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PRE-ORDER! The Energy Within Us: An Illuminating Perspective from Five Trailblazers

PRE-ORDER! The Energy Within Us: An Illuminating Perspective from Five Trailblazers

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RELEASE DATE: MAY 1, 2019

Five African American women executives share their stories of shattering the glass and black ceilings in the US energy industry.

From Joyce Hayes Giles, Retired Senior VP at DTE Energy

When I was a child, the pinnacle of success for someone in our black community was to become a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. The reality for most black women at the time in segregated Mississippi, however, was to become a homemaker or a domestic worker. The words “corporate executive” — much less “black female corporate executive” — were as foreign to us during the 1950s as terms like “microwave oven” and “cellular phone.” These terms were not part of our lexicon because they had yet to exist. As a result, I had no inkling whatsoever that I would someday become assistant to the chairman and senior vice president of Public Affairs for DTE Energy. This was a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, another concept that I never heard while growing up.

From Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, Corporate Board Director/Senior Executive-Duke Energy (Retired)

I became the first woman with the responsibility of line and servicemen, engineering, customer service, meter reading and community engagement. It was indeed a tremendous challenge. New companies were entering the Research Triangle Park every day in my newly assigned district and the world’s largest privately held software company, SAS was a customer. Constructing, maintaining, and engineering power lines opened up my eyes and knowledge in many ways. I approached the position no different from other leadership roles: first, I would get to know the people, take additional courses to learn electrical power operations, learn the regulatory laws and embrace customers and the community.  In addition, I had to learn how to wear a hard hat along with the other PPE (personal, protective equipment) while developing people, performance and excellence in the workplace.


From Carolyn Green, Managing Partner, EnerGreen Capital Management, LLC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

As a young, earnest and often brash African American woman from Iowa, I encountered disbelief from ethnic community leaders who repeatedly told me I was naïve, and that air pollution was a white man’s issue. My rejoinder was usually along the lines of: “But the reason little JaQuan and Keisha can’t read isn’t that they’re lazy; they can’t read because their brains are being poisoned by the carbon monoxide and lead pollution that are worse in black communities!”

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From Joyce Hayes Giles, Retired Senior VP at DTE Energy

When I was a child, the pinnacle of success for someone in our black community was to become a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher. The reality for most black women at the time in segregated Mississippi, however, was to become a homemaker or a domestic worker. The words “corporate executive” — much less “black female corporate executive” — were as foreign to us during the 1950s as terms like “microwave oven” and “cellular phone.” These terms were not part of our lexicon because they had yet to exist. As a result, I had no inkling whatsoever that I would someday become assistant to the chairman and senior vice president of Public Affairs for DTE Energy. This was a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, another concept that I never heard while growing up.

From Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, Corporate Board Director/Senior Executive-Duke Energy (Retired)

I became the first woman with the responsibility of line and servicemen, engineering, customer service, meter reading and community engagement. It was indeed a tremendous challenge. New companies were entering the Research Triangle Park every day in my newly assigned district and the world’s largest privately held software company, SAS was a customer. Constructing, maintaining, and engineering power lines opened up my eyes and knowledge in many ways. I approached the position no different from other leadership roles: first, I would get to know the people, take additional courses to learn electrical power operations, learn the regulatory laws and embrace customers and the community.  In addition, I had to learn how to wear a hard hat along with the other PPE (personal, protective equipment) while developing people, performance and excellence in the workplace.


From Carolyn Green, Managing Partner, EnerGreen Capital Management, LLC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

As a young, earnest and often brash African American woman from Iowa, I encountered disbelief from ethnic community leaders who repeatedly told me I was naïve, and that air pollution was a white man’s issue. My rejoinder was usually along the lines of: “But the reason little JaQuan and Keisha can’t read isn’t that they’re lazy; they can’t read because their brains are being poisoned by the carbon monoxide and lead pollution that are worse in black communities!”