In honor of Mother’s Day, we are highlighting some of our Consumers Energy Moms.  These women don’t stop working when they are off the clock, because as we know – being a parent is a 24/7 gig. The “job” may change depending on the time of day, but their commitment to our customers and their family is consistent 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

In addition to their day jobs and parenting responsibilities they all participate in our company Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs). BERGs provide a way for employees to connect with others, learn about various backgrounds, experiences, and interests. They are also responsible for providing guidance and insights to the business to help make more informed decisions around diversity, equity and inclusion challenges and opportunities. Learn more about our BERGs on our website.

Read on to meet some of our co-workers who go above and beyond every day for our customers and their families.

Savannah Spanke
Gas Service Worker
Mother of two

Savannah Spanke has worked at Consumers Energy for 10 years. As a gas service worker, she is responsible for responding to gas leaks and performing meter maintenance. She finds her job very rewarding but said working in male dominated field can be tough, “People underestimate us every single day…customers will ask ‘Are you doing that by yourself?’ or ‘Do you need help?’ It makes me want to work twice as hard as the guys to prove that I am capable.”

Spanke wants to help other women who are interested in the field. Which is why she got involved with our Women in Energy (WE) BERG. “I joined the BERG to make a difference,” Spanke said. “I feel like women are intimidated by the union side of the company and I would love to do two things: 1. show them that we can do anything we put our minds to and 2. change the stigma of women doing a “man’s” job,” she said. “I have learned already that the women in these BERGs are so interested in hearing other perspectives that I have no doubt we will achieve greatness.”

Spanke’s favorite on the job interactions involve kids, “My favorite is when the kids are excited to see what you’re doing, they draw you pictures and ask so many questions about the job.”

She always tries to put herself in the customer’s shoes when she enters their home, “They are scared and unsure of what is happening or what is ahead,” said Spanke. “Customers depend on us to keep the gas flowing and I strive to do as much as I can to make them feel safe and taken care of.”

As for her life as a mom, “It’s straight up chaos,” she said with a laugh. Her 8-year-old son Bentley plays travel baseball. Her 5-year-old daughter does gymnastics and plays t-ball. “And then throw in being on-call, plus doctors’ appointments and trying to have play dates…we are running constantly. But honestly seeing them succeed in their sports makes running worth it.”

So, with all the responsibilities of work and being a mom, where does self-care for Spanke come in? That answer didn’t come as easy as some of the others. “Self-care, hmmm…I try,” she said. During parts of the year, it might include getting her hair done, but that just doesn’t work during baseball season.  “I do stay up 30ish minutes later than everyone else in our house to wind down; take some time to recap the day and prepare for tomorrow.”

Spanke knows it’s not easy balancing all the responsibilities that comes with being a mom, and she has some advice for those who might be struggling, “The best advice I can give you is keep going. Do not give up,” she said. “It does not matter how tired I am, I will be at that game. I will cheer them on.” But it goes both ways, “Your kids look up to you, they love seeing you succeed. They are so excited to see what I do for work and hear about my day, and I’m the same with them,” she said. “You will be their biggest role model, and they will be proud of you. Just keep going.”

Staci Emerson
Natural Gas Service Worker
Mother of four grown children
Grandmother to 1, and Savannah’s kids

Staci Emerson has worked at Consumers Energy for 18 years. “I am a first responder for gas leaks, and I also do gas fuel line work including upgrading meters on residential homes up to installing large banks of meters on commercial buildings,” she said.

Emerson likes the challenge of her job, “I like to be challenged with gas fuel line work that seems impossible to do, or smelling gas and finding the leak,” she said. As for working in a male dominated industry? She likes that challenge too. “Being a woman in this field is amazing because you show up on most jobs with people doubting your ability but get to prove that you are totally capable. When young girls get to see that they have this option, it is wonderful.” She recently got involved with Women in Energy. “I am hoping to shed light on some issues that women have on the union side in hopes to come up with some possible solutions,” she said.

Emerson works hard to live out the Consumers Energy “Count on Us” motto. “Customers can count on me to really pay attention to what they are saying. I strive to treat every customer like I would want my family member treated.” She even has a couple customers she still checks on after she helped them during medical emergencies, including one who had a heart attack. But Emerson believes sometimes customers just need a listening ear, “Sometimes just listening can make or break someone’s experience with Consumers Energy.”

