Jennifer Johnson, Technical Support supervisor at McGuire Nuclear Station and communications officer for Duke Energy’s chapter of Women in Nuclear (WIN), provides a personal perspective on the benefits of being a woman in the nuclear energy field.
Duke Energy’s WIN chapter is an organization of over 300 members working at all six Duke Energy-operated nuclear sites and our corporate support facilities. Just as Duke Energy is transitioning to cleaner energy, our chapter is a part of helping Duke Energy transition to a more diverse workforce.
One of our goals is to create a culture where WIN members can support each other as they work toward career advancement. There are multiple opportunities to grow one’s career at Duke Energy. I recall going to my first U.S. WIN National Conference event and being greeted by Tanya Hamilton, senior vice president of Nuclear Corporate. We had a personal conversation in which she asked me about my career goals. Since then, I knew I could turn to anyone at Duke Energy for advice to advance my career.
The network of senior leaders in WIN is impressive. Nicole Flippin, site vice president at Robinson Nuclear Plant, and Laura Basta, plant manager at Robinson, are two examples of WIN members who continually find time to mentor others in advancing their careers. They were both part of the original Nuclear Executives of Tomorrow (NEXT) cohort. NEXT is a program created by U.S. WIN to help prepare individuals for future positions. The current cohort includes Mandi Brigman, director of Nuclear Engineering at Catawba Nuclear Station.
Our chapter also strives to create opportunities for career development in other ways. Some of the more recent opportunities include screening and discussing award-winning series or documentaries. Members gather to watch and discuss topics that are relevant to leadership, diversity and personal growth – sometimes we throw in a funny video because we all need to laugh occasionally!
As part of WIN, we strive to enhance understanding and awareness of the value of nuclear energy for those around us. It might be through writings aimed at a general audience. For example, you might have read a recent article in which some of our members relate what they wish others knew about nuclear generation. Our chapter also frequently participates in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – events in neighborhoods around our nuclear facilities, including Scout merit badge workshops, networking events with local higher education students and even virtual sessions for home school students. The prospect of bringing young adults on-site and showing them the importance of nuclear energy fills me with excitement. When we can take students on control room simulator tours, where they can imagine operating a nuclear power plant, it puts a spark in their eyes that this could be a career option.
For anyone interested in advancing their career and advocating for nuclear energy, Duke Energy’s WIN chapter offers many opportunities. Having the chance to represent Duke Energy’s WIN chapter has been a wonderful experience for me. In terms of my career today, I attribute my success to every WIN experience I’ve had.