Our Mission

Veterans in Energy is national employee resource group that provides transition, retention and professional development support to military veterans working in energy.  Veterans in Energy will provide opportunities for outreach, networking and mentoring to support the needs of the growing population of veterans who have chosen energy careers.

In 2018, Veterans in Energy leadership filed for 501(c)(3) status as a stand alone organization and elected its board of directors.

Our Leadership

Jon Smith – VIE President

President, Mobile Pipleine, Hexagon Lincoln LLC

Jon A. Smith is currently the President of Mobile Pipeline and Hexagon Lincoln LLC. He was formerly a Vice President & General Manager, Gas Americas for Honeywell International.  Jon joined Honeywell (formerly Elster) in 2012 and has been leading the gas metering and transmission division of the Americas since.  His responsibilities include all aspects of the natural gas industry from mid to downstream consumption for the entire Western Hemisphere.  He has held positions of increasing responsibility with Ford Motors, Visteon Corporation, Johnson Electric, Federal-Mogul, Associated Materials, Inc., and has led international business with all of the above in Latin America, Asia, and Europe.  His assignments have included Operations, Sales, Quality, Product Launch and Engineering; driving improved performance for the business and exceeding results throughout his career.  Jon’s rapid ascent through the corporate ranks has been accentuated by the results driven culture of his organizations. Quick to ascertain market trends and an expertise of P&L improvement in all aspects, and a mentor to top talent, he has a diverse background in business, applying personal experience to C-level decision making.


He has led organizations through change at all levels and most recently has led Elster through the acquisition process and transformation to join Honeywell.


Jon is a retired Naval Officer with over 21 years of leadership experience throughout his service in the U.S. armed forces.  His personal commendations include Meritorious Service Medal, four Navy Commendation Medals, Navy Achievement Medal and several unit and campaign awards.  His duty stations included 3 ½ years living in Italy.


He earned his undergraduate degree in Ocean Engineering from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He has a Master’s of Science in General Administration and Management from Central Michigan University and holds a graduate diploma from the U.S. Naval War College in Strategic International Studies. Jon is accredited in ABET (Engineering and Technology), holds an EIT Certification from the State of Maryland, and is a Six Sigma Green Belt.  He currently is a member of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Graduate of Omaha Executive Leadership, and sits on the North American Manufacturing Leadership Council, Frost & Sullivan.


Jon and his wife, Julie, reside in Omaha, Nebraska and have 3 children, Drew (19), Delaney (16) and Chase (13).

Cassandra Wheeler – VIE Vice President

Regional Director – Georgia Power Company

Cassandra Wheeler serves as plant manager for Georgia Power’s Hammond Steam Plant. Named to that position in May 2014, her primary role is to oversee the safe, reliable and efficient generation of electricity and to ensure continued success through the growth of talented employees and leadership development.


Cassandra began her career at Alabama Power in 2001 as an engineer at Miller Steam Plant. She also served as the plant’s Maintenance Team Leader and Operations Team Leader. She was selected as the Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Generation for Southern Company in 2003, and as Assistant to the Vice President of Governmental Affairs in Washington, DC, in 2005. In 2006 and 2007, she served as the Operations Supervisor and then the Compliance and Support Manager at Plant E. C. Gaston and was selected as the Maintenance and Engineering Manager at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates in 2009. Later in 2009, she served as Maintenance Manager at Plant Miller. In April 2012 she was named Plant Manager of Gadsden Steam Plant and served in that role until taking her current position at Plant Hammond.


Cassandra is a 1999 graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a 2007 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Master of Business Administration degree.


Cassandra serves on the Board of Directors for the Open Door Children’s Home in Rome, GA. She also serves as a mentor for the Communities in Schools program in Rome-Floyd County. She was recently named Regional Director for Georgia Power. She will assume that position in November 2017.

Hal Pittman – VIE Past President

Director of Military and Veteran Engagement – Arizona Public Service

Hal Pittman is a retired U.S. navy one-star admiral and corporate non-profit executive who has served as leader and spokesman in a variety of senior roles.


Pittman joined Arizona Public Service Company as Director of External Communications in May 2014 and was recently named to his current position as director of military and veteran engagement.


Previously, Pittman was President & CEO of Special Olympics Iowa in Des Moines, leading sports training and competition for 11,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Before that, he served more than 25 years on active duty as a U.S. Navy officer in assignments all over the world, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.