Outside of work, life can be hectic. While her four adult children are out of the house, she spends time with her grandson, as well as Spanke’s kids. “I have a grandson and Savannah’s kids that I consider grandchildren,” she said. “I try to make it to her kids’ sports after work when I can.”

How does Emerson manage juggling all her responsibilities? With a lot of planning and humor and a good therapist. “Self-care for me, honestly requires one hour of talking to a good therapist every month,” she said. “Right now, we are working on me saying no to the things that over-extend me.” Which leads well into the advice she has for other moms. “Give yourself some grace. It’s okay to let things go. Also, delegate and accept help from others,” said Emerson.

Alyssa Welch
Sr. Data Engineer
Mother of 1

Alyssa Welch, Sr. Data Engineer has been with Consumers Energy for six years. She started her career as an Administrative Assistant but jumped at the chance to participate in analytics training programs, which helped lead her to her current position. “I am the data owner for the gas transmission system integrity team. My team is responsible for assessing and mitigating risk on our gas transmission pipes. I also lead data quality improvement, digitization and automation projects,” she said. While Welch’s role is more “behind the scenes” than some of the other company positions, it is equally as important when it comes to delivering reliable and safe service to our customers. “By enhancing and improving our data quality, our risk calculations become more precise, allowing us to better identify and mitigate risk on our system to keep our customers safe.”

She is passionate about supporting other women who work in the various data-related roles or who aspire to grow their skills in this area. As the Secretary for Women in Energy, she enjoys facilitating discussions around career development opportunities and planning events such as the International Women’s Day event this year. She is also a member of the GENERGY and PACE BERGs.

When Welch is not at work, she stays busy with her 2-year-old daughter, Amelia. “She’s kept us on our toes from day one, when she was born as a 24-week preemie,” she said. “Because of her prematurity, she faces different developmental delays. To help her ‘catch up’ we are currently in speech therapy twice per week and a multi-modal group therapy twice per week that combines speech, physical, and occupational therapy in a small group setting.”

How does Welch keep it all straight? “It’s not easy. Motherhood looks differently than I thought it would,” she admitted. Welch and her husband take time every Sunday to review the week ahead and align on upcoming appointments in between both working full time jobs. And Welch said despite everything she’s had to overcome, Amelia is a very smiley and sweet girl. “She has a kind, gentle, curious spirit that is contagious to those around her,” she said.

Alyssa says she is a “work-in-progress” when it comes to self-care. Sometimes it’s a short mental health break like meditation, other times she reads a book or gets out for a couple hours on the weekend to do some shopping. “While I can’t make the pie bigger, I try my best to split the slices in such a way that I have a sliver left for myself, but it doesn’t always work out,” she said.

What advice does Welch have for other moms? Advice that she has to remind herself to take at times. “Ask for help. Sometimes you can’t do it all, and that’s okay. We are all human after all,” she said. “Help is going to look differently to different people, but asking sooner rather than later can mean the difference between surviving and thriving,” she said. Welch also encourages moms to “take it one day at a time,” which was a lesson she learned when her daughter was in the NICU. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the constant planning and endless to-do lists. Sometimes you just have to slow down and take it one day at a time.”

Ashley Beilfuss
Senior Manager of Customer
Mom of 2

Ashley Beilfuss will celebrate her eight-year service anniversary with Consumers Energy on June 1. As the senior manager of customer relations, Beilfuss leads the teams that support our Contact Center. Which means her team includes the first line employees who field customer questions about billing, power outages and more.

Beilfuss said one of the most memorable customer interactions happened when we offered Good Faith Credits to customers. “With almost 40% of our customers being one incident away from not being able to pay their bill, it was SO heartwarming to hear stories of customers crying with joy,” she said.

And she wants to continue to provide a positive experience for our customers, which is what brought her to her current position. “When you see our customers struggling with their bills or complaining about their experiences with us, it pushes me and the team to encourage and partner across the company to provide a better experience,” she said.

At work she is also involved in our Interfaith and Women in Energy BERGs. “It’s so important to surround yourself with community. In both groups, I have been able to experience a community of people who accept and support each other while accomplishing amazing efforts,” she said.

Outside of work, Beilfuss enjoys spending time with her family including two children ages five and six. “They have completely changed my life for the better and every day is an adventure,” she said. “We are starting to get into the world of sports and are trying soccer, golf and volleyball! We are also actively involved in our church, love being outdoors and just love hanging out as a family with our friends.”

