Clark Public Utilities has a new leader at its helm as the utility’s board named Lena Wittler as its general manager and CEO last week.
The utility approved Wittler’s hiring during their June 4 meeting, according to a release from the district. She is replacing longtime GM/CEO Wayne Nelson who announced his retirement in May.
Wittler is a 20-year veteran of the utility industry, having served in a variety of roles, most recently as the Director of Communications and Employee Resources, the release noted, where she oversaw “all communications, public affairs, utility-wide research and analytics, human resources and loss control.”
“Ms. Wittler has our full confidence and support in her new role. As a board we look forward to working with her to support our priorities of providing excellent service while maintaining affordability and improving reliability across our service area,” Clark Public Utilities Board of Commissioners President Nancy Barnes stated in the release.
“It’s an incredible honor and privilege to step into this role at a time of sustained rate stability and consistently high levels of customer satisfaction,” Wittler stated. “We’re fortunate in Clark County to enjoy at cost, public power and water that is truly operated solely for the benefit of residents and local businesses here in our communities.”
Wittler holds a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University and a master of business administration from the University of Portland, the release noted, adding that in her career she “has established a reputation as an advocate for employee culture as a driver of customer service,” and is active in the industry research community.
“This utility is respected in the industry and by our customers and Ms. Wittler has been instrumental in both fostering and nurturing relationships with our various stakeholders,” Barnes stated. “Ms. Wittler has a deep and unique understanding of the opportunities ahead as well as the challenges our industry is facing and provides a measured, data-driven approach to leadership as we execute our priorities going forward.”
According to the release, Wittler’s annual salary will be $240,000 with a $400 car allowance and all other benefits afforded to all utility employees.
Nelson’s nearly 30-year tenure was commemorated with the board’s naming of the utility’s public meeting space as the “Wayne W. Nelson Community Room,” the release noted. He will continue as general counsel for the utility through the end of June, the release noted.
“As commissioners, we have been fortunate to have steady leadership at the helm of this utility, in addition to consistency and experience among my board colleagues,” commissioner Jim Malinowski stated in the release. “The employee culture of this organization is uniquely customer-focused and as a board we believe it’s important to maintain our tradition of high customer satisfaction through consistent leadership and cultural cohesion. For that reason, an elevation of a current employee to the General Manager role was a natural path.”
“Going forward, our priorities are the same – providing high-quality service with responsibility, accountability and transparency,” Barnes stated. “Reliable and affordable electric and water service is paramount to our lives and to business in Clark County. As customers of Clark Public Utilities, we all benefit when the utility runs smoothly and I am confident that this next chapter of leadership will continue in our tradition of excellence.”