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Transmission Engineer Turns Writer for Historical WiNUP Book

by on April 1, 2016

(Story by Stephen Ostrander)

Trena Riffle, an engineer at the AEP Transmission Operations Center in Ohio, likes digging in the dust bins of history. Several years ago, she accepted the challenge to research and write about the seven women who founded the Women’s International Network of Utility Professionals (WiNUP) for a book entitled From Acorns to Oaks, chronicling the 93-year history of the trailblazing organization.

Charles Patton (right), Appalachian Power Company president and chief operating officer, checks out a copy of “From Acorns to Oaks” while author Trena Riffle looks on. Photo by Phil Moye.

“The assignment was right up my alley since one of my hobbies is researching my ancestors,” wrote Riffle, a 26-year AEP employee and nine-year member of the West Virginia WiNUP chapter. “We wanted our founders to be viewed as people, not just colorless names and dates in a book.”

Shared interests

The seven founders, Riffle learned, were a small group of women who met at a professional conference and discovered they had common career interests in a male-dominated industry. They formed the Electrical Women’s Round Table, which changed its name to WiNUP in 1999.

“From its early days as the Electrical Women’s Round Table to the present, WiNUP has helped thousands of women grow as professionals in the utility industry,” explained Vikki Michalski, AEP Corporate Communications. Michalski, WiNUP international president in 2011, is the book’s editor-in-chief. Assistant book editors include Lila Munsey, a regulatory consultant principal for AEP and 2010 WiNUP international president, and Velda Otey, WiNUP president in 2012 and retired vice president and chief information officer of AEP Information Technology.

Always supportive of WiNUP, AEP operating companies helped sponsor publication of the 176-page book, which replaces a thin and outdated stapled version done in 1983. Copies of the new book have been presented to Paul Chodak, president and chief operating officer, AEP Indiana Michigan Power; Pablo Vegas, president and chief operating officer, AEP Ohio; and Charles Patton, president and chief operating officer of AEP Appalachian Power. Proceeds from the book will support WiNUP’s mission and objectives and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs for school students, the organization’s philanthropic platform.

Riffle, WiNUP international secretary 2014-2015, led the effort to have From Acorns to Oaks housed at the Library of Congress.

“We felt the book met the Library of Congress’ goal of preserving historic times and believed others interested in the history of the utility industry could benefit,” Riffle said. Library officials informed Riffle of the book’s acceptance Dec. 9, just a day after her first inquiry.

“Our book has industry information relevant to the time, inspirational quotes and information about individual chapters and their members,” said Michalski. “It has the effects world events have had on members, their jobs, the industry and the organization. And most importantly, the book tells how our founders met and what inspired them to form an organization in 1923 that still is relevant today.”

From Acorns to Oaks is available for $30 at the WiNUP website.

From → News From AEP

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