Our Mission and Leadership
 
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Mission and Leadership

Our Mission

Veterans in Energy is a national employee resource group that provides transition, retention and professional development support to military veterans working in energy.

Veterans in Energy advocates through education and networking to improve the working environment, career development and quality of life for military veterans in the energy industry.

Our Leadership

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Board of Directors

2021

 

Cassandra Wheeler – VIE President

Regional Director – Georgia Power Company

Cassandra Wheeler serves as regional director for Georgia Power’s Northwest Region. Named to that position in November 2017, her primary responsibility is for the operations, sales, customer service, economic and community development, and external affairs activities for 15 counties and over 170,000 customers in the region.

 

Cassandra began her career at Alabama Power in 2001 as an engineer at Miller Steam Plant. She also served as the plant’s Maintenance Team Leader and Operations Team Leader. She was selected as the Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Generation for Southern Company in 2003, and as Assistant to the Vice President of Governmental Affairs in Washington, DC, in 2005. In 2006 and 2007, she served as the Operations Supervisor and then the Compliance and Support Manager at Plant E. C. Gaston and was selected as the Maintenance and Engineering Manager at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates in 2009. Later in 2009, she served as Maintenance Manager at Plant Miller. In 2012 she was named Plant Manager of Gadsden Steam Plant and served in that role until she became plant manager at Plant Hammond in May 2014. Plant Hammond was awarded the Exceptional Plant Award for reliability in 2015 under her leadership.

Cassandra honorably separated from the United States Air Force after more than six years of service as a B-1B avionics technician to pursue a degree in electrical engineering and is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Master of Business Administration degree.

Cassandra is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Rome Floyd Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Georgia Northwest Technical College, as well as Open Door Children’s Home, and YMCA. 

John Broschak – VIE Vice President

Vice President of Generation Operations, Consumers Energy

John P. Broschak is vice president of generation operations and compression for Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy. Broschak is responsible for the operation of the company’s fossil-fueled, hydroelectric and renewable generating units and gas compression facilities.

 

Broschak last served as vice president of major projects and construction for Consumers Energy. He provided project leadership, management and administration for complex and mission-critical capital investments. He also monitored significant company business risks including air emission reduction projects at company generating plants, construction of renewable and fossil generation, and other large-scale construction projects.

Previously, Broschak was vice president of engineering for Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation in Burlington, Kansas from 2011 to 2014. Earlier, Broschak held increasingly responsible positions at Entergy and Nuclear Management Company. He began his utility career at Consumers Energy in 1992 at Palisades Nuclear Plant after serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy for six years.

Broschak earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He is a licensed professional engineer in the states of Michigan and Kansas. Broschak previously held a senior reactor operator license and project management professional certification.

As the Executive Sponsor of Consumer Energy’s Veteran’s Advisory Panel (VAP), John’s vision and leadership have resulted in a tremendous increase in growth and development making it the fastest growing of the Company’s seven Employee Resource Groups. VAP was established in the summer of 2015 to enhance Consumers Energy diversity initiatives by providing support for former and active military personnel and their families. John was has been instrumental in providing resources and support to current reservist and veteran employees.

 

Hal Pittman – VIE Founder and Past President

Acting Director at Defense Media Activity

Mr. Hal Pittman is a member of the Senior Executive Service, appointed as Acting 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.

 

Jim Spiers – VIE Communications

Vice President of Business & Technology Strategies – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Jim Spiers joined NRECA in June 2014 as the vice-president of business and technology strategies. Spiers came to NRECA from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in Westminster, CO, where he served as senior vice president of business strategy/chief technology officer.
In his role NRECA, Spiers leads the department that is comprised of the Energy and Power, CRN and Strategic Analysis divisions.  These activities comprise all technical, engineering and economic support, research and technology transfer and product and services provided directly to the membership and within NRECA in collaboration with all other departments to fulfill membership needs.   This includes over $20 million in recent grant wins and awards for grid modernization and enhancements.

At Tri-State, Spiers focused on business, scientific and technical issues, technology innovation, research and development, and enterprise development.  Spiers led the development of rates and integration of a portfolio of distributed energy resources with member systems and their member-consumers, enhancing local economies and system reliability.  Spiers directed Tri-State’s engagement in several high-profile research initiatives, including carbon dioxide mitigation through inducement prize development (XPRIZE), development of an R&D test center at a coal-fired power facility and the formation of an international network of researchers focused on capturing and converting carbon emissions from industrial complexes into an asset.

Spiers’ more than 25 years of experience spans utility and infrastructure industry operations and planning, rate setting, regulation, restructuring, technology assessment, business planning and strategy and technology assessment. As an independent consultant prior to his tenure at Tri-State, Spiers helped clients on a diverse array of issues that ranged from technology assessments and business planning to rate recovery and regulatory compliance. Spiers also provided technology, market and regulatory research and consulting services to utilities world-wide through Gartner Inc.

 

Spiers served as director of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission from 1986 to 1991, and before that, as a hearings officer and researcher at the Colorado Department of Highways. Spiers has a law degree University of Colorado School of Law and a B.A. from Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colo.

 

Kelcey Brown – VIE Treasurer

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. 
Brown has also been a senior economist at the Oregon Public Utility Commission, 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 and she served in the US Navy as a Photographer’s Mate on board the USS Nimitz for the majority of her enlistment.

 

Howard Gartland – VIE Secretary

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, 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.

