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Powering Change: Meet the Women at the Helm of National Grid’s Clean Energy Transition

National Grid, the company that provides energy to more than 240 towns and cities across Massachusetts, has a revolutionary vision for the future of energy. It’s one where we are making our buildings as efficient as possible, where we are electrifying buildings, cars, buses, trucks, and where we are pulling heat from the earth to keep us warm through innovative energy solutions like geothermal. National Grid is working to deliver the energy transition and help the Commonwealth meet its ambitious (and necessary) climate change goals by building a smarter, stronger, cleaner, and more equitable energy future.

As you might imagine, the clean energy transition is a long and multilayered process. But the plan is in motion, being led by experienced leaders—many of whom happen to be women. “​​Across all aspects of the energy transition, we have a group of talented and committed leaders, the majority of whom are women, working together to set direction, lead teams, and deliver on the fair, affordable, and clean energy future for all our customers and communities,” says National Grid New England President Lisa Wieland. “This team—that I am very privileged to lead—is focused on meeting our customers’ needs and expectations today, while doing the work necessary to deliver on the clean energy transition and achieve our collective climate and clean energy goals.”

Leading National Grid’s clean energy triumvirate—Policy, People, and Performance—are a team of women fueling the change by working with legislators, securing approvals, planning and building infrastructure, delivering for customers, and priming a local workforce from a young age. This is how they’re making the transition smooth, efficient, and one that will work for everyone they serve. 

Policy: Paving the Way for Transition

To support all the offshore wind, solar, storage and electric technologies like cars and heat pumps, National Grid is making sure the infrastructure is in place and that it’s robust and resilient enough to handle a changing climate. But before this infrastructure can be built, the Policy-focused teams are working with legislators, regulators, local and municipal officials, and communities to get the policies and approvals needed to unlock this investment and build the poles and wires to deliver safe, clean, and reliable energy to all their customers.

“We are going through an energy transformation,” says National Grid New England Head of Corporate Affairs Melissa Lavinson. “We’re not just transforming the technology, but we’re transforming the underlying policies, processes, and regulations that support it—and there are a lot. Working with our policymakers and other stakeholders, we are looking at what can be done to both enable and accelerate this transition.”

Lavinson leads the team focused on advancing legislation around clean energy, working with stakeholders and municipalities to help facilitate the transition. Also under the policy umbrella is National Grid New England General Counsel Alexandra Blackmore, who leads the Massachusetts State and Federal Regulatory teams in the legal department. “We help our business customers get the project approvals necessary to deliver service to customers and further the clean energy transition,” she says.

Pamela Viapiano, vice president of New England Regulatory, leads the team that makes regulatory filings before the Department of Public Utilities. “To the layman, I often say, my team is working with the regulators to ensure that the company is making the right investments to meet the goals of the Commonwealth and energy needs of our customers and that the rates customers pay—which support these critical investments—are both just and reasonable,” she says.

The women leading National Grid’s policy teams have seen female leadership in the industry increase significantly over the years, with many more seats at conference tables (both at National Grid and at the state government level) filled by women leaders.

“As we deliver the clean, fair, and affordable energy transition, we must do it in a way that provides opportunities to all our communities and truly reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth. We need diverse perspectives, a broad range of skill sets, and new ideas to make it happen.” – Lisa Wieland, National Grid, New England Business President

Today, as these women take on the feat of priming the systems at all levels for the clean energy transition, that diversity has already been paramount. “If you only have half the population at the table, then you’re only gonna get half the ideas,” says Lavinson. “[National Grid is] transforming the entire ecosystem …We need all the ideas.”

Performance: Building a Customer-Centered Future

National Grid’s performance-focused teams, who take different angles into running and optimizing operations—and always with the customer in mind—are making sure National Grid‘s plan is carried out in a way that’s efficient and yields the intended results. Leaders like Chief Customer Officer Helen Burt are working to ensure customers have the information, offerings, and support they need to make the clean energy choices that work for them and their budgets. She and her team are laser focused on making it easier for customers to engage with the company and improve their overall experience. “How we measure success is by how customers feel about us and how they’re interacting with us,” Burt explains.

Burt offers these customer insights to other women leaders like COO of National Grid, Electric, New England Nicola Medalova and Head of Gas Network Strategy Caroline Hon, who are building and delivering cleaner energy systems around customers’ needs.

“It’s my team’s job to design, engineer, construct and operate the network that delivers the electrification that Massachusetts is going to enjoy in the years to come,” says Medalova. “We are ensuring that our system is ready, reliable, and resilient so it’s available when customers need it, and so they can connect new, electric, and clean technologies on a pace and scale that works for them.” For Hon: “I lead a team that designs, builds, maintains and safely delivers gas to our nearly one million customers in Massachusetts, and is looking at ways to leverage new energy sources, like geothermal,” she says.

Having a diverse set of perspectives is key to operating at a high level of performance that suits the local customer base and makes collaborating towards solutions more meaningful. “What I’ve noticed about our team is that there’s a lot of listening, and there’s also a lot of taking turns to listen, which leads to a much better solution in the end,” explains Caroline Hon, Head of Gas Network. “We have diversity in all our teams across the board—it’s not just at our senior leadership team, and that’s what’s so great. We are getting that diversity of perspective, of ideas, in all parts of the business and at all levels.”

People: Inspiring a Workforce

Ultimately, even after the systemic path to clean energy is paved and the new power grid is designed, the transition won’t happen without the right people to execute the work. That’s where the People teams, led by Chief Human Resources Officer Jennifer Briere and Vice President of Strategy Development and Partnerships Amanda Downey, come in. “Part of what we’re doing is bringing in people so that they have the skills and capabilities to actually build that net zero system that we’re talking about,” Downey says.

Downey is working with her Strategic Workforce Development teams to go out, for example, into Boston middle schools, high schools, and vocational technical schools to introduce local students to the clean energy industry, aiming to create a pipeline of diverse talent. “Our sole goal is to help build a sustainable, systematic pipeline of diverse talent so that our workforce, over the long haul, really reflects the communities that we serve,” Downey says.

That goal, for the workforce demographic to reflect the local community, is something Briere is also focused on in her work in HR. “[We’re] trying to make sure we are a local company, both giving back to and providing opportunities for all the communities we serve,” she says.

For Downey, going to the schools to speak face-to-face with students is a big part of pursuing that goal. “I am very conscious of the fact that I am a woman when I’m talking to young people, and also a woman of color,” she says. “You don’t see many women and certainly women of color in this space, so part of my goal is to not only educate but inspire and motivate people to consider this path.”

As the women of National Grid continue to blaze trails through the energy industry, they do so with a sense of pride and a motivation to inspire other young women to pursue careers that excite them. “There are a lot of different roles that women can play in the industry,” says Blackmore. “I would encourage people to explore careers in the energy industry if they haven’t thought about it, because it is really interesting, dynamic and makes a real difference. Truly, the work we do every day—and how we do it—matters immensely to everyone.”


Every day at National Grid, more than 6,500 team members work together to build a smarter, stronger, cleaner, and more equitable energy future for their customers and communities in more than 240 towns and cities across 5,900 square miles. Learn more about their commitment to delivering a clean, fair, and affordable energy transition at www.nationalgridus.com.