Congratulations to the 2023 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award Winners!

The alliance’s annual Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards recognizes standout teams and individuals in both electric and natural gas efficiency for outstanding collaboration, innovative solutions, and career-long contributions to advancing energy efficiency in the Northwest.

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On December 4, 2023, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) hosted its ninth annual Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards ceremony.

A panel of presenters lead the celebration for attendees. They were:

  • Becca Yates, NEEA Executive Director
  • Mike Colgrove, NEEA Board Chair and Energy Trust of Oregon Executive Director
  • Gilbert Archuleta, NEEA Board Member and Director of Customer Energy Management for Puget Sound Energy
  • Debbie DePetris, NEEA Board Member and Energy Services Manager for Clark Public Utility District; and
  • Joe Fernandi, NEEA Board Member and Director of Customer Energy Solutions for Seattle City Light

The event kicked off with Yates, who provided an overview of the alliance’s milestones from the last year, highlighting moments of innovation and momentous collaboration.

Innovation and collaboration are inextricably linked. The leadership of year’s nominees and winners demonstrates how innovation through collaboration is advancing energy efficiency solutions for all Northwest consumers.

- Becca Yates
NEEA Executive Director

2023 Chairperson’s Award
2023 Leadership Awards - Fred Gordon, Becca Yates, Mike Colgrove

Presented by Colgrove, the Chairperson’s Award is decided by NEEA’s Board chair and executive director annually and recognizes individual dedication and commitment to advancing the alliance’s work. The 2023 recipient of the Chairperson’s Award was Fred Gordon, Energy Trust of Oregon.

Considered a founder of Market Transformation, Gordon played a pivotal role in shaping the foundational practices of NEEA. He has served as a trusted advisor and active member of the alliance since its beginning.

Through his experience and capacity for caring about how NEEA’s work unfolds, and his mentoring of those advancing efficiency in the region, he has made a lasting impact on the alliance and on the people who make up the energy efficiency community in the Northwest.

Congratulations to Fred Gordon!

2023 Rising Star Award
Grace Weger with rising star award 2023

Presented by DePetris, the Leadership in Energy Efficiency Rising Star Award recognized an emerging leader in energy efficiency whose record reflects ongoing and exceptional growth in contribution to the industry. The winner of the 2023 Rising Star Award was Grace Weger of Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity.

As director of Director of Land Acquisition and Development, Weger has dedicated her career to reducing energy burdens for underserved communities and developing homes that are safe, healthy and energy efficient.

She has an ability to identify needs and create and implement strategic ways to address them such as using triple-pane windows as an innovative way to improve comfort and enhance energy efficiency without exceeding limited budgets. Her commitment to value engineering and creative problem solving enables Bend-Redmond Habitat for Humanity to deliver the levels of comfort and above-code efficiency, more commonly associated with high-end green builders, to low-income families.

Congratulations to Grace Weger on receiving the 2023 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Rising Star Award!

2023 Innovative Collaboration Award
2023 Leadership Awards - Innovative Collab - Sara Bowles

The winner of the Leadership in Energy Efficiency Innovative Collaboration award was then announced by Archuleta – the Tacoma Power Income Qualified Rental Program Team. The team consisted of the following individuals from Tacoma Power: Sara Bowles (lead), Jenae Elliott, Anne Larrabee, Martha Lantz, Ali McKinney, Bernie Peterson, Bryan Russo, Abbie Sunich and Hollis Tamura.

The team was recognized for its innovative approach to reducing the energy burden of income-qualified customers living in rental properties through a unique collaboration between utilities, government organizations, trade allies and property owners.

The successful program was created to appeal to property owners, reduce energy burden of the most vulnerable populations, and support affordable housing initiatives in the City of Tacoma. To date, this collaboration between utility staff, community agencies, trade allies, and Tacoma Power customers has resulted in reduced energy burden for 12 households with 13 more in the pipeline.

Bowles, team lead, accepted the award during the ceremony on behalf of the team.

Congratulations to Tacoma Power’s Income Qualified Rental Program Team on receiving the 2023 Innovative Collaboration Award!

2023 Tom Eckman Lifetime Achievement Award
2023 Leadership Awards - Lifetime Achievement - Craig Smith - cropped

For the Tom Eckman Lifetime Achievement Award, Fernandi had the honor of announcing the 2023 winner – Craig Smith, Seattle City Light.

Spanning more than four decades in the utility industry, Smith’s professional career embodies outstanding achievement in advancing energy efficiency in the Northwest; dedication to public service, mentorship, and the equitable delivery of energy efficiency to utility customers. He has served in multiple leadership and advisory roles both regionally and nationally, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Snohomish County PUD, the Michigan Public Service Commission and most recently with Seattle City Light.

Smith possesses several traits that have made him successful over his long-tenured career: a commitment to public service, a customer-focused perspective, a collaborative and cooperative nature, and the vision and aptitude necessary to create organizational structures to meet the evolving needs of the industry.

Throughout his career, Smith showed an exceptional commitment to mentoring energy efficiency professionals, leaving a deep and lasting impact on the industry.

Congratulations to Craig Smith for receiving this well-deserved award!


In Memoriam

Tina Jayaweera NWPCC

Finally, this year’s ceremony also included posthumous recognition of the contributions of Dr. Tina Jayaweera, senior advisor in the power division for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (the Council).

Jayaweera was known as an educator who embraced opportunities to share her knowledge and mentor people throughout their careers. This trait made her a valued advisor to many organizations and individuals across the region, including the alliance.

The memorial award was presented for her significant impact in improving energy efficiency in the Northwest and was accepted by Kevin Smit and Jennifer Light from the Council.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the event. If you missed the event or need a refresh, we encourage you to check out the live recording below or view the photos from the event on NEEA's Flickr.


