Leadership - Company officers and Board of directors
Mark A. Ruelle
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mark Ruelle rejoined Westar Energy in 2003 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. In August 2011, Ruelle became president and CEO. He also serves on the Board of Directors. He served as president, Nevada Power Company, from 2001 to 2002, and senior vice president and chief financial officer from 1997 to 2001. From 1986 - 1997 during his previous tenure at Westar Energy, he held various financial, strategic planning and corporate development positions. He received both a bachelor of arts degree in economics and a master of arts degree in economics from the University of North Dakota. He is on the board of directors for the Edison Electric Institute, GO Topeka and Stormont-Vail Foundation.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Doug Sterbenz was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2007. He joined Westar Energy in 1997 and served in several positions in energy trading and bulk power marketing before becoming senior vice president, generation and marketing in 2001, and executive vice president, generation and marketing in 2006. Before joining Westar Energy, he was the director of power marketing for Questar Energy Trading. Sterbenz began his career in 1986 with Texas Utilities Generating Co., where he spent 11 years working in power plants. He received his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University in 1985 and his master of business administration degree from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1995. He is a graduate of Leadership Kansas and Leadership Topeka. Doug serves on the Kansas University School of Board Advisors, the Kansas State University College of Engineering Advisory Council, and the EEI Energy Supply Executive Advisory Board. He also serves on the board of directors for the Kansas Capital Area American Red Cross and the Topeka Community Foundation.
Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer
Tony Somma was named Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2011. Somma has held various financial roles at Westar Energy since he joined the company in 1994 in corporate development. Following employment with Protection One, Inc., where he served as chief financial officer and senior vice president, finance and administration between 1999 and 2001, he returned to Westar as executive director, financial and strategic planning, generation and marketing. In 2006, he was named treasurer and in 2009, he was named vice president, treasurer. Before joining Westar, Somma held various accounting and corporate development positions at Aquila Energy between 1998 and 1994. He received his MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1994 and his BBA, accounting major, from Bellevue University in 1988. A certified public accountant, Somma is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Financial Professionals and Financial Executives International. Tony is also on the Board for Ronald McDonald NE Kansas Charities.
Greg A. Greenwood
Senior Vice President, Strategy
Greg Greenwood was named Senior Vice President, Strategy in 2011. Greenwood has held various financial roles with Westar Energy since he joined the company as a staff accountant in 1993. In 2006 he was named vice president, Major Construction Projects. From 2003 to 2006 he was treasurer. He also has held directorships in finance, corporate finance, financial strategy and planning and analysis. He received his bachelor of business administration, accounting degree from Washburn University in 1988. He is a Leadership Greater Topeka graduate and Leadership Kansas graduate. He is on the Capper Foundation Easter Seals Audit Committee and is a trustee and member of the Board of Directors for the Washburn University Foundation. He also serves as a member of the Foundation's Investment Committee.
Vice President, Power Delivery
Bruce Akin was named vice president, power delivery in 2012. Bruce served as vice president, operations strategy and support from 2007 to 2012. He served as vice president, administrative services from 2001 to 2007. Akin joined Westar Energy in 1987 and has served in various finance and accounting positions. He has held directorships in human resources, corporate development and internal audit. He received his bachelor of business administration, accounting, and master of business administration degrees from Washburn University. He is a graduate of Leadership Greater Topeka, serves on the CASA advisory board and is a member of the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority.
Vice President, Human Resources and Information Technology
Jerl Banning was named vice president of human resources in February of 2010. He joined Westar in May of 2008 as the executive director of human resources. Between 1996 and 2008, he held various positions in human resources at Aquila, Inc., and Koch Industries. Prior to these positions, he worked in a variety of professional services organizations as a human resources consultant with clients in multiple industries. He received his B.A. in psychology from Bethel College and a master's degree in organizational/personnel psychology from the University of Kansas. Jerl is on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Topeka and the Youth Entrepreneur's of Northeast Kansas Topeka Advisory Council.
