energy honorees

Houston energy workforce solutions company names finalists for annual awards

ALLY Energy has named its 2023 GRIT Awards finalists. Photo courtesy of ALLY Energy

For the seventh year, a Houston-based company that's working to make the energy industry more equitable has named the finalists for its annual award.

ALLY Energy's GRIT Awards and Best Energy Workplaces, which will take place on October 26, has announced the finalists for the 2023 awards program.

“Every year, we are astounded at how many impressive, committed people are demonstrating leadership and grit in their work to advance the energy transition and build more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces,” ALLY Energy CEO Katie Mehnert says in a news release. “This year is no exception. This is the time to celebrate so many crucial achievements that may otherwise go overlooked in the energy sector and in broader society.”

The finalists are leaders, teams, and companies from around the world and across industry verticals — oil and gas, power and utilities, wind, solar, hydrogen, nuclear, climate tech startups, and academia. EnergyCapitalHTX, as well as its sister site InnovationMap, is a media partner for the event.

This year, ALLY has named three Lifetime Achievement Award honorees who have distinguished careers championing change in energy and climate in the private or public sector in the areas of technology, policy, and workforce: John Berger, CEO of Sunnova Energy; Rhonda Morris, vice president and chief human resources officer of Chevron; and Amy Chronis, vice chair, US energy and chemicals leader, and Houston managing partner at Deloitte.

This year's finalists for the award categories are as follows, according to ALLY Energy.

The Professional Award

  • Alex Loureiro, Scientific Director at EnerGeo Alliance
  • Allie Thurmond, Asset Manager at Equinor
  • Catherine Fuller, Senior Learning Strategy Leader at Baker Hughes
  • Crystal McNack, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor at Enbridge Inc.
  • Dani Milling, Gulf of Mexico Environmental Engineer & Mexico HSE Coordinator at Chevron
  • Diego Barreto, CFO Americas Region at Baker Hughes
  • Gayle Bowness, Technical Director Studies at Wood
  • Katie Zimmerman, Decarbonization Director, Americas at Wood
  • Kim Sabate-Strazde, Interim DEI Programs Manager at Baker Hughes
  • Krithika Kannan, IT HSE & Security Manager at Occidental
  • Lynn Buckley, Head of Supplier Development at Baker Hughes
  • Mark Klapatch-Mathias, Sustainability Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • Megan Suggs, Project Manager at BASF
  • Natalie Valentine, Director - Business Performance at Worley
  • Prajakta Kulkarni, Pricing Agreement Management Digital Platform Lead at Baker Hughes
  • Priscilla Enwere, Senior Well Engineer at Rano-Accrete Petroleum Development Company
  • Samantha Howard, Senior Organizational Development Specialist at Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline
  • Syed Fahim, Global ESG Lead at SLB
  • Tane Bates, Regional Operations Manager at Certarus LTD
  • Ujunwa Ojemeni, Senior Policy Advisor - Energy Transition & Technical Assistance Delivery at E3G - Third Generation Environmentalism
  • Yogashri Pradhan, Reservoir Engineer at Coterra

The Executive Award

  • Andy Drummond, Executive Vice President Exploration and Development at Woodside Energy
  • Cara Hair, SVP of Corporate Services, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer at Helmerich & Payne
  • Claire Aitchison, Executive Operations Leader at Baker Hughes
  • Emma Lewis, Senior Vice President USGC Chemicals & Products at Shell
  • Jeremy Campbell-Wray, Strategic Accounts and Enterprise Growth Market Executive at Baker Hughes
  • Kathy Eberwein, Chief Executive Officer at The Global Edge Group
  • Kim Holder, Senior Executive of Digital Technology at Baker Hughes
  • Leveda Charles, Director of PMO & Business Enablement at Baker Hughes
  • Maggie Seeliger, SVP & Global Head of Strategy, Energy & Resources at Sodexo
  • Max Chan, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development Officer at Enbridge
  • Megan Beauregard, Chief Legal Officer, Secretary, and Head of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Enel North America, Inc.
  • Nikki Martin, President at EnerGeo Alliance
  • Pamela Skaufel, Vice President of Procurement at ExxonMobil
  • Sarah Delille, Vice President of US Country Management at Equinor
  • Shiva McMahon, Executive Vice President International Operations at Woodside Energy
  • Soma Somasundaram, Chief Executive Officer at ChampionX
  • Toby Begnaud, Chief Commercial Officer & SVP of Oilfield Services and Equipment at Baker Hughes
  • Trevor Mihalik, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Sempra
  • Whitney Eaton, EVP, People & Sustainability at TGS Energy

