Venita McCellon-Allen got some recognition for her pioneering days as a rare female utility executive Wednesday when Arkansas Women in Power named the former Southwestern Electric Power Co. president and CEO as an Arkansas Energy industry trailblazer.
AWIP, an industry group devoted to promoting women’s contributions to the energy field, hailed McCellon as an inspiration as her former company, Swepco, praised her leadership as a mentor.
A founding member of AWIP, McCellon-Allen retired this year after 30 years of managing distribution operations and customer and regulatory relationships at Swepco, its parent company American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio, and Central and South West Corp., an AEP utility holding company based in Dallas.
"Venita is known for many successes throughout her career, including construction of one of our nation’s cleanest, most efficient coal plants," said her successor as Swepco CEO, Malcolm Smoak, referring to the John W. Turk Jr. power plant in Fulton (Hempstead County).
"She was among the first female executives," Smoak said in a company statement that noted her mentoring of other women in the field, both formally and informally.
"Venita's accomplishments and the level of respect she achieved in the energy industry are exceptional," said Lori L. Burrows, a fellow AWIP founder and its first president. "She continues to inspire women to pursue positions in the energy industry."
McCellon-Allen's posts included executive vice president of AEP Utilities West as well as AEP Senior Vice President – Shared Services, responsible for human resources, information technology and telecommunications, procurement and supply chain services, corporate services and enterprise security. She previously was a senior vice president for human resources for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas.
McCellon-Allen holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas A&M University and now resides in Shreveport, where Swepco is headquartered. The utility serves 535,000 customers in western Arkansas, northwest and central Louisiana, northeast Texas and the Texas Panhandle.