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Kellee Christensen: A Woman Working in the Utility Industry


woman with glasses

Kellee Christensen has had a storied career at the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL), where she now works as the strategic planning director. In honor of Women’s History Month, she shared her experience and how she’s paved the way for women to follow in her footsteps. 

“What do I like about working for a public utility as a woman? This is a question I often get asked, and my answer is simple. I get satisfaction in providing vital services to the community I live in. In my 32 years at BWL, I have worked in many areas of the company. I started as an electrical engineer rebuilding older pole lines and circuits and addressing customer power quality issues. I have worked with large customers to design new services, had the opportunity to learn and lead the water distribution area, managed our first project in the electric vehicles space 14 years ago, became a champion of cutting-edge smart grid technology and implemented advanced metering infrastructure and other technologies. In my current role as the strategic planning director, I enjoy helping the utility build a plan to serve our community in the best way possible with an eye toward the future.  

As one of the first female engineers at BWL, it hasn't always been easy. When I began my career in 1991, utilities trailed many other sectors regarding equal opportunities and professional careers for women. At that time, the engineer floor still didn’t have a women’s restroom, reflecting outdated attitudes about what sort of jobs women were ‘expected’ to do — or not do, in this case. It’s been rewarding to watch these attitudes and opportunities evolve and to be a part of improving the industry for other women.  

My career has been rewarding in many other ways as well. The opportunities today are many and varied when working for a public utility, regardless of your gender, career goals or anything else.  Whether you are an accountant, customer service specialist, engineer, line worker, maintenance mechanic or IT professional — just to name a few — utilities like BWL are great places to work and a unique opportunity to contribute to the local community.  

Knowing that the public depends on utility employees to keep the lights on and the water clean and flowing is especially rewarding. When my daughter was young, it warmed my heart when just as a bad storm was clearing our neighborhood and my phone was ringing, she would say to her girlfriend huddled in the basement, “My mom has to go to work now; she will be making sure people get their power back.”  Working for a public utility is a commitment; however, it’s also satisfying and fulfilling to know that I’m contributing to the community in a meaningful and tangible way. I’ve never been bored one day in my entire career working for the Board of Water & Light.” 

BWL values the women who work in the public utility space and are happy to give them ample opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Are you interested in working for the BWL? Check out our current openings page.