PG&E makes several key leadership moves

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced the appointments of Bernard Cowens as vice president and Chief Information Security Officer and Kathleen Kay as vice president, Business Technology.

Cowens and Kay, who were both elected by the board of directors as officers of the utility, will report to Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Karen Austin.

“Our ability to effectively manage and protect information is vitally important and challenging. We are very pleased to welcome Bernie and Kathy, who both have exceptionally strong backgrounds, to the PG&E team,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman and CEO Tony Earley.

Cowens joined PG&E last month from his role as Chief Information Security Officer at First American Financial Corporation. Cowens has extensive experience in information technology and cyber and physical security and previously held senior and executive-level roles in the private sector and the military.

Cowens served in the military from 1980 to 2000, completing his service as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Security Officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Los Angeles. Thereafter, he held executive-level roles in information technology with SafeNet Inc., where he was Chief Information Officer; and PricewaterHouseCoopers LLP, where he was director of risk and security advisory services. He subsequently served in senior information security roles for Experian and the Automobile Club of Southern California before joining First American Financial Corporation.

Kay, in her new role at PG&E, effective Sept. 1, is responsible for business technology delivery, primarily focused on PG&E’s strategic solutions such as mobile, data analytics and customer applications.

Kay had a career spanning more than two decades at General Motors. She began as an associate programmer and systems analyst and worked in progressively more responsible roles, concluding with her role as director of application development and support for OnStar.

She served as senior vice president of business technology services for Comerica Bank in Michigan from 2007 to 2012. Kay left Comerica to serve as senior vice president of application services for SunTrust Bank in Atlanta, where she also served as the executive chair for diversity.

PG&E also named Melissa Lavinson as Chief Sustainability Officer, an expansion of her existing role as vice president of Federal Affairs.

In her expanded role, Lavinson will be focused on continuous improvement of the company’s national leadership on sustainability practices and policies. She will continue to be based in the company’s Washington, D.C., office.

“Today, the environmental aspects of sustainability are an increasingly important issue for California and our society, and PG&E has an important and constructive role to play. I am confident Melissa will be an articulate and effective advocate for all aspects of sustainability,” Earley said.

Lavinson has been with PG&E since 1997, a tenure that has included assignments in California and Washington, D.C., with both the utility and the holding company, PG&E Corporation. In Federal Affairs, she is responsible for directing the company’s public policies on all federal issues that impact PG&E and its customers.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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