Power Engineering Woman of the Year Award Nomination

Title and Years in the Industry

Eileen UngerEileen K. Unger is a licensed professional engineer in the State of New Jersey, and the founder and President of Emergency Preparedness Partnerships (EPP), a New Jersey-certified Women-Owned Business (WBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE), based in Hammonton, NJ. Eileen opened her business in January, 2001, prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, and her business has never looked back. Eileen also held the position of Executive Director of the New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association from 2004 to 2014.

Overall, Eileen Unger has over 35 years’ experience in the utility emergency management, engineering and construction fields. Prior to forming EPP in 2001, she spent 16 years with Atlantic Electric / Conectiv (now Pepco Holdings, Inc.), a Fortune 500 electric and gas utility based in Wilmington, Delaware, where she assumed managerial responsibility in a variety of capacities including Business Development, Market Support, Major Accounts, and Customer Service and Sales. She developed and maintained the regional emergency operations plan for over 500,000 customers. Prior to Conectiv, she worked for Bechtel Construction Company at the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station. Prior to that, she worked for United Engineers and Constructors, based in Philadelphia, PA.

Eileen graduated from Rutgers College of Engineering, and received her Master’s degree in engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Advancement of the Power Industry

Eileen has been instrumental in the advancement of the emergency preparedness field within the power industry. She founded EPP with an overarching mission to help utilities engage in proactive planning to optimize their disaster readiness and emergency response. Her leadership has helped utilities all over the country decrease outage restoration times, improve compliance with regulatory demands, enhance customer satisfaction, and enable more efficient use of utility resources. Simply put, EPP seeks to help utilities operate more effectively and efficiently before, during, and after emergency events.

EPP excels at demonstrating how unexpected events can be managed efficiently, cost effectively, and with minimum risk while emphasizing the potential impact to a utility’s customers, facilities and employees. Eileen and her staff work with utilities on emergency response / storm restoration plan development, review and audit; training and plan implementation; drills and exercises; standard operating procedure development; vulnerability assessments and physical security assessments. Using these processes, organizations improve in emergency response, storm restoration, business continuity and crisis management.

Under Eileen’s leadership, EPP has completed emergency plans, training, and exercises for dozens of utilities and governmental agencies (states, counties, and regulators).She works with clients in California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas. She also regularly participates in a variety of multi-state and regional exercises.

Recent projects highlight how Eileen and her company have driven tremendous improvements and advancements within the power industry.

For example, in 2013 EPP conducted a comprehensive audit of, and made recommendations for, the emergency planning, outage management, and restoration practices of National Grid’s Massachusetts Electric Company and Nantucket Electric Company. The audit was mandated by the Massachusetts DPU in response to the companies’ responses to Tropical Storm Irene (August 2011) and a large-scale October 29, 2011 snowstorm. The scope of the audit encompassed emergency management systems, protocols and plans; management of, restoration efforts (including damage assessment, wires down response, and OMS effectiveness); emergency response resources and allocation of those resources; communications with state, municipal, and public safety officials; and dissemination of timely information to the public.

In another recent project, EPP conducted an audit of the physical security of a utility’s critical assets, and provided recommendations on ways to reduce their vulnerability to external threats. This included an asset assessment, threat source analysis, identification of infrastructure interdependencies, assessment of operations security, and reviews of drill / test of emergency procedures, the response / restoration / rebuild capabilities for infrastructure damage, and security strategies and plans.

EPP also recently developed and conducted Incident Command Training, four tabletop exercises and a three-day functional exercise to prepare a power company for a Corporate Storm Readiness Program summer session. Incident Command Training was conducted for all personnel with a designated role within the Incident Response Plans. Tabletop exercises were conducted regionally, with approximately 100 personnel participating in each. The functional exercise was conducted over the course of 3 days and included close to 30 company locations simultaneously. Opportunities for improvement were identified.

Another project involved supplementing the staff of a large utility after a major event to help accelerate the utility’s recovery timeline. Specifically, Eileen and her staff served as liaisons to County and State Offices of Emergency Management, communicating utility needs to the governmental agencies, and relaying government priorities to the utility.

