Veterans in Energy (VIE) was founded by military veterans from around the country who are now in the energy industry. The driving force behind VIE is to provide ongoing professional support, for members across the spectrum of positions within the energy sector and strategic partner occupations.
VIE membership is open to any military veteran currently working in the energy industry who desires to advance their personal and professional development, support an ERG in their workplace, and interact with other veterans in energy.
VIE leadership is elected from among the organization's members and according to the adopted bylaws. Each member of the all-volunteer Board of Directors is a military veteran, serving to advance the mission of the organization.
Cassandra Wheeler serves as director for Southern Company’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) Generation and Gas services. Named to that position in April 2022, she oversees the contracts, transactions and category management for all areas of spend. She also leads the materials strategy and inventory functions for Generation and Gas respectively. Prior to her current role, Wheeler served as region director for Georgia Power’s northwest region where she oversaw the operations, sales, customer service, economic and community development and external affairs activities for 15 counties and more than 170,000 customers. Wheeler has served in various roles during her time within the Southern Company system. She began her career at Alabama Power in 2001 as an engineer at Plant Miller. She also served as Plant Miller’s Maintenance Team Leader and Operations Team Leader, and plant manager for Plants Gadsden and Hammond. In 2015, Plant Hammond was awarded the Exceptional Plant Award, recognizing Wheeler’s reliability and leadership while plant manager. Wheeler served as Assistant to the executive vice president of Generation for Southern Company in 2003 and in 2005 was selected as Assistant to the vice president of Southern Company Governmental Affairs in Washington, DC. Wheeler was honorably separated from the United States Air Force after more than six years of service as a B-1B avionics technician. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati at Cincinnati, Ohio and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Currently, Wheeler serves on the Board of Directors for Georgia Northwest Technical College and is president of the Veterans in Energy board, a national employee resource group (ERG) that provides transition, retention and professional development support to military veterans working in the energy industry. Wheeler also serves on the Executive Advisory Council for Berry College’s Campbell School of Business.
Head of Vegetation Management, NextEra Energy Iliana Rentz directs the enterprise-wide vegetation management program for over 70,000 miles of overhead lines across 47 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Before that, she was Emergency Preparedness Manager for Florida Power and Light (FPL), where she managed the preparedness and response plans and processes during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. She also served a critical role in the restoration efforts for Hurricanes Maria and Michael. During her time in Emergency Preparedness, Iliana was selected to serve as a Catalyst team member during Accelerate 1.0 and as the Power Delivery Accelerate 3.0 lead. Iliana joined FPL in 2005 as a finance analyst in Distribution and worked on financial and operational projects. She then became a project coordinator involved with resource planning, financial controls, and other business services activities. In addition, she served as a production lead supervising crews and was a core team member in the development of the Smart Streetlights project, which included the deployment of over 700,000 smart nodes. Iliana holds a bachelor’s degree from American University’s Kogod School of Business and a specialization in civil-military operations and infrastructure development from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. a 12-year Army combat veteran with distinction, having received numerous meritorious awards including a Bronze Star and a Combat Action badge. She holds certifications as a Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Prosci Change Management Practitioner, and in Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). Iliana is the vice president of Veterans in Energy and the immediate past president for VETNEXT, Veterans of NextEra, and has held various leadership positions through several industry associations. She and her husband live in West Palm Beach with our two children, three dogs, and 20 chickens.
Director at Defense Media Activity Mr. Hal Pittman is a member of the Senior Executive Service, appointed as Director of the Defense Media Activity in 2021. In this role, Pittman leads 1500 people at 45 worldwide locations providing satellite television, radio, internet, and multi-media content and services for the Department of Defense’s 2.6 million military members, reservists, and civilian employees. Prior to DMA, Pittman served as an executive with Arizona’s largest energy company, Arizona Public Service. Previously, he was President & CEO of Special Olympics Iowa, leading sports training and wellness efforts for 11,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and prior to that, he served a full career as a U.S. Navy officer in assignments all over the world, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. In uniform, Pittman led public affairs for some of the military’s most visible operations, including serving twice as Communications Director at the U.S. Central Command; leading NATO and U.S. communications in Afghanistan; commanding the Joint Public Affairs Support Element, and serving as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. Pittman has also founded and advised multiple non-profits, including serving as Founding President and Board Member of Veterans in Energy, a national non-profit organization focused on professional development for veterans in the energy field. He is a recipient of the Amateur Athletic Union’s Brother Bennett award for volunteerism, as well as the Arizona Governor’s Lifetime Community Service Award. Pittman earned his undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University, a master’s degree from American University, was an MIT Seminar XXI Fellow in foreign politics and international relations and is a graduate of the Dartmouth Tuck Advanced Management Program. He resides in the Washington, D.C. area with his family.
