All about the members

Meet your Community Engagement team

“Hi, Mrs. M.!” the classroom of fifth-graders sang out together, putting a smile on the face of PEC Youth Engagement Representative Celeste Mikeska.

PEC instructor works with middle school students at a table.
PEC Youth Engagement Representative Celeste Mikeska brings hands-on learning to area classrooms.

“I love getting to go into classrooms with hands-on programs like Building Circuits,” Mikeska said later. “You can see the kids start to really understand the difference between the different circuits. Their faces light up.”

If you were asked to name important jobs at an electric utility, odds are you might respond “lineworker” or “engineer.” But for PEC, being an electric cooperative doesn’t just mean keeping the lights on: It’s so much more.

“It’s about building relationships,” PEC Connections & Community Engagement Director Trista Fugate said. “It’s about providing support for our communities. When our communities are thriving and strong and vibrant, everyone does better.”

Thank you card from a library.
By providing grant-writing assistance and development for libraries and other nonprofit community organizations, the PEC Connections and Community Engagement team helps the Hill Country read to succeed (and more).

Fugate’s group — PEC’s Connections & Community Engagement team — maintains a point of contact between the cooperative and Hill Country schools, businesses and local governments. Whether they’re writing grants for local nonprofits like Little League, pet rescues and EMS; facilitating training for local chambers of commerce or supporting the Hill Country’s economic development, these four team members know that community-building is serious business.

“Our team does a lot,” PEC Community Engagement Representative Tessa Schmidtzinsky said. “We offer so many programs and services …. It’s a lot of face-to-face, a lot of member contact, which enables us to be aware of our community needs.”

The PEC Community Engagement team.
(From left to right): PEC Youth Engagement Representative Celeste Mikeska, PEC Community Engagement Representative Tessa Schmidtzinsky, Executive Assistant Susanne Greenseth (not a team member) and PEC Community Engagement Representative Diana Gonzales.

Concern for community is woven into the fabric of PEC as a matter of principle. It even makes practical business sense, Fugate explained: “We’re a cooperative. We do better when our community does better. When our communities have the basic building blocks — libraries, strong schools, fire departments — they’re in a better position to attract new businesses. That creates jobs, which enriches and diversifies the region for all of us.”
In addition to offering support, listening ears and helping hands to countless members in our 8,100-square-mile service area, during the past year this team:

PEC rep shakes hands with a member.
“Being involved with chambers and community groups is really great for the cooperative,” said PEC Community Engagement Representative Diana Gonzales, who represents PEC in 33 chambers of commerce. “It’s all about staying engaged.”

“In everything we do on our team, it’s all about the members,”  said. “Our team cares so much. We work hard. We get dirty, too — putting events together is hard work! But it’s worth it. Having that presence, being engaged, says ‘We’re here for you.’ Because we are.”