Wall of Mavericks

Our Mavericks

Energetic Women and MEA congratulate these outstanding individuals for their service to the industry and thank them for working to strengthen women leadership in energy.

Nominations are closed for 2024. Award recipients are announced at the annual Energetic Women Conference in June. 

Ashley Babcock - Maverick

Ashley Babcock

CenterPoint Energy

Ashley has been a leader, with and without functional authority, since she began at Vectren in 2009. She has held several leadership positions within the company and currently serves as the Vice President of Indiana and Ohio Gas with CenterPoint Energy. Her ability to build trust with colleagues and community and industry leaders makes Ashley a role model for women in the energy industry. Ashley has advocated for the right leaders for roles regardless of geographic location. She has been a key voice in supporting women’s leadership skills enhancement through educational programs, conferences, community partnerships, and volunteering. View Ashley’s video.

Joi Harris, Maverick

Joi Harris

DTE Energy

Joi has been a maverick since day one when she joined the company as a 15-year-old student with aspirations of becoming an engineer. Throughout her career, Joi navigated an unchartered path and was the only woman of color in the room. Joi has been a strong advocate and a great partner for diversifying the workforce and building a strong talent pipeline at DTE. She’s helped create a culture of inclusion and belonging, measuring the impact of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives through a focused DEI scorecard. View Joi’s video.

Christa Markgraff - Maverick 2022

Christa Markgraff

Nicor Gas and Southern Company Gas

Throughout 30 years at Nicor Gas and Southern Company Gas, Christa has held positions in operations, construction, engineering, technical compliance and customer development, before promotion to her current role as vice president of gas operations at Southern Company Gas. In 2018, the company set records when nearly half of the supervisory promotions in field Operations were female employees. View Christa’s Video

Julie Hegedus, Maverick 2021

Julie Hegedus

Consumers Energy

Julie Hegedus has been a leader for women since she started working at Consumers Energy in 2008. She has held several leadership positions with the company and was the first female to lead as the Executive Director of Gas Construction and Gas Distribution. She currently serves as Executive Director of Energy Services and is also the first female to lead in this role. Julie exemplifies what it means to be a positive leader while driving the organization’s operations to reach new heights. View Julie’s Video

Jim Francis, Maverick

Jim Francis

Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy Company

Jim Francis is a 25-year utility veteran and has spent the majority of his career working in various roles in engineering and operations. Jim’s work experiences and leadership positions have provided him the opportunity to enhance his natural leadership skills and maximize his strengths. He never stops mentoring his team members, family, friends, and sometimes even perfect strangers; he has a talent for identifying and highlighting people’s strengths. He is truly committed to elevating and enhancing the leadership pool at Vectren and CenterPoint Energy. View Jim’s Video

Heather Rivard, Maverick

Heather Rivard

DTE Energy

Heather Rivard has been a trailblazer and role model while serving in very senior operational positions at DTE Energy. Her success as a female leader moving across vastly different roles, blending significant technical depth with outstanding leadership skills, has provided an example for other women (and men) in the organization that you can, indeed, have it all. View Heather’s Video

Cheryl Maletich

Cheryl Maletich


Cheryl Maletich is a model for inclusive and engaging leadership, actively seeking the perspectives of her workforce on key decisions. In her role as VP Distribution System Operations at ComEd, she develops her direct reports to do the same. She understands that employees are vital people, and she believes in helping them feel connected to the organization. View Cheryl’s Video

Mary O'Toole

Mary O'Toole


Mary O’Toole has personally and professionally advocated for women and diversity in the energy engineering and operations world. She understands the importance of promoting and strengthening potential leaders to create a successful, diverse team. View Mary’s Video

Mary Palkovich

Consumers Energy

Mary Palkovich is an amazing leader for men and women. To start, she emphasizes the importance of having a diverse workforce and encourages hiring managers to require a diverse candidate pool for interviews. Mary establishes this strategic direction by communicating the message that a diverse and inclusive workforce increases employee engagement and leads to a more successful and productive organization. View Mary’s Video

Annette Gardiner

Annette Gardiner

New Mexico Gas Company

Annette Gardiner has built a common understanding with the leadership team at New Mexico Gas Company to ensure that women play key roles in working on large and impactful projects, such as replacing pipe or rewriting the Operations and Maintenance manual. Annette’s philosophy is that women won’t be prepared for operational promotions in the future if they are not in a position to make meaningful contributions in the present. View Annette’s Video

Ben Felton

Ben Felton

Consumers Energy

Chris Braun

Chris Braun

Citizens Energy Group

Loretta Rosenmayer

Loretta Rosenmayer

2012 Honorary

Susan Hardwick

Susan Hardwick


Kris Nichols

Kris Nichols

Nicor Gas

Patty Walker

Patty Walker

Duke Energy