Our Mission and Leadership
Mission and Leadership
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.
Board of Directors
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.
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.
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.
DeAnne Ostrowski – VIE Professional Development
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 that includes 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 American Association of Blacks in Energy and Vice President of Brookwood Point Homeowners Association.
He enjoys biking, skating and traveling in his spare time.
Strategic Account Manager within Sales and Relationship Management, Duke Energy
Greg works in lockstep with Fortune 50 corporations to develop strategic alliances by aligning
resources, goals, and expectations at the corporate executive level. Furthermore, he is tasked with being the resident
client expert, acquiring deep knowledge of the client’s corporate goals, challenges, and nuances and providing
broader insight into industry trends.
Greg joined the company in 2021 after a recent bid for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina. His campaign for
office was not his first experience with public service; however, as Greg has over two decades as a leader in the
military. His service on active duty in the United States Army culminated as a company commander on a yearlong
deployment to Iraq where he led over 200 Soldiers. Today, his service continues in the North Carolina National
Guard as a liaison officer to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
In addition to his military service, Greg’s public service included nearly five years as a senior staffer in the North
Carolina House of Representatives where he focused much of his work on tax policy and economic development.
Greg is most proud of his work on the historic tax reform enacted in 2013 which served as the first comprehensive
overall of the state’s tax code in over 70 years. After serving the state, Greg spent two years travelling the
southeastern United States focused on strategic development and external affairs for a leading, national renewable
energy company, which led to opportunities to effectively engage with key and influential stakeholders.
Greg holds a master’s degree in business administration from The Chapman School of Business at Florida
International University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Greg continues to give back as a volunteer with the West Point admissions office. He serves as a liaison officer for
multiple congressional districts across central North Carolina. In this role, he helps to identify potential candidates
as well as assistsMember young men and women navigate the lengthy admissions process.
Greg is a product of northwestern Pennsylvania. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Carrie. They reside in
Holly Springs, NC along with their three young daughters.