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Michelle Williams, WAPA Senior Vice President and Sierra Nevada Regional Manager

MICHELLE WILLIAMS Senior Vice President and Sierra Nevada Regional Manager Western Area Power Administration
Senior Vice President and Sierra Nevada Regional Manager
Western Area Power Administration

Michelle Williams is a critical member of WAPA’s senior executive team and exercises managerial authority and strategic leadership over power marketing, transmission planning, power operations, facilities maintenance, safety, environmental, procurement, financial and human resources oversight for the Sierra Nevada region. SN provisions power for the Central Valley Project, a system of 20 dams and reservoirs that services municipal, industrial and environmental water needs for 29 of California’s 58 counties. After meeting those needs, SN supplies the annual electrical needs of roughly 650,000 Californians, including irrigation districts, joint power agencies, cities and towns, public utility districts, military and federal research installations, educational institutions, and prisons. SN operates 18 power substations and 884 miles of 69- to 500-kV transmission lines. 

What brought you to WAPA initially? The level of excellence exuded by staff. In all my interactions with WAPA during my prior role with the sister agency Bureau of Reclamation, WAPA team was prepared, thorough, thoughtful, forward-thinking and always operating with a customer focus. 

What is something most people do not know about you? I love to fish small waterways – sun perch and crappie are the most fun to fish for, but I am totally conflicted by my fear of any kind of bee – I have not been stung, and I am not trying to be stung – this often prevents me from staying on the fishing creek for long, but I am working through it. 

What is your style for both communication and leadership? I communicate often, am approachable, open, and willing to learn/consider different perspectives. I’m naturally inclusive – I see unique value in each of us. I give respect to everyone, and while I will serve my role to direct the course of the ship, I recognize we each serve our purpose, and it takes the full unit, firing at optimal levels to arrive at our destination on schedule and intact; therefore, I am steadfast in recognizing others, giving credit where credit is due and putting people first. 

What are you reading right now? Do you have a favorite author? I am reading “Remote” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier. Like many others, I am searching for the sweet spot in leveraging today’s technologies and rebuilding an engaged and connected workplace community. 

During WAPA’s period of maximum telework, what do you think was the most valuable lesson you learned as a leader? Empathy: we are humans navigating real-world difficulties. If we afford each other understanding and flexibility, we can get to the finish line together – even under dire circumstances. 

What has been your most rewarding experience at WAPA so far? Spending time with our Craftsman in Training (CITs) and apprentices to see how our developmental programs work out for them and how we can better support and retain them – the future of our workforce. 

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Last modified on April 1st, 2024