Vice President, Customer Care
Since joining Westar Energy in 1982 as an accountant, Jeff Beasley has held a variety of positions related to accounting, finance and auditing. He was director, corporate finance before being named executive director, corporate compliance and internal audit in 2006. In September 2007, he was named vice president, corporate compliance and internal audit. He received his bachelor of business administration in accounting from Pittsburg State University. He is a certified internal auditor and a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. He is on the United Way Campaign Leadership Committee, Midland Care Hospice Board, Boy Scouts of America Jayhawk Area Council and the Greater Topeka Area United Way board.
Vice President, Generation
Since joining Westar Energy in 1993, Bridson has held engineering and supervisory roles at various power plants and later became director, operations at Jeffrey Energy Center. John was named executive director, generation in May 2010 and vice president, generation in February 2011. He received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University. He is on the board of directors of the Kansas State Power Affiliates Program, is chairman of the Powder River Basin Coal Users Group and is a board member of Kansas Children's Service League.
Michel' Philipp Cole, ABC
Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
Michel’ Philipp Cole, ABC, was named Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, in 2014. From 1990 to 2000, she served as director, corporate communications. Before rejoining Westar Energy, Michel’ was vice president, corporate communications and brand strategy, Security Benefit Corporation, 2003-2014. From 2000 to 2003, she was senior vice president, corporate practice group, Fleishman-Hillard, Kansas City. Michel’ was the manager, corporate communications, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Topeka, 1989-1990. She began her communications career as vice president, member services, Kansas Press Association, 1986-1989. She received her bachelor of arts in communications from Washburn University in 1986. Michel’ is on the board of Topeka Collegiate and the advisory boards for Kansas Book Festival and KTWU Public Television. She is a graduate of Leadership Greater Topeka and Leadership Kansas City and is an Accredited Business Communicator, IABC.
Executive Director, Information Technology
Deb Grunst was appointed Executive Director, Information Technology in 2014. She joined Westar Energy in 2011 as director, business systems. Having received her computer science degree in 1986 from South Central College, Mankato, Minn., Deb’s career in information technology began in Mankato in 1986, where she was manager, application development, at National Independent Billing for 10 years. She helped found Telcon, Inc. in Mankato in 1996, serving as vice president and partner. In 1999 she joined TXU Communications, Katy, Texas, where she was director of IT – applications, 1999-2000, and director, program management office, 2000-2001. She was named application development manager – billing solutions, for Sprint in Overland Park, Kan., 2002-2006. She also was director, IT – product development, revenue management and e-commerce systems, CenturyLink, Overland Park, Kan., 2006-2009. Deb serves on the board for Westar Energy’s Political Action Committee, and she is a member of EEI’s Chief Information Officer Executive Advisory Committee. She chairs the speaker series for Kansas City’s Central Exchange/WiSTEMM group and is a member of the Council for IT Executives.
Kelly B. Harrison
Vice President, Transmission
Since joining Westar Energy in 1981 as an engineer, Kelly Harrison held a variety of engineering and management positions before being named executive director, then vice president, regulatory, 2001. In March 2006, he was named vice president, transmission operations and environmental services. In 2011 Kelly became vice president, transmission operations, and he was named vice president, transmission, in 2012. He received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering, master of science in engineering management and master of business administration degrees from Wichita State University. He is on the College of Engineering Advisory Board, Wichita State University. He is Vice Chairman Kansas Board of Trustees for the Nature Conservancy and serves on the Advisory Council for Communities in Schools of Kansas, Inc. He is also on the Finance Committee and the Members Committee for the Southwest Power Pool.
Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Larry Irick joined Westar Energy's legal team in 1999 as executive director, law. He became corporate secretary in 2000 and vice president and corporate secretary in 2001, assuming his current duties in 2003. A graduate of Emporia State University and the Duke University School of Law, Mr. Irick practiced law in the Kansas City area for 17 years before he joined Westar Energy. He is a member of the Kansas and Missouri Bar Associations and on the Douglas County Citizens Review Board.