In uniform, Pittman led communications for some of the military’s most complex operations and served as an advisor to senior civilians, military officials, and ambassadors. He commanded the Joint Public Affairs Support Element, the military’s crisis communication unit, was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for communications in the Pentagon, and was chief communications officer at U.S. Central Command headquarters during combat operations from 2003-2005 and again from 2009-2011. In his final assignment, he led communications for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and upon his departure from Afghanistan, was named Advisor for Life to the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee for his efforts in sports diplomacy.


A Maryland native, Pittman earned degrees from Appalachian State University and American University, and was an MIT Senior XXI Fellow in foreign politics and international relations. His teams have won numerous public relations industry awards, and he is a recipient of the Stevie awards as America’s Best Corporate Communicator and a past PR New Government Communicator of the Year. Pittman reseeds in Arizona with his family, and serves as president of the national Veterans in Energy Forum networking group, as well as founding co-chair of the Arizona Corporate Council on Veteran Careers. Pittman previously served as a board member of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation, and is currently Vice Chairman for Amateur Athletic Union Strength Sports. He is also the 2017 recipient of the Amateur Athletic Union’s Brother Bennett Award for voluntary service.

Jim Spiers – VIE Communications

Vice President of Business & Technology Strategies – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Jim Spiers joined NRECA in June 2014 as the vice-president of business and technology strategies. Spiers came to NRECA from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association in Westminster, CO, where he served as senior vice president of business strategy/chief technology officer.


In his role NRECA, Spiers leads the department that is comprised of the Energy and Power, CRN and Strategic Analysis divisions.  These activities comprise all technical, engineering and economic support, research and technology transfer and product and services provided directly to the membership and within NRECA in collaboration with all other departments to fulfill membership needs.   This includes over $20 million in recent grant wins and awards for grid modernization and enhancements.


At Tri-State, Spiers focused on business, scientific and technical issues, technology innovation, research and development, and enterprise development.  Spiers led the development of rates and integration of a portfolio of distributed energy resources with member systems and their member-consumers, enhancing local economies and system reliability.  Spiers directed Tri-State’s engagement in several high-profile research initiatives, including carbon dioxide mitigation through inducement prize development (XPRIZE), development of an R&D test center at a coal-fired power facility and the formation of an international network of researchers focused on capturing and converting carbon emissions from industrial complexes into an asset.


Spiers’ more than 25 years of experience spans utility and infrastructure industry operations and planning, rate setting, regulation, restructuring, technology assessment, business planning and strategy and technology assessment. As an independent consultant prior to his tenure at Tri-State, Spiers helped clients on a diverse array of issues that ranged from technology assessments and business planning to rate recovery and regulatory compliance. Spiers also provided technology, market and regulatory research and consulting services to utilities world-wide through Gartner Inc.


Spiers served as director of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission from 1986 to 1991, and before that, as a hearings officer and researcher at the Colorado Department of Highways. Spiers has a law degree University of Colorado School of Law and a B.A. from Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colo.

Kelcey Brown – VIE Treasurer

Director Market Policy & Analysis – PacifiCorp

Kelcey Brown is the Director of Market Policy and Analytics and is responsible for PacifiCorp’s Energy Imbalance Market post analytics, market policy research, energy supply management contract administration and short-term load forecast.  Before becoming Director of Market Policy and Analytics at PacifiCorp she has served in various roles in the company, was a senior economist at the Oregon Public Utility Commission, Economist at Blackfoot Telecommunications and she has served on a number of state and regional technical committees.  Her educational background is in Regulatory Economics from the University of Wyoming and she served in the US Navy as a Photographer’s Mate on board the USS Nimitz for the majority of her enlistment.


Illana Rentz – VIE Professional Development

Emergency Preparedness Manager, Florida Power & Light

Iliana Rentz is an Emergency Preparedness Program Manager for Florida Power & Light Company. She is responsible for managing the enterprise-wide emergency preparedness and response plans and processes. Her expertise is focused on hurricane and other severe storm conditions that affect FPL and NextEra territories. Iliana prepared and served as a key leader for the company through best ever performance during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. She also served a critical role in the Hurricane Maria restoration effort. Mrs. Rentz has held this position since June 2014.


Iliana joined FPL in 2005 as a Finance Analyst in Distribution and worked on financial and operational projects. She then became a Project Coordinator and was involved with resource planning and the preparation of financial controls and guidelines for the Energy Smart Florida project in partnership with the DOE. In addition, Iliana served as a Production Lead supervising crews and was a core team member in the development of the Smart Street Lights project which included the deployment of over 700k smart nodes. Iliana has also served as a Power Delivery Emergency Preparedness Lead and developed a strong background in utility emergency response, restoration, training, and estimated time of restoration (ETR) processes.