The JEDI Award

  • Alex Fleming, Senior Manager at Deloitte
  • Doug Peck, Head of Reserves at Woodside Energy
  • Jason Limerick, Sustainability Strategy Lead at Woodside Energy
  • Melina Acevedo, Associate & Partnerships Lead at DE Shaw Renewable Investments
  • Shengke Zhi, Director for Growth and Development at Wood

The Entrepreneur Award

  • Charli Matthews, CEO at Empowering Women in Industry
  • Mandeep Patel, Founder at ElecTrip
  • Mike Francis, Co-Founder and CEO at NanoTech
  • Nick Valenzia, Founder at Leafr

The ESG & Climate Champion Award

  • Andrea Hepp, Deal Lead at Shell
  • Brittney Marshall, Senior Advisor, Climate Strategy and Policy at Woodside Energy
  • Freya Burton, Chief Sustainability Officer at LanzaTech
  • Gabriel Rolland, Vice President, Corporate QHSE at TGS Energy
  • Lisa Larroque Alexander, SVP, Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer at Sempra
  • Misty Rowe, Global CCUS Account Manager at Halliburton
  • Sandhya Ganapathy, Chief Executive Officer at EDP Renewables North America

Gritty Girl Award

  • Deepasha Baral, Student at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies

Best Affinity Group, Employee Resource Group Award, sponsored by ChampionX

  • Baker Hughes, Asian Pacific American Forum (APAF)
  • Baker Hughes, Generation STEM
  • Baker Hughes, D&I Group Celle
  • Baker Hughes, Parenting Tribe
  • Baker Hughes, Pride@Work
  • Baker Hughes, Multicultural ERG
  • ChampionX, PLAN
  • ChampionX, PRIDE
  • ChampionX, RISE Gender Equity ERG
  • ChampionX, SEED
  • Ovintiv, Leveraging Inclusion, Networking and Knowledge (LINK)
  • Sempra, Growing Responsibilities and Opportunities for Women
  • Shell, WAVE - Women Adding Value Everywhere
  • Shell, DE&I Council
  • TPI Composites, LEAP for Women
  • Women's Energy Network Houston, Women's Energy Network Houston
  • Wood, Launch
  • Wood Mackenzie, Pride Working Group-Americas
  • Woodside Energy, EmBRace - Employees Beyond Race
  • Woodside Energy, Spark
  • Woodside Energy, VIBE LGBTIQ+ Employee Resource Group
  • Worley, PRIDE@Worley

Best Energy Team Award, sponsored by Ovintiv

  • Advisian Material Handling
  • Baker Hughes, Sustainability Team
  • ChampionX, Asset Integrity Team
  • ChampionX, Brunei Supply Chain
  • EIC Rose Rock/Rose Rock Bridge
  • Halliburton Labs
  • NOV Marketing
  • Sempra Infrastructure
  • Syzygy Plasmonics, Rigel Manufacturing & Launch Team
  • TGS New Energy Solutions

Best Energy Workplaces Award

  • Aera Energy LLC
  • Baker Hughes
  • ChampionX
  • Consolidated Asset Management Services
  • EDP Renewables North America
  • Enel
  • The Global Edge Group
  • Shell
  • Solar Energy Industries Association - SEIA
  • Southwestern Energy
  • Sunnova Energy International, Inc (6-time finalist)
  • TGS Energy
  • Wood
  • Woodside Energy

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

Katie Mehnert reflects on the progress Houston has made within the energy transition and future of work following her experience ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo courtesy of ALLY

As I stood on the platform at the world’s largest stock exchange to ring the closing bell, surrounded by 130 people from across the energy industry, I saw it clearly: how the private sector will play a major role in getting us to an era of net zero. The people who power the energy industry will do the hard work. We’ve already begun. And we’re unafraid of the long journey ahead — something more than 40 of us exemplified that weekend by running a marathon.

The trip to New York City days ago was an exhilarating whirlwind. But it was also something much more: A chance to show the markets, the nation, and the world that Houston is leading the energy transition. (It didn’t hurt that we popped up on Good Morning America.)

From the beginning, the idea behind this pair of events — ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and running the TCS New York City Marathon — was aimed at sending crucial messages. That recognizing climate change and building solutions is an obligation and an opportunity. That the energy industry understands this. That investors have good reason to support climate tech, one of the most exciting and fastest growing sectors. And, last but not least, that people’s perceptions of Houston as being all about oil and gas are simply wrong.