Vice President, Controller
Kevin Kongs began his career with Westar Energy in 1989 as a senior accountant. He served in various leadership positions, including 12 years in financial reporting, income and ad valorem tax, taxation and general accounting, before becoming assistant controller in 2006. In 2012 he served as co-lead of Project Optima, the modernization of Westar's principal finance and supply chain processes and systems. He was named vice president and controller in 2013. He received a bachelor of business administration, accounting degree and a master of business administration from Washburn University. He is treasurer of Lifehouse Child Advocacy Center and volunteers for Meals on Wheels. He is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant.
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
Jeff Martin was named Vice President, Regulatory Affairs in 2013. Jeff has held various roles with Westar Energy since he joined the company as a design tech in 1993. In 2012 he was named Executive Director, Regulatory Affairs. From 2006 to 2012 he was Director, Reliability and Resource Scheduling. He's also held roles supervising design in Manhattan and operations in Hutchinson. He received his bachelor of science in electronics engineering technology from Pittsburg State and his master of business in operations management from Kansas State University. He is on the board of Kansas Big Brothers and Sisters and the Junior Achievement Board in Lawrence. Jeff also serves on the Management Advisory Committee for the Kansas State University College of Business.
Executive Director, Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance
Kim was named Executive Director, Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance, in 2014. She has held numerous roles with Westar Energy since she joined the company as staff auditor in 1992. She became a gas trading analyst in 1994 and returned to Audit as the audit manager in 1996. Prior to becoming director, internal audit, in 2003, she was manager, financial reporting, for four years. Kim obtained her bachelor of accounting degree from Kansas State University in 1992. She is a board member and treasurer of TARC Foundation. Kim is a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors and the American Society of CPAs. She is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor. She was selected as the winning Woman of Excellence in the Businesses with More Than 200 Employees category at the 2014 YWCA Leadership Luncheon.
Vice President, Operations Support
Elsie Eisenbarth rejoined Westar Energy in 2010 as director, planning and performance. In 2012 she became director, power delivery support services and in 2014 was named vice president, operations support. She served as vice president, administration for Protection One Security Services from 2000 to 2010. From 1985 – 2000 during her previous tenure at Westar Energy, she held various managerial roles in accounting, business development and billing services. She received her bachelor of accounting degree from Washburn University in 1984. Elsie serves on the board of Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Edison Electric Institute’s Electrification Executive Task Force.
Vice President, Government Affairs
Mark Schreiber began his career with Westar Energy in 1997 as manager, community relations. He held various leadership positions in government affairs from 2001-2010 before taking the helm of public affairs as executive director. In 2014, he was named vice president, government affairs. Before joining Westar, Mark served in various roles at KG&E and Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation between 1979 and 1997, including biologist, emergency planning supervisor, and manager, community and government affairs. He obtained his associate of arts degree from Garden City Community College and his bachelor and master of science in biology from Emporia State University. Mark is a member of various boards, including the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Emporia Community Foundation and the Emporia Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Utilities State Government Organization and is a graduate of Leadership Emporia and Leadership Kansas.
Vice President, Community Relations and Strategic Partnerships
Don Sherman joined Westar Energy in 2007 as manager, customer & community relations. He was named vice president, community relations & strategic partnerships in 2014. Previously, he was the founder and president of Sherman Broadcast Group, Inc. and FORCE-1 Security Corp. Don received his associate of arts degree in administration of justice from Butler Community College and his bachelor of business administration from Baker University. He serves on numerous Wichita-area boards, including the Wichita Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, American Red Cross Midway Kansas Chapter, Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition and Wichita Downtown Development Corporation. He is a member of the Utility Economic Development Association, the American Association of Blacks in Energy and the Wichita Area Outlook Team. He is a graduate of Leadership Kansas and Leadership Wichita and has been recognized in the Wichita Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” feature as well as the Wichita Eagle’s “12 To Watch.”
