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Energy Behind the Energy

At Southern Company, our people are the heart of our company.

Allison Gregoire

Meet Allison Gregoire

Allison Gregoire is a media relations and social media coordinator at Nicor Gas and an aerial fitness instructor in training.

Allison, once an avid kick boxer in Atlanta, moved to Naperville, Illinois, for work and she set her sights on a new outlet for physical fitness.

“I turned 30 last year and was looking to challenge myself while also making friends in a new town where I truly knew no one,” said Allison. In her pursuit she came across AIR Fitness.

Aerial fitness uses a soft, usually silk, hammock to support and suspend the body and uses supported body weight and gravity to strengthen muscles, improve posture, and align joints.

Allison said the class came with a learning curve, but she didn’t shy away from the challenge.

“The first few classes were extremely challenging for me – there are so many small muscles that you are using during aerial that you aren’t traditionally working out,” Allison said. “I struggled to invert and do different moves in the air. It took me six months to get down one of the most common moves in aerial – funny enough, it’s called “the Georgia Twist.”

Not only did Allison master the Georgia Twist with time, now she’s ready to teach others. After 15 months of classes, she’s in the final stages of becoming an instructor. That is a testament of her dedication but also just how much anyone can join and learn. “I’ve had scoliosis since I was 12 years old and have never been able to do a split in my life! I was literally held back in ballet in second grade due to lack of grace and coordination. My advice to new students is to not be scared to try something new.  Always challenge yourself but only go as far as you are comfortable that day.”

Allison Gregoire

Meet Jacob McDonald

Jacob McDonald is a senior engineering analyst at Southern Power. He manages the operation and maintenance of solar facilities for the company including budget creation and management, contract negotiations and performance monitoring.

During his free time, Jacob has served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Sumiton Fire and Rescue Service in Sumiton, Alabama for four years. It is an advanced life support (ALS) department which means there are paramedics on duty who can provide the highest level of emergency medical services possible outside of a hospital.

“My involvement with the department consists of responding to fires, wrecks and medical emergencies around the clock outside of my work hours with Southern Power,” he said.

Jacob McDonald
“The opportunity to serve and help in the community where I live is incredibly rewarding. As a volunteer firefighter, you get to help people on some of the worst days of their lives. You really can make a difference in their life or potentially save their life, which is an awesome feeling.”

Jacob

Emily Matthews volunteering at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta

Jacob’s interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter stemmed from his relatives and neighbors being members of these volunteer organizations.

“There was never a lightbulb moment that made me want to be a firefighter, but it was really something I always thought would be neat since I was a kid,” he said. “As I got older, I was exposed to the fire/EMS service through relatives and neighbors and thought I would give it a shot and I got hooked very shortly after doing so.”

Jacob also enjoys spending time with his wife, Lacey, and two children, Jaxon and Josie golfing, hunting and bass fishing.


Yvonne Murray

Meet Yvonne Murray

Yvonne Murray is a part of the Southern Power team as a state and local affairs policy manager. Outside of work you will probably find her … outside. She enjoys hiking, camping and fishing.

“As a kid I always loved outdoor sports and the beach, but I think I really found my love for it as an adult,” Yvonne said. “I have made so many memories around a campfire in the middle of the woods.”

When she’s not hiking or camping, she’s enjoying more daring hobbies like tinkering with Jeeps to go off-roading and rock climbing. Yvonne’s interest in cars can be traced back to her childhood.

“I was fortunate to grow up with a dad who loved cars. I can remember just hanging out in the garage with him as a kid and enjoying watching him work,” Yvonne said. “When I was in college, I worked selling parts – wheels, tires, motor builds, turbos, exhausts. It was through those hobbies that I met my husband. He used to build motors for one of our competitor shops. Over the years, Jeeps were always something we went back to.”

When asked about advice she would impart to newbies and those interested off-roading, she said to start slow, have the right equipment and keep safety first. 

“I would recommend a vehicle that comes equipped with 4WD and push-button lockers. There are plenty of off-road parks that you can get a feel for beginner and intermediate level rides,” Yvonne said. “Some of the off-road clubs offer beginner rides and classes.”

Regarding rock climbing, Yvonne said keep Safety First in all you do. Listening to those more experienced than you is also important.

Yvonne in Jeep

Meet Emily Matthews

Emily Matthews is an energy efficiency education coordinator with Georgia Power and has worked for the company 11 years.

As part of her job, she goes into schools, grades pre-K through 12th, to teach students about energy efficiency and electrical safety. She has also worked with Drew Charter School.

A typical session with students might cover things like how a power bill is composed and how to save energy and what the future of the industry looks like.

Outside her day job, she has been volunteering at the PGA TOUR Championship for seven years, including this year, by helping with educational activities in the SO COOL Zone and on Saturday of the tournament. She said volunteering and giving back was instilled in her at an early age by her parents.

