each other.” We have Jim to thank for our wonderful name, “Energetic Women”.

May 2007 – The Search for Viability

MEA contacts Kris Nichols, vice president engineering, Nicor Gas. Kris enthusiastically agrees to chair the leadership team and help Energetic Women launch.

June 2007 – The Launch

The following article is published in the MEA Energy Delivery News & Solutions e-Newsletter.

Ladies of the Energy Industry Unite!
MEA Announces NEW “Energetic Women” Group!

With more and more women in energy industry careers, MEA is looking to create a networking group to share and provide resources just for us! Energetic Women’s goals are:

Promote the energy industry to women and provide resources for those seeking technical careers, such as engineers, field supervisors or managers in codes, measurement, distribution or safety operations in a utility.

Support and provide guidance or a sounding board for those with concerns or in need of assistance in their work roles.

Connect and create an on-line community of individuals for questions and answers.
Recognize the women who are in the utility industry as shining examples of the viable, long-term and rewarding careers available.

Are you interested in participating?

First EW Leadership Team

July 2007 – The Leadership Team is Formed

MEA Board of Directors is tapped to recommend women leaders in their organizations to help launch this effort. The following volunteers form the first Energetic Women Leadership Team:

  • Stephanie Menning, MEA staff representative
  • Kris Nichols, vice president engineering, Nicor Gas
  • Amy Dlugokecki, director of gas performance support, Duke Energy
  • Mary Palkovich, director of engineering, CenterPoint Energy
  • Kris Emaus, manager of training, NiSource, Inc.
  • Lisha Coffey, director of sales and strategic accounts, Alliant Energy

August 2007 – Defining the Mission, Strategies and Vision

Meeting in Kris Nichols office in Chicago, the Team held great discussions centered on what this group is and what it is not. Everything from the name, the logo, the mission and purpose was on the table. No male bashing was the first tenant and laid the foundation for our programs and services to be focused on leadership core competencies for women in non-traditional roles in utilities

November 2007 – The First Newsletter & Survey

The four top requested services are Educational Conferences, Professional Development/Soft Skills, Mentorship/Interest Groups and E-Newsletter/Communications.

January 2008 – Planning Ahead

The Leadership Team meets in Minneapolis to plan our first conference, promotional and marketing effort, web presence, etc.

2008 Leadership Team

First Conference
June 2008 – Inaugural Conference
Chicago, IL

198 Attendees
58 Companies
14 Corporate Sponsors
4 Association “In-Kind” Sponsors

By responding to our audience, Energetic Women produced the following results by 2012:

  • 5 Annual Conferences focused on Professional Development/Soft Skills
  • 40 Individuals paired as Network Teams (Sept/Nov. 2008 & Jan. 2009)
  • 30 Newsletters have been published (as of Sept. 2012)
  • Dedicated website including reading recommendations, successful practices and a web forum for discussions, feedback, questions, etc.
  • 25 Webinars on member-driven topics (complimentary service)
  • 11 utility companies creating their own internal women’s resource groups
  • Mail list expanded from 1,100 to over 2,200 women in the industry
  • Number of companies participating expanded from 40 to over 140
  • LinkedIn Group – 800+ members in the U.S and 27 other countries
  • Twitter – 187 followers
  • Facebook – 199 likes

2013 – Benchmarking Metrics

Energetic Women conducts the first survey regarding women and their leadership roles of its member companies. 11 companies respond.

Total Employees

77.41% Men
22/59% Women

Women’s Roles

1.01% VP and above
0.12% Board of Directors
25.43% Engineering & Operations
3.45% Supervision in Engineering & Operations
69.99% Non-supervisory or leadership role


Fall 2017 – Energetic Women debuts new logo