Vice President, Customer Relations
Terry Wilson began his career at Westar Energy in 1977 as a customer service representative. He served in various marketing, consulting and business development roles until being named senior manager, commercial & industrial business operations in 2005, a role he held until 2012, when he was named director, customer & community relations. In 2013 he was named executive director, customer relations, and in 2014 he became vice president, customer relations. He received his bachelor of science in education from The University of Kansas in 1977. He serves on the board of trustees for Leadership Kansas and is vice president of the Phi Alpha Educational Foundation. He is a member of the Edison Electric Institute’s Executive Steering Committee and EEI’s National Committee on Electrification. He has received various awards, including the Westar Energy Leadership Award, EEI’s National Marketing Achievement and Marketing Innovation Awards, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s International Chapter Advisor of the Year award.
Board of directors
Charles Q. Chandler IV
Director since 1999
Chairman since 2002
Term expires 2015
Charles Q. Chandler IV is chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of INTRUST Bank, N.A. in Wichita, Kan., a role he has held since 1996. Since 1990, he has served as president and director of INTRUST Financial Corporation. He is President and Director of the Kansas Society for Children with Challenges. He serves on numerous boards, including Salvation Army, Kansas State University Foundation, Navigators and Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. He is a Wesley Medical Center, Trustee. He graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor of business administration degree in 1975 and obtained his MBA in finance from Northwestern University in 1976.
Mollie Hale Carter
Director since 2003
Term expires 2014
Mollie Hale Carter is president, chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of Sunflower Bank. Since 1996, she has been a director of Archer Daniels Midland. Since 1997, she has been vice president of Star A, Inc. She was a senior investment officer between 1987 and 1997 at John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. She served as assistant to the president/assistant consultant for Agribusiness Associates from 1984 to 1986. She is a 1984 graduate of Dartmouth College, receiving her bachelor of arts degree in economics. She obtained her MBA in 1988 from Harvard Business School. She is on the board of directors for Learning Quest 529 Advisory Committee.
Director since 2001
Term expires 2015
R.A. Edwards is Chairman of the Board of the First National Bank of Hutchinson. Before joining the Hutchinson bank, he served Douglas County Bank for six years as president and two years as vice president. Edwards is director and chairman of the board of Douglas County Bank and director and chairman of Data Center Inc., First National Bank of Hutchinson and Mitchellhill Seed Co. He is president, First Kansas Bancshares, Inc. He is a trustee of the Davis Foundation and the University of Kansas Endowment. He is a member of the Kansas Natural Gas Advisory Board. He is a 1968 graduate of the University of Kansas and received his MBA from KU in 1973.
Jerry B. Farley
Director since 2004
Term expires 2014
Jerry Farley has been the president of Washburn University since 1997. Between 1989 and 1997 and from 1972 to 1986, he held various administrative leadership positions, including vice president and professor of education, at the University of Oklahoma. Between 1986 and 1989 he was vice president for business and finance and professor of education at Oklahoma State University. He received a bachelor of science degree in 1968, an MBA in 1972 and a PhD in 1986 — all from the University of Oklahoma. He is on the boards of directors of the Boy Scouts, and Topeka chamber of commerce.
Richard L. Hawley
Director since 2011
Term expires 2016
Richard L. Hawley served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Nicor Inc. and Nicor Gas, a northern Illinois natural gas company, from 2003 to 2011. He was Chief Financial Officer of Puget Energy, Inc. from 1998 to 2002. From 1973 to 1998 he was a partner with Coopers & Lyband. He received his B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Washington in 1973.