Despite their busy schedule, Beilfuss makes time for self-care which includes, “A 5 a.m. wake up to read my Bible, drink a warm cup of coffee and get a workout in before the house gets up! It is my personal time and always gives a fresh start to the day to help me be the best wife, mom, and leader that I can be,” Beilfuss said.

Two things come to mind for Beilfuss when asked about advice for other moms, “I heard this piece of advice at the start of motherhood from author Nora Roberts that talked about the art of juggling glass and plastic balls and the importance of knowing what can drop and bounce or what will drop and shatter. I think that analogy is imperative for working moms as they determine which is which at home and at work and prioritizing accordingly,” she said. And the second piece of advice? “Also, GRACE! Just like you are giving others grace, please give yourself grace.”

Samantha Wellman
Manager of Electric Operations
Mom of 2 and 1 on the way

Samantha Wellman is a Manager of Electric Operations and will celebrate 11 years with the company on May 22.

Wellman started in the Contact Center and has fond memories of helping customers in their time of need, “Generally speaking, customers are reaching out to us during frustrating or hard times and I enjoyed finding ways to bring solutions to them,” she said.

In Wellman’s current role she manages electric service workers. When she joined the group she was the only woman on the team, her direct reports as well as her managers were all men. “I have been able to bring a different perspective to our group and we’ve been able to have some candid discussions,” she said.

Wellman prides herself on making sure all her customer interactions end positively. She said customers can count on her to make sure she’s exceeded their expectations and answered their questions. “I take the extra time to explain something so customers understand it and provide any additional assistance I can,” she said.

While Wellman is most involved with her Women in Energy and GENERGY BERGS, she is a general member of all seven BERGS. “I think it’s important to participate because they can give you different perspectives that you may not have thought of and you can learn the struggles that your co-workers may be facing,” she said.

After work hours, Wellman stays busy with her husband and two daughters, Savannah and Adeline. She is currently pregnant with her son, due in late July. “We love going on adventures, playing outdoors together, reading books and camping,” she said.

When it comes to self-care, Wellman said she gets her nails done every two weeks. “It gives me 45 minutes to myself and allows me to feel pampered,” she said. “Self-care is also communicating with my husband when I feel overwhelmed and asking for help.”

Wellman said her advice to moms who might be struggling is, “YOU CAN DO IT! It might not seem like it all the time and we all struggle – but you can do it! Lean on your support system and communicate when you need help,” she said.

Ashley Pomeroy
Gas Service Supervisor – Adrian/Marshall
Mother of 1

Ashley Pomeroy has worked at Consumers Energy for 15 years and is responsible for gas service first responders who respond to gas leak emergencies and perform meter work in the Adrian and Marshall areas.

One customer interaction that stands out was responding to a carbon monoxide call and finding the customer, a male companion, her elderly mother and pets in the home. They had been exposed to CO for over a week and it was very close to being in the lethal range. “She was so grateful that we were able to help her, in addition to educating her on CO and its effects. She was crying by the end of the visit and credited us with saving her life and lives of her housemates.”

Pomeroy always had her sight set on a supervisor role, “I love the high intensity this position offers and the ability to be outside and in the office,” she said. Pomeroy said she has had instances where her abilities are questioned because of her gender, “Many times I show up on a job site and a customer wants to talk to the man…I let them talk to one of my employees and watch them when my employee turns to me for questions or advice,” she said. “I let the interaction and my knowledge speak for itself.”

Pomeroy feels being involved with our BERGs is important because it helps her meet people she otherwise might not. “We have some really awesome co-workers here and any chance we get to meet them and share experiences provides so much personal and professional value,” she said. Pomeroy is Vice Chair for Genergy and a member of Veterans Advisory Panel (VAP) and WE.

Outside of work Pomeroy is mom to Ethan, who is 10 years old. “He is extremely active,” she said. “He plays football, baseball, basketball, golf and swims. He’s also trying out for band this year.” Pomeroy is more than just his biggest fan in the stands, she is the President of the Youth Football League and coaches his baseball team.

Despite her busy schedule, Pomeroy finds time for self-care which includes getting her hair and nails done and taking vacations with her son. As for advice for other moms, “Do what works for you and don’t worry about what you’re not doing that others are doing or what others think,” she said. “I do what makes me happy and what I am comfortable with.”

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms at Consumers Energy and to our customers. To the biological moms and stepmoms, moms through adoption, aunts and grandmas, teachers and mentors. To the moms no longer with us and the women longing to be a mom. Today we celebrate you.

Happy Mother’s Day.