Additionally, EPP recently conducted a review of a power company’s Business Continuity Plan, and recommended corrective actions. Eileen and her staff developed approximately 60 department-specific business continuity plans and provided input regarding the quality and content of the plans. Additionally, the team reviewed interdependencies to ensure that overlaps were eliminated and gaps were filled.

As a final example, in 2012, EPP was chosen by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to write a comprehensive assessment of the four New Jersey electric utilities’ preparation, response and restoration associated with Hurricane Irene and the highly-damaging October 29, 2011 snow storm. The project consisted of an evaluation of each utility’s emergency response, restoration, and communications protocols and practices to determine the magnitude of financial, social and health related issues that were experienced due to loss of electricity caused by the two storms. The final report identified major areas of weakness around inclement weather preparedness, delivery system resiliency, and post-storm response policies and practices. The report provided specific recommendations for each utility that have since been adopted to improve future storm response and decrease customer restoration times.

Eileen’s positive influence within the power industry is even more impressive by virtue of the fact that she has broken the “glass ceiling” in her profession by successfully creating a well-respected, nationally recognized company in a male-dominated industry. Eileen founded, owns and operates one of the few women-owned firms in the area of emergency preparedness, and as such is considered a pioneer in her field. This gave rise to her first national award – the Wells Fargo / NAWBO 2006 Trailblazer of the Year award. Eileen received this prestigious award as a direct result of her unique standing as a woman entrepreneur and business owner in the field of emergency preparedness.

When you are in a traditionally male field, there is a pressure to perform with grace while being subjected to constant scrutiny. Eileen has performed with grace under pressure, and sets a great example for others in her field because of her determination to provide outstanding services with excellent customer relations. This is demonstrated by the fact that she is well respected by other members of her profession as well as all her clients – she is continually called back by clients to do additional work, and has received numerous recommendations from her clients to potential new clients. Further, by excelling in a business that is dominated by men, she serves as a role model for all women.

Leadership

Eileen has impeccable character, outstanding leadership skills, and an unbending dedication to the advancement of the emergency preparedness field within the power industry. She always does what is right for her clients, co-workers and the community at large. As a leader she treats all people fairly and with respect. She volunteers in various organizations, and encourages her staff to become active in professional organizations and community support and volunteerism activities as well.

a licensed engineer that has worked for construction companies of nuclear power plants and large utilities, Eileen is an expert at supervising professionals while keeping an eye on the details that can make or break corporate operations. A team builder, Eileen credits her staff’s professionalism, technical training, and creative problem-solving for EPP’s corporate leadership, endurance and growth.

Eileen’s vision, and the foundation upon which EPP was formed, is to collaborate with clients, local communities and first responder personnel to build real world partnerships that can be leveraged to enhance emergency response and advance the power industry as a whole. Eileen believes that the strength is in working together to develop, practice and implement practical, real-world plans and processes to deal with emergency events. She further demonstrates her vision by being active in the American Society for Industrial Security, the Contingency Planning Exchange, and the New Jersey Utilities Association.

Eileen has received extensive recognition for her leadership and expertise within the field of emergency preparedness. She serves as a spokesperson for emergency preparedness strategies within New Jersey’s disaster planning communities. Her speaking engagements have included seminars with the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce, NAWBO South Jersey, New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the New Jersey Industrial Safety Committee, the New Jersey County Jail Warden’s Association, the New Jersey Utilities Association’s Annual Conference, and the National Association of Water Companies’ Annual Luncheon. Eileen is clearly recognized as a leading regional and national advocate for the emergency preparedness field.

As a further testament to Eileen’s exceptional leadership ability, in 2004 she was named the Executive Director of the New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association. She serves on two Boards of Directors – the Jersey Shore Partnership and Durand. She has also served as NAWBO’s President, Secretary and Treasurer and was a member of the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Executive Committee.

