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WVU Law Graduate Kelly Tomblin of El Paso Energy

Kelly Tomblin: Global Energy Leader

Small-town West Virginian Kelly Tomblin has made big waves in the energy sector, carving out an influential career in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

The 1988 WVU Law graduate has worked for more than 25 years in energy and utility markets in the United States, Caribbean, United Kingdom and Latin America, leading billion-dollar companies with millions of customers.

Tomblin hopes her journey from Logan County, West Virginia, to Morgantown for college and law school, to an international career, will empower other women to pursue executive leadership roles.

“Energy forms the base of economic development and health,” Tomblin said. “Being a part of one of the most important industries in the world is exciting, and I appreciate the people it attracts. There is always more to learn and a lot of career opportunities, especially for women.”

In July 2020, Tomblin became CEO of El Paso Electric, which serves more than 430,000 customers in west Texas and southern New Mexico. The firm has more than 1,000 employees, making it one of the area's largest employers.

Before taking the helm of El Paso Electric, Tomblin was the President and CEO of INTREN, an Illinois-based company that builds gas and electric utility infrastructure nationally. It is the largest specialty utility contractor in the United States to hold a certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

“At INTREN, we opened doors to nontraditional candidates and changed thoughts about women in this industry. INTREN proudly has a majority female Board of Directors and a female chairman of the board, who was named the 2017 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the Energy, Cleantech and Natural Resources category,” Tomblin said.

WVU Law Graduate Kelly Tomblin '88

Before INTREN, Tomblin’s leadership made a significant impact in Jamaica. As President and CEO of Jamaica Public Service Company, she helped the organization improve its operations and public image. 

After she took the position in 2012, the company began an extensive smart grid program, increased renewable energy generation and brought natural gas to the Caribbean island.

Tomblin also helped lead energy efficiency initiatives in Jamaica, including prepaid metering, community service projects and web-based solutions for customers. She also led Jamaica Public Service Company’s rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy.

“My favorite part of my job is leading, mentoring and connecting with people from different walks of life and being able to live and work in different locations,” she said. “I get to learn something new every day and I love being able to make an impact.”

Tomblin’s first job after graduating from WVU Law was with the firm Kirkpatrick and Lockhart, now known as K&L Gates. She moved into the energy sector from there, serving as in-house counsel for two public utilities companies before providing global legal support to General Public Utilities International (GPU).

After four years, the CEO offered to fund Tomblin’s MBA and she began doing more nonlegal work, eventually becoming GPU’s Region President. Since then, Tomblin has served as Vice President for GDF SUEZ/International Power, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and President of Pennsylvania Electric Company, a FirstEnergy Company.

As a student at WVU Law, Tomblin was active in the Lugar Trial Association and the Moot Court Board and she was a member of the West Virginia Law Review. She credits the supportive WVU Law community for making a positive difference in her law school life, for pushing her to continue even during hard times and for providing lasting friendships.

“I would tell a current law student to get to know themself, who they really are and what they care about. Take risks. And take care of the whole self: physically, mentally and spiritually,” Tomblin said. “The most important thing I took away from WVU Law was a sense of possibility — that there were no limits — and a sense of purpose.”

This summer, after moving her family to Texas, Tomblin told local news that the desert mountains helped her feel at home because they remind her of the West Virginia mountains where she grew up.

“I think being a Mountaineer has driven my commitment to stewardship and giving back. I also learned where you start out doesn’t rule where you end up,” she said.

Kelly Tomblin is from Man, West Virginia, where her parents still live. She and her husband, Steve Morgan, have two sons, George and Harrison Tomblin-Morgan. In her spare time, Tomblin enjoys yoga, sports, spending time with her family, attending church, and advocating for social justice. 

A speaker on organizational alignment, leadership and gender equality, Tomblin is the author of “100 Days of Doing Power Differently” (2018) and “THINKLOVE Leadership” (2019).

Tomblin holds an MBA from New York University’s Leonard Stern School of Business in addition to her J.D. from WVU Law and a B.S. in Journalism with a public relations concentration from WVU. She was the first in her family to attend college. Before her legal career began, she taught seventh grade and worked for a short time as a disc jockey at WLOG in Logan, West Virginia.

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