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You've heard of the glass ceiling.

It's the barrier holding women back from breaking through to the highest echelons of corporate America. A few women are promoted to those power seats, but the realm of leadership in America's top companies remains mostly male--and mostly white.

If striving for success in that reality weren't daunting enough, some women face an additional barrier: the black ceiling.

That's the barricade blocking African Americans from ascending into the top levels of corporate leadership.

Black women who aspire to become senior executives or CEOs face the double obstacle of the glass and the black ceilings, especially in certain industries where the statistics for female and black representation are discouraging.

Think about how difficult and disheartening it might seem as a black woman aspiring to excel and transcend to a corporate leadership position through the glass ceiling and the black ceiling in the historically white male energy industry.

We are five African American female executives who have achieved all of the above.

And by sharing our stories in this book, our objective is to offer our lives and our careers as inspirational blueprints for other women and people of color who aspire to leadership positions in the corporate arena.

We have blazed new trails in the energy industry by shattering ceilings. However, much work remains. The low representation of women and people of color at the helm of corporate leadership requires a strong commitment to persevering past the many obstacles that can delay and derail a career.

That is why we convened on the pages of this book to show that, Yes, it can be done! We show it through: our own personal belief systems; networking with other women and people of color in our industry; receiving guidance from mentors; committing long hours to our jobs; relocating when opportunity knocked; pursuing our education and training to propel us on an upward trajectory in our field; and celebrating the successes as they come.

Very importantly, we have demonstrated a commitment throughout our careers--and now into retirement for some of us--to reaching back to mentor others so they can follow the paths that we have blazed into uncharted territory for women and people of color in corporate America.

We hope that by reading The Energy Within Us: An Illuminating Perspective from Five Trailblazers, you will be inspired and informed about how to succeed in business and in life.

About the Authors

Joyce Hayes Giles is an energy industry executive with over 35 years of experience transforming organizations’ customer and philanthropic performance. Most recently she was Assistant to the Chairman and Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for DTE Energy, a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. In addition, she served as the company’s Chief Ethics Officer and Ombudsman for employee related issues.

Carolyn Green is Managing Partner of EnerGreen Capital Management, which she founded in 2009 to invest in late-venture and early-growth-stage companies involved in the energy and environmental industries. Prior to founding EnerGreen, she was a Vice President with Sunoco, Inc., the Philadelphia-based oil refiner/marketer.

Telisa Toliver is currently GM, Chevron Pipeline and Power, has led many commercial functions throughout the energy value chain, and has been a strong advocate for the inclusion of African Americans and women in the energy industry.

Rose McKinney-James, Managing Principal of McKinney-James & Associates, is a seasoned small business leader, clean energy advocate, and independent corporate director with a long history in public service, non-profit volunteerism, and private sector corporate social responsibility.

Hilda Pinnix-Ragland is the CFO of AHK Global Resources and is also an independent corporate director. Most recently, she served as a senior executive of corporate public affairs at Duke Energy with national and international responsibilities. Her experience expands into financial, operations, and utility regulations. She founded the HPR STEM Academy, now in its fifth year, which serves girls going from elementary to middle school.

What people are saying about the book

"The Energy Within Us is a testament to the power of perseverance, determination, faith, hope, and love. This book should motivate every woman, especially women of color, to discover the power to overcome any obstacle by believing in oneself and finding strength from within. The stories of these five fearless, trailblazing women inspire us all to dream, pursue, believe, and achieve."

Colette Honorable

Partner, Reed Smith

Former Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Former Chair, National Association of Utility Commission (NARUC)

"The Energy Within Us is a fascinating and inspiring tale of how five African American women rose to the highest levels of one of the most critical industries in the US. All of them came of age when the energy industry had an overwhelmingly white-male-dominated culture. Yet each of them refused to believe that she couldn’t play a role in shaping the future of their companies and bettering the lives of their employees and customers. Reading these stories can’t help but make you optimistic about the future of our country."

Anthony Earley

Former CEO, DTE Energy

Former CEO, PG&E Corporation

"Energy is a life-changing force, and throughout cultures around the world, women determine the many ways society uses energy. The more women know about energy–particularly clean energy–and its many uses, the better chance we have of preserving civilization for the next generation(s). The five women featured in this book are all high-powered leaders in the energy industry, who through persistence, resilience, preparation, and a strong commitment to education, have become experts in their fields. As the Under Secretary of Energy in President Obama’s administration, I founded the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment for women organization as way to build on the legacy of great women leaders in energy like those in this book, as well as Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary. Young women aspiring to careers in the energy industry will surely find inspiration from the life stories of these five women who never forgot where they came from, how they got their start, and the role of education in their journeys. That they now give back through programs such as the C3E and Minorities in Energy further demonstrates their commitment to encouraging future generations of women to become leaders in this field."