Manager - System Integrity, Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas Edwin is responsible for Damage Prevention and The Legacy Cross Bore Program for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. Edwin began his career at Peoples Gas in 1989 in meter reading as a represented employee and progressed through several roles in field service operations. He started his non-represented role in 2006 as an Operations Supervisor and held several additional leadership roles in field operations prior to his current role. He is a retired Naval Petty Officer with 22 years of service including active duty and reserve time. Edwin’s personal commendations include 5 Navy Achievement medals, 6 Reserve meritorious service medals, marksman pistol, and Armed Forces reserve medal with an M device. Edwin attended Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. He serves on the Board of Directors for Peoples Energy Credit Union, steering committee member for WEC Energy Group’s Military Service Members Association, treasurer for the Chicago Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy and Vice President of Brookwood Point Homeowners Association. He enjoys biking, skating and traveling in his spare time.
President and CEO, MidAmerican Energy Kelcey Brown was named President and CEO of Mid-American Energy in February 2021. Previously, she was the Vice President of Energy Supply Management at PacifiCorp Energy, based in Portland, Oregon. She previously had held other regulatory, commercial, and operational roles at PacifiCorp., which she joined in 2011. Ms. Brown has also been a senior economist at the Oregon Public Utility Commission, and Economist at Blackfoot Telecommunications and she has served on a number of state and regional technical committees. Her educational background is in Regulatory Economics from the University of Wyoming. She served in the US Navy as a Photographer’s Mate on board the USS Nimitz for the majority of her enlistment.
President – Mesa Technical Associates, Inc. and Mesa Veterans Power, LLC. Mr. Gartland brings more than 30 years of experience in Engineering and Power Electronics Sales and Executive Management to the Mesa Team. He has spent over 30 years in the power and power electronics industry and is a founding member of Mesa. Today Mesa is a thriving enterprise with approximately $20m in sales and is well regarded as a technical and thought leader throughout the DC/Critical Power and Energy Storage Industries. In 2011, Mr. Gartland formed Mesa Veterans Power, LLC (MVP) in order to merge his business interests with his experience as a veteran of the US Army. Howard has been in the critical power industry for 30 years and is an expert in the application of large-scale battery systems in support of Distributed Energy Resources that support the evolving electric grid. He is passionate about the opportunity that evolving battery technologies present for a smarter, more efficient, and more resilient electric grid in support of consumers and homeland security. Mr. Gartland honed his leadership and management skills during more than 27 years in the US Army and US Army Reserve. An Engineer Officer, he is a graduate of the US Army War College, and various US Army Engineering programs, and has extensive executive experience as a Company Commander and a Battalion Commander of Engineer units, including as Battalion Commander of the 365th Engineer Combat Battalion (H), headquartered in Schuylkill Haven, PA. He culminated his 27-year career as the Assistant Director of Military Programs with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, DC. Mr. Gartland is married for more than 30 years with 3 children. His interests include golf, ice hockey, and fitness. He resides in Newtown Square, PA.
Director of Emergency Preparedness, Consolidated Edison Company of NY Dee has over 25 years of leadership, engineering, and utility experience. She is currently a director in Emergency Preparedness in Electric Operations of Consolidated Edison Company of NY (ConEd). ConEd delivers electric, gas, and steam to the five boroughs of New York City and neighboring counties. She has been in the company for over 20 years in various other management positions from a supervisor to a general manager in Electric Operations, Utility Shared Services – Stores Operations, and Environmental Health and Safety. Dee is on the board of the Veterans of Con Edison, Inc. (VOC.) She recently spoke on the ERG panel at the Veterans in Energy conference this fall. YWCA of the City of New York Academy of Women Leaders recently named Dee a recipient of the 2019 Corporate Achievers Award for her accomplishments at Con Edison and her service to her community. In 2019 she also received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Seven Seals Award for her dedication and energy toward Reservists. Dee is a United States Navy Veteran. She is a 1994 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and served on active duty as a Surface Warfare Officer on the USS WASP (LHD 1) and the USS ASHLAND (LSD-48) where she did two Mediterranean Sea deployments. She also served an additional year in an intelligence unit out of Austin, Tx. Dee is married to a fellow Navy Veteran. She has three kids and spends a lot of time coaching high school-aged girls in softball, volunteering in the community, and mentoring.
