By Teresa Waugh

In 2018, Kevin Howard was selected as WAPA’s chief operating officer. In this role, Howard oversees a staff of around 100 employees and provides the executive leadership and strategic direction for the security, asset management and technical programs critical to the organization’s mission. Closed Circuit sat down with Howard recently to learn more about him.

What is your most rewarding experience at WAPA thus far?

In my early career I was the project engineer overseeing the upgrade of Flaming Gorge Substation in Utah. It was like building a car while driving it, since the substation was in service the entire time and controls and relaying had to be sequentially cut over from the powerplant to the new control building while ensuring that all equipment was protected and operational, except coordinating strategic equipment clearances, throughout. This was the most complex technical project I led in 17 years of working in the field. 

Mid-career, it was being involved in safety initiatives as a maintenance manager. I was honored to implement the first daily-wear arc flash clothing program to protect craft employees from the significant risk of injury in the event of an arc flash and helped facilitate policy change for 100% attachment during climbing activities on all structures.  

Most recently, as COO, I enjoy the many personal, professional and productive relationships as a member of various councils and teams: the Western Maintenance Managers Council for five years, the Power System Operations Council for four and a half years and the Senior Leadership Team for three years, to name a few. WAPA continues to be a great place to work!

What is something most people do not know about you?

I grew up in Montrose, Colorado, on a small farm raising sheep and a few horses and spent most of my childhood irrigating fields, putting up hay and feeding, herding, vaccinating and lambing sheep. 

I was also in 4-H and FFA through my sophomore year in high school. At that point, I had a choice of taking two hours of agriculture classes a day in my junior year or moving into physics, algebra, trigonometry and calculus. I took the latter route and ended up with an engineering degree. Looking back, I think I made the right choice.

What are you reading right now? Do you have a favorite author?

I oscillate among history, self-development and fiction. I am currently reading the Orphan X series by Greg Hurwitz. It is one of the best fictional action series I have read, and it provides entertainment while I am using the elliptical in the basement. I am looking forward to the end of the pandemic and returning to the gym! Or, since I’ll soon be fully vaccinated, maybe I will begin integrating back in the gym.

My favorite authors are probably Jeff Shaara and Michael Shaara, who wrote historical fiction about the revolutionary and civil wars.

What are your communication and leadership styles?

I like to communicate openly and encourage folks I am working with to do the same. My leadership style is based on trust and respect. I always try to respect everyone I work with and value their opinions, expertise and input. I certainly don’t have all of the answers and it takes all of us working together to tackle the challenges we deal with every day. 

I also trust that everyone is working to meet her or his responsibilities and advance WAPA’s mission, at least until proven otherwise.  

Would you tell us about your coworkers at home?

My sole “coworker” is my wife, Sherry, although she seems to get out of the house much more often than I do. I’m a little jealous! 

She’s been great at putting up with me when I took over her office, and when I complain about working from home for 14 months straight, which happens regularly. She also continues to feed me breakfast – most mornings – and get me out for a walk or to grab Chick-fil-A breakfast occasionally. 

I just lost my other coworker a little over a month ago. Mia was our almost 16-year-old Shih Tzu/Maltese. She was great company and often provided a good work break to take in a walk, some ball chasing or petting. I miss her!

​Note: Waugh is the chief public affairs officer.

WAPA's COO Kevin Howard, outside the office hiking near a lake with two small dogs

Last modified on September 12th, 2023