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Celebrating Women’s History Month

March 25, 2024 | Erin Tedrick | OPPD employees
Women's History Month

As part of Women’s History Month, we’re sharing the stories on some of the women who work at OPPD. Read on to learn how they landed at OPPD, what motivates them and why they enjoy what they do.


Women's History Month: Shawna Bennett, Supervisor, Outage Planning & Scheduling

Shawna Bennett

Supervisor, Outage Planning & Scheduling

Shawna Bennett knew she wanted to work at OPPD, but her journey to get there took a leap of faith. “Growing up in the Nebraska City area, I always knew how much of an opportunity working at OPPD would be,” said Shawna. And she took every opportunity available to achieve that goal.

After graduating college, Shawna was looking at maintenance roles at OPPD, even though her degree was in psychology and sociology. In 2008, she finally saw her opportunity, and though it was a hard decision to make, she took it. “I was willing to do manual labor and not afraid to get my hands dirty,” said Shawna. “I eventually applied for a part-time position with OPPD as a laborer … on a leap of faith and prayer I accepted when it was offered to me.”

Once on board, the mom of two worked toward a full-time position, motivated to make an impact and work her way up. Along the way, Shawna was testing out of each position and learning new roles. “With no engineering or mechanical background, that was very impactful to my career,” she said.

Eventually Shawna took advantage of another new opportunity. “While in operations I was given the opportunity to work outside of my normal duties with the outages,” she said. In 2022, she took on the role of supervisor of Outage Planning & Scheduling, which she still holds today.

“I thoroughly enjoy this position. It allows me to work with every department throughout the organization,” said Shawna. Her team and director have been very supportive, she said, and they “teach me things every day.”


Women’s History Month: Donna Miner, Manager, Customer Operations 

Donna Miner 

Manager, Customer Operations 

No matter what the experience, Donna Miner finds a life lesson that she can take with her for the future.

One thing she would tell her younger self and that she tells her teams is that failure is not a bad thing. “It’s important for us to fail, because that’s how we learn and how we grow, she said.

 Donna started as an intern at OPPD in the Finance & Accounting area. “I made great connections while I was working the two summers that I did,” said Donna. After graduating from college, she hoped to come back to OPPD, but the right position wasn’t available at the time, so she took a job elsewhere. When a position in Payroll did come up, her connections at OPPD were sure to reach out. From that position, she eventually moved to Corporate Accounting.

 And after four years, she was ready for a new challenge. “I wanted to be closer to the customer and learn more about the customer and how I could support,” she said. She took on a supervisor role in Customer Service and when a manager role opened up, she stepped out of her comfort zone after encouragement from a mentor and applied. She landed the job, which she holds today – manager, Customer Operations.

Donna never stops learning, including getting her master’s degree in business administration. “The way I can make an impact is by continuing to stretch myself and to be a learner,” said Donna. “I feel like it’s so very important, because we’re moving at such a fast pace and there’s so much ahead of us for the future.” 


Bridget Slavin, Sustainability Program Manager 

Bridget Slavin 

Sustainability Program Manager 

Bridget Slavin may be early on in her career, but she’s been passionate about this work since she was little. “When I was a kid, my dad did a startup solar company and I just found solar fascinating,” said Bridget. “The science behind it. And then I took an environmental science course and a few engineering courses in high school. 

She went on to study sustainable energy technology at Creighton University. “The major stood out to me in a huge way,” said Bridget. “It was environmental science but still had some aspects of the engineering that I loved.” 

As she got closer to graduation, Bridget started to worry about finding a job. “My career path was already a unique niche,” she said. But what she found was a growing field with opportunities in the area. She started as an intern under sustainability at a manufacturing company and was soon promoted to a specialist and then manager. 

Bridget started at OPPD in August 2023 as the Sustainability Program Manager in the utility’s newest business unit, Sustainability & Environmental Affairs. Her team is working across the district to create energy efficiencies and get OPPD closer to its net-zero carbon emission goals. “I’m trying to make the world a better place, while making it better for our customers.”  


Michaela Valentin, Government Affairs & Community Relations Manager

Michaela Valentin 

Government Affairs & Community Relations Manager

Today you may see Michaela Valentin working with public officials or meeting with groups across OPPD, but there was a time where her day looked much different. “I started my career as a police officer, almost 30 years ago,” said Michaela. “It was immensely satisfying to know that my work served a greater good.” 

 After three years as a police officer, Michaela went to law school and then took a role at the Nebraska Legislature where she served as legal counsel to the Judiciary committee.  

 She also served as a court appointed special advocate to families and children in need. “It solidified for me that I could be an advocate for others and seek justice on their behalf if they were not able to do it for themselves,” said Michaela. 

 That advocacy took many forms in Michaela’s career, including her current role at OPPD as Government Affairs & Community Relations Manager, where she works with local government officials in the communities OPPD serves. 

 “In the years to come, I’m looking forward to continuing to deeply understand OPPD and how I can best serve my colleagues, executive leadership, our OPPD Board and most importantly, our customer owners.” 

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About Erin Tedrick

Erin Tedrick began her career in journalism at KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a producer, then found herself in corporate financial communications where she honed her interviewing and writing skills. Erin joined OPPD in 2020 and has led technology communications and sits on the OPPD Women's Network Board as Communications Chair. She has a BA in Journalism & Mass Communications from the University of Iowa. She is married and has two kids and a goldendoodle named Ferris.

View all posts by Erin Tedrick >

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