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GEM Program Salutes Its Veterans (Mary Ann Zehr)

May 26, 2015

Mary Ann Zehr served for six years in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear power plant operator on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Mary Ann ZehrVinson (CVN-70) based out of Bremerton, Washington.

“I am overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to have served our country,” Zehr said. “The life and work experiences received during my time served are truly invaluable.”

Zehr embarked on several deployments, which mostly served as training opportunities for all crewmembers as well as the flight crews. In her second Western pacific deployment, known as a Westpac and typically involving a pre-scheduled deployment for six months or longer out to sea, there was a change in course as the ship was within a few days of entering the Strait of Hormuz after Sept. 11, 2001.

“In direct response to the terror attacks, we changed course and sped toward the North Arabian Sea,” Zehr said. “On Oct. 7, 2001, the Carl Vinson launched the first airstrikes in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Needless to say, these activities and the months thereafter were when things ‘got real’ for me and I realized how important each one of us serving on this impressive vessel were to the mission of protecting the freedoms we enjoy in the United States.”

Zehr is a transmission regulatory support manager at Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. She is responsible for analyzing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) compliance standards and providing policy & strategy recommendations for all functional areas within Tri-State’s Transmission organization. She also provides support and recommendations to Tri-State’s Transmission organization functional area managers to improve upon internal transmission reliability standards, programs, and processes.

“This is an exciting time in the energy industry,” Zehr said. “I am privileged to work in an industry known for such a uniquely skilled labor force. I have had the good fortune of being able to have jobs that have allowed me to produce power, deliver power, and now influence and implement the rules set forth by our government to ensure the safe, reliable operation of our complex power grid.”

Zehr, who was a member of the GEM Program’s Cohort IV, values all of the relationships she’s made within the GEM Community.

“I met some amazing people, classmates and teachers alike, who were off and running already doing great things in all landscapes of the energy industry, oil, gas, and electricity,” she said. “I witnessed innovative, forward-thinking individuals propelling themselves even further in the industry which helped motivate me to expand my view into areas that were not only new and interesting, but also relevant to me in the electric utility industry.

“Not only did I gain valuable knowledge, I also gained the confidence to continue to push myself to pursue additional assignments that have allowed me to challenge myself and achieve previously unrealized personal and professional growth. I can directly attribute these successes to the knowledge and skill sets I was able to develop and refine while in the GEM program.”

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