 

Illana Rentz – VIE Professional Development

Emergency Preparedness Manager, Florida Power & Light

Iliana Rentz is an Emergency Preparedness Program Manager for Florida Power & Light Company. She is responsible for managing the enterprise-wide emergency preparedness and response plans and processes. Her expertise is focused on hurricane and other severe storm conditions that affect FPL and NextEra territories. Iliana prepared and served as a key leader for the company through best ever performance during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. She also served a critical role in the Hurricane Maria restoration effort. Mrs. Rentz has held this position since June 2014.

Iliana joined FPL in 2005 as a Finance Analyst in Distribution and worked on financial and operational projects. She then became a Project Coordinator and was involved with resource planning and the preparation of financial controls and guidelines for the Energy Smart Florida project in partnership with the DOE. In addition, Iliana served as a Production Lead supervising crews and was a core team member in the development of the Smart Street Lights project which included the deployment of over 700k smart nodes. Iliana has also served as a Power Delivery Emergency Preparedness Lead and developed a strong background in utility emergency response, restoration, training, and estimated time of restoration (ETR) processes.

 

Mrs. Rentz holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from American University and a specialization in Civil Military Operations and Infrastructure Development from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. She is a 12 year Army combat veteran with distinction having received numerous meritorious awards to include a Bronze Star and a Combat Action badge. She is a Six Sigma Black Belt and a Prosci Change Management Practioner. Iliana is the current Chairperson for VETNEXT, Veterans of NextEra. She also represents FPL as the incoming Vice-Chair of the Southeastern Electric Exchange Mutual Assistance Group, she is the Chair of the technology working group for the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies, serves on the design team of the National Response Event framework, and represents FPL with the Edison Electric Institute. Mrs. Rentz and her husband reside in South Florida with their two children.

Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving approximately 5 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL’s typical 1000 kWh bill is among the lowest in the state and 30% below the national average. FPL’s service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among utilities nationwide. NextEra Energy is a Fortune 200 company, the largest producer of energy from the wind and sun. Most recently, NextEra Energy was ranked one of Fortune’s top 25 companies that “Change the World” and was the only energy company from the Americas to make the list.A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visit www.FPL.com.

 

Bradly Pellegrin – VIE Employee Resource Group

Senior Management Consultant, Greencastle Associates Consulting

Bradly Pellegrin is an experienced Project and Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the energy management and consulting industry. He is an operations professional skilled in communication, leadership, strategy, and project management with a U.S. Army Officer Commissioning from Marion Military Institute and a BA in International Politics from Pennsylvania State University.

His military career began enlisting while still in high school to be an Army Communications soldier, 31R, in 2001. After commissioning as an Army Officer in 2004 he was branched Infantry and lead in a Stryker combat team as an Airborne and Ranger qualified JCC Task Force Commander maneuvering an 800-man Iraqi police force in OIF. He transitioned out of the military in 2013, to pursue a career in the Utility Industry.

Currently he is influencing the energy sector by consulting on people and process improvement in numerous departments as a Senior Management Consultant with Greencastle Associates Consulting and is extremely proud and honored to be a part of this organization. Greencastle is a 100% Veteran owned and 100% Veteran employed company. He is as passionate about Veteran employment opportunities as he is about developing greater energy resiliency. Having the support of Greencastle behind him to support Veteran employment and progression in the Energy sector has been an immense force multiplier.

 

DeAnne Ostrowski – VIE Member at Large

General Manager of Electric Operations, Consolidated Edison Company of NY

DeAnne (Dee) Ostrowski General Manager, Consolidated Edison Company of NY (ConEd) Bronx/Westchester Electric Operations and Co-Lead Veterans of Con Edison, Inc.

Dee has over 25 years of leadership, engineering and utility experience.  She is currently a general manager 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 almost 20 years in various management positions from a supervisor to a general manager in Electric Operations, Utility Shared Services – Stores Operations and Environmental Health and Safety.  Dee is the co-lead of the Veterans of Con Edison, Inc. (VOC.)  She recently spoke on the ERG panel at the Veterans in Energy conference this fall.  Dee is an alumnus of Westchester County’s Top 40 Under 40. 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 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 towards 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.   

 

LaVonne Rose – VIE Member at Large

Web Services Representative – Edison Electric Institute

LaVonne M. Rose is Web Services Representative in the Communication department of the Edison Electric Institute. LaVonne joined EEI in 1987 and has held various positions throughout the organization.

In her current role as Web Services Representative, LaVonne works in collaboration with EEI’s website manager to update and maintain content on EEI’s flagship site, www.eei.org. She provides technical content management training to EEI staff, and assists with EEI’s annual Financial Conference, and Transmission, Distribution, Metering & Mutual Assistance Conferences.

Prior to her current position, LaVonne spent 15 years as Electronic Content & Circulation Coordinator of the energy industry magazine, Electric Perspectives. During this time, LaVonne managed the magazine’s circulation and fulfillment functions, and maintained the magazine’s online presence.

 

Before joining EEI, LaVonne was a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy from 1982-1987. She completed Yeoman Class A school in August 1982. LaVonne received orders to serve at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OPNAV Security at the Pentagon.  LaVonne was honorably discharged in May 1987 and continued to serve in the Naval Reserves in various units until 1994.

 

An 8-year breast cancer survivor, LaVonne has raised more than $30,000 towards breast cancer research by participating in six Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60-mile walks. She also is an avid rower and member of We Can Row DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the joy and healing power of rowing to women of all backgrounds and abilities, in any stage of breast cancer recovery.