Director since 2003
Term expires 2016
Anthony "Tony" Isaac is Sr. Vice President and Head of Select Service Strategy and Development at Hyatt Hotels Corp.. He served as president of LodgeWorks, a Wichita, Kan.-based hotel management and development company from 2000 to 2011. Before helping found LodgeWorks, Isaac served as president of the All-Suites Division of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts from 1998 to 2000. He was also president of Summerfield Hotel Corp. from May 1988 until Summerfield’s 1998 merger with Patriot American Hospitality/Wyndham International. He is the chairman of the board and chair of the strategic planning committee, Via Christi Wichita Health Network, serves on the board of Wichita Collegiate School and is a member of the finance committee and compensation committee for the Via Christi Health System Board. Isaac has a degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard University.
Director since 2003
Term expires 2014
Arthur Krause was executive vice president and chief financial officer for Sprint Corporation from 1988 to 2002. From 1980 to 1986, he was senior vice president of United Telephone System. He was president of United Telephone - Eastern Group from 1986 to 1988. He also held various management positions at General Telephone and Electronics (GTE) from 1966 to 1971. He is on the board of directors of Inergy and Inergy Midstream. He received a bachelor of science in accounting from Marquette University in 1966.
Sandra A.J. Lawrence
Director since 2004
Term expires 2015
Sandra A. J. Lawrence is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Children's Mercy Hospital. From 2004 to 2005, she was the chief financial officer of Midwest Research Institute. From 2003 to 2004, she was interim chief executive officer for Frontier Medical Research, and she was the president and CEO of Global Packaging Solutions between 2000 and 2002. She held various management positions at Gateway, Inc. in San Diego and Kansas City from 1997 to 2000. Before becoming CFO of Midwest Research Institute, she served as director of its Center for Regional Development (1995-1997). She was president of Stern Brothers & Co. from 1992 to 1995. She is a 1978 graduate of Vassar College, receiving her bachelor of arts in psychology. She also received a master of arts in architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1985. She is on the board of directors for the Hall Family Foundation, the Nelson-Atkins Museum Investment Committee and the Turn the Page KC board.
Director since 2003
Term expires 2015
Michael Morrissey was a managing partner of Ernst & Young LLP from 1985 to 1999. He also held various positions at Navistar and Deloitte & Touche between 1964 and 1975. He is active in numerous organizations, serving on the board of finance committee of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, J.E. Dunn Construction Group, Inc., Ferrellgas Partners L.P., Waddell & Reed Financial Inc., Dairy Farmers of America Inc and the Starlight Theatre Association. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor of business administration in accounting in 1964. He received his MBA in finance in 1970 from Temple University.
Mark A. Ruelle
President and Chief Executive Officer
Director since 2011
Mark Ruelle rejoined Westar Energy in 2003 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. In August 2011, Ruelle became president and Chief Executive Officer. He served as president, Nevada Power Company, from 2001 to 2002, and senior vice president and chief financial officer from 1997 to 2001. From 1986 - 1997 during his previous tenure at Westar Energy, he held various financial, strategic planning and corporate development positions. He received both a bachelor of arts degree in economics and a master of arts degree in economics from the University of North Dakota. He is on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka and the Stormont-Vail Foundation. Mark is also a member of the Financial Executives Institute, the KCADC Advanced Energy Task Force, and the Financial Executive Committee of the Edison Electric Institute.
S. Carl Soderstrom Jr.
Director since 2010
Term Expires 2016
S. Carl Soderstrom Jr. was senior vice president and chief financial officer for ArvinMeritor from 2001 to 2004. He also held various positions at ArvinMeritor between 1995 and 2001. Soderstrom held previous executive/management positions at Rockwell International between 1986-1995, General Electric Company between 1980-1986 and Emerson Electric between 1977-1980. He is an active member of the board of directors of Lydall Inc., since 2003 and FreightCar America Inc., since 2005. He graduated from Duke University, B.S.E. with majors in mechanical engineering and economics, 1975. He received his MBA from the University of Michigan in 1977.