Member at Large
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Senior Project Manager, DNV Miki leads teams performing technical due diligence and reporting for investment or acquisition of renewable energy portfolios and companies. She has evaluated more than 200 individual projects, 13 GW of operational projects, and $12 billion of commercial acquisitions in the past year. She is also the co-lead for DNV’s Veterans Employee Resource Group and is a leading voice for Veteran hiring and recruitment at DNV and, specifically, the M&A team. Prior to joining DNV, Miki was global portfolio manager for Onshore Wind Services at GE Vernova (previously GE Renewable Energy). She joined GE through their Junior Officer Leadership Program and was co-accepted into JP Morgan’s Junior Military Officer Program at the same time. In her four-year civilian career she has recruited, interviewed, and successfully hired Veterans. Miki has been involved in Hiring our Heroes and the Service Academy Career Conference. She has a deep Veteran community in development, asset management, manufacturing, services, utility, engineering, and C-suite leaders of renewable energy companies. Miki’s military background has been both that of an Officer and Enlisted Soldier in the Army. From 2007-2009 she was Enlisted in Fort Stewart, GA. She attended and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2013 as a Military Police Officer. After which, she served 8 years on Active Duty in Daegu, KR; Fort Bragg, NC (Airborne); and Fort Benning, GA. She left command in 2019 to join GE. She is married to a fellow Army Veteran, USMA graduate, and Army Ranger, Jack Balstad. Jack also works for Sunnova Energy as a Group Product Manager. They have one son, Darby, and a small farm that specializes in producing maple syrup, Yankee Acres. The farm is affiliated with Hives for Heroes and the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The family skis frequently, and for the past two years have joined a team skiing for Stride Adaptive Sports, which has a goal of enabling sports for children and Veterans with disabilities.
ERG Committee Chair
Contractor Operations Manager, MidAmerican Energy Company Milton has over 25 years of leadership and operations utility experience. He currently leads the Contractor Operations department at MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC). MEC delivers energy to 1.6 million gas and electric customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota. MEC is well-known for its large wind generation fleet and is a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company (BHE). Milton has been in the BHE utility companies for 20 years holding positions from a union inspector, field support supervisor, operations manager, and director of Operations. Milton is one of the founders of VETRN, the veteran employee resource group at BHE and has served on the leadership team since 2019. Milton is proud to have led the effort at the BHE companies to provide employees a “best in class” Military Leave Policy which has been shared with companies across the United States. Milton created the BHE Veteran Employee Resource Groups Collaboration Network for Veteran ERG leaders to share best practices, lessons learned, and join efforts to increase the impact of veteran employee resource groups across the United States. He continues to support veteran initiatives at BHE companies, Veteran Organizations, CEWD, and Veterans in Energy. Milton’s story of how he served in the military and transitioned to an Energy Sector career is included in the book “Frontlines to Powerlines”. Milton proudly served in the United States Army. He was a Heavy Engineer and after deployment injuries reclassed to Intelligence. Milton supported training efforts at the Joint Readiness Training Center focused on operating heavy equipment and land mines. Milton is married with four children. His family enjoys participating in sports and frequently volunteer at community and veteran-focused events
Member at Large
Manager of Talent Pipeline Programs, Consumers Energy Amber is responsible for career awareness and strategic energy education programs for the company. She also serves as the Career Awareness Chairperson for the Michigan Energy Workforce Development Consortium, working statewide to network and build partnerships that build a more qualified, diverse workforce in the industry. Prior to entering the world of energy, Amber was a middle school English teacher and counselor. She holds a master’s degree in School and Agency Counseling from Central Michigan University, and a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from Aquinas College. Amber is a US Army active duty veteran. She currently serves as a member of the Michigan Women’s Veterans Coalition, Team Rubicon, and Team Red, White, and Blue. She is a former chair of Consumers’ Energy Veterans Advisory Panel employee resource group, where she worked diligently to register the company’s apprenticeships with the Department of Labor for GI Bill purposes. Through this group, Amber led efforts to involve the company’s veterans in various volunteer activities including, but not limited to, Habitat for Humanity, Cadillac Veterans Park, Blue Star Mothers, Grand Rapids Veterans Home, and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. In her free time, Amber enjoys being active. She enjoys traveling, hiking, running, paddle boarding, and coffee. She lives in Michigan and has two grown children; Lane and Olivia.