Mrs. Rentz holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from American University and a specialization in Civil Military Operations and Infrastructure Development from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. She is a 12 year Army combat veteran with distinction having received numerous meritorious awards to include a Bronze Star and a Combat Action badge. She is a Six Sigma Black Belt and a Prosci Change Management Practioner. Iliana is the current Chairperson for VETNEXT, Veterans of NextEra. She also represents FPL as the incoming Vice-Chair of the Southeastern Electric Exchange Mutual Assistance Group, she is the Chair of the technology working group for the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies, serves on the design team of the National Response Event framework, and represents FPL with the Edison Electric Institute. Mrs. Rentz and her husband reside in South Florida with their two children.


Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving approximately 5 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL’s typical 1000 kWh bill is among the lowest in the state and 30% below the national average. FPL’s service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among utilities nationwide. NextEra Energy is a Fortune 200 company, the largest producer of energy from the wind and sun. Most recently, NextEra Energy was ranked one of Fortune’s top 25 companies that “Change the World” and was the only energy company from the Americas to make the list.A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visit www.FPL.com.

John Broschak – VIE Employee Resource Group

Vice President of Generation Operations, Consumers Energy

John P. Broschak is vice president of generation operations and compression for Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy. Broschak is responsible for the operation of the company’s fossil-fueled, hydroelectric and renewable generating units and gas compression facilities.


Broschak last served as vice president of major projects and construction for Consumers Energy. He provided project leadership, management and administration for complex and mission-critical capital investments. He also monitored significant company business risks including air emission reduction projects at company generating plants, construction of renewable and fossil generation, and other large-scale construction projects.


Previously, Broschak was vice president of engineering for Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation in Burlington, Kansas from 2011 to 2014. Earlier, Broschak held increasingly responsible positions at Entergy and Nuclear Management Company. He began his utility career at Consumers Energy in 1992 at Palisades Nuclear Plant after serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy for six years.


Broschak earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He is a licensed professional engineer in the states of Michigan and Kansas. Broschak previously held a senior reactor operator license and project management professional certification.


As the Executive Sponsor of Consumer Energy’s Veteran’s Advisory Panel (VAP), John’s vision and leadership have resulted in a tremendous increase in growth and development making it the fastest growing of the Company’s seven Employee Resource Groups. VAP was established in the summer of 2015 to enhance Consumers Energy diversity initiatives by providing support for former and active military personnel and their families. John was has been instrumental in providing resources and support to current reservist and veteran employees.

LaVonne M. Rose – VIE Member at Large

Web Services Representative – Edison Electric Institute

LaVonne M. Rose is Web Services Representative in the Communication department of the Edison Electric Institute. LaVonne joined EEI in 1987 and has held various positions throughout the organization.


In her current role as Web Services Representative, LaVonne works in collaboration with EEI’s website manager to update and maintain content on EEI’s flagship site, www.eei.org. She provides technical content management training to EEI staff, and assists with EEI’s annual Financial Conference, and Transmission, Distribution, Metering & Mutual Assistance Conferences.


Prior to her current position, LaVonne spent 15 years as Electronic Content & Circulation Coordinator of the energy industry magazine, Electric Perspectives. During this time, LaVonne managed the magazine’s circulation and fulfillment functions, and maintained the magazine’s online presence.


Before joining EEI, LaVonne was a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy from 1982-1987. She completed Yeoman Class A school in August 1982. LaVonne received orders to serve at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, OPNAV Security at the Pentagon.  LaVonne was honorably discharged in May 1987 and continued to serve in the Naval Reserves in various units until 1994.


An 8-year breast cancer survivor, LaVonne has raised more than $30,000 towards breast cancer research by participating in six Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60-mile walks. She also is an avid rower and member of We Can Row DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the joy and healing power of rowing to women of all backgrounds and abilities, in any stage of breast cancer recovery.

Steve Vaughn – VIE Member at Large

Senior Project Manager, Nuclear Generation – Nuclear Energy Institute

Born and raised in Miami, FL.  Graduated from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in 2000 and served 7 years active duty as a surface warfare officer (SWO).  Served onboard USS PELELIU, graduated from the U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School and Training Unit, served onboard USS CARL VINSON, and was an instructor at USNA in the Seamanship and Navigation Department.  After active duty served in the Navy Selected Reserve (SELRES) for five years supporting the Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and am currently in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).


After active duty I worked for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as a reactor operations engineer and risk and reliability analyst.  Currently I work for the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and live in Annapolis, MD.