The dozens of us who gathered came from across the country and around the world, But by far, the largest contingent was from right here in Houston. Executives, engineers, entrepreneurs, and other innovators took part. People spearheading projects in every facet of energy, from wind to solar, carbon capture, and other methods of dramatically reducing carbon emissions. All as one team.

Those who traveled from “the energy capital” knew how important it was to highlight our Houston pride. As a new report from the Texas Climate Tech Collective points out, the biggest problem in the city’s climate tech ecosystem is its image. “Outsider perceptions of Houston often draw on negative stereotypes,” the report explains. “The number one disadvantage survey respondents chose – even more than access to VC capital – was Houston’s anti-climate reputation outside the state.”

It’s a problem I’ve been trying to combat for years, including through op-eds in national and international media outlets. Fortunately, the idea is starting to get through. Just days ago, the Financial Times reported that Houston claimed the top spot in this year’s FT-Nikkei Investing in America rankings by “moving beyond oil.” Our city, the paper said, “has become a hub for green energy innovation by building on its hydrocarbon past.”

Houston, and Texas a whole, should be immensely proud of this. But the energy industry has a long history of failing to tell its own stories. It’s time to change that. In fact, the recommendations in the collective’s report include “campaigning to improve Houston’s reputation, improving promotion of Houston’s energy transition initiatives and accomplishments, educating politicians and consumers, reversing anti-climate perception.”

Photo courtesy of ALLY

Building bridges

All of the challenges we face, including the perception problem, will only be overcome if we work together. So the era of siloes must end. Climate change is an “all hands on deck” situation. This means companies large and small, as well as businesses focusing on all forms of energy, need to develop a “one-team” mentality.

We also need to step up our engagement with public sector entities. A great deal of public sector investment is being poured into renewable energy programs. Since I’ve served as an ambassador to the Department of Energy’s Equity in Energy initiative and a member of the National Petroleum Council, I’ve met many people in government who are eager to cooperate with us to help ensure that the United States leads the way in the energy transition.

The need for building these kinds of bridges is another reason that many of the participants in our Women & Allies in Energy team saw the New York City marathon as such a strong metaphor. It’s known for its bridges. And having run across all of them — and stopped for a quick selfie on the toughest one of all, the Queensboro Bridge — I’m reminded of their importance. I was happy to see that another recommendation in the collective’s report speaks directly to this. It calls for, “Building bridges between public and private, energy corporates and startups, universities and startups, and startups and mentors; seeking partnerships with other ecosystems; improving resources for early stage startups.”

We also need to build bridges among groups of people. More than ever, the industry needs diversity, equity and inclusion. (See my recent piece for Fast Company about why the C-Suite should double down, not shy away from, DEI.) We need to welcome people with all sorts of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. The greatest form of capital the energy sector has in building the future is not financial. It’s human capital. And the greatest natural resource we have is not one form of energy. It’s the people whose hard work, creativity, collaboration, and grit will get us to the finish line.

To help make all this happen, I’m calling for Houston to come together on climate change. Capitalizing on the annual Climate Week in New York City, and building on an event the City of Houston organized in 2021, let’s bring all industries and all people together next fall to show that we recognize climate reality, and are ready to take action together.

The next generation

While I did have the chance to lead the delegation at the NYSE closing bell, I did not hold the gavel — at least, not by myself. Instead, I handed it to my 12-year-old daughter, Ally. (Yes, her name is a big part of the inspiration behind our company name, ALLY Energy.)

As leaders in energy, we have to keep our eyes firmly focused on the next generation. This means not only giving them a strong supply of energy and healthier conditions on the planet. It also means giving them future job opportunities.

It’s up to us to build the pipeline for future talent. We need to improve STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education. And we need to demonstrate to people who are currently underrepresented in our industry — such as women and members of minority groups — that they have a future in the world’s most exciting industry.

We can do this. We can get out of our bubble, show our Houston pride to the world, and lead the way to “energy 2.0” — an era of plentiful energy supplies and net-zero emissions. After all, dozens of us have returned from New York City with a mission: capitalize on all that momentum, join together as a team, and run the race to net zero.


Katie Mehnert is founder and CEO of Ally Energy, a Houston-based talent and culture platform for the energy industry and 2023 Houston Innovation Award recipient.

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