Member at Large
Erin M. Orga
Program Manager, Westinghouse Electric Company Since separating from the US Air Force in 2007 after ten years of service, she has worked for Westinghouse in the nuclear energy industry for over fifteen years. Erin has extensive experience in both program and project management of large-scale, new AP1000 nuclear reactor builds and upgrade Instrumentation & Controls projects for existing nuclear power plants. Her most recent position is in the design finalization and licensing of the Westinghouse eVinciTM microreactor where she is managing all the projects related to the testing of the eVinci design at external laboratories such as the eVinci Nuclear Test Reactor program at Idaho National Laboratory and the eVinci criticality and heat pipe tests at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Erin grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA and went to the University of Notre Dame on an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) scholarship. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and she was also a distinguished graduate from ROTC. Erin received a pilot training slot upon her commissioning in the US Air Force. After earning her wings, she flew as an instructor pilot in the T-38 and a pilot in the F-15E fighter jet. She served in the USAF for ten years and flew fifty-two combat missions as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon separating from the Air Force, she moved home to Pittsburgh and began her career with Westinghouse. Erin is a member of the Westinghouse chapters of Women in Nuclear (WIN) and Toastmasters. She serves on the board of her son’s football booster club and PR Kids First, a local political organization supporting children. Erin is also involved with the No Fallen Heroes Foundation, a charity committed to assisting active-duty military, veterans and first responders receive help with PTSD, trauma, depression and other mental health issues. Prior to COVID, she volunteered with her therapy dog, Radar, at the Pittsburgh airport as part of their PITPAWS program.
Member at Large
Manager of Talent Acquisition and Veteran Affairs – Pike Corporation James manages military and university recruiting across all of Pike’s business units. He also collaborates with Pike’s VA Certifying Official to engage veterans in Pike’s registered apprenticeship. He has served in this role since April of 2018. During this time Pike has grown their veteran recruiting from 2.5% of the hires annually to over 10%. Pike has averaged 400 veteran hires a year since James started in this role. James engages the military community working with installations and student veteran organizations across the country to ensure veterans are aware of opportunities at Pike and in the energy industry as a whole. Since joining Pike in 2018, James has worked with the Center for Energy Workforce Development, especially with their Troops to Energy Jobs engagements. James joined Veterans in Energy in 2019 and when he learned about the Professional Development Committee, he jumped right in to become part of the team. James helped developed the MOS Translator and in 2022 he coordinated two successful military base engagements for VIE on Fort Hood and Camp Lejeune. James is currently coordinating two base engagements for VIE in California for early summer 2023. From 2016-2018, James managed career engagement events and advocated with North Carolina employers to hire more veterans. During this time, he managed outreach in military communities across the state as the program manager for North Carolina for Military Employment. James conducted 8-12 career engagement events in communities with dense military populations each year in this role. James managed a team of volunteers from NCWorks, the Army National Guard Employment Center, and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to review resumes of transitioning military and military spouse candidates and match them with career opportunities submitted by participating industry partners. Veterans were interviewed at the events and often received contingent offers of employment. After his transition from the Marine Corps in 2012, James was hired as a Personal and Professional Development Advisor to support the Transition Readiness Seminar on Camp Lejeune. In short order James became a sought-out advisor by wounded warriors, transitioning service members, and their families. In 2014, James was selected to work directly with Marine Special Operations Command and Weapons Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune to host onsite transition programming and work directly with this population’s distinct transition needs. James also planned and hosted semiannual career fairs for Camp Lejeune and coordinated with groups like Hiring our Heroes and Troops to Transportation to bring specialized events to the base. James was an active duty Marine from 1987 to 2012. He was a recruiter, instructor, and a supply chain analyst, among other roles. James has a bachelor’s degree from Campbell University and a master’s in Human Resource Management from Webster University. James and his wife Elizabeth reside in North Carolina and have two adult daughters and a brand-new grandson.