GVEA Spotlight: Abby Dillard

A Multi-Faceted Division Provides a Unique Learning Experience

By Rachel Kvapil

Abby Dillard

Abby Dillard, director of member services, oversees a versatile set of responsibilities as part of Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA)’s management team. After many years working in the judicial system, Abby is now using her legal, organizational and administration skills to benefit GVEA and its members as the utility works to increase efficiency and develop beneficial partnerships within the state.

Abby joined GVEA 5 years ago, after working for the state judicial system and later a private law office where she enjoyed the work, but started to feel like she knew everyone’s personal business a little too much. At the time, a position focused on the legal and regulatory aspects of GVEA opened. The work appealed to her, so she applied and accepted the position before eventually transitioning into the director of member services role.

“Learning about a utility is a unique experience,” says Abby. “It takes time to truly understand the business. There are many moving parts and pieces and a lot of background information is needed before you are fully up to speed.”

Once Abby caught her stride, she and a team of 29 employees took on managing several areas, including member services, safety, publication relations and regulatory matters. As in most work places across the country, Abby says a shortage of employees has created some obstacles in managing the full workload. However, she credits her team for stepping up to make sure important items are prioritized.

“I have an amazing team! They pitch in and work together to provide the best service possible, both to our internal employees and our members,” says Abby.

Coming from Michigan, Abby is familiar with the many ways inclement weather creates challenges for a utility like GVEA. High winds and ice storms are something she experienced growing up, so when she moved to Fairbanks, she understood the potential dangers of extreme cold. This perspective drives her to work diligently on behalf of members to make sure power generation is disrupted as little as possible and when there is an outage, to help ensure members know what is going on.

“I’ve seen how outages can affect a rural community,” says Abby. “I have a strong appreciation for what we do here at GVEA and how quickly our crews all work together to tackle outages when they happen.”

Abby says there are some big and exciting changes coming up in member services. They are implementing a new platform that will update the user interface while linking to several functions such as bill pay, communications, programs, services and more. She says this new platform improves communication with members and creates more efficiency in GVEA’s processes. She also says her department is working on regulatory changes at the state level as the Railbelt utilities continue to collaborate and GVEA looks to implement new programs that benefit members. Her department is also looking to increase the safety of company employees.

“We are always looking to better integrate safety protocols so that it’s at the forefront of our employees’ minds,” says Abby. “It’s a top priority that we fully embrace.”

As the next generation starts their professional careers, she encourages them to consider a position with GVEA. She says they have many entry-level positions that allow employees to develop a full understanding of the utility process while applying their unique skill set to the overall function of the company.

“It’s difficult to learn what it takes to run a utility without being part of a utility,” says Abby. “A position at any level will provide a great learning experience with a great group of co-workers.”

Abby initially moved to Alaska due to the military. Since then, she and her husband have made a permanent home here with their four dogs. Abby keeps a busy schedule, but still makes time for camping, fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities.