Lisa O'Leary Networking through associations

I’m a big believer in associations. Not only do I work for an association but I’m also a member in different associations. One of these memberships is the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE). AABE is dedicated to ensure the input of African-Americans and other minorities into the discussions and developments of energy policies regulations, research and development technologies, and environmental issues.

An Association like AABE allows me to grow both as an individual and as a professional. They offer many benefits that keep me engaged in relevant news to our industry, provide leadership opportunities, and allow me to network with the best and brightest in the energy industry. The networking opportunities are one of the reasons why I choose to be a member.


Officers Roundtable Discussion moderated by Marsha Sampson Johnson, Sr. Vice President Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer, Southern Company.  The panel consisted of Jeff Lyash, Chief Executive Officer and President, Progress Energy; Carl English, Chief Operating Officer, American Electric Power; Doug Foshee, Chief Executive Officer and President, El Paso Corporation; Joe Laymon, Vice President, Human Resources, Chevron CorporationNisource; and Robert Skaggs, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer

Last month, I went to AABE’s 32nd annual conference “Sustainable Energy for a New Economy” that was held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The conference was attended by approximately 350 professionals from energy companies. The event featured energy and environmental discussions, a clean vehicle showcase, an entrepreneurs’ forum, and a job fair. There were also  scholarship and young adult programs. Session topics included: The Obama Economic Stimulus Plan, job creation, climate change and energy conservation.

I was very pleased by the involvement of the utility company executives that attended the conference. One guest panelist included the AGA’s First Vice Chair Bob Skaggs of NiSource, Doug Foshee CEO and President of El Paso Corporation, and David Ratcliffe Chairman, EEI President and CEO of the Southern Company.  Their open dialogue regarding the issues their companies face in today’s challenging economy was very impressive. They expressed their perspectives on issues like diversity within their companies and steps they have taken or plan to take to improve in that area.

Conferences like this allow companies to address and look into more strategic ways to improve their organization when recruiting talent. The conference was a great opportunity to connect with other energy professionals from different aspects of the industry. Organizations allow their employees to attend because of the value it brings to their employees and shows the organization’s supportive role in their career development.


Right after a panel session discussion has finished Robert Skaggs, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Nisource & Jimmy Staton, Executive Vice President & Group CEO, Nisource stop to take a photo with AABE members that participated in the session.

Are you using your association to help find these types of networking opportunities? How do you network?

Lisa O'Leary

About Lisa O'Leary

Lisa O'Leary is the Manager of Digital Communications for the American Gas Association. Prior to joining AGA, Lisa served as Manager of Multimedia Communications for the Senator John Heinz History Center, "the Smithsonian's home in Pittsburgh," and as a Web Producer at WPXI-TV, Channel 11 News in Pittsburgh, PA. Lisa is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
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