Mark Ruelle rejoined Westar Energy in 2003 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. In August 2011, Mark 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.
Tony Somma was named senior vice president and chief financial officer in 2011. Tony 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, Tony held various accounting and corporate development positions at Aquila Energy between 1994 and 1998. He received his bachelor of business administration in accounting from Bellevue University in 1988 and his master of business administration from the University of Nebraska in Omaha in 1994. A certified public accountant, Tony is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Financial Professionals and Financial Executives International. He is also on the Board for Ronald McDonald NE Kansas Charities.
Greg Greenwood was named senior vice president, strategy in 2011. Greg 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. Greg also serves as a member of the Foundation's Investment Committee.
Bruce Akin was named senior vice president, power delivery in 2015. Bruce served as vice president, power delivery from 2012 to 2014. He served as vice president, operations strategy and support from 2007 to 2012. He served as vice president, administrative services from 2001 to 2007. Bruce 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 Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children advisory board and is a member of the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority.
Jerl Banning was named senior vice president, operations support and administration in 2015. Jerl was named vice president of human resources and information technology in 2014. From 2010 to 2014, he served as vice president of human resources. He joined Westar in May of 2008 and served as the executive director of human resources from 2008 to 2010. 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 bachelor of arts 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 Entrepreneurs of Northeast Kansas Topeka Advisory Council.
John Bridson was named senior vice president, generation and marketing in 2015. John served as vice president of generation for Westar Energy from 2011 to 2014. He joined Westar Energy in 1993 after graduating from Kansas State University with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. He was plant engineer at Jeffrey Energy Center from 1993 to 1998 and then served as the director of operations from 1998 to 2001. Next, he served as the executive director of gas-fired power plants from 2001 through 2006 and as the executive director of Lawrence Energy Center from 2007 to mid-2010, when he was appointed executive director of generation. He is the chairman of the board for the Kansas Children's Service League, serves on the board of directors for the Kansas State Power Affiliates Program, and he is past chairman of the board for the Powder River Basin Coal Users Group.
Jeff Beasley was named vice president, customer care, in 2013. Jeff began his career at Westar Energy in 1982 as an accountant. He held a variety of positions in accounting and finance, as well as field operations and auditing. In September 2007, he was named vice president, corporate compliance and internal audit. Jeff received his bachelor of business administration in accounting from Pittsburg State University, is a Certified Internal Auditor and a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. He currently serves on the boards for the Wichita Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Plains, 2015 Campaign Chair, and the Boy Scouts of America Jayhawk Area Council.
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 Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and the advisory boards for Kansas Book Festival, KTWU Public Television and the Washburn University Leadership Institute. She is a graduate of Leadership Greater Topeka and Leadership Kansas City and is an Accredited Business Communicator, IABC.
Deb Grunst was appointed vice president, information technology in 2015. Prior to that she became 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 Edison Electric Institutes’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.
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. As a part of his duties as an officer of Westar Energy, Inc., Kelly has served as President of Prairie Wind Transmission, LLC since 2008 and Vice President of Kansas Gas and Electric Company since 2000. Both companies are affiliates of Westar Energy. 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 Chairman of the 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.
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. Larry 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.
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, 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.
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.
Cindy was named executive director, corporate compliance and internal audit in 2015. She was the director, retail rates from 2013 to 2015. She held positions in internal audit, compliance and regulatory since she rejoined the company as a lead auditor in 2005.She was Vice President-Treasurer at American Home Life Insurance Company, Topeka from 2002 to 2005. She began her Westar Energy tenure in 1998 as an internal auditor and served as a financial analyst from 2000 to 2002. Before joining Westar Energy, Cindy was a staff accountant and accounting supervisor with Koch Industries in Wichita from 1996 to 1998. She received a bachelor of business administration, accounting degree and a master of business administration from Washburn University. Cindy is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, Chartered Global Management Accountant and holds a certification in Risk Management Assurance. She is treasurer of Communities in Schools of Mid-America as well co-chair of Westar Women’s Leadership Group.
Elsie Eisenbarth started at Westar Energy in 1985 as an accounting analyst. She served in various managerial roles in accounting, business development and billing services before being named director, planning and performance, in 2010. In 2012, Elsie became director, power delivery support services. She was appointed vice president, operations support, in 2014. Between 2000-2010, she served as vice president, administration for Protection One Security 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.
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, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and Exploration Place. He is also a board member for the Sunflower Foundation. Don is also 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."
Director since 1999 | Chairman since 2002 | Term expires 2018
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.
Director since 2003 | Term expires 2017
Mollie Hale Carter is president, chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of Sunflower Financial, Inc. 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 master of business administration in 1988 from Harvard Business School. She is on the board of directors for Learning Quest 529 Advisory Committee.
Director since 2001 | Term expires 2018
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, trustee of the Davis Foundation and the University of Kansas Endowment and is a member of the Kansas Natural Gas Advisory Board. He received his master of business administration from the University of Kansas in 1968.
Director since 2004 | Term expires 2017
Jerry Farley has been the president of Washburn University since 1997. Between 1972 to 1986 and from 1989 and 1997, 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 master of business administration in 1972 and a doctor of philosophy in 1986 — all from the University of Oklahoma. He is on the boards of directors of the Boy Scouts, and Topeka chamber of commerce.
Director since 2011 | Term expires 2019
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 bachelor of arts in business administration from the University of Washington in 1973. He serves on the board of directors of Fisher Communications, Inc.
Director since 2003 | Term expires 2019
Anthony "Tony" Isaac is senior vice president and head of select service strategy and development at Hyatt Hotels Corporation. He served as president of LodgeWorks, a Wichita, Kansas 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. Tony has a degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of business administration from Harvard University.
Director since 2004 | Term expires 2018
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 chief executive officer 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 chief financial offier 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 a master of business administration 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 2011
Director since 2010 | Term Expires 2019
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 and 1995, General Electric Company between 1980 and 1986 and Emerson Electric between 1977 and 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 master of business administration from the University of Michigan in 1977.