Kristina M. Johnson, PhD

Chancellor of The State University of New York

"Awesome! That is my view of this inspiring book. I know these extraordinary women who share personal insights about the incredible challenges they each overcame to climb the corporate ladder. Strong values, internal fortitude, a sense of urgency, and desire to make a positive difference in people’s lives drives them. Their stories are passionate, compelling, and inspirational. This book is a must-read for (black) women aspiring to corporate leadership, and it presents them with a keen focus on achievement."

David K. Owens

(Retired) Executive Vice President, Edison Electric Institute

Board Director, Xcel Energy, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

“Storytelling is a powerful and memorable narrative form, and these are stories that deserve to be told and shared. The leadership journeys in these pages provide us with living and moving role models. Yes, these stories are especially for women and written specifically by black women. But, more importantly, they provide us with universal truths about courage, grace, and the human spirit.”

Sarah Fisher Gardial

Dean The University of Iowa

Tippie College of Business

"The Energy Within Us: An Illuminating Perspective from Five Trailblazers is an inspiring viewpoint that must be shared. Get to know five leading African American women who continue to pave the way in the development of our country’s energy and environmental policy. You will be richer through their acquaintance."

G.K. Butterfield

US House of Representatives (North Carolina

"These women open up their lives to you in a powerful and penetrating way. Each shares what inspired them, what propelled them and upon whose shoulders they stand. You will be taken on journeys anchored in faith and true grit. You are in for surprises, laughter, and tears. Ultimately, you will find yourself in each of them. They care deeply for their communities, their country, and God’s green earth.”

Vicky A. Bailey

Former Asst. Secretary Department of Energy

"I highly recommend that everyone—especially those who are part of the energy and utilities industry—read this fascinating book of the unique challenges and successes of true trailblazers in our field. Providing critical services to millions of people every day is difficult enough; to do so while also breaking down barriers of gender and race through decades is an almost impossible mission. Yet these women did it. Read their inspiring and incredible stories of vision, passion, and commitment to make our communities and workplaces better, stronger and more inclusive."

Susan Story

CEO, American Water

"The Energy Within Us is not just a book that chronicles the professional experiences of five very talented black professional women, but a narrative of courageous leadership that forever disrupted the old boys’ culture in the energy sector. Truly, a must read."

Ronald C. Parker

Former President/CEO

The Executive Leadership Council

SVP, Human Resources PepsiCo

"It’s one thing when you know someone by their work, it’s another when you know them by their heart. I have been lucky to call these women my mentors and friends for more than 25 years. The Energy Within Us tells their stories. Stories that lay path to personal and professional success. This book gives us a glimpse of their journeys as servant leaders. It will inspire you to do more no matter where you are in your own career. I encourage you to travel their roads as you read this book and experience what they have done for so many of us in the energy industry. The lessons learned are invaluable and I will carry them with me throughout my life. I know that everyone who reads this book will be inspired to do the same.”

Paula R. Glover

President & CEO

American Association of Blacks in Energy

“From its very beginnings, North Carolina A&T has always been a place where women of color learn, grow, and achieve. Today, we’re not only among the nation’s leaders in graduation of African American women in STEM disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels, we are proud that accomplished women lead our programs in such STEM fields as Engineering, Nanoscience, Health Sciences, Cybersecurity, Computer Science, Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering and Biology, as well as our academic programs overall. Blazing a trail begins with the education to prepare one for that journey, and we’re proud to be an institution where so many bold, high-achieving women in the energy industry and related sectors have found their start, including Hilda Pinnix-Ragland. Her leadership within and understanding of that field shines in The Energy Within Us, and I believe it will inspire future generations to enter an industry that is critically important to the future of our nation and the world.”

Harold L. Martin Sr.

Chancellor, North Carolina A&T State University

“Beyond the potential, kinetic, and nuclear energy these women display, The Energy Within Us sparks the emotions of the human spirit. These five inspiring stories tell of African American women from very different backgrounds, navigating their careers through the challenges and opportunities; each of these women rises to success in the corporate energy world. They share the importance of the support they received from mentors, the courage it took to take risks, their perseverance in facing challenging situations, and their determination to encourage those who follow in their footsteps. The stories of these trail blazing role models are an inspiring must read!”

James G. Kaiser

Retired Senior Vice President, Corning, Inc.

Fortune 500 Board Member

ELC Founding Member