Emily Matthews with UGA mascot
“Growing up that’s just what we did as a family, we volunteered together. I like to volunteer anyway I can whether it’s for a golf tournament or a food bank or just helping my neighborhood.”

Emily

Emily Matthews volunteering at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta

She said she has a favorite memory of making sandwiches with her family for powerline and utility workers following Hurricane Hugo in 1989 so they would have lunch to eat, not knowing she would grow up volunteering after storms for Georgia Power.

“’Being a Citizen Wherever You Serve’” is one of my favorite parts of working for Georgia Power,” she said.

A native of South Carolina, Matthews is a graduate of the University of Georgia and has a background in education.


Mitchell Kilpatrick

Meet Mitchell Kilpatrick

Mitchell Kilpatrick, senior communications specialist Alabama Power, supports internal clients such as Safety and Power Delivery and manages Current, Alabama Power’s internal communications app. He worked with Southern Power for two and a half years before joining Alabama Power in 2018.

Outside of work, Kilpatrick is a movie afficionado, to say the least. In his free time, he runs a personal blog, called, “Movies with Mitchell,” in which he has reviewed hundreds of films of every genre.

“For me, movies have always done three things: provide thrilling entertainment, offer an escape from reality, and give us the chance to empathize with lives and emotions that we may never know personally. Movies can bring comfort but also challenge us to understand the world in new ways. I unironically love the Nicole Kidman AMC Theaters ad that plays before movies at the theater. For all the cheesiness, there’s still a seed of truth – movies really do sometimes feel like magic,” Mitchell said.

Kilpatrick recalls enjoying films from early childhood. He grew up watching movies from The Harry Potter series, from the Marvel universe and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, in 2016, Kilpatrick found a greater appreciation for film as he began to watch Oscar nominated movies. Mitchell said his coworkers urged him to start a blog given his strong written skills and film opinions.

Kilpatrick began his blog in 2019 but further developed the blog in 2020 to bring movies back to life after theaters shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The blog’s mantra is “celebrating the magic of movies.” He hopes his blog will encourage people to find magic in film and support local theaters, as opposed to only watching movies on at-home streaming platforms.

"Theaters really struggled in the pandemic. There’s something special about seeing a movie in a theater that I will always support and encourage."

Mitchell

Kilpatrick suggests that those interested in learning more about film check out directors Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson and Studio Ghibli Movies by Hayao Miyazaki.

 “All of those are just masterpieces, but I still feel like I’m a beginner in some ways,” Mitchell said.

He emphasizes that the world of film is broad, and there is always more to watch and learn.

Check out Mitchell’s blog here: https://movieswithmitchell.com/ to learn more and see his latest review of Top Gun: Maverick or his Top 10 movies of 2021

Movies with Mitchell

Khadijah Diggs running in triathlon

Meet Khadijah Diggs

Khadijah Diggs is a senior project manager for the Southern Company Technology Organization Project Management Office. When she’s not in the office, she’s tackling a different kind of multi-segment project competing in triathlons.

Khadijah is a Team USA long course triathlete who competes in numerous national and international triathlons. A triathlon is an endurance, multisport race consisting of swimming, cycling and running in the fastest time possible with long course triathlons consisting of swim segments ranging from 1.2 miles to 2.4 miles, cycling segments from 56 miles to 112 miles and runs ranging from 13.1 to 26.2 miles, a full marathon. The races last between five to 12 hours.

She competed in her first triathlon in 2012 as part of her sorority’s health initiative and came in third to last place. Khadijah enjoyed the experience and continued training and competing in races. In 2016, Khadijah became the first Black woman to become a member of the USA Triathlon (USAT) Long Course Triathlon team, the first hijabi (a woman who wears a hijab) to represent Team USA in any multi-sport event and became a USAT certified coach in 2020.

"As I continued to compete in races, I realized I enjoyed training even more. It's my 'me' time and has helped me deal with the loss of loved ones, stress and the recent events surrounding the pandemic. Pushing my body beyond its preconceived limits has changed my entire perspective on life."

Khadijah

In a sport where Black athletes make up less than 1% and as a Muslim woman who competes wearing a hijab, Khadijah has encountered racial and religious discrimination but is able to endure it by relying on her strong support system and committed sponsors. She views hurdles as opportunities to show people the similarities she shares with other triathletes by giving her all like every other competitor.

These experiences led Khadijah to create a non-profit organization, Diversity Infusion Syndicate with Khadijah (D.I.S.K.), to support and mentor triathletes from underrepresented communities and provide them with the opportunity to meet corporate sponsors and have personalized training schedules and one-on-one coaching with her.

"I intend to help athletes with limited exposure and provide opportunities for them to excel," said Khadijah.

