Leading the Way in Economic and Workforce Development

The inaugural Florida’s Women in Energy Leadership Forum was held at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida on April 14 and 15, 2016. This first-of-its-kind event gathered women and men nationwide for a two-day event with keynote addresses and panel discussions regarding opportunities in Florida’s energy industry. The Forum is designed to inform, inspire, and motivate further interest in the energy industry to further attract talent in an already tremendous workforce.

The first day of the forum kicked off with a video presentation highlighting the Florida’s Women in Energy Leadership Forum, its sponsors, and a few of the participating speakers. The first presentation was presented by the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Pamela Rauch and Tony Carvajal, relaying statistical information on Florida’s economy and opportunity. The following panel discussion “Let’s Have a Conversation With…” included Southern Company’s Kimberly Greene, Pivotal Home Solution’s Robin Boren, and Duke Energy’s Gayle Lanier. The panel was facilitated by Gunster’s Chairman and former United States Senator George S. LeMieux. The speakers were insightful using experience and humor to showcase leadership and outstanding careers. Later in the evening, guests had the opportunity to network and mingle during the Florida’s Women in Energy Leadership Forum Reception, followed by a welcome dinner with remarks from Gunster’s Managing Shareholder, Bill Perry, and Gulf Power Company’s CEO, Stan Connally. Seating during the dinner was strategically arranged so that the participating students would have a chance to sit next to industry executives.

The last day of the forum was a full day of panels and discussions, starting with a keynote address from the current Chair of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Julie I. Brown. Commissioner Brown focused on the specific challenges and opportunities in Florida’s energy industry. The following panel was moderated by PSC Commissioner Lisa P. Edgar, and included representatives from Gulf Power, AGL Resources, Seminole Electric Cooperative, Emera, and Florida Public Utilities Company. Ann Randazzo, Executive Director of the Center for Energy Workforce Development, joined us to provide data points of the energy industry, and where women and the next generation fit in to that equation. This was followed by a panel discussion on “Communicating Effectively in This New Age of Technology,” which included several marketing and communications executives from Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas, Gulf Power, and Orlando Utilities.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Colette Honorable, as the lunch keynote speaker, provided a national perspective on issues that impact the Florida energy industry’s capacity and infrastructure needs. A natural leader, she provided her own perspective on the needs and issues facing the energy industry today. A panel discussion on “Utility Transformation: The Impact on the Community, Environment, Jobs and Alternative Energy” included moderator, Kelley Smith Burk, Director of the Office of Energy, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Panel participants included representatives from EarthSTEPS, Duke Energy, and TFC Utilities. The final panels of the day covered facilitating jobs in energy, as well as economic development, trade and job creation. The two final panels included representatives from Gulf Power, Florida City Gas, City of Tallahassee, Florida Power and Light, TECO Energy, Florida Public Utilities Company and Advanced Disposal.

  1. 92% of attendees said that Florida’s Women in Energy Leadership Forum (FWELF) exceeded their expectations with the overall program and theme.
  2. Around 53% said the location exceeded their expectations.
  3. 90% said that the speakers included exceeded their expectations.
  4. 83% said that the value of FWELF exceeded their expectations.