AABE Leads the Pack as a top Long Running Energy Conference in U.S.

By Alice M. Gordon

Heather Siler, summed it up when she posted, “This has been a great first experience at this conference! Excellent job done by all involved in planning it.”

That is a recurring theme when the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) 38th National Conference brings together 500 energy professionals, executives and entrepreneurs in one place. The Conference, was held May 5 to 8, and is one of the country’s premier energy gatherings. The annual event has become synonymous with high-level sessions on emerging trends in the energy field, technology, and research in the industy and this year’s session was no exception. The conference was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, affectionately known as the Queen City.


“The 2015 National Conference was outstanding! I met some amazing people, learned a tremendous amount, but most rewarding were the wonderful friendships developed,” said LaQuisha Parks, Manager of Business Excellence Claims, Duke Energy. Hundreds of comments such as these were posted by attendees on the new AABE App and lauded the conference planning team with glowing remarks.

Attendees highlighted the solid agenda of power packed sessions, which culminated with a gala celebration and the unveiling of the organization’s most prestigious award, the James E. Steward award as a key memorable moment. The annual award was presented to David Owens, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Group and Regulatory Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute, for his unwavering support of the energy profession and work in the field.

The four-day conference featured more than 50 dynamic speakers and 30 high caliber sessions including an entrepreneurs forum, panel discussions, political debates, scholarship awards, networking festivities and more.

The Energy Entrepreneurs Forum began the first day and was designed to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to gain access to executives in a meaningful way and engage contacts that lead to contracts.

The pre conference events highlighted the issues impacting diverse business owners. The sessions included candid discussions on Raising Capital, Powered Up for Growth, one-on-one industry conversations along with an Intergenerational Dialogue on succession planning.
AABE President and CEO Paula Jackson kicked off the event with a warm welcome to a packed house of attendees followed by greetings by the City of Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael D. Barnes and AABE Board Chairman George Williams, President and CEO of PMI Energy Solutions, who delivered the State of Energy in Black America address. One of the points he stressed was the importance of finding the proper balance between energy and the environment.

In summary, conference goers were on the edge of their seat during the highly anticipated Legislative Crossfire, which featured Chicago Tribune newspaper journalist Clarence Page, and Star Parker, columnist and founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. The ladies brought the group together in the first all women session titled Women in Power, followed by a rousing session with the Rising Stars in Energy, Leader under 40 who rounded out the conversation.

The 2016 AABE National Conference will be held in Chicago, April 18 to 22, 2016.

Here are some key takeaways attendees had to say about the conference:

  • “Sometimes you have to stand even if you stand by yourself.” – N Wyman Winbush II
  • “This has been an awesome few days. Learning so much!” – Michelle Huey

  • “The 2015 AABE conference was very rewarding. I am renewed, enlightened and inspired. Thanks Charlotte and AABE leadership for the great work and a successful conference.” – Terrie Simmons
  • “Bishop Claude Alexander has taken us from the board room to the pulpit!” – Dewania Shedrick-Farrington
  • “So proud to be amongst such successful, talented, and powerful African-Americans. This is something our younger generation needs to see. WE can and will achieve great things together!” – Niccole Boswell.

At the conclusion of the conference, it was clear that AABE successfully delivered on its tradition of consistently offering and serving as an invaluable industry and career development resource.