Under her leadership, the annual New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Conference has become one of the largest and most respected conferences in the country for public and private sector emergency planning agencies and organizations, drawing emergency response professionals from around the country. Her leadership has facilitated increased financial support from sponsors and exhibitors, which allows emergency managers to attend a five day training conference for a registration fee of only $75. The cost of the conference has not been raised in over 5 years, providing an affordable venue for training.

Community Impact

A good community citizen, Eileen serves as a role model with her leadership and advocacy both in the business community and the broader community as a volunteer. Her strong community involvement is driven by a desire to demonstrate the value of emergency preparedness planning to as many people as possible. She also strives to be a mentor to young people who want to work in the power industry so they know that there are important support organizations to help them succeed in fulfilling their dreams of achievement and leadership. Her company invests in community ads for major events, sponsors programs, and actively participates in numerous events throughout the year that help make South Jersey a better place to live and work.

Eileen is an active member of the National Association of Women Business Owners – South Jersey Chapter (Past President), the New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Association, American Society of Industrial Security, the New Jersey Utilities Association, the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, the Contingency Planning Exchange, and served on the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Executive Committee. She was also appointed to the New Jersey State Industrial Safety Committee by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. In addition, she has volunteered with the Annual March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon, where she was the winner of the Battered Boot Award, the Atlantic-Cumberland Chapter of the American Red Cross, the New Jersey Utilities Association annual fundraiser, and the NJ Emergency Preparedness Association’s annual training conference.

Thanks to her years of hard work and dedication, outstanding leadership and strong community spirit, Eileen has accumulated numerous awards and honors in the past decade.

In 2004, Eileen was named as one of 24 South Jersey Magazine’s People to Watch (an award she won again in 2014), and was also named as a Woman of Influence by NJBIZ Magazine. In 2006, she won the Wells Fargo and National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Trailblazer of the Year award, which honors businesswomen for innovation and making significant contributions in creating new paths of leadership for the business community. Also in 2006, the Philadelphia Business Journal named Eileen as one of the 25 Women of Distinction, and she was named as a 2006 Enterprising Women of the Year award finalist. In 2013, Eileen was inducted into the International Women in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Hall of Fame for her contributions to the advancement of women in emergency management.

Monica Smiley, Publisher of Enterprising Women Magazine, explained the caliber of women who receive the annual awards and finalist positions of Enterprising Woman of the Year, which Eileen received in 2006. “The Enterprising Women of the Year Awards brings together the nation’s finest women entrepreneurs to recognize their accomplishments and celebrate their outstanding achievements,” Smiley said. “The award recipients are influential, powerful women with high-growth businesses who are leaders in their communities and mentor other women entrepreneurs.”

She has also received numerous Congressional, Legislative and Freeholder ceremonial resolutions or proclamations for her leadership:

  • Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Frank LoBiondo’s office for Eileen’s work with the 2004 New Jersey Emergency Preparedness Conference.
  • State of NJ – Legislative Commendation from Senator Adler, Assemblyman Greenwald and Assemblywoman Previte for Eileen’s selection as one of South Jersey Magazine’s 24 People to Watch in 2004.
  • State of NJ – Joint Legislative Resolution from the Senate and General Assembly recognizing Eileen for her role on the 2005 Board of the South Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
  • Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders Proclamation recognizing Eileen for her role on the Board of the South Jersey Chapter of National Association of Women Business Owners.
  • State of NJ – Senate and General Assembly Joint Legislative Resolution recognizing Eileen and the Board of the South Jersey Chapter of National Association of Women Business Owners.
  • Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Jim Saxton’s office noting Eileen’s work with the Board of the South Jersey Chapter of National Association of Women Business Owners.
  • County of Camden Proclamation to Eileen for her dedicated service to the Board of the South Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Eileen constantly remains focused on helping communities and businesses understand the importance of good planning and strategic partnerships to succeed. Eileen’s dedication to her cause is a foundation of her business success, and one that is observed when she speaks at local business owner gatherings or at other business or community-related programs. She is an instant role model for women because of her success in breaking the glass ceiling in her profession. Simply put, Eileen is acutely committed to “paying it forward” by virtue of her unwavering dedication to the community.

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