Her triathlon goals continue to advance with each race she finishes. She will compete in the Ironman Maryland and Ironman Florida races this year and qualified for the 2022 U.S. Aquathlon Team. Khadijah also wants to see D.I.S.K. continue to expand and encourage more women to enter triathlons.

"I want to continue to race and set new goals that seem ridiculous," she said. "When I said I wanted to make the U.S. Team, I remember a person I trained with laughed. I have my eyes set on a U.S. and World age group podium finish and plan to race until my body says no."

When she is not competing in triathlons, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, trail running and going on weekend road trips with her youngest daughter.

Visit Khadijah’s website to learn more about her triathlon competitions and D.I.S.K.

Khadijah Diggs cycling

Rachel Petry

Meet Rachel Petry

Rachel Petry’s volunteer efforts seek to eliminate hunger and food waste in Birmingham.

Rachel Petry is a renewable asset manager for Southern Power and has been with the company for 18 years. She works from Birmingham and in her free time volunteers at FeedBHM, a food rescue program that collects surplus food from grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants and distributes it to those experiencing food insecurity in the community.

FeedBHM is part of the Grace Klein Community, a non-profit organization that has been operating in Birmingham since 2010. Grace Klein Community distributes food from its six drive-thru locations across the city and to over 80 non-profit partners. This year FeedBHM rescued over 1 million pounds of food.

Rachel began volunteering at FeedBHM through her church three years ago and discovered how different circumstances can cause food insecurity and how food distribution can benefit the community and the environment.

It is amazing how many people live paycheck to paycheck. A major life event such as medical bills or vehicle expenses can force people to choose between buying food and paying their rent. There is so much food wasted. If we can get it onto plates and out of landfills, it benefits everyone.

Rachel

During the pandemic, food insecurity increased the demand for food distribution in the community. In March, Rachel and her husband helped launch the FeedBHM Food Rescue app to enable volunteers to select food rescue locations, days and times that worked best for their schedules. The app allowed FeedBHM to quadruple the amount of food rescued compared to previous years.

In May, Rachel started the FeedBHM Junior Board to support its rescue initiative at The World Games in 2022. FeedBHM was listed as a sustainability partner for The World Game and will partner with vendors and food providers to minimize food waste.

"The amount of food that’s wasted in the United States is almost equal to the amount of food needed to feed the hungry," Rachel said. "By preventing unnecessary waste and distributing unused food, food insecurity can be a much easier problem to solve."

Rachel lives with her husband and two children along with their ducks, chickens and honeybees.

Visit FeedBHM for more information on how you can volunteer or support the organization’s mission to eradicate hunger.

Rachel Petry's husband and daughter

Ruby Jackson

Meet Ruby Jackson

Ruby Jackson knew from first grade she wanted to be a lawyer. Influenced by her father being a judge, she wanted to similarly help people.

"I am a problem solver and always enjoyed serving as a sounding board to my friends and family," she said. "The legal profession requires you to listen to an individual or organization and help find a solution to the problem."

Ruby has been part of Southern Power’s legal organization for five years. During her free time, she volunteers with multiple bar associations within Birmingham to give back to her community.

Ruby began helping with the Magic City Bar Association (MCBA) as a law student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. The MCBA was created to promote the professional advancement of African American attorneys in Birmingham and to uphold the honor and integrity of the legal profession. She was the 2019 president of the MCBA and sits on its board of directors, where she focuses on strategic initiatives.

Last November, Alabama Power announced a partnership with MCBA to provide opportunities for MCBA members, including job shadowing and internships for aspiring lawyers, and exposure to opportunities between the company and the association.

Her involvement with MCBA connected her with the Birmingham Bar Association (BBA). Through BBA, she became involved with Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham (VLB), a non-profit organization of attorney volunteers that provides immediate access to free legal services for low-income individuals and families in Birmingham. She has since joined VLB’s board of directors.

Ruby particularly remembers one of the pro bono cases that she worked on through VLB.

A client called me at five in the morning due to her landlord attempting to evict her and her children during the pandemic. We were able to extend her time in the home, which allowed her to find alternative housing.

Ruby

Last year, VLB served more than 3,500 low-income clients, more than any other pro bono organization in Alabama. Over 650 attorneys volunteered, donating 4,500 hours of their time equating to $1 million of donated time and legal services.

As a member of the Alabama State Bar Association (ASB), she was appointed to serve on its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to increase educational and professional opportunities for women and minorities and advance the principles of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and its members.

Ruby’s commitment to seeing change within herself, her profession and community is what drives her involvement in these organizations.

"Service is the core of the organizations I participate in," she said. "I am able to grow both personally and professionally and help foster relationships and mentoring opportunities for the next generation of lawyers."

Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham