Roxann Laird is the Power-Gen 2016 Woman of the Year

On Tuesday during the Power Generation Week keynote session, Southern Company’s Roxann Laird was named the 2016 Power-Gen Woman of the Year. The other two finalists for the award were Sheri Blauweikel of Black and Vetch and Caroline Winn of San Diego Gas and Electric.

Each year the Women in Power committee selects three finalists for the Woman of the Year award from a list of women who are nominated by industry peers. In 2016 more than 25 women were nominated to be the 2016 Woman of the Year and the committee deliberated for a long time when selecting the finalists and the ultimate winner.

Having women in leadership roles is important for a company’s bottom line. Indeed, studies have shown that utilities with women in senior management are more profitable. PennWell honors women leaders in the energy industry not only to draw attention to the women who have risen to the top in the energy field but also to inspire more women to enter the energy industry.

Roxann Laird is an engineer who’s current responsibilities include executive leadership of the National Carbon Capture Center where she manages more than 200 employees with an annual budget in excess of $40 million. This world-class neutral test facility, managed and operated by Southern Company for the U.S. Department of Energy, plays a pivotal role in acceleration of advanced carbon capture technologies. 

Laird said her first job in the energy industry was with Exxon in Midland, Texas where she quickly realized that “there were not that many women in the oil and gas industry.” She credits the one other woman in her department as helping her transition to that work environment build her confidence. Laird said that creating a successful transition “is crucial in ensuring retention of women in the power industry and creating that pipeline for future leaders.”

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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