GVEA Spotlight: Reagan Russell

Reagan Russel headshot

Reagan Russell, Director of Human Resources, plays a significant role in the future direction of GVEA. Tasked with the important job of recruiting, screening and mentoring GVEA employees, Reagan says HR can have a positive impact on people’s careers.

Reagan started with GVEA as an HR Assistant after leaving a well-established career as a compliance officer with a local community bank. Her degree in business administration focused on Human Resources, and Reagan decided to pursue her passion when the opportunity arose.

“I know many people joke about HR as a disciplinary department, but I view it as a positive interaction with employees,” says Reagan. “We really care about our employees and want to help them, whether it’s professionally or with something in their personal lives.”

To that degree, Reagan sees herself as more of a counselor. In addition to managing the recruitment process, benefit administration, and labor negotiations, her department helps to create a positive and exciting work culture. While they do occasionally deal with conflict resolution, they are also a resource when employees are looking for a way to expand their education and professional training.

“It’s important to get to know your HR department,” says Reagan. “We’re a group that can help people at any stage in their careers.”

Reagan says she has benefited from many opportunities offered by GVEA. Though she had already earned her bachelor’s degree by the time she started at the utility, she participated in GVEA’s tuition reimbursement program to earn a master’s degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Society for Human Resource Management-Certified Professionals (SHRM-CP) certification.

The most recent challenge faced by Reagan’s department came with navigating all the policies surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. She says it was a completely new experience implementing rapidly evolving CDC protocols and determining the best methods to keep employees safe.

“We had been tracking the initial outbreaks and educated ourselves by the time it hit Fairbanks,” says Reagan. “Our department was ready when it came time to work on new protocols and ensure the health and safety of our employees.”

As the community moves past COVID, Reagan says her department is really focused on recruiting and retaining employees for different positions. Reagan wants to help develop an energized and skilled workforce for GVEA going far into the future. Like many other industries, finding educated and skilled workers is difficult, and at times, requires looking for people willing to relocate to Fairbanks.

Whether it’s HR or any career with GVEA, Reagan encourages potential applicants to consider entry positions and find the benefit in working up the ladder. “There is a lot gained by having boots in trenches,” says Reagan. “Valuable experience that doesn’t come with a degree. By working your way up, you see all levels of a profession and acquire skills that really prepare you for a management or supervisory role.”

Reagan was born and raised in Fairbanks. Her daughter is currently attending Pacific University working towards a degree in the medical field. She says her life is different than 10 years ago when she was highly active in athletics like volleyball and softball. Nowadays, she loves being on the water, spending time with family and planning her next travel adventure.