And, the alliance would like to express one more congratulations to all the 2023 nominees:

Leadership in Energy Efficiency Rising Star Award:

  • Mischa Egolf, New Buildings Institute
  • Kelsey Lewis, Snohomish PUD
  • Taylor Pitts, Puget Sound Energy
  • Daniel Poppe, Seattle 2030
  • Shelby Ruiz, Washington State University, Integrated Design + Construction Lab
  • Bonnie Watson, BPA
  • Joe Wachunas, New Buildings Institute
  • Grace Weger, Habitat for Humanity
  • Amanda Zuniga, Energy Trust of Oregon

Leadership in Energy Efficiency Innovative Collaboration Award:

  • Amy Burke, BPA
  • Advanced High-Capacity Heat Pumps Research Team: Debra Bristow, Amy Burke, Erin Hope, Nathan Kelly, Tony Koch, Robert Weber, Bonneville Power Administration; Christopher Dymond, NEEA and consultants John Bush, Erin Connor, Bob Davis and Ben Larson
  • Advanced Water Heating Initiative team: Joseph Wachunas, (Project Manager) and Alexi Miller, New Buildings Institute; Paul Campbell, ICF; Jon Heller, Ecotope; Owen Howlett, Sacramento Municipal Utility District; Keshmira McVey, BPA; Helen Townsend, D+R International; and Geoff Wickes, NEEA
  • California Embodied Carbon Codes Team: Webly Bowles, New Buildings Institute; Ida Antoniolli Clair AIA LEED AP CASp, State Architect at California Department of General Services, Division of the State Architect; Michael Malinowski FAIA, Licensed Architect, Consultant to American of Institute of Architects California
  • Clean Buildings Accelerator Program at Puget Sound Energy (PSE): Ellis Bouw, Beth Robinweiler, Ian Tachibana and Brian Zoeller
  • David Cohan, Institute for Market Transformation
  • Community Energy Project and Partners: Charity Fain
  • Customer Awareness and Participation Survey and Report Working Group: Ryan Crews, Matt Getchell, Andy Griguhn, Mana Haeri, Marshall Johnson, Alex Novie, Dan Rubado, Sloan Schang and Amanda Zuniga, Energy Trust of Oregon and Rebecca Descombes, member of Energy Trust’s Diversity Advisory Council
  • Electric Motor Standards Working Group: Kirk Anderson, NIDEC
  • Energy Trust of Oregon’s Community Partner Funding: Ryan Crews (lead)
  • HeatAmp: Corey Blackman, Magnus Ekblad, Ingemar Hallin
  • Idaho Energy Code Collaborative: Charlie Allen, City of Ammon; Ginger Bidegaray, IDABO; Jason Blais, City of Boise; Alexa Bouvier, Idaho OEMR; Dave Freelove, Idaho Circuit Rider; Todd Greenwell and Sheree Willhite, Idaho Power; Dawn Hall, Mary Alice Taylor, AIC and Rob McQuade, AIC (former); Jerry Peterson, Home Energy Services; Blake Ringeisen and Tess Studley, NEEA; Jerica Stacey, ICC; Patrick Sullivan, City of Nampa; Damon Woods, Integrated Design Lab
  • Income Qualified Rental Program, Tacoma Power: Sara Bowles (lead), Jenae Elliott, Anne Larrabee, Martha Lantz, Ali McKinney, Bernie Peterson, Bryan Russo, Abbie Sunich and Hollis Tamura
  • Nationwide Marketing Group (NMG): Frank Sandtner
  • PAWS Leadership Team: Doug Anderson, EPA; Mahabir Bhandari, Oak Ridge National Lab; Kyle Biega, Marc LaFrance and Alexander Rees, U.S. Department of Energy Buildings Technology Office; Michelle Blackston, National Fenestration Rating Council; Katherine Cort, Pacific Northwest National Lab; Thomas Culp, consultant; Deepti Dutt and David Lis Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership; Grace Diller and Isaac Smith, Minnesota CEE; Rick Dunn and Jesse Largent, NEEA; Robert Hart, Berkeley Lab; Kirstin Janocha and Walter Zalis Energetics; Brady Nemeth and Ellen Rubinstein, Resource innovations (Representing Nicor Gas and California CEE interests); Stephen Selkowitz, consultant
  • Residential Building Stock Assessment Work Group: Debbie DePetris, Clark County PUD; Jesse Durst, Puget Sound Energy; Christian Douglass and Josh Rushton, Regional Technical Forum (Contract Analysts); Leona Haley, Avista; Haixiao Huang, NW Natural; Laura James, PacifiCorp; Tina Jayaweera, Northwest Power and Conservation Council; Jessica Kenyon, Seattle City Light; Caleb Reimer, Cascade Natural Gas; Dan Rubado, Energy Trust; Sinh Tran, Snohomish County PUD; Joan Wang, Bonneville Power Administration; Kathy Yi, Idaho Power
  • TV Test Method: Gregg Hardy, Pacific Crest Labs and NEEA team members Nick Leritz, Eric Olson and Chris Wolgamott
  • Ultra-low Temperature Freezer Midstream Rebate Team: Emma Johnson, Seattle City Light and Tianna Byrtus, Puget Sound Energy
  • Bret Van Den Heuvel, Gensco

Tom Eckman Leadership in Energy Efficiency Lifetime Achievement Award:

  • Steve Bicker, Tacoma Power
  • Fred Gordon, Energy Trust of Oregon
  • Steve Lacey, Energy Trust of Oregon
  • Michael Lane, Puget Sound Energy
  • Craig Smith, Seattle City Light
  • Kevin Watier, Snohomish County PUD