By Philip Reed
On June 29, employees gathered virtually for WAPA's All-Employee Meeting, streamed across the organization's 15-state footprint to employees at home, in the field and at their worksites.
The event was emceed by Supervisory Information Technology Specialist Tonya Spencer. In addition to introducing herself to attendees and summarizing her role at WAPA, she discussed her experience contracting COVID-19 in the fall.
“I'm not sure where I got it," she said. “Afterward, I had several months of lingering issues related to COVID. The least of my concerns was a letter from the county threatening me with a $5,000 fine if I left my home. And, of course, I received it three weeks after my positive test result."
Spencer emphasized that that was the only comical part of her story; she spent five days in the hospital with psychosis brought on by the virus.
“It was the most humbling experience I've ever had," explained Spencer. “Recovering from my experience led me to volunteer to be your emcee today, because it makes me feel like I'm back to feeling healthy."
Attendees then heard from Interim Administrator and CEO Tracey LeBeau, who spoke about drought conditions, a responsible return to the workplace and the increased public attention on power delivery.
“It appears the days of the electric grid being a mostly overlooked engineering marvel are long over," she said. “As we have seen, especially during this pandemic when electricity shutoffs were banned in many states and during the winter storm outages in Texas, electricity is not a nicety or even a commodity that supports the economy; it's a critical necessity to preserve and protect life."
She also spotlighted several employees who have been recognized with external awards and announced this year's recipients of the Exceptional Service Awards.
Leadership Development Specialist Brittanie Paquette and Program Manager Troy Steadman then spoke about the Leadership Development Program, and Equal Employment Opportunity Manager Charles Montañez spoke about the Office of Economic Impact & Diversity.
This was followed by Supervisory Public Utilities Specialists Chrystal Dean and Robert Delizo, who discussed current drought impacts faced within WAPA's service territory.
At the meeting's conclusion, Chief of Staff Melissa Ardis facilitated a live Q&A with participants.
Note: Reed is a public affairs specialist.